“Oh, I just can’t wait to go trick-or-treating…”

You have to sing that to the tune of “Oh, I just can’t wait to be king”, from The Lion King.  (Please.  Otherwise, my title doesn’t work, and I try really hard to make catchy titles and am incapable.) The reason you have to do that is because my boys dressed up as a lion and bird for Halloween.  Harrison has seen The Lion King once, and he still remembers Simba.  He said he wanted to be Simba for Halloween, but he had to be grown-up Simba so people didn’t think he was a lioness (obviously).  It just so happened Beckett was a bird since I got his costume on clearance after Halloween last year.  It worked.  Beckett became Zazu. And, I did just have to look that up.  Until now, I have just been saying, “Beckett is the bird from The Lion King.”.

While not one to spend much on Halloween costumes since the costume is typically worn for a very short amount of time, I was okay with $20 for the lion.  Harrison wore his Cookie Monster costume all. the. time.  I am slightly disappointed he only wore the bird wings I SEWED two or three times.  He had already worn the lion costume 3 times before Halloween.  Plus, Beckett got a huge kick out of Harrison being a lion and coming after him.  This allowed me time to accomplish things like making dinner or spraying a diaper.

Perhaps you saw these adorable photos of my boys floating around:

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Halloween day came, and it rained.  And rained.  I was starting to worry about trick-or-treating.  We decided that at the very least, we would let the boys put on their costumes and go to a few houses in our cul-de-sac and then do some fun stuff at home.  Before any of the action, we had to get some pictures. Notice that while both boys can smile, they appear incapable of smiling at the same time.  At least not while I am taking their picture.

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Fortunately, it was just misting when we headed out, so we did our entire street before heading back home.  It was just right for the boys.  Beckett wasn’t getting any of the candy, anyway, and Harrison was only getting a few pieces.  You would’ve thought we went all over the neighborhood, though. Since the weather was a bit crummy, there weren’t too many people out, so the boys were getting huge handfuls of candy.

Overall, Halloween was a success.  The boys had fun, and I enjoyed just seeing them in their costumes.  A little rain didn’t stop us from our treats.

Our 4th

We had a fun 4th of July this year. We ended up going out to David’s Grandma Bunge’s and having a nice time with the Bunge clan.

Harrison helped me make some mini fruit pizzas.

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Harrison got to play on the farm and ride around on the Gator.  Good food was involved, and everyone had fun just spending time together.

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There were a few fireworks (nothing big).

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Harrison wasn’t too sure. Once he warmed up, he awaited each firework with eager anticipation.

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I think one of my favorite photos from the day was this one I took with my phone on our way home. We offered to take cousin Jenna home so she could go to a friend’s house. She certainly earned the ride.

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“All You Need Is Love…”

And, maybe some paper, glue, scissors… This Valentine’s Day post is obviously a bit late, but it’s better than never. David and I agreed (well, I told him my idea and he was on board) to do something handmade for Valentine’s. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I feel it somewhat silly that David should spend twice as much (maybe more) on roses or any other flower because it’s Valentine’s. I prefer spontaneous flowers, anyway. I also don’t think it’s a one-way street where only a man should get a woman a gift. While we did go out for dinner last year, we usually make a nice dinner at home for this particular holiday. Basically, David wanted to be responsible for dinner, and I had plenty of ideas for what I would make for him.

Using an idea I saw here, I decided to make David a “love” message board.

I modified it slightly (mostly because Harrison took a couple of the rosettes off twice, and I was getting tired of re-gluing) by putting some velcro on the frame and back of the rosettes. I also put some velcro on the back of the frame and the wet-erase marker. It has been a nice way to leave “love” notes to each other. I have kept track of our messages in a little notebook so we can look back at what we wrote. We use to always leave each other notes, and we may have gotten a little off track with that since having Harrison and everything else.

Like I said, David made dinner for us, and he went all out – appetizer and everything. He looked around on my Pinterest boards, and made some delicious dishes, starting with eggplant fries drizzled with honey and sea salt. Harrison almost couldn’t stop eating them to have the rest of his meal. Next, we had an avocado salad, followed by grilled balsamic-garlic encrusted pork tenderloin and roasted seasonal vegetables. I can’t gush enough over my husband and how much it meant that he slaved away in the kitchen like that. Harrison and I made dessert earlier in the day (he wanted in on the handmade process, too) – vanilla cupcakes that we cut into thirds so we could put our homemade whip cream between the layers. We dusted them with powdered sugar and topped them off with raspberries and a bit of chocolate sauce. High impact with little effort. Gotta love it.

Harrison also made a great card for his daddy. I got that idea from here.

We cheated a little on Harrison’s gift because we’d already gotten it for him before we decided on the handmade idea. David’s parents gave Harrison a zoo membership for Christmas, and we received a letter in the mail about their adoption program. This year it was for the red panda. Harrison loves all things animal, and he was talking about pandas a lot, recently. We decided to adopt a red panda in Harrison’s name, and he received a stuffed red panda, along with a cool adoption certificate. His name is on a member list at the zoo, as well. To make it even sweeter, the package came with a penguin t-shirt transfer. Harrison loves him some penguins!

It was a wonderful Valentine’s day, and although there’s plenty of love to go around here everyday, it was nice to set aside a special day to talk about how much we love each other and the different ways we can demonstrate that.

The recipes David used for our delicious Valentine’s meal can be found here, here, and here. He just “winged” the roasted vegetables based on other times we’ve made them.

The cupcake “recipe” was an idea from Real Simple magazine that I found in the August 2005 issue. I can’t remember the name of them to search the website, but I’m sure you could find it there. 

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas…”

This year we only had to travel a little over an hour up the road to be with our families for Christmas. Can I just say how awesome that was. It definitely beats 15 hours in the car with a toddler and dog and paying for gas, food, and hotel.

Although tons of photos were not taken (bummer), a few were, and I thought I would share some of those with you.

Santa definitely found Harrison.

Reading Christmas cards from our stocking. It's an annual tradition to open stocking gifts first.

Tractor!

Truman didn't get left out. He also made out with another toy and some homemade dog treats.

Harrison trying on his new cape. It came with a mask, too, but he's not so sure about that yet.

Waiting for the next gift.

Getting help opening my gift from Harrison.

We had a great Christmas celebrating with family and friends. I realized after the holidays had come and gone that we did not take nearly enough photos, and while many pictures were taken of Harrison, we need to do a better job of getting photos of our entire family and other relatives.

Christmas Cheer

With a lot more space in our new house, and Harrison being a year older (i.e., very into Christmas), I decided we needed to do some more decorating around the house. It’s hard not to get excited this time of year; especially, when you have a child, about putting up a tree, hanging lights inside and out, and adding little signs that Christmas is coming in every room. You can read about our new Christmas tradition here.

In addition to my usual slew of Christmas decorations (see last year’s post here), I changed some things up and added some other decorations. Some of it was out of necessity (more rooms) and some because it’s nice to change it up. I did run into a few problems. For example, we didn’t have room in our last dining room to have to leaf in our table, so 4 place settings was enough. Now, we have the table leaf in, and I don’t have anything to go  in 2 extra spots.

Other changes were much welcome. We decided to go back to a real tree this year. We’ve had a fake tree for the past several years because we lived in North Carolina and always came home for over a week (i.e., the tree would get really dry, and we were really worried it would be a fire hazard). This year, we enjoyed taking Harrison to a tree lot to pick out a nice 7 1/2 – footer to put in the living room. I must say, I love the look and smell of it. We donated our other tree to my brother and his fiancée this Christmas.

With another living space upstairs, I had another room to decorate. That’s where we hung Harrison’s ornament bags, and I made a light decoration to hang around the big window. This was my inspiration:

I just used leftover scrapbook paper I had from several years ago and made mine Christmas-themed. Here’s how they look upstairs: No picture, because even though I wrote this draft before Christmas, I didn’t take pictures and then we took decorations down. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have a front porch on this house, so that meant no lighted-garland on the porch railing. David did hang some around the door and put some lights on the bushes. I’m hoping to score some deals right after Christmas on lights so we can buy some more for next year. All in all, I think it looks good, though.

So, what have you been doing to bring Christmas cheer to your house (if you celebrate)?

We’ve also been DIY’ing some Christmas gifts around here. I’ll post on that later. 

Image for paper cup lights found here

A New Tradition

I saw this: 

And I decided to do this:

I made some modifications, obviously. I wanted to use items I already had on hand for this project, and I didn’t feel like searching for cloth bags and fabric paint. I also didn’t hang ours from the mantle, as we already had that decorated and our stockings hung. I liked the idea of hanging this upstairs so Harrison could come out of his room each morning and take a bag.

So, what is it, exactly? Well, I don’t like to call it an Advent calendar, because that’s not what it is despite all the misconceptions about Advent calendars. This is really a Christmas “calendar”. I put an ornament in each bag (appropriate for Harrison), and hung them on a paper Christmas garland I purchased from Target for $3. Only 9 bags fit at a time since I didn’t use a longer garland, but that’s fine. I will switch them out after day 9. I also decided that day 25 will have a new ornament. We have a tradition on my side of the family to gift an ornament on Christmas. I found a John Deere tractor ornament at Hallmark. Harrison is really into all types of vehicles, and he loves tractors!  I’m still not sure how we’ll do the last few, though, because we plan on being with family the few days before Christmas.

Harrison is enjoying the ornaments so far, and he loves picking a place on the tree for them. Mommy is being very good about letting him choose anyplace he wants and not encouraging him to pick other spots, even if it leaves the tree a bit off-balance. Here are a few pictures from our first day.

Trying to find "1"

"What's in here?"

A "first Christmas" ornament

I am excited to start this tradition with Harrison, and I can’t wait to continue it over the years with him and future children. Anyone else have Christmas traditions from over the years or ones they started this year?

Advent bag image found here.

Thankful for Pinterest

I finally made a craft (actually 2) from Pinterest! That may not sound terribly exciting to some of any of you, but it was a huge deal for me. See, I have pinned away for months now, and I have made some dishes and found some great gift ideas for people. I haven’t made anything on my inspiration boards, though. I kept seeing other art and diy projects people had done and realized I needed to stop pinning and start actually doing. With the holiday season upon us, it was the perfect time. I scanned my boards and chose some projects to do with Harrison and some decorations for me to make for Thanksgiving.

Other than purchasing some extra paint colors, I didn’t have to buy any other supplies for these two projects. The first project was a finger paint turkey Harrison completed. Here’s the pin:

Here’s what Harrison and I did together:

I happened to have appropriately colored cards, and I thought they would be perfect as place-setting cards for Thanksgiving. Harrison lasted through most of them, but I did have to finish 1 or 2. He loved telling me which colors to use. Here are a few shots of the place cards on our Thanksgiving table:

 

The second craft  I completed was for decoration. Here was my inspiration:

The process was pretty simple and quick once I got the hang of it. The flowers don’t look like much, initially, but once they are up on the wall in a cluster, they look really great. Here’s one of my flowers:

And here’s my arrangement above the fireplace:

I tried using small adhesive squares that were wall-safe that we already owned, but they stuck to the wall and not the paper even though I cleaned the wall and pressed for the 30 seconds on the directions. I ultimately went with picture-hanging nails because we agreed it would have minimal impact on the wall, and we knew eventually something more permanent would go up on the wall. The nail head actually looks cool up close and you don’t notice it from afar. 

Here’s a breakdown of my supplies:

Fingerpaint Turkeys:

  • Cardstock: already owned
  • finger paints: $4 (we will use these a lot, so pretty cheap)
  • construction paper or marker (for beak, feet, and eyes): already owned
  • Total cost: $4

Paper bag flowers:

  • Lunch-bag sized paper bags: already owned
  • Scissors
  • Glue-stick: already owned
  • Nails or other hanging method: already owned
  • Total cost: Free!!!

Images for projects can be found here and here. The finger paint turkey is linked to my Pinterest image because the site the original image came from has been suspended for some reason. 

Egg-cellent Weekend

Okay, so it’s kind of a corny title, but it fit with the Easter theme of this post. Last weekend was the first Easter Harrison could actively participate in. Last year, he happily gazed at his Easter goodies from a bouncer, probably wondering what was going on. He was only 4 months old at the time, so he couldn’t crawl to find any eggs or sit up and grab the things in his basket.

This year, I got excited about Harrison being able to engage in the Easter festivities. We had such a fun time celebrating with Nana, Aunt Katie, and our neighbors last weekend. Friday morning, Nana, Harrison and I went to story time at Barnes and Noble with our neighbor, Katie, and her two children Rin and Abe. We listened to Happy Easter, Curious George, and then Curious George showed up. Harrison wasn’t so sure about this. He did eventually decide it was okay if I held him to go over and say “hi”, but that was it. I am completely fine with him not wanting to hug a person dressed up as an animal right now. He much preferred playing with the train table and exploring the kids section.

Our other wonderful neighbors had given us a flyer detailing some Easter events at their church, and when I saw “egg hunt” and David saw “bounce house and moonwalk”, we knew we had to go (and take Harrison along, of course). I asked around and found out Harrison would be able to easily find eggs since they just plopped the eggs on the ground for the 1s and 2s to pick up. It was also nice because they set a limit of 7 eggs/child to make sure everyone got just enough to make them happy. Well, it was a good thing they also said they would announce if children could gather more after a set time because Harrison didn’t get the hang of it until his 5th egg, and he was on a mission. He didn’t know what was inside the eggs (candy for Mommy and Daddy), but he enjoyed shaking them to make music. He already knew how to open them from some eggs his sitter sent home with him, so as soon as we got home, I dumped the candy into a bag that went into the pantry and put some Annie’s cheese bunnies and Gorilla Munch into the eggs. I don’t mind some sweets, but I’m pretty sure the people who put the candy in the eggs were assuming the parents were the ones eating it (Starburst, Nerds, and DoubleBubble graced the inside).

Before the egg hunt, Harrison had fun walking around with his balloon (2nd favorite thing beside the egg hunt), going down the huge inflatable slide with Daddy, bouncing around in the mini bounce house, and playing other games. The church really did an excellent job catering to all age groups with the activities they had planned and it was a great layout. Right before the egg hunt, they shared the Easter story. Again, they had a bear tell it (I think this is something they use with the children at this church a lot. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure why a bear. ), which made it easier for Harrison to pay attention. He seemed enamored with this “talking” bear.

Later that afternoon, Aunt Katie was kind enough to hide the eggs several times for Harrison to find. We started out trying to “help” him, but he didn’t need our guidance. He had quite the eye for the eggs. I was worried he might keep expecting something inside of them, but he actually just enjoyed the “hunt” and all the cheering we did when he found the eggs. I should’ve made Aunt Katie wear our bunny ears while she hid them. Darn it. There’s always next year.

Saturday night, David assembled a wagon for Harrison. This is funny because we purchased this as a Christmas gift, but after the generosity of family and friends, we decided to hold onto it for later. It made sense anyway since it was highly unlikely we would be pulling Harrison in a wagon in the winter months. I found some cute apple baskets at Michael’s that we used as Easter baskets and put a few bath toys and books in one for Harrison. Again, we didn’t really have to get him anything as both sets of grandparents took care of that. His favorites were a touch and feel Peter Rabbit book from his Nana and Grandpa B., a dalmatian toy from PaPa and Grammy K., and a Sing-A-Ma-Jig from us.

Sunday morning we went to Mass and then came home to have a walk with the wagon and one more indoor Easter egg hunt. Nana and Aunt Katie had to head back shortly after lunch, and by then Harrison was one tired little boy. He slept that afternoon from 12:45 – 4, and we had to wake him up! He was not too happy with us, and he was ready for bed again at 7:00. He had such a busy, fun-filled weekend, that he needed extra sleep.

That was our “egg-cellent” weekend. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend, too.

Feeling a bit ornamental

Okay, so maybe that was a stretch (“ornamental” instead of  “sentimental”). I’m trying to get creative with the titles, but maybe it’s not working out. I wanted to post about the holiday season over here at the Bunge household since most none of our family will be able to personally view our house or smell the goodies baking. The creative and decorative juices were flowing this year, folks.  I used everything from recycled San Pellegrino bottles leftover from Harrison’s birthday party (you know for those babies with an acquired taste for water) and seasonal beer bottles,  to pine cones and blankets. Multifunctional was the name of the game, and so was budget. So, while I had a gift card to Michael’s left over from my birthday in July, I still got great deals on what I did buy thanks to holiday sales and coupons. The biggest splurge was the blanket-turned-Christmas tree skirt ($20) that I bought from Target. More about that later. We’ll start at the front door and work our way around and through the house.

Fa-la-la-la…

“Deck the halls” didn’t make the list, but here’s a little breakdown of some of my favorite holiday/Christmas songs. A “Top 6”, if you will. These aren’t in any particular order. Oh, and I don’t really think you can go wrong with Andy Williams or Charlie Brown Vince Guaraldi.

1.) Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season – Andy Williams

2.) Sleigh Ride – Andy Williams (yep, he made it on here twice. I love the instruments, background vocals, and overall feel of this song)

3.) Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives

4.) Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band

5.) A Charlie Brown Christmas – The entire album. This just sings? plays? Christmas time to me.

6.) The Christmas Song/Merry Christmas – Nat King Cole

Here are a few “honorable mentions”.  Even though it didn’t make the top of my list, I do enjoy Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Her new song, “Oh, Santa”,  may beat it simply because it’s more dance-able and it got Harrison shaking his groove thang. “Toy Jackpot” by Blackalicious has me pumped for Christmas, too. You can catch it on a Target commercial and download it for free here.

For the sake of putting it out there, there are a few that I do NOT like. I don’t know that there’s 5, but there are at least 4 I can think of. And they don’t get the holiday color treatment, either.

1.) Last Christmas – Wham! (or Glee cast for that matter. Sorry guys. Not this time.)

2.) Same Old Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg

3.) Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy

4.) Mary Did You Know – Kenny Rogers and Wynonna (love the lyrics, not the actual song)

So, what about you? Do you like/hate dislike the same songs? Are there “musts” on your Christmas playlist that aren’t on mine? Do you vehemently disagree with me on one/some/all of these? Oh, and I consider this separate from Christmas songs you hear at Church.  I was going a different route with my list.