Friday, October 25, 2013

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

For Hunter's 2nd birthday, I kind of had to do a Cars theme.  The kid is mildly obsessed not only with all things motor vehicle, but the Disney movie as well.  

After going all out for his first birthday, I wanted to keep things low key this year.  Just immediate family and neighborhood friends, I said.  We will keep it small, I said.  

I should know better.  30 adults and 14 kids later, we had ourselves a guest list.  

To keep costs down, I relied heavily on Dusty from All Things G&D and her list of free printables.  They were a life saver.

For food, I kept it pretty simple with chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese (for the kids) and sandwich sliders and pasta salad for the adults.  

I also added in some Chex Mix as something to nosh on the go.

I snagged the sandwich sliders from our local grocery store, Giant.  It's the same place I got the 6ft hoagie last year, and man am I glad this is the route I went.  I thought about pizza, but the boxes take up so much room, and you never know if you have enough plain for everyone.  I didn't want to get another 6 ft hoagie because transporting it was a bitch, and so was cutting it into individual sizes.  With the sandwich platter I had a nice mix of chicken salad, egg salad, ham & cheese, roast beef & cheese and turkey & cheese on potato rolls.  They were a huge hit.

Instead of having doing one big cake and having to cut it, I opted for more grab-and-go options of cupcakes (red velvet and strawberry), Twizzlers, and of course Luigis Casa Della tires made of  chocolate donuts.

The pièce de résistance was in the back yard.  With 14 kids, and only 600 sq ft in our main living area, I wanted to have activites to keep them occupied.  I painted a couple boxes to match the characters Lighting McQueen, Chick Hicks and Strip "the King" Weathers.  I was all about just letting them run around the back yard willy nilly, but JEGs said "Oh no.  They need a race track".

So a race track he did build.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Falconhead 500

I had to take the picture from Hunter's room so you could see the whole thing
He grabbed two cans of spray paint from Lowe's (the kind specifically made for lawns) and outlined the track in white.  Since our backyard is still a hot mess of monkey balls and super deep holes, he used orange spray paint as a way of letting the kids know they shouldn't be running in certain areas.  I had ordered 100 ft of checkered flag banner that we cut in half and strung across the yard from poles mounted to the fence.  Balloons and safety cones from Lowe's marked the Start/Finish line.

This was such a huge hit for the kids!  Not only did they use the boxes, but they took any wheeled vehicle Hunter had for a spin around the track,  ran three-legged races and just chased each other around!  It was a great way to keep them occupied AND burned off energy!

Abigail and Wyatt dominate the three-legged race

My nieces Skylar and Bridget take Chick and the King for a spin

Hunter runs around with Lighting

..but ultimately balloons win out.
Gabe of Shannigans fame even made an appearance 
We sang Happy Birthday and finally let the kids pounce on the chocolate donuts they had been eyeing up all afternoon

In the 'Winners Circle' I had favor bags for the kids.  I glued VIP pit passes to the front of the bags, and inside was a Matchbox car, M&Ms, and Cars stickers.

I am really happy with out everything turned out.  Many thanks to all our friends and family who made it out!

Always & Forever,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hunter: 24 Months

I know, I know, I haven't been great at blogging the monster's monthly photos (or even taking them for that matter), but you guys... my baby boy is two.  He's not my baby boy anymore.. he's-- a little boy. 

I had this big realization last week:  I am finally enjoying being a mom.  Now don't think that I didn't love Hunter with ever fiber of my being, but I for the past 23.5 months, I have been in survival mode.  Every single day felt like I was just trying to make it through the day, and if I could without either Hunter or I melting down, it was a victory.  I think I am a relatively "good" mom, but I wasn't enjoying it.  At all.  

However, the past couple of weeks I've realized that I really like it.  I like spending time with Hunter.  I like talking with him.  I like laughing with him.  I like thinking of activities to do with him.  I *gasp* want to have another baby (no, this is not a pregnancy announcement).  Step aside Stella-- Lizzie got her groove back!  Hey girl!

In the past month, we took an overnight trip to Margate, NJ with our dear friends Max and Whitney.  It was the best weekend!  Hunter was so well behaved, and we had so much fun playing in the sand and splashing in the waves with Daddy. 

So much fun that he PASSED.  OUT. on the walk back from the beach.

We took a chance and went out to dinner (something we never, ever do with Hunter), and he was great.  When he had finished eating, I took him to the front of the restaurant because he was fascinated with the live musicians and their "tars" (guitars).  

He even took a spin on the dance floor with his Momma

On Labor Day we spent some time at the Elmwood Park Zoo to feed the giraffes with my brother, his wife Bryn, their three kids Owen, Skylar and Hayes, and their friends.  Hunter got to spend some quality time with his Uncle Tim

Skylar, Aubry, Owen H. Owen M. Hunter

In other news worthy events of the past month, the Bubs spiked a 104+ fever for the first time.  Although he wasn't showing any other sick symptoms, we took him to the ER as a precaution.  They stripped him down to his skivvies and kept an eye on him until the fever came down.  And watched monster truck videos on Daddy's phone

Hunter continues to be obsessed with all things cars.  The only toys he will play with have four wheels.  He also really loves "playing cars" with Daddy-- aka JEGs plays Forza on XBOX and Hunter holds his own remote.  Although most of the time is spent as Hunter changing the type of car they are driving.

We really try to spend time outside while the weather is still nice.  Our neighbors gave us their old bike seat for JEGs' bike.  Hunter loves to go around the block a couple times, and you can hear him giggling as we go over bumps.

After many years of saying the only thing that would make me run was if someone was chasing me, I started the Couch to 5K program.  It's a great way for me to get some exercise and keep Hunter occupied at the same time.  We snagged a jogging stroller from a consignment sale, and we pound the pavement 3-4 days a week together.  

In semi-related news, I hate this jogging stroller with every fiber of my being.  Can anyone recommend a good stroller for a newbie runner?  I'm not going for speed right now, still running in timed increments.  I am thinking I want a swivel wheel because this fixed wheel I have gives me the fits.

  I can't believe it little dude... you are two years old.  You have grown up so much in the past year!  You have moved from the Young Toddler Room to the Older Toddler room at day care.  We miss Miss Tara and Miss Jen a lot, but so far you really like Miss "Inder" (Ginger) and Miss "Affy Daffy" (Stephanie).  Your crew at school seems to be Jordan, Jack and Zach-- they always get excited when you walk in.

Everyone we meet comments on how well you speak.  Your verbalization is pretty good-- you will repeat pretty much anything that is asked of you (and a few things that aren't, like Mommy's cussing. Oops), you can put together complete sentences, spell your name, know all your colors, count to 10 and according to your teachers, say your ABC's (I have yet to hear this).  You love to listen to music and dance by flapping your arms and running in circles.  Your most prized possession is your Mater push toy, he is the first thing you play with when you get home, and you always ask to take him outside.

You are definitely as stubborn as your mother- if I try to help you with something you'll say "No Mommy.  I do myself!".  There are days when you are in full-on toddler mode of screaming when things don't go your way, throwing, kicking, hitting and touching things that YOU KNOW you aren't supposed to touch.  When we go to scold you, you run and hug our legs and say "hug Mommy/Daddy, hug" which instantly disarms us.

No matter how good or bad the day has been, we miss you when we are at work, or even when you are in bed.  You are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and we wouldn't trade you for the world.

Yellow, little dude.
  Mommy and Daddy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mudroom Makeover Update

One of the most pinned images from my website is our mudroom makeover, when we spent under $100 to transform it.  It's been over a year, so I figured I would show you the few updates we've made.

To begin with, I picked up this rack to hold the iron and the ironing board and hung the stroller from the bar. With the stroller and  board up off the floor, we now have a space to tuck our rug scrubber (aka, my first life of defense against Hunter and a sippy cup).

I also ditched the sideways ballerinas and had some art commissioned from a "local" artist, if you will.  

I pulled out a some frames and made this into a revolving gallery for Hunter's daycare artwork.  The larger frame on the left and the smaller frame in the middle are from IKEA's RIBBA collection, and the frame on the right was a yard sale find that I spray painted white.  

The milk glass compote bowl was another yard sale find that is great for tossing laundry treasures like loose change or earrings (in my case).  Since this room leads to the back yard, I keep a bottle of sun block on the shelf to spray down the monster before he heads out.  Also, the cherry wood box on the far left are the remains of my beloved Murphy.

The "vase" for the plant is an old beer bottle (Lindeman's Framboise.. mmm raspberry...), and the jug by the window (which I have convinced myself looks *just* like those old school oversized glass vases from Z Gallerie) is actually a jug of wine leftover from our housewarming party.  Sadly, I had nothing to do with the emptying of that wine.  It was days after we found out we were pregnant.

I am still on the hunt for a nice yarn rug for the space, but I haven't found anything that's caught my eye.  I wouldn't mind replacing the garage-like light fixture as well, but our end game plan for this space is a powder room, so I'll just deal with it for now.  

This room may be tiny, but I love  how far it's come since this...


Always & Forever,