Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look Back at 2015

What a spectacular year it has been! It's hard to believe it has just about come and gone. Looking back at the beginning of the year, it's crazy to think about how much Callum has grown and changed in such a short time. The same could also be said about myself. I learned a lot this year about who I am, what makes me happy, and the things that are most important to me. Not only that, but I feel like I've done my best to relish in those things and make myself a priority. I can honestly say that doing that has made me a much happier person. 2015, you were good to me.

So, cheers to 2016! I can't wait to see what this next year holds. In 2016, I already have plans for a trip to Jacksonville (to visit friends), New Orleans (for a bachelorette party), and Seattle (for work and to run a half marathon). I hope we're able to potty train this kid of ours and finally get rid of the darn nay nay (pacifier). My brother will be getting married in August, and I am so ready to celebrate that.

But, before I get too ahead of myself, here's a look back at some of my favorite moments from 2015:

One of my favorite pictures ever. Taken in January 2015. Callum is such a peanut!

We celebrated the wedding of one of the best couples I know.

In March, I transitioned from a full-time working mom, to a part-time one, so I could stay home more with this Prince Charming. Although very scary and difficult, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. #bedheadgameonpoint

We celebrated a wonderful St. Patrick's Day with some of my favorite leprechans.


Matt and I spent a weekend without Callum in Minneapolis. We biked around, visited brew pubs, and slept a lot.

Taught this kid how great an egg hunt is on Easter.

PRed in a local 5K in May. Finished in 21:57, first in my age group, second place woman overall.

Decided to start blogging again for myself and my family. First post here. Blogging has been a huge part of my life this year, and has led to so many wonderful opportunities and so many amazing new friends.

Celebrated the wedding of Matt's sister, Dana, and her wonderful husband Rob. More photos from the day here

Chopped off my hair and got into the whole jumpsuit thing. 

Had the best Fourth of July ever. 

Met a giraffe.

Had a weekend away with these lovely ladies.

Danced our kilts off at Irish Fest.

Spent a weekend at the cutest VRBO with my brother, Andy, and his fiance, Anna.

Celebrated Callum's Second Birthday with a ridiculous amount of balloons.

Joined the team of contributors for the launch of MKE Moms Blog. Every single mom on this team has been nothing but a huge inspiration since I've got to know them. They are amazing.

After almost seven years at Kalmbach, I left for a new opportunity. It was a really tough decision, but one I am ultimately happy I made. In my new position as Communications Manager for a local nonprofit, I am much more passionate about the work and have really enjoyed the new challenge.

Had a big birthday party for Matt at Big Bead Brewing with so many wonderful friends and their kids.

Dressed up as a family of super heroes for Halloween.

Hosted a cookie decorating party for Christmas, and I'm still cleaning up the sprinkles. But, it was totally worth it.

Callum fell in love with Santa.

Transitioned Callum out of his crib and in to a twin bed. More on this in a future post.

Fostered a number of really, really great dogs with Tailwaggers 911

Photo by Nicole Berlowski.

What a wonderful year it was! I am truly blessed. Bring it on, 2016!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Favorites {20}

Alright, everyone, hold on to your Christmas jammies! This week's Friday Favorites are all holiday favorites. I know, I know. You can hardly contain your excitement.

Since I know you can't wait, we'll go ahead and jump right in.

1. This video of holiday hacks from What's Up Moms is so great! I especially love the hack for watering your Christmas tree and hanging Christmas lights on your mantle. It also totally motivates me to go wrap a bunch of presents.

2. I ordered these Christmas pajamas for Callum in November from Crystal Faye Embroidery. I am totally obsessed with them, and they are even cuter on Callum! I'll be sure to take lots of pictures on Christmas morning. I ordered them a size too big, as well, so he should be able to wear them next year, too!

3. Every year, we decorate a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve. I love it so much, and I get so into it. I want it to be perfect! Well, this year, we have a toddler who is going to want to help with everything. I was talking to a friend about it and she suggested having Callum decorate waffle cones like a Christmas tree, and then we'll (hopefully) be able to work on the house uninterrupted. I turned to good ole' Pinterest for some examples and found a ton of them! I think Callum is going to love doing this.

Photo from Some What Simple.

4. This photo series of a baby dressed up as Elf on the Shelf is so amazing. I can't stop laughing. 

5. Finally, I just wanted to share this recipe for Candied Pecans. I've been making a ton of them these past few weeks and handing them out to friends and neighbors for Christmas gifts. I think it's way easier than making cookies, and so delicious. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar, but I used 1/4 sugar and 1/4 brown sugar. I also added some vanilla. They turned out delicious! I bought some cute bags from Target (in the dollar spot, of course) that make for the perfect way to package the pecans. Simple, delicious, and so cute.

I'm off to squeeze in as much Christmas fun these next few days as we possibly can. I can't believe it's only seven days away! Have a good weekend!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sesame Street Live Ticket Giveaway

GIVEAWAY CLOSED: Winner of the two Sesame Street Live Tickets is Jocelyn Miller! Congratulations, Jocelyn! Email sent to accept tickets.

Callum has been obsessed with Elmo for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure what it is about that little red guy, but the second Callum spots him anywhere, it's all he can focus on. I have this app on my phone that essentially lets you FaceTime with Elmo, and it has been a saving grace on long car rides, restaurants, or just when Callum is in a grumpy mood.

So, when I found out that Sesame Street live was coming to the Milwaukee Theatre January 9 - 10, I knew that we would have to check it out. The show coming to Milwaukee, "Make a New Friend," will be featuring Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, and more. Each performance is 90 minutes of singing, dancing and audience participation, including a 15-minute intermission. The perfect length for very young children, like Callum. Other than a few sporting events, Callum has never been to any sort of live performance or movie. I just know he's going to love seeing some of his favorite characters come to life in "Make a New Friend."

About the show, from Sesame Street:

No matter where you’re from or where you’ve been, everyone is special - so join in! Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and their Sesame Street friends welcome Chamki, Grover’s friend from India, to Sesame Street. Together, they explore the universal fun of friendship and celebrate cultural similarities, from singing and dancing, to sharing cookies! Join the fun and make a memory with your friends and family!

Sesame Street Live's "Make a New Friend" will be in Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Theatre for five performances: 10:30 AM, 2:00 PM, and 5:30 PM on Saturday, January 9, and 1:00 PM and 4:30 PM on Sunday, January 10. Tickets are on sale now at the Milwaukee Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster locations.

Are you interested in seeing Elmo and the rest of the gang at their Milwaukee performance? I am so excited to have two tickets from Sesame Street Live to giveaway to a Milwaukee-area reader! Enter in the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win two tickets to any one of the Milwaukee Sesame Street Live shows. It's going to be the perfect larger-than-life performance for your little ones!

We'll see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Friday Favorites {19}

Happy Friday, errrrrrbody! Who's ready for the weekend? *Hand-raised!!!!*

Matt has been beyond busy at work, so I know we're all looking forward to just spending time together as a family. We're planning on visiting Santa, checking out some holiday lights, and having a Friendsgiving with some of our favorite people.

By the by, be sure to check the blog on Monday morning. I'll be holding a giveaway for all you Milwaukee Moms with little ones that you're not going to want to miss. Here's a hint: Elmo!

To celebrate the start of another weekend, here are some of my favorites from this week. Check it, check it out!

1. Last week, I saw a post on Instagram from Homey Oh My!, where she shared a simple idea for making garland to use for wrapping Christmas presents. She used bakers twine and a star hole punch to make this super cute and simple garland gift wrap. I loved the way it turned out, and it was so easy! I found the twine at Target in the dollar spot, and just used computer paper for the stars. Callum even helped punching out the stars. You can find the instructions here.

2. Last week, my friend and neighbor, Alyson, hosted a Downton Abbey tea party. Yes, a DOWNTON ABBEY TEA PARTY! Sorry to yell, but it was really that awesome. She had the cutest table set up, served us delicious scones, and we even left with some tea and a Downton Abbey mug. If you're in to Downton, check out her blog post about the party. She's giving away an adorable Downton Abbey prize pack.

3. I made this Copycat Colectivo Baked Oatmeal this week and it was a huge hit in our house! I mixed it all up the night before, and then just baked it in the morning. Super simple, and everyone ate it. Win, win. I will definitely be keeping this in mind the next time we have people staying at our house. It's one of those recipes that seems like it was a lot of work, but was actually very easy and quick.

4. I was sent this sippy cup from Tervis, and it has immediately turned in to Callum's favorite. You guys. It is so durable. And, it is the perfect cup for when Callum insists on drinking without a cover on the top (which is most of the times these days since he's smack dap in the middle of that twonanger stage). Plus, there's bulldozer on it. #boyswillbeboys

5. Yesterday, I hosted a little cookie decorating party at my house for some friends and their little ones. It was such a great time! There were sprinkles everywhere, and Callum ate his weight in frosting, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. The kids had such a blast making a mess, and I so enjoyed talking and drinking coffee with some of my favorite moms. It was such a great morning!

If you're looking for some fun stuff to do this weekend in Milwaukee, check these out:

Have a great weekend everybody! Only two more weeks until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This past weekend, we officially rolled in the holiday season at the Olson house! We've been talking to Callum a lot about Christmas, and Santa, and all the other fun things that come with this time of year. So, it was so fun watching him experience all the things we've been explaining.

We all know that Callum is obsessed with trains, so we had to be sure that we made it out to see the CP Holiday Train when it stopped in Wauwatosa. Friday night, along with every one else in Wauwatosa, we did just that.

The train was scheduled to stop in Tosa at 8:15. We got there around 7:30 and could not believe the crowd! There were so many people. It was insane. I was worried we weren't going to see anything, but the crowd ended up looking worse than it was. All of the people just added to the fun atmosphere of the evening.

We met up with some friends (who are also our next door neighbors), and Callum was so happy to be running around with his partner in crime while we waited for the train. The temperature for the night was perfect. Considering the time of year, it could have been much, much colder with snow every where.

The second the train rolled in, shortly after eight, Callum got on Matt's shoulders to watch and stayed there the whole time the band performed. If you've never seen the CP Holiday Train, the entire train is covered in Christmas lights, and, at their stops, they open the doors on one of the cars and there's a band playing Christmas music. Callum just stared at the train and danced along to the music. He loved every second of it.

At one point, we tried to put Callum on my shoulders for a bit because Matt was getting a little tired. Callum straight out refused. He knew Matt was taller and he could see more up there.  After the band played for about 20 minutes, we watched the train pull away. As it was leaving, Callum said, "Love you, train." It was the sweetest. He had such a good time watching the train. We can't wait to see it again next year!

Saturday morning, we went to get out Christmas tree and decorated the house. Even though it's a lot more work to clean it up, we get a real tree every year. Nothing beats the smell of a real tree. I think this year is my favorite yet as far as our decorations go! Can I leave them up until March?

Sunday night, St. Nick came. Callum woke up to a few trains (of course) in his stocking, lacing boards, and some candy. Callum didn't quite understand "St. Nick." He thought a friend of ours, named Nick, stopped by with the presents. He didn't care either way. He was just so happy with the new trains, and he hasn't stopped playing with them since. He's even been taking them to bed with him.


Then, late Sunday morning, we went to the Milwaukee Public Market to see their gingerbread house display. Students from MATC make the houses, and then they are on display at the Market until December 15. If you're in Milwaukee, go check them out! They were unbelievable.  My favorite was a gingerbread model of the house from the movie "Up." It was amazing.

This coming weekend, we'll be taking Callum to visit Santa. We've been talking about him a lot, and we've been calling him using an app on my phone. Callum has been asking a lot when Santa is going to come. It's so sweet. He says he's excited to meet the Big Guy and sit on his lap, but we'll see how he does when he's actually there. Whether he's screaming or smiling, we'll be sure to get a good picture. We'll also be decorating cookies with friends and taking a holiday lights tour. Let the holiday fun continue!

When I'm looking back at this post years from now, I also want to remember how warm it's been this December! Tomorrow, we're looking at record highs near 50. I've heard many people complain about the warm temps and hoping for a white Christmas, but I am just fine with it. I've been so enjoying the warmer weather with lots of running outside and trips to the parks. I hope it stays this way til April. 

What're your favorite things to do with your family during the holiday season? Let me know in the comments! I'm also looking for fun Christmas ideas.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Four Holiday Gift Guides: Read

Here we are at Week Four of my Four Christmas Gifts Guide! Out of all the weeks, this one was probably my favorite to put together: READ.

If you missed what Four Gifts is all about, I've decided to change the way we give gifts this Christmas and start using the Four Gifts system. Four Gifts is all about cutting down on gifting and giving gifts that someone truly wants or needs. There are four categories (need, want, wear, read) and you buy something from each category. You can see my previous gift guides here: want, need, and wear.

I've also hooked up with 10 other bloggers to bring you a huge giveaway during our Four Gifts Series. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and enter for your chance to win a ton of prizes. One winner will receive a Target gift card, World Market gift card, personalized cutting board, jewelry, and more. And, be sure to check out the other bloggers' gift guides, too!

Whenever I'm stumped as to what to get someone for a gift, I always turn to books. There's a book for everyone out there, even those who claim to not be readers. Here are some of my favorite books for readers, and nonreaders alike!

Gifts for Toddler

Gifts for Him

Gifts for Her

What are some of the favorite books in your house? Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

 4 Gifts Christmas Giveaway! Target Gift Card, World Market Gift Card, and More!

$165 Target Gift Card  |  $25 World Market Gift Card  | Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  |  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  |  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  |  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  |  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles