Over the last few months, the kids have made friends with some of our backyard animals. Food really encouraged that friendship. :-) I'm not even sure anymore how it all started. We've had squirrels and Jay's in our yard for years. Well, these were juvenile Jays. And maybe that made the kids pay attention. All of a sudden we had four jays in our yard. The parents probably teaching the young ones how to feed themselves. So we started to throw out things that birds eat. Did the squirrel come first or the Jays? I don't know. Either way, the kids learned that our resident squirrel really cannot resist a peanut. They learned that if you slowly decrease the distance between yourself and the peanut, eventually, you will be able to get the squirrel to take the peanut out of your hand. He will even lean on you to do that which will take ALL the discipline little 7-year old girls have to not squeal in delight and scare the poor squirrel. This became our morning routine. Sometimes it was quite the interruption to our regular homeschool schedule. Then it was a lesson for mom to let life sometimes take over and make it so that the kids learn something much more intensively than as if they learned it out of a textbook. One of the nice things about homeschooling. :-) We learned that we have an Eastern Gray Squirrel (yeah, that surprised me too). The kids identified the jays as Scrub Jays out of a bird book (and learned how to identify and pay attention to details). We also confirmed that they were juveniles.
If you think I went on a tangent, just stick with me. One day we went to Goodwill, one of our favorite places to find treasures that are brand-new and someone else just didn't like them. And cheap, cheap books. I'm also always looking for cups there. All the kids in our house have their own cups and they somewhat match their personalities. We've found some really good-quality, brand-new, unique and beautiful cups at Goodwill and they are never more than $2.99. On this particular day a children's cup with a squirrel caught my eye. It still had the Starbucks sticker on it and was brand-new. It was super cute but the best part of it was that it had printed on its rim the following: "One day a squirrel went out to find an acorn and found a friend instead." Perfect! It was the story of my squirrel-adoring little red-head and our resident pet squirrel.
So the theme was born. However, there aren't too many squirrel-themed birthday parties on Pinterest. Since I love myself an easy task, it was changed to the ever so popular "Woodland Friends." Grandma and myself pinned lots of ideas. The plan was to go to a local park (big one) with the cousins and collect lots of woodsy decorations, such a pinecones, branches, etc. However, I injured my back and couldn't go anywhere much for two weeks, much less stroll through a park, herding four kids let loose in nature. Thankfully my every so wonderful sister-in-law and her mom came through for me. Megan loves to decorate with natural things, so they had lots of acorns, pinecones, moss, wood and all sorts of things. Her mom had a ton of burlap. And Megan even came over to help me decorate (although I had one of those mommy brain moments and totally forgot and wasn't even home!).
The cake had special candles from my mom. The little ones' flames were in the color of the candle. Pretty cool. But the big one in the middle was fantastic! You light it in the middle and it lights all the little candles, opens up and is a flower and plays "Happy Birthday". How cool is that!
With the help of everyone (including the madly decorating Dad and Nathan who got up ALL the birthday banner decorations!), we got everything done really nice in the end. Daddy lovingly decorated for his girl and Nathan got so inspired that he even wrote "I heart Abby" papers and taped them all over the house. (See picture below - it is not showing up very good).
He even wrote a poem for her! And Abby loved it! She didn't quite get the mug until the next day. Then she was super excited and told Mr. Nathan (the squirrel) all about it.
A tired grandma after all that decorating. :-)