Dinosaur 2nd Birthday Party

My son is turning TWO in July and we celebrated (a little early) by throwing him a Dinosaur Birthday Party! He had a BLAST! July birthdays are so much fun! I failed him last year by not really throwing a party (I mean, he was turning one…) so I wanted to up my game a little bit. Especially since I am about to have another cutie in my life, I wanted to do something special for my son before all attention went to his sister. #sadbuttrue

I got a lot of inspiration off of Pinterest, I’ll be honest! I am not always the most creative when it comes to things like this. But, I had a lot of fun and I made it my own! All of the graphics were made by me and also the birthday banner.

I also made his CAKE! And I am SO PROUD of it!

All of the images you can download at the end of this post, because I’m just that nice. 😉

Dinosaur Birthday Party Ideas

Dinosaur Birthday Food

So I wanted to break everything down in this post for you, and tell you exactly what I did for his party.

The foods and the dinosaur names are as follows:

  • Stego Chips – Tortilla Chips
  • Diplodocus Dip – Salsa
  • Pterodactyl Pizza – Bagel Bites
  • Carnivore Tenders – Chicken Nuggets
  • Herbivore Valley – Fruits and Veggies (and an AWESOME watermelon!)
  • Jurassic Juice – Green Koolaid
  • Dino Droppings – No Bake Cookies
Dinosaur Birthday Party Ideas
Dinosaur Birthday Party Ideas

My awesome, wonderful sister made the stegosaurus watermelon! It turned out SO good! I am super impressed with it! Don’t you think it’s just the cutest?!

Dinosaur Party Favors

I was a little unsure about doing party favors…but I quickly learned that they are a must if you are throwing a party for a toddler! Sometimes the toddlers don’t understand why they can’t open the birthday boy’s presents…and that’s when party favors come in handy!! So, if you are unsure about party favors yourself…DO IT! You’ll thank me later!

Dinosaur Birthday Party Ideas

These adorable little dinosaur bags (and actually ALL of the party favors) were purchased on Amazon (afl. link)!! Amazon was a life savor for me while planning this party!

The rest of the items in the bag are below (all afl. links):

My son actually picked out most of the things we included in the party favor bag! He was especially excited about the dinosaur stickers part! I wanted to stick with something that doesn’t have a lot of sugar for a snack, so that’s why I went with applesauce. They were being loaded up with cake so I didn’t want to give them candy or anything sweet. I was pretty happy with how they turned out! Plus those bags are just too cute.

I made sure to have enough for everyone including the birthday boy, he deserved to have a party favor bag as well!

Dinosaur Crafts

I was pretty excited about the dinosaur craft I had picked out! I totally found this all over pinterest, so I am not claiming this at all! But it thought it was perfect for toddlers, and I was right! This was the perfect dinosaur craft for toddlers!

I got some washable paint that claimed it would wash out of clothing and skin. It worked really well on the skin, nobody got it on their clothes so I’m not sure if it would wash out well or not! But my son loved it! And I just decided to invest in all the fun colors because I knew I could use it for some craft time with my son later on.

Dinosaur Craft at a Birthday Party

So all you do is make a stegosaurus body (you can download my version below, I printed them out on cardstock, cut them out, and glued them to different colored cardstock) and then you use the paint and the children’s hands to make the stegosaurus’s spikes. The kids loved it! Then you make a dinosaur name out of their name. They could pick between adding a ‘saurus’ or a ‘don’ or a ‘t-rex’ to the end of their name. For example, Ethanasaurus, Andrewadon, or Sarahasuarus T-Rex. Super cute, super simple, and SUPER EASY! Win-win-win in my book! Plus they’re super cute, am I right?!

Dinosaur Cake

I found this dinosaur cake on Youtube – the tutorial comes with print outs on exactly how to cut the cake and also instructions. This is a total Pinterest win for me!

I would recommend to do a crumb layer, then freeze it for at least 30 minutes before you put on the final icing layer. That really helped make it look nice and smoother (I’m not an expert cake maker, so if I can do this, so can you!).

Dinosaur Birthday Cake

For the big dots I used the flat Reece’s. Then I used brown M&M’s for the small dots and Hershy Kisses for the spikes. Super yummy and so cute!

Birthday Boy

I’ll probably still write a letter to him, but here’s the birthday boy on the day of his party! I bought him the cutest dinosaur shirt that he absolutely loves! I was looking for one that said ‘two-a-saurus’ or something along those lines, but they were more expensive than I wanted and not quite as cute as I imagined. So I went with this shirt – that way he can wear it for a long time, too!

Free Printables

As promised, here are ALL of the stuff I made and created for his party! In the banner PDF, I included an extra 6 that you can add white letters for your own child’s name. (If they have more than 6 letters in their name, then just repeat some).

I printed these off on white cardstock at a local store. I looked around for which one would print on cardstock for the cheapest! For the stegosaurus body, I bought my own cardstock and printed it on different colored cardstock.

I hope you enjoy these print outs!

A Walk in The Rain

I love photowalks so much! There is something so relaxing about a walk in the rain, am I right? I took my son out the other day to walk in the rain. We just walked around our neighborhood and I tried to feel inspired by the elements around our apartment building. I’ve been reading a Breakout from ClickinMoms called the Art of the Photography by Sarah Gupta and it has really inspired me! She lives in New York City and she manages to make all of her photos look like shes out in the country. I was amazed and so inspired. I still have some things to practice, but if she can create beautiful images like she does in her city, then I can definitely do the same in mine.

Are you new to my site? You might like my How to Get Started in Macro Photography post, then! I hope you stick around!

I have always loved photo walks, but I think my photography is finally changing into something I love. It only took me four years. Give yourself time to learn and grow. I know I’ll be learning and growing for the rest of my life (in all things, not just photography).

So, on this walk I actually used three different lenses. I really wanted to capture images the way I wanted to. I think the next time I go on a walk, I’ll push myself and take only one lens. But here was my gear for the walk:

I’ll be sure to put my settings and which lens I used under each photo. I really do love photowalks! I hope you enjoy and get inspired yourself!

So my son actually has on a spiderman shirt underneath his cute sweater. I really didn’t want to take pictures of him in that shirt…but he didn’t want to take it off (he’s been really attached to the shirt this past week). But he was totally fine with having the sweater on! Luckily it was colder this morning so he wasn’t hot at all!!

Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.0 | ss 1/1600

Sigma 85 ISO 100 | f/2.0 | ss 1/1600

Sigma 85 ISO 100 | f/2.0 | ss 1/1600

My son was tired of having me take pictures of him at this point…so I decided to turn to the nature. Rainy days are perfect for macro photography! This first image was taken with my Sigma 85 before I decided to switch to my macro lens.


Sigma 85 ISO 100 | f/2.0 | ss 1/1600

Nikon 105 ISO 500 | f/5.6 | ss 1/500

Nikon 105 ISO 1000 | f/5.6 | ss 1/500

Nikon 105 ISO 1000 | f/5.6 | ss 1/500

Then it was back to my Sigma 24 lens, which is honestly on my camera 85% of the time. Mostly because I’m indoors 85% of the time. I do find that my outdoor photography looks a lot better with my 85 lens and I am pushing myself to try and use that one more. I love the creaminess it gives my images when outside. Oh, I also wanted to point out that having a higher shutter speed (the lowest I tend to go is 1/250) is key to avoid camera shake and motion blur (unless you want this, of course!).


Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.2 | ss 1/400

Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.2 | ss 1/400

Then my son found a puddle to splash in. He loved jumping in the puddles. He really enjoyed it! But after a few splashes he decided to sit in the water haha! When he realized he was wet and messy he asked for ‘a tissue’ (which is what he always asks for if he ever gets messy). Sure, bud. You can have a tissue. It sure did make my morning so much funnier!


Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.2 | ss 1/400

Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.2 | ss 1/400

Messy bum haha!


Sigma 24 ISO 100 | f/2.2 | ss 1/250

As you can see from my settings, getting closer to the stairs, our light was getting darker. So in the above image, I brought my shutter speed down to 1/250. But I didn’t want to keep bringing my shutter speed down. So, instead, I brought my ISO up a little so that I could keep a fast shutter speed for the below images, while still keeping everything exposed (I actually purposefully underexpose my images, I just like the way they look better, I feel like they’re creamier).


Sigma 24 ISO 400 | f/2.2 | ss 1/500

Sigma 24 ISO 400 | f/2.2 | ss 1/500

He realized his bum was wet haha!!


Sigma 24 ISO 400 | f/2.2 | ss 1/500

Sigma 24 ISO 400 | f/2.2 | ss 1/500

If you have any questions, let me know! I encourage you to go on a photowalk. Rain or shine! Pro tip: if you go on a photowalk when it’s a bright sunny day, either go right before the sunsets (golden hour) or try and find some shade to shoot in. Overcast days you can go anytime and shoot anywhere (as long as no sun is peaking through, it could create hotspots if that’s the case). Just be mindful of the light you are using. You will like the images you get a lot more if you use the light thoughtfully.

Happy shooting!

Letters to My Children | 21 Months + 16 Weeks (In My Belly)

A monthly letter to my children, documenting their growth, their milestones and what their daily life looks like.

April 13, 2019

Dear Babies,

I sometimes have to pinch myself that by the end of this year, I’ll have two babies to love and adore. Life is so good, dear sweet little ones. We are blessed beyond measure. We might not have a lot in way of physical things (like a house, for instance) but we are so happy. And it’s all because of you two. I can’t imagine life without either of you. You make life fun and interesting. You make my life whole and complete. I am so happy I get to be your mama.

To my oldest:

You are growing up way too fast. Please, slow down just a little bit. At 21 months, you can say way more than 50 words (I’m pretty sure you can say about 150 words, but I’ve never counted, so I can’t be sure). You know your colors really well. I thought for a while you just memorized what color each item was…but pretty soon you started pointing out all the colors around you and you were always right. I’m so impressed. You can also count to three, when you want to. Sometimes you start with two instead of one, but that’s ok. You’ll get it. You also know some of the alphabet, which I had no idea until I asked you one day if you knew what ‘A’ was, and you did. Reading books is the best thing I’ve ever done for you!

Besides being the smartest 21 month old I know, you are also really polite. You know when it’s appropriate to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’. You are also learning ‘sorry’. But you definitely have ‘thank you’ down. You say it even when I’m not expecting you to. I just think you’re so adorable! And smart! And I’m so proud of you for all of your accomplishes. You really just make this mama smile.

You’re still breastfeeding. I love the connection breastfeeding brings us. I’m so happy we’ve been keeping it up. However, I am in the process of slowly weaning you. Last night, for example, you only nursed twice and for about 10 seconds each time. I was amazed and so happy. You slept so long last night. During the day you only nurse one time, usually around nap time. You’ve been eating more food, which I think definitely helps. I’m hoping you will be weaned by the time your sibling gets here. I don’t want to cut you off cold turkey because that’s just no my parenting style. I love our breastfeeding journey and I will be sad when I no longer get to breastfeed you. But I know you are ready to wean.

You love going to the park and sliding down the slide. It’s your favorite! When we first started going to the park, you would yell ‘no!’ at anyone who tried to slide down with you. You’ve gotten a lot better and now only look at them funny, haha! You also really love taking walks. And what I mean by that is that you actually walk around, no stroller. It’s cute and wears you out so I let you. And plus I need the exercise myself! You certainly keep me busy, little one. I love it so much ,though!

Keep growing, keep getting smarter, keep being your adorable self.

To my youngest:

Life got so much sweeter when we found out about you. I had a feeling pretty much right after I conceived that I was pregnant with you. I didn’t tell your daddy, though. I didn’t want to get his hopes up as well. Four weeks later I took a test and sure enough, there was the positive sign. When I told your daddy later that day, he was shocked but so happy! It took so long to get pregnant with your brother, we were expecting the exact same thing with you. But that wasn’t the case. And we are so so blessed.

We got to see you on the ultrasound when you were just 8 weeks (in my belly). You looked like such a cute little bean! And we saw your heart beat and you move. At our last appointment, we heard your heart beat again. I love that sound. Our next appointment we get to see you on the ultrasound again and fine out what you are. I’m so excited, little bean! I can’t believe I’m already that far in my pregnancy with you! This pregnancy is flying by. I feel like you’ll be here before I know it. And I’m happy about that. I can’t wait to give you hugs and kisses. I can’t wait to breastfeed you! I can’t wait for you to meet your older brother (you’ll love him, I promise). I can’t wait to pick out a name for you! I can’t wait till your daddy gets to hold you for the first time. You are already so loved, my little bean. Life is just so good.

I love you both so much.

Love, Mama

Aly Dawn Photography | Letters to my children

Letters to my Little One | 18 Months

January 12, 2019

Dear Little Peanut,

I can’t believe you are 18 months. A year and a half of you and it just keeps getting better and better. I often think you can’t possibly get any cuter…and then next thing I know, you’ve grown a little, or you do something that makes us laugh. You truly feel our lives with laughter and I love it so much.

One thing you’ve recently started to do is say ‘ready, set, go!’ Only it sounds more like ‘reddy, se, do!’ You typically say this right before you start hitting things. You collect a ton of different things in your lap and then you’ll say ready, set, go and start frantically hitting them. It’s hilarious! I love it so much. The other day at the store you started saying it and I would push the cart super fast and you would just giggle so much!

Something you’re actually doing right now as I type this and recently found funny is blowing on the desk chair to make a fart noise…you’re such a boy! But when you blow and make a funny noise you just crack up laughing! It’s adorable!! And it makes me laugh, too.

You recently love bath time. You even ask for a ‘beth’ all the time. It makes me start thinking, where did my little baby go? You’re growing up. You’re learning what you like and what you don’t like. Your little personality is growing and developing everyday! I’m desperately trying to hold on to the memories, and images definitely help with that. I take videos of you all the time, as well. I love looking back at them and seeing how little you once were.

Another thing I never want to forget: how you always have to hold something small in your hand. You’ll find a rock outside and will hold onto it for the rest of the day. Or a dice. Or a small toy. Or a marble. I actually just checked to see if you had something in your hand, and you do! An orange dice that you probably got from grandma’s house. When you first started doing this, I worried that you might try to put them in your mouth…but you don’t. You somehow understand that only food goes in your mouth, which I’m grateful and blessed because I know that’s not always the case for all kids.

Turning 18 months old means that you get to go into nursery at church, which is for 18 months – 3 year olds. You went this past Sunday and seemed excited to play with the toys. When I came to pick you up you burst into tears. The nursery leaders told us you were pretty happy the whole time. I’m hopeful that this week will be better. 🙂 I want you to start making friends and learning from other children. It breaks my heart to see you cry and that upset, though. Being an attached parent, I didn’t want to drop you off and then just leave you to cry. So I waited until you got distracted and then slipped out. I think that is the key. I will never leave you in there crying. Because I think that is abrupt and mean to do. I’m hoping you’ll start to like it, you did seem to really like the toys in there. And you already know where they are!

Your favorite meal recently is black beans and rice. You actually ask for it. I also try to get you to eat anything and everything I’m eating, but sometimes you are very picky. Which is typical of a toddler, so I don’t get too offended when you don’t want to try my cooking. 🙂 I’m so proud when you do try something new, though. Even if you don’t like it. At least you tried it!

All in all, you keep us on our toes. There’s always something new to laugh about with you. There’s always something new to explore. And you really love making your daddy laugh. Oh, speaking of daddy, he’s still your buddy. Sometimes when you wake up, you’ll ask for ‘dada’ and I’ll have to say that he’s at work or school. And you’ll be sad for a little bit before playing again. But once daddy comes home, you usually run and give him a hug and a kiss! It’s so sweet. You love snuggling your daddy. You often have a hard time going to sleep at night before snuggling and giving daddy a kiss first. Which is so cute. And of course, your daddy just loves it.

I hope you know or feel the love your parents have for you. Your whole family has for you. We all really enjoy watching you grow and learn. There are so many people who love you. Who have loved you from the time they found out I was expecting a child. I often pray to Heavenly Father and thank him for the sweet spirit he sent me. He answered my prayers when we were trying to conceive…I used to ask Him, when He was ready, to send me one of his sweetest spirits he could…and you know what? He did. You are amazing. And you have so much love and excitement for everything. I love seeing the world through your eyes. And I hope you always keep this excitement.

I love you so much.

Love, Mama

A Boy and His Books

So, it’s been a long while since I’ve paid any attention to the personal side of my blog (or my blog in general). I took a break and decided to work on my photography and take pictures for me. I’m not trying to impress anyone, I was just simply trying to make myself happy. And I really love the images I’ve been producing lately.

One thing I really wanted to capture was my sons love of reading. He’s been on a reading kick lately! I want to put a disclaimer that he doesn’t actually know how to read at the young age of 17 months, but he does enjoy me reading him books and looking at the pictures.

His favorite type of books are ones that include dinosaurs.

I’m just so proud of him for his love of reading. If he brings me a book, I stop what I’m doing and read it to him. I want him to always love reading so I will never tell him no!!

Here are some favorite book pictures from the past month or so.

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