Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Birthday Bug Hunt

Birthdays are a big deal around here (duh).  Certain people of the under-4-feet set spend the entire year dreaming about their birthdays: the gifts, the friends, the venue, and the cake.  Invites to these exclusive affairs are hard to come by, and, depending on your status with the birthday person, you may or may not score one for the big day. 

I've personally been uninvited to a certain individual's party
 at least 1,687 times just this year.  

This summer, Mike and I talked about scaling back on birthdays and moving toward doing the friends birthday party thing every other year, like a wise friend of ours does. 

 It makes sense to birthday-shunning grownups, but how do you explain that to the younger set?  Speaking from personal experience, it doesn't go over well.  

We knew we couldn't go cold turkey, so we limited our guest list to neighbors.  In all, there were 4 children besides my own, and Sarah was happy as a clam.

Since March, Sarah has been talking about camping out in the backyard, and I promised her we could do it on her birthday.  Add to that the anticipation of lovely weather and a plethora of lightning bugs, and we decided to do a bug hunt with some neighbors as well.

Mind you, we decided to roll all this birthday and bug hunt business together 5 days before the day of the fete.  So, how do you throw a last-minute party to satisfy a newly-minted 5-year-old? 

Let the kids stay up late.


We had four neighbor kids, their parents, ourselves, and a handful of balloons, and the birthday girl couldn't have been happier. 

I think that's one of Sarah's gifts: she makes the most of any party.  As long as you have Cheetos, cake, balloons, and junk  favors to send home with her friends, it's all good. 

Here's a rundown on the details:

You're lookin' at it.

Cheetos, juice boxes, watermelon, and s'mores.

The birthday "cake" was dirt cake, in individual cups for each guest.
I wanted Sarah to pick out a cute little flower pot to serve her dirt cake in, but, in a fit of contrariness, she chose a flower pot that looked like a tea cup and saucer.     
Gummy worms and lollipop flowers just seemed a natural fit for a bug hunt birthday.

These dirt cakes are so rich, nobody could eat very much of them, and nobody ate the worms.  But, since it was International Mud Day on Saturday, they fit perfectly.

Games and Activities
The real hit of the evening was the s'mores-making over a real fire pit that 
our sweet neighbors kindly hosted especially for the birthday girl.

I don't have any pictures of the marshmallow roasting because
I take the "keeping kids alive" part of my job pretty seriously.  

We had nets on hand for each guest, as well as bug jars for holding the little fellas.
You can't really see it due to my mad photography skills and positioning clear jars on a marble table, but I painted little lightning bugs on there with glow paint so 
we could leave the real bugs out in the wild while still enjoying the glow of their little lights.

Once it got all purply and dusky outside, we spotted the first victim firefly, and it was ON!
Sharing bugs
It is REALLY hard to take decent pictures and hold 2 jars and a net at the same time. 

After (temporarily) depopulating the neighborhood of sweet lil' lightning bugs, 
we moved on to glow necklaces and bracelets. 
I like to think of these as hunting trophies.  
Kind of like a 21st-century version of the necklace made of shrunken heads or boar's teeth.

We also made little lightning bugs out of battery-operated tea lights, plastic Easter eggs, and pipe cleaners.  These were so easy and they mollified our blood-thirsty hunters for an hour until their innocent prey emerged for the hunt.
Smiling buggy face
Glowing buggy hind-end

 We topped off the night with some local camping.  
In our den.  

The original plan was to sleep outside, but Sarah graciously offered to compromise 
and "camp in" instead. 

 So much fun and so little work.  
I'm pretty sure we just started an annual summer tradition.


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