"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Winter Woodland Critters Birthday Party

Think she was excited about her big day?

You bet she was.

We Do Birthdays in this house. We spend months planning, weeks preparing, and one frenetic, frenzied, glorious day celebrating the Birthday Girl or Boy at a party of their dreams.

Truly, birthday parties in our house are works of our kids' imaginations, merely brought to life by their parents. When, just after Christmas, Molly suggested an animal-themed party for her upcoming birthday, I did the calendar math... throwing an elaborate at-home celebration in the midst of house showings and packing don't mix. So, we had our very first ever Destination Birthday Party.

A Winter Woodland Critters Birthday Party
at Wildrock

Wildrock is the Nature Play and Discovery Center where I run the early childhood field trip program. On 28 acres of land, including a 3-acre fully enclosed nature playground, Wildrock is an animal lover's birthday party dream-come-true destination.

The barn at Wildrock has nature play invitations on permanent display, including these nature-themed story stones...

a den-building area...

...a tent and campfire for pretend play...

...as well as sensory tables with natural materials, fairy houses, and woodland creature figures to play with, meaning that a birthday party here naturally plans itself.

Not knowing what the weather would be like on a day in mid-February, however, I created a few additional activities in case we needed to stay indoors for the bulk of the party.

We had a make-your-own bird feeder station...

and a giant mural of a snowy forest.

The kids were invited to stamp animal tracks through the snow.

But, because central Virginia weather is completely insane, it was a beautiful sunny day, nearly sixty degrees!

Naturally, the kids spent nearly the entire time outside on the playscape.
There was PLENTY to do!

Creating in the Art House

Fishing with magnetic fish and poles at the fishing pier

Trying on fox costumes and butterfly wings on the stage

Mixing up recipes at the Nature Kitchen

Exploring the stream

And climbing to the top of the giant salamander in our log obstacle course.

Party Dads on Patrol
Somehow, after about an hour, I was able to drag the gang inside. 

I think it was the promise of treats that swayed them...

The party fare included cheddar bunny crackers, popcorn, grapes, and pretzel logs that Evan helpfully stacked to look like firewood. We had hot cocoa and cider to drink and, for the special birthday treat, Molly requested sugar cookies.

This was the most fun I've ever had baking in my entire life. When Max opens his bakery, maybe I can convince him to hire me as the resident sugar cookie decorator. 

Because we didn't have globs of buttercream frosting to hold it in place, we had to get creative with the candle....

I don't think she minded too much.

The kids sat so nicely around the table enjoying their treats. I was struck by how grown up they all seem all of a sudden. Especially this girl of mine...

After treats, it was back to playing in the barn and on the playscape until the party's end. 

The goodie bags each had a mini notebook which I had labeled "My Nature Explorer Journal," a mini pen, a bouncy ball, and a laminated Take-a-Hike Scavenger Hunt card I made. The kids can take the cards and a dry-erase pen on hikes to have a reusable game to play to keep them engaged and occupied on the trail.

It was a wonderful winter woodland critter filled day and we loved celebrating this amazing SIX-year old!

Happy Birthday, Molly!


  1. You clearly win at parties. Looks fantastic. Happy birthday, Molly.

    1. Thank goodness because I feel like I’m failing in just about every other corner of my life right now! I’ll take the wins where I can. Hope you all are well!

  2. Failing at life in every conceivable way, but we try to stay positive ;)

    I feel like we've been at the cusp of something for so many years now. Maybe one day we'll actually get there. Until then, we make the best of what we have. In summary, we are well, thank you. :)