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December Catch-up Part 2: Train Crazy

Nick and I spent several weeks before Ethan’s birthday deciding if we should do a low-key gathering somewhere outside the house (easy!) or do a train-themed party at our house with all the train bells and whistles (not-so-easy!).  It’s always a balancing game deciding between what is easy and low stress vs. investing time and thought into making your kids days special.  I don’t know how long it will be until Ethan moves on from his train obsession into a new interest so we decided to have his train party to  celebrate capturing exactly who he is right now–an amazing, energetic, train crazy 4 year old!  If you need some b-day party ideas, especially train ideas–get ready because I’m about to blast with you with pics of all the goodness!

We started by sending out ticket invitations to all the kiddos to get their imaginations going!  I found a file download for custom invites on Etsy–awesome!

We wanted the train excitement to start before the kids even got to the door.  I found this cute RR xing signal sign on ebay.  Someone who lives locally was selling it so I got free local pickup–but even better, she delivered it to us!  One of my fave decorations was Nick’s duct tape train tracks.

The kids brought their ticket invites and were met by the party conductor at the door to get their ticket punched to start the party.  Next they were outfitted in their engineer hats and bandanas.

We had 5 train stations for the little engineers to complete and they had their ticket punched at each station.

The train puzzle station:

Decorate a train cookie station: 

Train coloring station:

Cargo transport station:  For this station we combined geotrax sets of ours and our friends and ended up with a HUGE train set.  This station was one of the favorites for sure!

And the last station was coal shoveling.  Nick is hands down the master at taking my ideas and bringing them to life above and beyond what I had envisioned.  I asked him to make some sort of cardboard train cutout so the kids could shovel coal into the train.  The train was custom perfection!  There’s not a good pic of the backside but there was even a little compartment with LED candles lit up behind a silhouette of flames so it really looked like a coal compartment!  This was another favorite of the kids, and mine too!

After everyone played at the stations we had snacks, cupcakes, and opened gifts.

The party was fun, colorful, and energetic.  But, what really mattered and made Ethan’s day special was being surrounded by all of the family and friends who love him so much.  I’m so thankful for everyone who came and celebrated with hugs, smiles, and gifts and for all the helping hands that came early, set up, made signs and cookies, took pictures and video, and ran stations!  Happy 4th birthday to our awesome Ethan!

Heidi - Thank you Jaclyn! The coal was some cut-up black foam that we had in the garage (convenient!). I’m not sure where you could find it…maybe Home Depot/Lowe’s? You could also use crumpled up balls of black construction paper. :D

Jaclyn - Love the party, especially the shovel the coal game! What did y’all use for the coal and where did you get it?

admin - Emily, thank you! I’m so glad you found this post and got some ideas. This party was such a blast, especially for the kids…good luck with your party. I would love to see some pics of how yours turns out!

Emily M - I love everything about this party. My son is turning 2 next month and I’ve been looking for train ideas. Thank you so much! - E’s party was so great and he’s so lucky to have such amazing parents! :) I know all the kiddos had an awesome time too!! Another great job by N & H Betner :)

December Catch-up Part 1: Capturing Ethan at 4

Every year before Ethan's birthday, we take him to get pictures done at JCPenney's to capture one last snapshot before he bounds into another year.  The scenario usually involves Ethan sitting watching a cartoon in their waiting area with tons of little boys in Christmas sweaters and baby girls in red velvet dresses, white tights, and black patent shoes.  We usually wait a good hour past our appointment time, then have to stand at the computer after the pics are done to choose all our photos right then. Ethan's always over it by that point, and I'm trying to decide if grandmas are geting a 5×7 or an 8×10 this year, AND the staff is trying to convince me that the shaded edges are soo much more fancy than the plain edges–for only double the price!  To their credit, they do deliver cute pics at dirt cheap prices, but boy do you pay for it in inconvenience and stress!  Anyhow, this year I really wanted a different photo experience…and I found it!  I won't be clipping JCP photo coupons anymore. My amazing friend, Kimberly Carlson, has been expanding her photography business this past year and I was so excited to get the chance to book her for Ethan's photos. It is such an amazing thing to perfectly capture moments of joy and energy in your kiddos lives as those moments fly by!EthanDouble-4 Ethan is train-crazy, so this location was perfection!EthanEdited-69

EthanEdited-54 EthanEdited-57 

Love, love, love my boy and these beautiful photos!!

Emily - the pictures are amazing!!

Merry Christmas

It's the most busy…errr…wonderful time of the year!!  The blog has been silent, but life has not!  I've got plenty of December goodness to post, but for now here's a little photo peak of a  post soon to come.  Wishing all of you a joyful and relaxing holiday surrounded by family you call friends and friends you call family.  Merry Christmas!!  Ethan4yrs.Edited-46

Happy Birthday!

Nick Baby 4 
Nick kid 1 
Nick teen 18  
Nick teen 5 
Nick 20's 5 
Today, Ethan and I are celebrating the greatest blessing we have in our lives, Nick!  We met right about the time that oh-so-awesome saxophone pic was taken and it was infatuation at first sight from my end!  I am so unbelievably lucky to love and be loved day after day by such an amazing soul.  He has been with me on my very worst days and my absolute best days, and has loved me the same.  He is my endless supporter, constant peace maker, and owner of my heart.  He is Ethan's biggest fan and best friend.  We love him more than we could ever express in words. Happy Birthday Nick!! - Happy Birthday Brother!!!

Daisy Cake

I made a girly daisy cake for sweet K’s 7th birthday.  She is the daughter of a great friend.  A few years ago I made a carrot cake with miss K and now she claims it as her favorite cake flavor–she is so sweet.  So when she requested carrot cake for her birthday celebration, I was all over it!  Both tiers are 3 layers of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I’ve always done fondant decorations but I’ve known that gumpaste is better for some things like flowers.  I handmade all of the flowers, leaves, and curly-q’s with gumpaste.  Here’s two close-ups:

The birthday girl loved her cake and we had a great time celebrating her special day!