Squirrel Birthday Party Inspiration

I’ll admit, I have a thing for squirrels.  Some of the Hubs and my early days as a couple were spent feeding friendly squirrels at a local park. Thinking back on that time still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  As a result, I was secretly thrilled when my son gravitated toward his cute stuffed squirrel as his transitional object. I mean, he loves that thing.  He takes it everywhere.  It’s a struggle to separate him from it for meals.  And don’t get me started on the time I tried to put him down for a nap without it because I couldn’t find it… Within five minutes I heard full-on panicked crying and we had to conduct a more thorough search. With all that being said, it just seemed right that the Squish’s first birthday (sniff sniff) be squirrel themed!  In trying to plan the event, I’ve found so many amazing ideas on Pinterest.

I did my best to find things for the party that were relatively easy to make and inexpensive.  The exception, of course, being that tree trunk cake.  I just loved it so much I had to include it, even though it’s something a bakery would probably have to do.  That being said, what can’t you learn how to do using Pinterest?  There’s not much.

Okay, anyway. On to the round-up!

squirrel themed party ideas

  1. Acorns made with Nilla Wafers, Hershey Kisses, and butterscotch chips from My Owl Barn.
  2. Squirrel sugar cookies from A Homemade Living
  3. Acorn garland from Better Homes and Gardens
  4. Cupcake picks by Below Blink ($4.99 for a pack of 24.)
    (update: I made similar cupcake picks to these ones (though markedly less sturdy, admittedly; I used thick scrapbooking paper instead of the kraft paper it looks like they used.) They turned out very cute, though! The tutorial is here: DIY Cupcake Picks)
  5. Pinecone drink labels from Dorinda Eve
  6. Squirrel mix party favors at Anders Ruff Designs
  7. Tree trunk cake from Kelly Hicks Designs

The Secret to a Clean House in 20 Minutes A Day

Over the years, I’ve tried to be better about keeping a consistently clean house and many (many) of my attempts have failed.

I tried scheduling cleaning projects over the week: Mopping Mondays, Toilet Tuesdays, that kind of thing. It worked for a few days, then I felt annoyed that I’d pre-committed myself to projects each day without any flexibility, so I gave that up.

I tried planning to do it all every Saturday, which worked great before I had kids but now, ha!  Not going to happen.  Because if I tried to devote one day to cleaning the whole apartment, you can bet that would be the day A would get super sick and we’d spend the day watching Finding Nemo on repeat.

I just couldn’t find the sweet spot of having the right amount of weekly tasks without overloading my days ahead of time.

Then, I found it. Wanna know what my checklist is? It’s really short. There are only five things on it.

What Being a Mom Taught Me About God

When I was growing up, I really didn’t understand who God was supposed to be.  In my mind, He was a far-off cosmic phenomenon that I could wish upon, like a shooting star.  At times, He seemed alternately indifferent to and the cause of my struggles.

As a teenager and young adult, I made a lot of mistakes and explored paths down which I never should have ventured.  When I heard the phrase “God still loves you”, it honestly meant nothing to me. Many times, I thought, “So what?”  I just didn’t get why that was such a big deal.

After all, even if that was the case, I still struggled.  I still had setbacks.  I still had bad things happen to me.

So how was His love for me relevant?

When I was 21, I was lost.  I honestly didn’t know what I was doing with my life and felt a lot of shame and confusion about the choices I was making.  For the first time, I prayed with real intent.  I prayed because I knew if God was real, I figured He was my last shot to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life.  I didn’t pray for a sign or anything like that.  I just prayed like I would talk to a friend, hoping He really would hear me and show me the way.

He absolutely did, and a week after my husband and I were married, I got baptized.

That experience helped me understand God so deeply when I had been blind before – but after becoming a mother, there’s so much about Him that suddenly made way more sense.

Before I was a mother, I could never understand His love for me as His daughter. If I remember that He is my literal Father in Heaven, a few profound truths leap out about his love for me and what that really means.

What Being a Mom Taught Me About God

He’s interested in us.

I love learning about my son and his preferences. For instance, I know that he loves his squirrel more than any other stuffed animal (hence the reason we have four of them).  His favorite toys are by far his rubber bath toys. He has a weird preference for single, dark blue Mega Blocks, for whatever reason.

As a mother, I love getting to know him because I love him. I love getting to see him grow into the person he’s going to become.  Because I know him, I’m also better able to comfort, guide, and teach him.

In the same way, I know God is interested in us as individuals.  He’s interested in the choices we make and all the things we discover.  I’m sure that in the same way I’m delighted when I watch my son discover something new (like the ducks at the park), Heavenly Father delights in us discovering new things about life. 


He applauds our every attempt to improve

There’s not much that can compare to the joy of watching A learn something for the first time.

Just today, he was playing in his room and I set him in his toddler-sized rocking chair. Before, he’d squirm around and fall out into my arms when he was ready to be done. This morning, he scooted himself forward gently sat himself on the floor.

As I clapped and cheered him on, it occurred to me that Heavenly Father must feel the same way in our every success.  In the times that we are kind to someone who is rude to us, or that we choose to tell the truth, or even when we turn to Him to admit our faults and ask for help to overcome them, He must be clapping and cheering for us, too.


He wants what’s best for us.

A has a fascination with a lot of things he shouldn’t have. For instance, the cat’s food, the cat’s water, the litter box, the toilet, my cleaning supplies, outlets, pens… Really, the list could go on and on.

He doesn’t yet understand the danger of them yet, so I have to help keep him safe.

Unsurprisingly, my efforts rarely make him happy. He cries because what he’s trying to play with looks like so much fun and he doesn’t understand why I’m making him unhappy.

Similarly, God sees dangers we don’t know about or understand.  Sometimes these dangers are outlined to us in the form of commandments. Sometimes, we get impressions from the Holy Ghost that help keep us safe. You know those mornings when you just can’t get out the door when you’d planned? I’d like to think that’s divine intervention protecting us from an unseen danger.

Because He loves us, he gives us limits and boundaries to keep us safe and happy.


He will never leave us.

This brings me back to when I started sleep training the A.

The first night was the hardest.  I checked on him and comforted him after 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then every 10 minutes thereafter. It took between an hour to an hour and a half for him to get to sleep.

Sleep training coincided with a really trying time in our lives, and as I stood outside the door listening to him and keeping my eye on the timer, it occurred to me that Heavenly Father does this, too.

Sometimes He is quiet in our lives as he waits for us to figure out how to do something ourselves.  In my case, it was learning to be patient and how to forgive even when the offender isn’t sorry

In a way, I realized I was teaching A some of his first lessons on faith: That even though I may be away from him for a moment, I’ll return in the light of the morning with open arms. As our Father, God promises this same thing.


He would do anything for us.

Did you know labor hurts? I know, groundbreaking.

Because I had planned a home birth, I spent 23 hours in labor sans epidural. My contractions for the majority of that time were two minutes apart – from the get-go.  At 23 hours in, I was barely dilated, and my midwife made the call that we should head to the hospital because no amount of walking, rocking, or bouncing was getting me going.

When I got to the hospital, I thought I might just die before they got me an epidural.  They had so many questions to ask. (like, who do you want in the room?  By that time, you could have brought a whole marching band in and I don’t think I’d have noticed.  Just get me the epidural!)

I cried when they told me they needed to do a C-section.  I was absolutely terrified.  As they wheeled me to the operating room, I shook all over.  And one thing I didn’t know about C-sections before going in is that even though you can’t feel the pain of the surgery, you can still feel the surgeons tugging at you.  It felt surreal, like I’d been abducted by aliens.

When I heard his cry for the first time, I was happy he was safe, but when they asked if I wanted to hold him I very firmly said no. I was so scared and I didn’t want him to meet me under those circumstances, so he went to my husband instead. I started hyperventilating when they started stitching me up, because all of a sudden I was very aware I was currently undergoing surgery – while awake.  Just sayin’.

They upped my sedation because I was freaking out, and the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.  The nurse was gently laying A on my chest, and even after all I’d been through, I cried because my heart felt like it was going to burst with love for him.  My first thought was, “I love you. You were worth every minute and I’d do it all again if I had to.”

As hard as labor was, it had to be one billionth (or less) as excruciating as Gethsemane was. After all, Jesus Christ felt not only my labor, but all other labors, and every other pain and sorrow every single person had or will have to face.  When we turn to him and ask for His help, I know the words he must want to say are, “I love you. You were worth every minute and I’d do it all again if I had to.”


Heavenly Father is perfect. His love is perfect. The ways in which he loves us are perfect.  If you consider that he does all of these things perfectly, you know he cannot fail.

When I look at His love from this perspective, I am truly blown away and humbled. I’m so grateful to have a new understanding of His love for me.

I agree with every word <3 I don't think I really understood God until He made me a mother!

How to Start an Art Journal Even If You’re Not An Artist

This post contains affiliate links.  Read full disclosure here.

If you’re reading this page, I’m going to assume you accepted my invitation to give art journaling a shot.  I promise, you’re going to love it.

Wondering why you should start an art journal? Here’s why.  In that post, I mentioned all the reasons I love art journaling.

To recap:

  • It’s easy to keep up with.
  • It encourages me to have a more positive outlook.
  • It helps me see prayers that have been answered.
  • It gives me a creative outlet.

Why I Art Journal, and Why You Should Too

I’m really not good at having a consistent schedule each day.  I’m more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I plan all sorts of stuff I’d like to do but I don’t have a solid list of events for each day. In that vein, I’m always promising myself that I’ll start doing x every day.

“I’m going to exercise 20 minutes every day.”

“I’m going to clean for 30 minutes every day.”

“I’ll scoop the litter box every single day.”

(I know, that last one really does to be done every single day. It just gets away from me sometimes… most of the time. Oops.)

Needless to say, many of these resolutions last a few days then fizzle out.  There’s one thing though, that almost without fail, I do every single day.

I journal.

5 Things I’ve Learned in my First Year of Motherhood

As my baby boy will soon be turning one, I felt that now was a good time to reflect on my first year with him.  There are so many clichés I could insert here, but the one I’ll go with is that it’s been absolutely the best year of my life.  In the short time since I’ve had the Squish, I’ve learned a few things.