Monday, February 18, 2013

Colorful Race Car Birthday Party- Noah is TWO!

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My baby is now my big boy. Noah turned two on February 15th! We celebrated with a colorful race car themed party which included his favorite activities. It was a fun, exhausting, absolutely gorgeous day. We all had a blast!
The food table is always one of the first things I plan for parties. Once we decided to go with a race car theme, I asked my dad if we could borrow his race track. Watching the cars zoom around the track was an unexpected element. I love the way it turned out.
Here's a quick clip of the race track in action.
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For Noah's Red Wagon first birthday party, I purchased a printable package from Dimpleprints. All of the personalized touches really made that party special so I asked Carli for help once again. She is such a pleasure to work with and customized the package to fit the colors of the party.
I made the "Three TWO One Go!" sign out of a 2ftx2ft slab of plywood. The flashing traffic light is from Amazon.

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When the friends arrived, they grabbed a car to race on the track and an official Pit Pass. I have framed the kids birth announcements and invitations to display at their parties. I usually put them on the cake table so guests can see how they've grown.

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Aaron's mom, Nana, made this delicious cake. The dent in the cake is from Noah reaching up to grab the car on top. Of course it was the only car he couldn't have that day, therefore the only one he wanted. And how sweet are these stop light Rice Krispies treats?

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The weather was amazing, a huge blessing since we partied outside. 
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I mentioned in Noah's birthday post that he loves the movie Cars. There were a few touches of Cars here and there. The "Rust-eze" tub is made from one of Aaron's empty Muscle Milk containers. I cut out the logo with the Silhouette machine using black vinyl. More printables from the race car package. I used the cupcake toppers for the water bottles and added text on a couple of the larger circles for the drink pitchers.

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A successful party keeps the kiddos busy having fun. And when the kids are having a good time, the parents are able to enjoy their time as well. I set up four "stations" of activities for the party.
1. Noah's Auto Body Shop
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The kids painted mini cars (Oriental Trading Company). I picked up the acrylic paint and brushes from Michael's. The aprons are from the Dollar Tree.
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Noah very seriously painted three cars. Then came back to paint another one.
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Noelle is a bit of a perfectionist. Wonder where she gets it...
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The cars dried in the sunshine on brown construction paper.
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2. NJ Gardner Tattoo Parlor
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My nephew, Evan, showing off his new ink. Tattoos also from Oriental Trading Co.
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3. Bean Bag Tire Toss
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The best part of these activities - they were inexpensive to put together.
Tire toss = free (borrowed materials).
Tattoos = $5.
Painting Cars = $15
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4. Race Track (not that inexpensive)
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The kids loved racing their new cars. For the "official" races, Aaron flipped the release lever so 4 cars could start at the same time.

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Aaron drew out the plans and picked up the materials at Lowe's. The total cost was about $60 including the spray paint.

Once the track was built, he sprayed it by gradually adding yellow, orange and red. Then he covered the top of the colors with a flame stencil I cut out of vinyl, and sprayed on the blue. The end result was an awesome flame on the track as well as on the side poles. 
The last steps included putting on the lanes, painting lane numbers and "START" to the top, then spraying the entire track with a clear sealer. 

Here's a tutorial on how the track was built! DIY Race Track

And one more "Cars" touch. Lightning McQueen's eyes on Aaron's truck. Just two pieces of construction paper and eyes glued on. Super easy and a fun way to welcome our guests.
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Something that I heard several times was, "I wish I had that race track growing up" from the guys at the party. They were just as excited as their kids, probably because they are just big kids themselves!

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A huge thanks again to Carli at Dimpleprints for the printables, to my handy husband for all he does, to my mother-in-law for the delicious cake, to my best friends and sister (my bridesmaids) for sharing the day with us and helping in many ways, to my mom and dad for all they do to make everything run perfectly smooth.

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And one last HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my little man. I love you to the moon!
-Amanda
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Noah

Sweet Noah,

You're two years old today. There's almost nothing in the world you love more than things with wheels. Cars, trains and planes. The only movie you've ever sat through is Cars and you would watch every day if you could. Lightning McQueen (or Queen, as you call him) is your favorite. Grandpa is probably on the top of your favorite list as well. If the doorbell rings, you yell "Grandpa!" and ask to see him any time we get in the car.

One of the best parts of my day is going to your room in the morning. I lift you out of bed, carry you to change your diaper and clothes, then let you loose. You always run as fast as you can the second your feet hit the ground. "Off he goes," I whisper.

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You are talking more and more each day and I can't get enough of your sweet voice. You love letting me know what you want to eat and drink, what you hear, what you see.

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You ask, "please?" when you need help and I love when you put your finger on your ear and say "choo train!" when you hear one passing through town.

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Recently, you started asking me to watch you play. "Watch!" and I turn to see you standing on the couch ready to leap or holding an airplane as high as you can before letting it sail to the ground. But I'm watching so much more than that. I watch your eyebrows expressively lift and fall when you're playing and coloring.

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I watch how your little fingers grip as many cars as they can hold. I watch how you copy everything your sister does and says. I watch your face when you're smiling for a flash of your adorable dimple. I watch you rub the silky edges of your blanket when you're tired, and because I'm your mama, I watch you sleep.

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The past year has been the most precious I've ever had. You complete our family and I couldn't imagine a day without you. At night when we're having some quiet time reading books, I tell you that if I could pick any little boy on the earth to be my son, I'd pick you every time.

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Happy Birthday, baby boy.
I love you,
Mommy

Monday, February 4, 2013

Amanda G Designs {my Etsy shop}

About six months ago, I joined many other crafters and artists and opened an Etsy shop. It started after I received several requests for my Luke 2:11 sign from folks all over the world. That sign was the only item in the shop for a while, but now that the Christmas season has passed, I have had the opportunity to add at least one new hand painted design each week.

Here are a few of the Amanda G Designs items in the shop right now.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15



A sweet bedtime routine reminder.
Read me a story. Tuck me in tight. Say a sweet prayer. And kiss me goodnight.


I loved you yesterday. I love you still. I always have. I always will.


We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19



There's a boy who stole my HEART. He calls me mommy.


Give Thanks to the Lord for He is good. Psalm 118:1


And of course the Luke 2:11 sign. If you'd like to be added to the 2013 waiting list you can follow this link to leave me a message with your information.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11


In addition to these designs, I've had the pleasure of creating custom pieces for several wonderful people. I have very much enjoyed collaborating with them to create meaningful artwork for their homes. The process from the first email with a simple scripture, to the finished product is thrilling for me. It is indeed a blessing to do something that I love.

If you are thinking about starting up your own shop on Etsy, here are a few basic things I learned in the first month of opening my shop.

1. Take your item to the post office (I use USPS) boxed and ready to ship before listing the item. The items in my shop are large and I knew they would be expensive to mail but it was very beneficial for me to learn the maximum dimensions to avoid "balloon" charges. Ask for the prices to ship across the country and to any other country you are willing to mail to. Also include tracking costs or insurance for the item.

2. Pinterest is one of the best ways to promote your shop. I pin all of my designs to a board titled "Signs {I make}."

3.  Be open to making customizations to your items and consider all custom order requests.

A huge thank you to those who have purchased a sign from my shop. I truly appreciate it! Be sure to follow Growing Up Gardner on facebook for updates on new items and coupon codes!

Come by and visit Amanda G Designs on Etsy!

-Amanda