Monday, November 21, 2016

Sesame Street Live Giveaway

Updated: Congratulations to Lauren Hankins! She's won the four tickets to a Sesame Street Live show in Milwaukee.

Last year, we took Callum for his very first Sesame Street Live experience. To be honest, I was not really looking forward to it. I thought it would be a situation where I would be desperately searching for a cash bar. But, it was totally the exact opposite.

We had such a wonderful time and we all enjoyed the show so much. In fact, we left with the soundtrack and I am not even joking when I say that we listen to it every single day in the car. I can not wait to go again this January. The songs were so much fun and the I could not believe the dance moves of the actors in those big (and I can only imagine, very hot) costumes.

I am so thrilled to once again have four tickets to giveaway to one of you to the upcoming shows in Milwaukee! Sesame Street Live's "Elmo Makes Music" will be at the Milwaukee Theater on Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15. In "Elmo Makes Music," the new music teacher’s instruments go missing. Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird, and more come to the rescue and discover instruments they never knew existed. Children learn that everyone can make and enjoy beautiful music together! 

The show runs for 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. When we went last year, Callum was just over two and was definitely entertained the whole time. He had no problem at all sitting through it. In fact, I'm pretty sure he clapped and danced the whole time. In addition, after we saw the show last year ("Make a New Friend"), we had so much to talk about with Callum. What I thought would just be a fun couple hours of entertainment, turned in to an educational opportunity that we still talk about today.

I really can not say enough wonderful things about these shows, and if you've ever taken your kids to one, I'm sure you'd agree! If you're interested in winning a four-pack of tickets to a show on either January 14 or 15 in Milwaukee, enter using the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway closes next Monday!

To learn more about the show or to purchase tickets, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sesame Street Live Giveaway

Last year, we took Callum for his very first Sesame Street Live experience. To be honest, I was not really looking forward to it. I thought it would be a situation where I would be desperately searching for a cash bar. But, it was totally the exact opposite.

We had such a wonderful time and we all enjoyed the show so much. In fact, we left with the soundtrack and I am not even joking when I say that we listen to it every single day in the car. I can not wait to go again this January. The songs were so much fun and the I could not believe the dance moves of the actors in those big (and I can only imagine, very hot) costumes.

I am so thrilled to once again have four tickets to giveaway to one of you to the upcoming shows in Milwaukee! Sesame Street Live's "Elmo Makes Music" will be at the Milwaukee Theater on Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15. In "Elmo Makes Music," the new music teacher’s instruments go missing. Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird, and more come to the rescue and discover instruments they never knew existed. Children learn that everyone can make and enjoy beautiful music together! 

The show runs for 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. When we went last year, Callum was just over two and was definitely entertained the whole time. He had no problem at all sitting through it. In fact, I'm pretty sure he clapped and danced the whole time. In addition, after we saw the show last year ("Make a New Friend"), we had so much to talk about with Callum. What I thought would just be a fun couple hours of entertainment, turned in to an educational opportunity that we still talk about today.

I really can not say enough wonderful things about these shows, and if you've ever taken your kids to one, I'm sure you'd agree! If you're interested in winning a four-pack of tickets to a show on either January 14 or 15 in Milwaukee, enter using the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway closes next Monday!

To learn more about the show or to purchase tickets, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 14, 2016

35 weeks (Alternative title: Over It)

This is your fair warning: I'm about to whine for a bit. I recognize everything could be worse and it's really not that bad, but sometimes, a girl's just gotta whine for a bit. If you're not in to it (which I totally understand), scroll to the bottom of the post for some baby products I'm looking forward to trying this time around.

Here we go.

These last two weeks have been rough. I feel like I was strolling right along just fine, and then BAM! I'm super pregnant and feeling it. I've received so many comments, too, about how I just seem to have popped. Plus, this last week and a half or so has just been a difficult week in general. Daylight saving times hit us like a ton of bricks. The the election on Tuesday (enough said). Then, on Saturday, Matt's dear cousin, Laura, passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. There's just been a lot of stuff to deal with, making these fast few weeks just that much tougher.

Back to the wonderful third trimester symptoms. I'm so uncomfortable almost all the time. It is hard to sit. It is hard to lie down. I'm out of breath just getting dressed. Bending over is just about impossible. Baby has been moving like crazy, too. For the most part, it's amazing! But, it's like he knows just when I've gotten comfortable, and then he digs his head in to my hip or rolls over my bladder. Matt and I were watching TV the other night (Stranger Things! OMG! So good.), and my belly was just bouncing and moving like crazy. I told Matt to feel it and he said it felt like this kid was boxing inside of me. Seriously. That's how intense the movements have been.

Sleep has also been much harder to come by. I feel like I am up every hour to go to the bathroom, because of acid reflux, or to roll over. Getting in and out of bed is such a project in and of itself. Thankfully, despite my disrupted sleep patterns, I haven't been too exhausted during the day. I just really wish I could have one full night of sleep.

I will say, I do think I am in better physical shape at this point than I was when I was 35 weeks pregnant with Callum. At 35 weeks with Callum, I was taking daily walks but had stopped running. This time around, I am still taking barre several times a week, which I think is really helping with my overall muscle tone. Despite feeling in shape (relatively), I still just feel huge. I hate the way all my clothes fit and just feel generally icky about my current appearance. I know this all comes with the territory, but it is still always an adjustment. We're taking our family Christmas photos this weekend, and I am hoping that seeing those will help me see myself through a better light.

The newborn anxiety has also totally set in. I feel like it's so much worse the second time around because you know what you are in for. Labor is hard and postpartum recovery is no fun. The "fourth trimester" is full of struggles. And, unfortunately, I am not blissfully ignorant about all of that anymore. Don't get me wrong: I am so excited to have this baby! We hoped for it for so long and it is hard to believe that the day is almost here. But, I now know just how difficult the newborn period is. It is an adjustment all around and I feel like I'm bracing myself for that crash landing.

I've been trying to soak in as many moments as I can with just Callum. I'm well aware of the fact that his world is about to be turned upside down, and that kind of breaks my heart. In a way, I feel like I'm in a little bit of a mourning period. We're saying goodbye to his days as an only child, and it fills me with all kinds of guilt and sadness. After we are all adjusted to life as a family of four, I know he is going to be an unbelievable big brother. We talk about the baby all the time. He has said how he's going to teach the baby to play hide and seek, share his toys, and even help burp the baby. This past weekend, we were washing and putting away baby clothes and he loved helping me find matching pairs for all the tiny socks. So, I think we are doing our best at showing him what's to come. But, there's really no way to fully prepare him. He is so social and always wants to be around other kids. Unfortunately for Callum, babies aren't nearly as exciting as another three-year-old is.

The big question: Are we ready? I think we're as ready as we'll ever be. The nursery is stocked with clothes and diapers. I've packed my hospital bag. We've discussed several options for care for Callum when it's time to go to the hospital. So, now we wait.

A few detail shots of baby's room. I painted the statement wall with my own two hands while I still had that second trimester energy.

New Baby Products with Number 2

We really didn't need to buy much when getting ready for this new baby. After all, we still have most of the essentials: crib, car seat, clothes, etc. Still, there are a few new products on the baby market that I am looking forward to trying out this time around. Here's what's on my list.

1. Wooden teethers - Not only are they so much cuter than the plastic rings, they are much safer, too. This particular teether is made from non-treated wood and finished with a non-toxic vegetable seed wax.

2. Dock A Tot - With Callum, the first few weeks at home were rough. I think much of that was because we didn't have a co-sleeping option. I wish I would've researched it more before Callum was born, instead of just listening to all of the scary warnings about it. This time, I hope to have baby next to me safely in the Dock A Tot. It is also super easy to move all over and ideal for travel. It designed for newborns all the way up to eight-month-olds, so it should be a great option for a while for visiting friends and family, too. Not to mention, it takes up much less space than a pack n play.

3. MamaROO - With Callum, we were lucky enough to have a family member lend us their swing. (Thanks, Sarah!) So, we were in the market for a swing for Baby 2. I looked at quite a few options and kept a close eye on local buy/sell/trade sites. When I saw a like-new MamaROO come up for a sale at a really great price, I jumped at the chance. So far, I can tell you that it is really easy to move and take the seat off to be washed. I also love how low to the ground it is (so Callum can easily see baby) and that it takes up much less room than a swing.

4. Grocery cart hammock - As we wait for our new addition, one of the main things I'm stressing over is how I'm going to get every day tasks done with two kids. Grocery shopping towards the top of the list. With this cart hammock, it will be much easier to fit both Callum and a baby in the cart. Shopping with Callum and a baby in a car seat will leave just about no room for the actual groceries. I'm thinking this little contraption will help solve that.

5. Matching pajamas - This one is totally just for fun. With two boys, I'm so excited to get them in matching pajama sets. Finn + Emma has some super cute ones that aren't too matchy, like the ones shown above. I'm sure Callum and his brother will thank me in their college years. ;)

Is there anything I'm missing? Have you tried any of these? Let me know what products were essential once you added that second baby to your family. I have a few exciting sponsored posts coming up in the next week. So, I'm sure I'll check in again before Baby gets here. Either way, it won't be long now! I truly am so looking forward to meeting our sweet little guy. My heart is bursting already.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Trip to the Jurassic

For those of you who do not personally know my kid, he is officially dinosaur-obsessed. He was a T-Rex for Halloween, loves to run around "roaring" everyone, and could spend hours watching Dinosaur Train. In fact, the other day he actually asked me to teach him how to read his dinosaur book. (If only it was that simple.)

So, when I saw that Jurassic Quest would be in Milwaukee (for the very first time!), I knew we had to get there. Last weekend, Matt, Callum, and I did just that. You guys. I am not even kidding you when I say I felt like I was in the movie Jurassic Park. It was so unbelievable!  It definitely put our one T-Rex at the Milwaukee Public Museum to shame.

Jurassic Quest dubs itself the largest exhibition of life-size, moving, museum-quality dinosaurs in North America. The exhibit features more than 50 animatronic dinosaurs that you can interact with. You can even ride a few of them. It was just so cool. The dinosaurs were moving, roaring, and even swinging their tails back and worth. Plus, they were most definitely life-size. Many of them made my six-foot-plus husband look like a little ant.

When we first walked in, Callum was waaaaaay overwhelmed. Like way overwhelmed. We quickly found some baby dinosaurs that he could ride and get close to. That helped a little bit, but he was still a little nervous of the huge roaring, moving dinos, and I totally can't blame him. So, we made our way to the back of the expo hall where they had a bunch of activities geared just towards little ones. I look forward to going back when he's a little older and we can really get in to the different types of dinosaurs and learn so much more about all of them.

We spent most of our time there with the friendlier dinosaurs. There were dinosaur-themed bounce houses and slides, an area to do some excavating, little jeeps for the little ones to drive, and even the opportunity to ride a real-life moving dinosaur. We easily killed a couple hours here and totally wore Callum out. (Thank God for bounce houses! Amiright?) P.S. Watch a video of Callum riding a triceratops here. How cool would it be to have one at home and just ride it around the neighborhood?

I will say that the line for some of the activities was looooooong. I would stand in line while Matt and Callum would go do something else for a bit. The line was especially long to ride the dinosaurs. I think I waited for 45 minutes, and the place didn't seem especially crowded. So, I would definitely recommend getting there right when everything opens and getting in those lines right away.

This post would not be complete without a huuuuuge shout out to all the staff at Jurassic Quest! These awesome people lifted kids on top of dinosaurs and strapped them in, were literally run over by the jeeps with the tiny (very inexperienced) drivers, and were so patient with all the kiddos.  Everyone had a smile on their face and respected the fact that this was a new, exciting experience for every one of the kids, even though the staff was spending their ENTIRE day doing it. I really don't know how they did it. I was beyond impressed.

They also have two shows that run regularly throughout the day: one featuring baby dinosaurs and one featuring walking dinosaurs. We were able to catch the end of the baby dinosaur show, and it was so worth it. They talked about all about the different types of baby dinosaurs they had, and then they walked around with tiny animatronic dinosaurs that you could pet. It was so crazy! The baby dinosaurs seemed so real! They would nuzzle you or nip at your clothing. They weren't puppets because the people carrying them had both of their arms wrapped around them. I was pretty convinced that they were actual baby dinosaurs. It was pretty exciting, even for me, to suspend reality for a bit and imagine they were real. 

We spent about three hours exploring Jurassic Quest before nap time called and we had to get our tired toddler home. But, I totally wish we would've had more time. If Jurassic Quest is back next year, we will definitely be there! With Callum another year older, I'm sure he'd be a little less afraid of the larger dinosaurs and even more in to everything. 

Long story short: Jurassic Quest is an awesome experience for kids and adults of all ages. There was more than enough to do to keep everyone busy for a long afternoon or even the entire day. Even if your kid is not super in to dinosaurs, they'll have a great time at Jurassic Quest.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Thoughts on Turning 30

Today, I officially say goodbye to my 20s and stroll into a new decade. Hello, 30s!

First off, let me say that I by no means consider 30 'old.' It's just one of those milestone birthdays, and I feel it begs some thought and reflection. On one side of the coin, I'm a little sad to say goodbye to my 20s. Although not without their challenges and sadness, my 20s were amazing, and I'm choosing to focus on the positive.

I met, fell in love with, and married a man who is the perfect ying to my craziness, I mean yang. But seriously, I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life. He supports everything I do, and just about everything good in my life is because of him. We've built a wonderful life together, and I so often pinch myself to make sure it's all real.

Our wedding day. April 14, 2012. Photo by Alex & Natalie Nelson.

And, I'm crying already. #blessed But, really, so blessed.

Careerwise: I finished school, found one job that I loved, and then another job that I loved. I started my college career as a physical therapy student, and was pretty lost when I realized that wasn't for me. But, somehow, it all worked out, and my work journey has landed me in a role I truly enjoy. Not to mention, both organizations that I worked for made it possible for me to spend more time at home as a mom. Everyday I am grateful for my work-life balance. Because of it, I cherish every single day I am able to stay home with Callum, while still appreciate every day I have at work.

Working part-time also gave me the opportunity to begin this little blog, which has led to many fun opportunities. The best part of blogging has been meeting so many wonderful people, now friends, along the way. It also gave me the opportunity to become a part of MKE Moms Blog, which has been an unbelievable adventure. I can not say enough amazing things about all the wonderful and inspiring moms I have met because of it.

Obviously, the most life-changing adventure of my 20s was becoming a mom. After having Callum, there is just no doubt in my mind that I was put on earth to be his momma. He challenges me, inspires me, and makes me laugh every single day. As much as I enjoy some time away from him every now and then, a little bit of me always aches to have my arms wrapped around him.

And it would be wrong not to mention the amazing community of friends I have. I can't help but think of that nursery rhyme, "Make new friends, but keep the old..." I am so lucky to say that I have friends who have known me since way before my 20s, and they continue to mean the world to me. We are all spread across this country, but every time we are together, we pick up right where we left off. On the other hand, my life would be incomplete without all the amazing friends I have made in the past few years. I have so many people I can count on every day, and I am a better friend, wife, and mom because of them and their influence on my life.

I guess what it all boils down to is this: my 20s were filled with so much love, laughter, and happiness. I somehow managed to carve my path and build a wonderful life with my family, amazing friends, and community. Don't get me wrong: It has not been without it's challenges. If a genie came through with three wishes, I would definitely take her up on it. But, all in all, life is oh so sweet.

Today, on my birthday, I am filled with so much gratitude. I should be counting my blessings each and every day, but that rarely happens. It feels so good to take a moment of reflection and recognize how blessed I am.  Not that I am any sort of expert, but if I had to give any advice for everyone else in your 20s: Your life is your life. Do what makes you happy, and f*$# the rest. Seriously. Life is too short for anything else.

Goodbye to my 20s. I can not wait to see what the 30s have in store.

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. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Day in the Life {2}

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

Hey, there. It's me, Megan. Remember me? I know it's been a long time, too long. Life has just been crazy busy lately, and I haven't been totally motivated to write about anything specific, so I thought a little break wouldn't hurt. And, you know what, I think it did me good. I feel like I have several fresh ideas rolling around, and I am looking forward to writing about them soon. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to share a day in the life post. These are my all-time favorite posts to look back on. Callum changes so, so much in such a short period of time, that I so often just forget what a certain stage was like. These posts help me freeze frame this period.

So, here's what our day looked like last Thursday, February 25. I must say, this was a very, very busy day. Callum and I definitely get out of the house a lot, but this day was especially packed. I promise most of our days aren't quite this exciting.

5:45 - I woke up to Callum crying in his room, about an hour earlier than he should be up. He's definitely still tired since he didn't wake up happy. I head to his room and snuggle him back to sleep. He falls back asleep quickly, but unfortunately I don't.

So, I get up, make some coffee and watch some news. I also catch up on a few days in my Mom's One Line a Day diary. I love, love, love this journal, but I rarely write in it everyday. I tend to write three or four days at once.

7:30 - Callum's up and ready for breakfast! He loves to stand at the kitchen island and just chat away while he slowly, slowly eats. He also tends to eat his cereal with both his spoon and his hands. I guess it's just easier for him to get it in his mouth that way. :) He's also been inhaling cuties like crazy lately. 

8:30 - We're off to the gym. Any time we're driving in my car these days, we're listening to the soundtrack from the Sesame Street Live show we went to. Callum asks for it every single time I start the car. I actually don't mind it at all, and love to make Callum smile as I ridiculously sing along to it. 

A few weeks ago, I was driving around in the car by myself and it took me about 20 minutes to realize I was listening to Elmo and singing along. #momlife

I get in a run at the gym while Callum hangs out at the gym daycare. He loves it there! And I love that I can get my work out down right away in the morning. Here. Enjoy my first, and most likely last, gym selfie. Also, I had my pants on backwards the whole time I was at the gym. I thought I was really making progress on that mom tummy. Turns out, that extra room was actually for my butt. 

10:00 - After the gym, we headed to my friend, Abbey's house, for a playdate with her son, Otto. The boys had a great time playing with trains, planes, and cars, and I had a great time talking with Abbey over some coffee.  Love me some play dates.

1:30 - After a quick lunch (He was asking for more Rice Krispies, but I was able to distract him with some mac n cheese and veggies.), Callum's down for his nap and I get a little work done. Thankfully, Callum still naps in the afternoons for a good 1.5 - 2 hours. When his bedroom door is open, he can see me sitting in the dining room while he's laying in his bed. So, I get started at the computer, and he falls fast asleep. 

3:00 - With about an hour left before Matt gets home, I decided to pull out some markers and paper. Callum traced his hand, while getting more marker on the table than the paper. Thank goodness for washable markers!

3:30 - After coloring for a bit, we spent some time showering our new foster pup, Max, with some attention and cuddles. He's the all black one in the picture below. Max had a rough beginning in his life and is pretty scared of people. We've been basically forcing our love on him, and he is slowly, but surely, starting to warm up. We just have to show him how great being in a loving home can be!

I should've mentioned this earlier, since we stopped to do this many times during the day, but we've slowly started potty training. We're not forcing anything or taking Callum out of diapers yet, but I try to frequently ask Callum to sit on the potty, especially when we're at home. We've been doing the old one M&M for a No. 1 and two for a No. 2, and it seems to work really well. After we've been doing this for several weeks, Callum has actually started heading to the bathroom a couple times without us asking him if he has to go. Progress! In a few weeks, I hope to have him in diapers 100% of the time. Like I said, I'm not forcing it, so if it doesn't work out, we'll just wait a little longer.

4:00 - Matt gets home and we all head outside to play for a bit. And, here's where things get real exciting. Sweet Max managed to get out of the yard and we spent the next hour or so trying to convince him to come back. Since the poor guy is so scared of us, the last thing he wants to do is come to us when he's called. With the help of some neighbors and their dogs, we managed to safely bring him home. While we were Max-tracking, Callum played with our amazing neighbors. Such life savers!

5:30 - I had plans to meet my friend, Danielle, downtown for dinner and a drink, but we quickly changed our plans after I was stuck corralling Max back home. So, we went just down the street from my house to Hue for wine and pho. It was so great to catch up with Danielle and was the perfect opportunity to unwind after a crazy busy day.

8:00 - I got home to a quiet house. Everyone was fast asleep! After letting the dogs out one last time, I snuggle up with some Netflix and veg out until bed time.

Just recounting this day makes me remember how exhausting it was. But, it was a good one!