A Zoo Birthday with a Special Cake

Just humor a sentimental Mama here for a moment.  You know my kids growing up always gets me right in the feels.  These were my “last night with my 2 year old Evie” moments.

Evie knows how to start her days RIGHT – with a nice big cup of “kef!”  You really can’t beat a good, healthy cup of keifer. 🙂

A traditional birthday walk on Daddy’s shoulders (a tradition that won’t last forever I’m afraid…).  With a stick of course….

Evelyn reusing the classic train outfit from Abby’s 3 year old party.

Little Peanut is getting so big!!  I can’t handle it!! ❤ ❤ ❤

I always let the girls pick what kind of a party they want, based mostly on their cake request.  Evie gave me quite the challenge this time around when she told me very decidedly that she’d like a chocolate zoo train cake – a blue chocolate zoo train cake that is.  I found some inspiration off of pinterest, but mostly came up with this chocolate graham cracker and frosting creation.  It was a bit more difficult to piece the engine together than I anticipated and I had to make the process take longer with chances for frosting to dry/harden, but it eventually was complete!

Yup, I’m doing all angles of the cake here.  It took me ten years to make, them five minutes to eat, and let’s just all sit and appreciate it for a minute now. haha

The good news is, it was 3 year old approved!!!

I also made some zoo animal cookies and a hummus platter lion (note to self: don’t ever buy garlic hummus.  I like garlic, but this was waaaay too much!)

The banner was sort of jungly, but jungle, zoo, eh….. it works, right?

Time to blow out those candles!!  I helped her out a little bit to avoid the cake being covered in spit. ha

Our birthday girl. ❤  We had fun celebrating with you today and being thankful for the gift of your precious life.  Thank you, Lord, for this undeserved blessing. ❤

Oh, also we took Evie to the zoo a couple days before her birthday.  We had some cool kids go with us. 🙂



Birthday Babe

Parenting win of the year.  We kept almost forgetting about Elly’s big FIRST birthday.  If it wasn’t for her older sisters, we probably would have! haha  Thanks to them, she didn’t miss out on her cake.  The morning of her birthday, they were asking me, “Is Elly gonna have a cake??  Does she get a cake or anything for her birthday?”  Oooooh, yes.  Yes, yes, she does.  Good thing it’s our Aldis day!  We’ll just add a boxed cake mix to the list! Woo!

I happened to have some leftover pink and white frostings in the fridge, so I made a round cake and tried to do a darker pink strip, a lighter pink strip, and a white strip.  So fancy, right?  haha  The sprinkled #1 on top made it all better.

Elly’s cake eating pictures were probably my favorite so far.

First, the cautious, “What is this stuff you put in front of me?”



That awkward moment when you look up and realize everyone is watching you stuff your face.

“Eh… oh well!  This stuff is too good to care!”

Double-fisting it!

*Sugar Coma*

Annnnnnd we’re done.  Mama intervention and cake time is over. haha

We didn’t have a present for Elly because, TOYS.  All over my house.  Constantly.  But I started thinking it would be kind of fun to watch her open one, soooo I wrapped up an old baby doll of Evie’s and we were good to go!  #regifting  #practicalparenting  #recycling  #toomanytoys

I wrapped Elly’s cute little present up and she took off running with it.  She thought it made a great accessory…..

….Until she became bored of the seemingly useless blob and threw it.

Our “sweet” little Eliana can be quite foul when she wants to be.  She wasn’t getting the “open it” concept very well, so I plunked her on the couch with it and gave her some extra encouragement.

She fiddled with it for a little bit….

And then got frustrated and kicked it to the floor while doing her squealy bratty yell thing.  So adorable, right?  Err…..

After practically opening it for her, she finally was motivated enough to pull the doll out.

She decided to be sweet again and gave her new baby lots of very wet kisses.

Then she ran her baby over to the window, but her chair (aka stepping stool) had books on it.  So she had to whack those off to the floor first.

Then she told her baby all about the outside world and gave her a few more kisses.

Time to open her present Emmy and Papa sent for her.

Well, that went well.  SHOVE.  KICK! haha

I opened it for her since she was being little Miss Attitude, and what did she do?  Shoved the clothes back in the back.  MMM!!

We still love you, Cutie! ❤ haha  XOXOXO



Abigail’s Princess Birthday Party

Trains… trucks…. the princess party is finally here!  I have waited long enough to have a more girly themed party. haha  Abby had actually been planning to have a princess party for her four year old birthday ever since last year.  She currently has the next two years’ themes picked out as well.  We’ll see if she changes her mind before then, but I kind of doubt it.  Here is one of the princess invitations I made, recreated from a version on Pinterest/Etsy. haha


Abby was hoping I could make a “castle cake” for her party.  I found some inspiration off Pinterest and came up with this.  I could have made it a little more appealing by using two layers for each of my layers, but that would have required more time, frosting, and well… throw some candy on there and Abby was going to be excited regardless. haha


I loved the idea of using sugar cones as the low maintenance castle towers.  I spread a light layer of frosting over each cone, and dropped sprinkles all around them until they were covered.  For each flag, I used half of a toothpick with a paper triangle taped on.  I was having some trouble getting them to stand upright on the cones, so I melted a little almond bark and drizzled it around the bottom of the toothpicks.  I had to do one at a time and hold them in place while they dried, but it went pretty fast.  I was worried they wouldn’t hold up, but they were actually stuck on pretty tightly when I went to break them off at dessert time.  I could have just used a glue gun for speed, but I didn’t want the kids getting glue in their food.  Ew.



Tasty sugar cookies with purple frosting and light and dark purple sugar crystals sprinkled heavily on top.  I used this recipe from my mom.


Decorating was so much fun!!  Abby picked out some princess colored rolls of tulle at Wal-mart, and I cut strips and knotted them around a string.  When it was long enough, I tied/taped it around our dining room table and voila!  A table fit for a princess!




I created this princess banner.  My favorite part about it was how the princesses were “holding” it up.



Oh my word.  My sweet, little four year old was inspired to create with all of my decorating going on.  I let her cut and glue with some of my scraps and I’m pretty sure she created a princess from my nightmares!  Awww! haha  She was so proud of it, and wanted to be sure we used it in our decorating!  Of course we had to find a prominent space on the fridge for it, but oh dear….. it is a bit frightening!


The table spread, complete with necklaces and wands for all the royal guests, and princess napkins of course.  They were from Wal-mart and they were the coolest.  Seriously, they were like little princess booklets with a different princess on each “page!”




In preparation for party time, we blew up some balloons and I painted the girls’ fingernails PINK!!  They were loving it.  Abs still gets uptight about me washing her hands, because she doesn’t want me to wash her polish off!  I told her we could repaint if needed.



Getting her “princess shoes” on.


She still needs her crown.



Our little princess all decked out.




Abby’s “princess dress” was one of my old dance recital dresses.  I actually wore this one when I was seven, but it was the most princessy one, so I pinned it a bit in the back to help it fit and we went with it. 🙂



Little sister, Evie, wanted to dress up like a princess too.  I’m not sure she ever realized this wasn’t her party…. ha


I asked Abby to show me how old she was and she went with the ol’ 3 + 1 method.


After a tasty supper of pizza and pink lemonade, Abby was ready for the long awaited CAKE TIME!!  Following a round of “Happy Birthday,” Abs finally got her long awaited ice cream and cake.


Quick picture with the birthday girl before the faces were destroyed….


Abby Joy loves to be prepared  and had picked out her two ice cream flavors (strawberry cheesecake and cotton candy – the real hot item) months ago.  Cotton Candy was a real success among the young guests.  Oh, and with my brother, Jake…. but, he is basically still a child. 😉


The party was great, but I was left wondering….. Are you sure you can’t stay my little girl forever?? ❤



Abigail’s party was a couple days before her actual birthday.  She was ready to enjoy another day by the time she really turned four though.  Evie and her were excited to start the morning off with some giant princess coloring pages!


Although Abs had to wait for Daddy to get home before she could open her present from us, she got to open her tiny present “from Evie.”  I think Evie was just as curious as Abby was to see what was in there.


It must have been pretty great, because Abby was excited to share her “Baby Rose” with Evie afterwards.


This precious little girl really is four years old!



Snack time = leftover castle towers!



Daddy finally came home and Abby got to open her new Lego set!  She was pretty excited.


For supper, Abby picked to have chicken wraps!  Excellent choice!  I just looked and I’m pretty sure I never posted the recipe I use, which is pretty tragic considering it is delicious!!  I’ll put it on my to-do list – yes, it’s actually real, also HUGE, and endless.








Evelyn’s Truck Birthday Party

Evie has been determined to have a truck themed birthday for the past few months.  We have three daughters and they pick trains and trucks.  Come on now, girls!  Give me a little pink and purple frills to work with! haha

I made some very etsy copied truck birthday invites, because it was fun.


Since Evelyn’s actual birthday was on a Friday this year, we decided to have her party the following day.  I’ll begin with an account of her actual birthday, followed by party festivities.

We started the day off right with breakfast shakes!  It’s a good day for Evelyn when she gets to eat a meal via straw.


Lamby needed something to drink too.


I sure do love my little two year old!!!!!!!!!!


Evie had a couple presents sitting on the table all day, waiting for her to open when Daddy got home.  I asked her, “Who do you think those presents are for??”  And she answered in wonder, “I on’t oooh!?” (I don’t know)  It’s been quite a while since we had any presents around, so she didn’t quite grasp the idea that there was something fun inside.  Abby was more impatient waiting for present time than Evelyn was.  Abby helped me wrap them and did a great job keeping everything secret from Evie.


The big two year old!!  She’s always sure to find the best sticks out in our yard.  Totally not a danger hazard at all in her hands…..


There were some extra trucks from the pack I got for cake decorating.  Evie put those to good use.


Finally Daddy got home from work and it was present time!  Abby jumped in to help a bit with the opening.



When we had asked Evie prior to her birthday what she was hoping for, her response was always, “I wan’ eggs!  And pizza!!  And ice cream!”  We were planning pizza and ice cream for party day, so the girl got eggs for supper on her birthday.  Chowing down on some turkey bacon.


After supper, we went for our routine evening walk.  We have to enjoy every chance we get at this point!  I asked Evelyn how she felt about being two now and this was her response.  Fair enough.


Our pony and calf (not so much anymore) friends were right by the fence to wish Evie a happy birthday of course.


It was a pretty perfect day to turn two.



Alright, birthday party time!  I was really excited to make Evie’s truck cake, inspired by some ideas I’d found on pinterest of course.  As I was setting out each cake decorating item, Evie kept exclaiming, “Thank you, Mama!  Thank you!” haha  I used yellow paper and electrical tape to cover a cookie sheet “construction truck” style.


The cake was your basic chocolate devil’s food cake box mix. haha  I wasn’t planning to decorate a cake AND make one from scratch.  I had frosted with the bottom layer a couple days ago.  I put on a second layer of chocolate frosting right before decorating.  First, I stuck alternating yellow and orange Reese’s Pieces around the edge.


Then, a row of crushed Oreo cookies – frosting removed – was the “dirt” on top.  I realized later that I should have tried to put them on around a two shape, vs. coating the whole top and then trying to scrape them off the two.  That got a little sketchy.  The cake kept trying to pull up and make a disaster.  I had to refrost the two for it to even show up and that was incredibly tricky with Oreo crumbs trying to stick all over.  It was a mess for a while there, but eventually I got ‘er done.  After placing a few “dee-gars” around, the cake was finished!!  Other then Caleb thinking I had made a “Z shape” on top the cake (come on now….) it turned out perfectly.


These traffic light treats were brownies with M&M’s frosted on top.



The girls enjoyed some pre-party balloon fun.  Elly was laughing so hard about all the balloons flying around!


My birthday girl was digging being two.


There were a lot of helpers making homemade ice cream for the evening.






They were especially available during the taste testing. haha



The kids all enjoyed playing in the yard before supper.




It was great to see this cute little brother of mine.  He is totally Opie Taylor’s look alike, right?!?  SO adorable.  He even mowed our yard.



We had a demolition site, complete with a wrecking ball.  The wrecking ball was a balloon filled with sand, wrapped in duct tape and hung by twine.  Evelyn was loving this, and cracked up laughing after she knocked over the boxes.  I just wrapped the boxes in packing paper with “bricks” drawn on.



I was in a hurry and had a little dumb-dumb moment with my wrecking ball prep.  I blew the balloon up, got a funnel spout in the opening, and dumped some sand in, hoping it would somehow empty in even though it was full of air.  Well, that turned out awesome.  The sand was just sort of sitting in the funnel and although I started realizing this was a really bad idea, I gave it a little poke…. still hoping it would seep in there somehow.  It seeped a little bit and then POOF!!!  It exploded out into my face.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I know.  You’re thinking it’s a bummer no one was documenting that moment with the camera.




Evie needed a tutu, just because, so I made her the only kind I could – an elastic band with tulle knotted around it. haha  I thought it was amazing because I can’t sew at all and it was something you could wear that I made myself.  Don’t laugh too hard.



This is how she was showing everyone how old she was.  Holding up two fingers on one hand was a little too tricky.


Two days of birthday festivities was starting to wear Evie out.  It’s hard to handle that much attention!


Birthday truck decor I made, inspired by (or completely copied from) the lovely pinterest.





Excited for cake time!!


The spread…..



It was worth the wait.


Balloons and presents in the house.



We love you, Birthday Girl!!  We’re excited to help you enjoy some good adventures and learn new things this year!  ❤









All Aboard – Abigail is Three!!!

Abby Joy

Abs has been very excited about Thomas the Train for a few months and wanted to have a Thomas themed birthday party.  We’ve never gone too crazy for birthdays, but I thought it might be fun to try a little excitement for once.  Plus, I mean…. this kid makes the cutest train engineer I have ever seen!

Abby Joy3Abby Joy2

My little sweet pea was more than willing to help me get things ready for her party.  She wanted a chocolate Thomas cake, so that’s what I attempted!

Chocolate Birthday Cake!

I was satisfied with the outcome since this is now my 2nd ever decorated cake – Evelyn’s one year old cake being my first!

Thomas the Train Birthday CakeThomas Birthday Girl

Abby enjoyed helping with our railroad themed sugar cookies – yummy!  The main thing to remember while eating sugar cookies is to focus on the taste.  The main thing to forget is what you put in them.  Otherwise, your delicious, savory bite starts to taste more like a stick of butter and a cup of sugar ground together.  So…. they aren’t overly healthy, but this the first time I’ve made them since Abby came along!  Live a little – right?

Cookie CutterFrosting CookiesRailroad Cookies

I borrowed the engine from my Mom’s old Fisher Price train set and added four cars.  The dairy car had cheese cubes, the coal car had black seedless grapes, the produce car had celery, carrots, and pepper slices, and the lumber car had honey pretzel sticks.

Coal CarProduce CarLumber Car

This birthday banner was definitely unnecessary but I love making things like this, so I mostly made it out of personal enjoyment/relaxation in a couple evenings beforehand.

Train Birthday Banner

For a Thomas party, what else would we drink but blue Thomas punch?!  This was really easy, just a container of blue Hawaiian punch, a 2 liter of lemon lime soda, and a 46 ounce can of pineapple juice.  You mix them all together and add ice.  About half of the recipe fit in a large bowl, and that’s all I ended up making.

Thomas Punch

Homemade ice cream was probably my favorite part. 🙂

Homemade Ice CreamHomemade Ice Cream2

This was also unnecessary, but something fun for the kiddies….  I found these super cute wooden trains at Hobby Lobby (love that store) and of course had to get them for the kids to paint.  Abby was loving this and probably would have sat there all day if I hadn’t cut her off eventually.

Wooden Train Painting

Abby had a lot of fun and enjoyed having her very own birthday party.  She was kind of disappointed that she had to pick between cake and ice cream OR a cookie, but she went with the better option (ice cream and cake).  Don’t worry – she got a cookie the next day and as I predicted really only wanted to lick the frosting off.  She has been furiously working on her new Thomas puzzle and almost has it mastered.

Thomas Puzzle



Play-Doh Carrots

Play-doh CarrotsI saw this idea via The Imagination Tree and knew I had to make them for Easter!  They’re a great alternative to candy!  These would also make super adorable party favors.

This craft was quick and easy and turned out better than I hoped!  You’ll only need a few supplies:

Evenly divide your play-doh based on how many carrots you’re making.  Take one section and roll it into a rough cylinder.  Smoosh it down into a decorating bag and be amazed as it becomes a carrot.  Gather the top of the bag directly above your carrot.  Twist it a few times to help seal the play-doh in there.  Finally tie two pieces of ribbon (carrot leaves) around the top to secure.  Repeat with all of your carrots!Play-doh Carrots 1

The play-doh recipe I used made about 8 carrots, but the amount will really depend on how high you’re filling your bags.  If you go smaller, you might want to cut off part of the bag tops.

If you’re not in the play-doh mood, but still want to enjoy some carrot fun, you can fill these with anything orange!  Some ideas include: jelly beans, goldfish/other orange crackers, orange candies, etc.

Play-doh Carrots 2