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I've been working in the field of forest ecology for years now—longer than I've been employed professionally—and I can tell you that it's a demanding career. Don't let that, though, turn you off! Our environment needs our protection, and the difference we make is very satisfying because you are protecting the environment for your children as well as the flora and fauna.

My first worries were about juggling my work and (family) life. Long days in the field appeared to leave little time for spending with my friends and family. But, suprise. Making that balance work is everything.

Consider my daughter. Growing up in the middle of nature, she is learning about trees, plants, and animals directly. She has now begun including our work into her life, and it is all worthwhile to witness her growing interest and passion for the natural world.

Our little girl is quite the wild one and she developed so fast right before our eyes.

Speaking of which ... her birthday is coming up.

Encorperating the Forest into Her Birthday Party

With my daughter's birthday approaching, I can tell you that she is ecstatic. Despite her many interests, this youngster's real love is for forest animals. Considering all of the stuffed animals on her bed, it almost looks like a zoo—although her grandmother's red fox is her particular favorite.

It's her big day, so she's been harping on how she wants all of her animal friends to attend her party! We've chosen to invite a few of the kindergarten kids even though she's still a little young for "friends". It's not my strong suit, I must admit, but fortunately for us, her dad loves planning parties.

It seemed easy enough when I was in charge of planning the invitations. Finding ones that fit our woodland creature theme, though, proved more difficult than I had anticipated. That was before I happened onto this amazing website with a whole section devoted to forest animals! Like winning the lotto, it felt, so good to have that many choices. Also a little bit daunting.

My daughter was a great help in choosing the invitations, and boy, did she have strong opinions! Her excitement was infectious and she knew exactly what she wanted.

Cute woodland freinds

We flipped through designs that included cute animals that looked like her favorite stuffed toys. Warmth came from the happiness on her face as we selected them. Though our guest list was small—mostly family and a few close friends—watching it gradually fill up made me realize how quickly our little girl is growing up in front of my eyes.

It has been a wonderful journey to become a mother; at first, it seemed overwhelming, but what a blessing it has proven. It's funny how life can turn around from concentrating on our education and jobs to now organizing our child's birthday parties with a woodland theme.

I feel so incredibly fortunate as we get ready for our daughter's fourth birthday celebration among a plethora of woodland animals. Who would have imagined that I would be here today, excitedly anticipating a celebration full of forest animals, back in the day when other things tugged at my attention? You are definitely surprised in the most amazing ways by life!

One birthday party at a time, then, is how to navigate motherhood because there's nothing like witnessing your child's face light up with pure delight as they celebrate another year of life with those who love them. Happy and loving travels to all the other parents out there. May yours be as full of both.