Monday, August 31, 2015

Family weekend

This weekend, we got out of Dodge to join my brother, Andy, and his fiancé, Anna, for a couple of days at this cozy little retreat we found on VRBO. Andy and Anna live in Minneapolis, and with us being in Milwaukee, we were looking for a place about half way in between where we could meet. This little house was perfect! The views were amazing, it sat right on a small lake, and there was plenty of room both inside and out. We had such a great time.

We spent a little time fishing, and I definitely mean little time. An almost two-year-old can only last for so long in a small row boat. During that short time, Callum was able to catch his first fish: a tiny, tiny perch. There were a ton of apple trees on the property, too. Callum loved picking and eating the apples. Andy has a small drone that we spent some time flying. There was plenty of open space for that. We also rode bikes, played horseshoes, relaxed in the hot tub, and played cribbage. The only thing we didn't get to do was finish a 1000 piece puzzle we all spent lots of time working on. So, that'll have to wait until next year.

On the fridge at the house there was a signed Scooter Gennett baseball card that said, "Thank you. Had a great time." Gennett played for the Milwaukee Brewers this year. We took a look at the guest book, and it definitely looked like he stayed at the same house this summer during the MLB All-Star break. My baseball-loving husband really thought that was cool.

So, overall, we all had a wonderful time. We definitely hope to make it back next year, and for more time so we can get lots of "puzzling" in. If you're looking for a nice place to get away to in Northern Wisconsin, let me know and I'd be happy to send you the direct link for this house on VRBO. It really was perfect.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Favorites {10}

It's Friday, Friday! Gotta get down on Friday! (Ha. Totally just had to watch that YouTube classic. So ridiculously bad. Now it'll be stuck in my head for eternity.)

I hope everyone had an amazing week and has a fun weekend ahead! Callum is finally feeling better after the worst week of teething we've ever seen. It was rough. But, we made it through it. Plus, we're all sleeping again, which always makes life infinitely better. Here are a few things that made this week more bearable. Check em out.

1. Free coloring printables from This Girl's Life.

Have you jumped on the coloring bandwagon yet? If not, you need to! I downloaded these last week and am officially addicted. I love it. It really is a great way to unwind. Plus, they're soooo pretty.

2. I love this video from Buzzfeed on 6 Knife Tricks That Will Change Your Life. That onion cutting tip. Mind blow.

3. Busy Toddler is one of my favorite Instagram accounts to get ideas for fun things to do with Callum. The other day, I saw an ice activity that I knew would be right up Callum's alley. He loves playing with ice! So, I froze pennies in ice creams, gave him my meat mallet, and let him have at it. He was in heaven. When we ran out of ice cubes with pennies in them, I just gave him plan ole ice for him to bang on, and he still loved it. Success!

Side note: Up until this very moment, I totally thought a meat mallet and a meat cleaver were the same thing. I decided to Google meat cleaver just be sure, and I am so, so lucky I did. You guys would've thought I was nuts if I told you I gave my toddler a meat cleaver.

4. Amazon Prime Music. A few weeks ago, a friend told me how much she loves the music and all the playlists available on Amazon for Prime members. I finally got around to checking it out, and she was totally right. If you're a Prime member, check it out. They have especially good playlists for kids. Plus, you can download them right to your computer, and then you don't have to worry about being connected to wireless.

5. Finally, just had to share this amazing video of a teacher flash mob singing "One Day More" from Les Mis. I love, love, love Les Miserables. Such a great musical. And, this is definitely the best song in the musical. So, I especially loved this flash mob. To be totally honest, I especially love all flash mobs. 

Good luck to all teachers (and students) heading back to school! I know this is the last summer weekend for the kids in our 'hood, so I hope it's a good one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The dogs of our lives

Happy hump day, peeps! How's the week going for you so far? We've had a couple low-key days thanks to poor Callum cutting his two-year molars. Teething has never seemed to bother him too much in the past, but these guys are coming in with a vengeance! It's been a few days of bad sleep, high fevers, and just an out-of-sorts Callum. Last night, during one of the 100 times he woke up, he was just moaning and holding his cheeks. I feel so bad for the poor guy. I hope those buggers come in quickly and I get my Callum back.

In other news, today is National Dog Day! In celebration, I thought I'd share a few words about our fur babies, Jax and George. After all, we totally consider them a part of our family. I am absolutely crazy about dogs in general, but especially our dogs.

A few fun facts about raising your kids with dogs: Research shows that children who grow up with pets get sick less and have fewer allergies, have higher self-esteem (thanks to the constant love dogs provide), and help to teach patience, kindness, and responsibility. Not, too mention, they are built in best friends.

George and Jax.

Matt and I adopted Jax from the Wisconsin Humane Society in April of 2010. He was just under a year old, and had been surrendered by another family for his high energy level. Let me tell you: high energy level was an understatement. He had actually been at the Humane Society for quite some time. They had been promoting him online and even in local newspapers, and they were offering a steep discount on his adoption fee.

The day Matt and I went to meet him, the adoption counselor escorted us to the very last hall of the kennels, and to the very last room. Our poor Jax (Polo at the time of his adoption), was way in the back. I will never forget walking into the room to meet him and he literally jumped all over us. He was crazy. Absolutely nuts. And, clearly, we were too, because we brought him home. On the way home, crazy Jax chewed right through the leash. We should've taken that as a sign.

When we first adopted Jax, he required so much work. He needed to be run in the mornings and nights,  or else he would just go crazy. I remember taking him the dog park one evening, and someone commented that he must not have been to the park in months. My response, "I was actually here with him this morning." That's how nuts he was.

Jax has always been an anxious dog: very jumpy, he always has to be near you, and wouldn't eat his food if he knew we were leaving for work. When I was pregnant with Callum, his anxiety increased ten fold. It's like he knew something was up, but he couldn't tell what it was. When we would leave him alone at home, he started to become destructive. He chewed and scratched at the wooden doors and windows in our house. He would bark the entire time we were gone. The poor guy was just so anxious.

The first time Jax met Callum.

Then, Callum was born, and that all stopped. Jax has always been amazing with Callum. When Callum was really tiny, Jax would just lay by him, watching over. Now that Callum is in his face almost all the time, Jax simply walks away if he doesn't want to be bothered.

With Callum in the picture, Jax obviously received a less attention in our house. We no longer had the time to take him to the dog park everyday. We had a baby to take care of, and, unfortunately, he just took the back seat. I felt so guilty about this constantly. When Callum was a year old, we decided to start fostering dogs with Tailwaggers 911 in hopes of figuring out whether we wanted to adopt a second dog or not.

I loved fostering dogs! Every single dog that came in to our house was absolutely amazing. That being said, fostering dogs did not come without its challenges. Every time a new dog came to your house, it basically had to be trained from scratch. But, let me tell you, it was always, always worth it. 

Then, in October of last year, George arrived at our house as a foster. Just like Jax, George was a crazy ball of energy and was always going, going, going. When he was at a previous foster home, he actually managed to escape through their bathroom window! He's Houdini.  The first few days we had him at our house, I actually requested that he be transferred to a new home. I was encouraged to wait it out, and I am so, so glad we did.

After a few weeks in our home, we realized that George was the dog for his. Jax and George were instant best friends. In fact, George was almost adopted once while we had him. He was gone for one night, and there was a huge mood change from Jax. When George returned, Jax was the happiest I've ever seen him. Since adding George to our family, you can definitely see a huge mood switch in Jax. He is more at ease, is braver with everything, and always eats his food. He just seems to be a much happier dog.

With the addition of George, we sadly decided to take a step back from fostering. Now, we only foster dogs for a very short period because two dogs and a toddler are enough excitement for me right now. But, if you've ever considered fostering dogs, I can not say enough good things about Tailwaggers. If you have any questions about fostering, shoot me a message and I'd be happy to talk to you about it.

Jax and George couldn't be more different from each other. George loves toys, while Jax could do without them. Jax could run for hours, while George will make it like 10 minutes (unless he's playing tennis ball, then he could go for hours). George loves swimming, while Jax hates it. We sometimes joke that if we took both of their good qualities and put it in to one dog, we'd have the best dog ever.

I have really loved being able to watch Callum grow up with the dogs. "Dog" was actually his first word. They are usually the first thing he asks for when he wakes up in the morning. He always wants to be where they are. In fact, he has even begun to help us feed them each day. They are his brothers.

So, our lives would be not the same without our dogs. They make each and every day brighter and always provide the perfect pick-me-up when we're having a bad day. Plus, they are good for comic relief. Jax and George have had such a positive impact on my life, and I can honestly say I am a kinder, more patient human because of them.

Happy National Dog Day! If you have a fur baby in your house, go give that dog a snuggle for me. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Celebrating 90 years

This weekend, we drove up north to spend the weekend with Matt's parents, and to celebrate Matt's maternal Grandfather's 90th (yes, 90!!) birthday. We arrived late Friday evening, which gave us all day Saturday to relax and just spend time together. Saturday, we played with cousins, took the dogs for a swim, and just had a nice, low-key day.

Sunday was the day of the big 90th birthday celebration! The party was held at an old dance hall in Theilman, Minnesota. It was a beautiful building that was built over 100 years ago! Matt's grandpa used to go to dances there when he was young. He was telling us how they would put their horses on the first floor of the building, and then walk up to the dance hall on the second floor. It is so crazy to think about what a different world it is now, than it was 70 years ago. The party was great! We ate, played cards, and watched the kids chase each other around. Callum ended up with quite a stomach ache after the party thanks to the bowls of chocolate that were everywhere, so they were difficult for tiny hands to avoid.

This side of Matt's family is huge! Seriously. It's been growing at a rapid exponential pace. It's been a long time since all the cousins were all together in one room, so it was so great to see everyone and just spend the afternoon together. It also can not go without mention how great of a man Matt's Grandpa Paul is. The huge turn out at the party goes to show what a kind, selfless man he is. I can not think of a better person to celebrate.

Cheers to 90 years!!

Granpa Klees and his kids.

And the grandkids.

And the great grandkids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Am I really in the moment?

A few weeks ago, I posted this photo on my Instagram with the caption, "Callum loves sitting in the bathroom with me while I get ready for the day, and I have a feeling his interest in my morning routine is not going to last. So, I'm more than willing to sacrifice an eye shadow palette or two during this time."

In this one moment, I was there. I was soaking it in, watching my son as he was swiping my make up brush across his face and holding my breath as he attempted to open my mascara. However, ten seconds earlier I was irritated that he was even in the bathroom at all, slowing down my routine and just getting in the way.

In fact, I appreciated nothing about this moment until I realized I could Instagram it. After capturing the shot and seeing this minute from a different angle (literally), that's when I fell in love with it. 

I'm all too often guilty of exactly this.

When Callum wants to help me stir the pancake batter in the morning or crack an egg into the pan, I often roll my eyes and stress out about the inevitable mess. When Callum pulls out the big box of Legos after I just picked them up for the millionth time that day, I often exhale deeply and walk out of the room. When Callum wants to pick out the shirt he wants to wear, I tend to say no and just make the decision because I think we don't have the minute to spare.

Everyday, I tell myself I am appreciating the moment and soaking in all the the little things, but am I really? I would have to say the answer to that is a big, fat "No." So, the next question is, how can I change that? How can I slow down these little moments and just be more present in them?

Since no one has figured out how to slow down time, I'll have to cross that option off my list. My next idea is to set a goal and write it down, which sort of starts with this post right here. Every morning when I wake up, I'm going to remind myself to pick one moment during the day when I focus on nothing else other than the present. I won't worry about the time. I won't worry about the mess. I won't worry about my to-do list. I will just be there. Soaking it all in.

My plan is to do this for the next month. 30 days of little things. It is my hope that after this month, I'm a more present parent than I've ever been. With Callum a few weeks shy of turning two, I'm discovering now more than ever just how fleeting every moment is. It's time for me to make a much greater effort at soaking them all in.

So, come along for the ride. Soak in the little things and follow along as I make an effort to be a more present mom. Interested in challenging yourself, too? Share your everyday moments with me using #30littlethings. Let's inspire each other to be in the moment.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Milwaukee Irish Fest (or the day Callum wore a kilt)

And just like that, we've arrived back at another Monday. How was your weekend? Other than being ridiculously hot and humid all weekend, ours was really great. Friday evening was spent walking to get ice cream and watching an impending storm blow in. Sunday, we had the time of our lives painting exterior windows. I also snuck out in the afternoon to see Trainwreck with a friend. It was so hilarious! Obviously Amy Schumer's comedy isn't for the easily offended, but I thought it was so good. The ending was great! I left the movie with one of those ridiculous grins on my face caused by feel-good romantic comedies. 

Saturday, the Olson clan ventured down to Irish Fest to watch the dancing, listen to bagpipes, and just have a craic (the Gaelic word for "good time," pronounced "crack.") Random side note: My dad used to have a t-shirt that said "Craic Addict," and he wore it to Irish Fest every single year. Makes my heart so happy to think about it.

I've been going to Irish Fest my whole life. My parents have a picture of me at nine months sitting on the fair grounds, listening to music, late at night. It's one of my favorites. Like I mentioned on Friday, my dad volunteered at every Irish Fest he was alive for, and my mom is a member of the Milwaukee Currach (Rowing) team. Irish Fest brings back so many happy memories of my dad, of growing up, of spending time with my friends. Just so much happiness. I think it's because, no matter how different I may be now than I was 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, Irish Fest is still the same. 

This year, it was so fun to walk Callum around the grounds and do things that I remember doing as a kid. We borrowed a kilt from a friend (yes, we have some awesome kilt-owning friends) for Callum to wear, and he looked so great. Just seeing him stroll around the fair grounds in the kilt was probably the highlight of the day.

When Callum was done for the day, we ran him home, put him to bed, and, after our sitter arrived, headed back down to the festivities for a few more hours. We listened to a few of our favorite Irish bands (The Red Hot Chili Pipers and Rising Gael), had a few beers, and met up with some friends. It was the perfect night out.

Here are a few of pictures from the day. Enjoy!