Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthday Fun in the Forrest

S-turns 3! For this momentous occasion in his life we chose to celebrate for 3 days beginning on the Sunday before his "real" birthday. He is my little "cuttle bug" and happens to be interested, OK- absolutely positively obsessed with bugs at this particular stage of the game so we made a "bugs" birthday cake!

Fondant is GREAT!  (see the recipe on the Cakes & Parties  main page for an awesome tasting frugal way to make fondant) Just like play-dough! The kids, (and their mother) had a wonderful time rolling and forming all these cute little critters!

 We had some of our favorite friends to share it with, and opened a few presents.
The following day we met those friends (fellow homeschoolers) and headed off to Myakka River State Park for a little hiking - cake guilt walk! The day was beautiful!!! The weather could not have been any prettier.

The most exciting moment of the day was getting up close and personal with a 12 foot alligator! No need to panic - we were on the dock- and he was in the water -waiting with his mouth open for some un-suspecting little fish or critter to get close enough.  His head was about two feet long, so you can imagine how big the rest of him was! Very exciting for the children (and their mother!)

That is the thing about these State parks, you just never know what you might see.

The huge Oaks were gorgeous and it was so nice to be able to just walk in the woods with the kids.
It occurred to me that when I was growing up we had plenty of woods to run around in. Sadly, even if you do live near woods today- you can't just let your kids run around in them for fear of who could be lurking. Being a believer in fresh air and sunshine- and always looking for a little more adventure than just playing in the back yard usually has to offer- I have decided that parks are the answer! NO 'nature deficient' kids for this family.

Most of my own favorite childhood memories took place outdoors- I don't want my kids to miss out on those kinds of experiences. If you don't feel the same- might I suggest that you pick up a copy of Richard Louv's book- "Last Child in the Woods" or go to !
For those of you who are already looking for ways to get out and in touch with nature with your kids (or for yourself) - in Florida you can purchase a state park family pass for $80 or a personal one for $40.
If you happen to visit the Myakka River State park- don't miss out on the canopy walk. We managed several of the nature trails just fine, even with six kids under 10- and three under 5years old!

*party idea- We stamped craft paper with great little bugs of all sorts- the kids helped- it was helpful for me, frugal, & everyone enjoyed helping with the party plans.

We bought plain white paper sandwich bags & used the same stamps to create the goody bags for the party. When they were dry, we added some dollar store treats like some plastic bugs, some squishy frogs that stick to glass when you fling them, some gummy worms & punch balls (cause we just like punch balls)

If you can plan to have the party outdoors it will fit well with the theme! Play simple games like: have a "frog relay" where contestants have to hop to the finish line. If there are a lot of children - divide them up into teams. With the young kids, I like to give everyone a ribbon with a fake medal for participating.

Another game idea: You've seen the egg/spoon races where players run from start to finish balancing an egg on a spoon- try little plastic bugs instead to keep with the theme. You can even set up a mini obstacle course with upside down buckets or plastic cones.

Try not to over plan especially with younger kids. If you need more activities, let the kids do a nature craft.
Collect pretty leaves and small flowers or stones & make a collage.

Keeping to a theme & small finishing touches make all the difference- but most of all- remember to have fun with the birthday boy or girl & they will remember THAT the most!

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