Friday, July 29, 2011

Jadon's 1st Birthday

OK, so today is catch-up day (as long as Jadon cooperates with a "normal" nap!). Chronicling these events is now pretty much just for my own good, so that I can look back at this blog in the future and remind myself of the fun we had...
I started thinking about Jadon's 1st birthday party back in January or February, when some friends asked if I'd started yet. I hadn't, but immediately jumped into panic mode thinking I must be slacking if I didn't give my firstborn 6 months to plan his big shebang. Therein lay my first mistake. My second mistake followed quickly on its heels. I started searching online for ideas. Whew! Talk about raising the stakes. There are some pretty impressive parties for babies out there!...And I got sucked in.
I quickly decided I might as well stick with Jadon's nursery theme of monkeys, light green, and brown with polka dots. Fortunately (or not) for me, there is a plethora of monkey themed stuff out there right now!

Next decision: how big did we want this party? Somehow we went from a reasonable sized gathering of family and close friends to a ridiculous all-encompassing celebration open to just about anyone. I say ridiculous, but really, this was the most reasonable thing we could do. When Jadon came so unexpectedly into our lives last year, he wasn't the answer to only our prayers, but also the prayers of our entire church family and tons of friends. So many people have celebrated his arrival over this past year that it was only right to include everyone in this celebration...especially because we were told his adoption would finally be finalized by then. So we turned this into a 1st birthday/Adoption Day Celebration and sent out over 200 invites. (Nevermind that our court date was delayed another month and a half...who says you can't celebrate early!) So then, Jim and I got to thinking, whew, that's a lot of people...which could mean a lot of gifts...which Jadon definitely doesn't need! Jim, the ever generous one, suggested why don't we use this as an opportunity to bless Misael, Jadon's World Vision sponsored kid who shares the same birthday as Jadon (one year older). What a great idea. So the planning gained full speed, me excited about all the decorations and such and Jim excited about all the money we could raise for Misael. (We balance each other out well!)
There were times I wondered if it would all come together, but thanks to all the help from our families, I'd say it was a fantastic success, the most enjoyable big event I've ever put on. Yay!

We tried to channel guests into our back yard through the side gate instead of through the house. That only worked so long, but I do think the entry is pretty cute. The balloons and bubble machine were a big hit with the kids, and adults were gracious enough to wear name tags with their name and relationship to Jadon.

It was fun to finally put my Cricut to good use! This sign came out so cute that I haven't been able to get rid of it yet...But Jadon doesn't have enough wall space to hang it in his room or on his door. Bummer.

The party favors turned out even cuter than I imagined, thanks to Jim's mom.

I bought the monkeys at early on, but then struggled with what to fill the bags with. The age ranges of kids coming was all the way from 6 months to 18 years (we ended up making a cut-off at ten and under). Ultimately, I had fun at Oriental Trading Company online and settled on monkey themed mini beach balls, bubbles, banana candy, parachuters, and a sling shot frog. The label said "Thank you for coming to my party. ~Jadon" and I made a cute little clip art monkey face that matched on the name tags and a bunch of other accessories.

In the back yard, we hung the extra monkeys from random trees and such. Thanks dad for your eye for decor! ;o)

Right inside the gate, we made a table for Misael, where people could read about him and the World Vision project in his town, they could sign a birthday card for him, and they could donate money. The coolest part of this whole party was the total raised. People were so generous, and in the end we were able to send Misael $457! That's going to go a long way in helping his family and community!

The food turned out so great, thanks so much to the family! Becky's salsa was AMAZING, Sue's teriyaki recipe was DELICIOUS, and my dad's barbecuing was PERFECT! Add some Costco yeast rolls and salad, some fun green and brown candy in jars, some monkey mix (pretzels, banana chips, white and dark chocolate chips, and Chex), oh, and a chocolate fondu fountain with tons of fruit, graham crackers, and chocolate marshmallows (!)...and it was a wonderful feast! I was wondering where to stage it all, not sure if I wanted people traipsing through my house with all that food, and then I realized, whala, our hot tub-that hasn't worked for years- could finally make itself useful! Cover it all up with a pop up tent, and it was the perfect buffet line!

We tried to have a variety of activities for both kids and adults. We came up with some good ideas, but there were so many people, the activities weren't really necessary--and didn't really develop as planned. Oh well. For adults, we gave out "Jadon Trivia" sheets on arrival with all sorts of questions about Jadon and his adoption. Unfortunately, with all the chaos, we never got around to going over the answers. We also had this "Captions" game, where we posted some fun pictures of Jadon and people could write captions on sticky notes, and then vote on them. Again, too bad we never got around to tallying up the votes. But it was a fun idea. (Thanks Lindsey!)

For the kids, we did "Pin the Tail on the Monkey," which was a surprising hit with kids from all ages. Jim helped Jadon put his up, and I later noticed how well they did as a team! Hmmm, is that considered cheating? (BTW, thanks mom for painting the adorable monkey!)
We also had little foam frames the kids could decorate with jungle stickers and such, but I broke them out too late, and most kids had lost interest. Jadon sure enjoyed tossing everything around though!

I think my favorite part of the whole party was the cake...or cupcakes, I should say. The original plan was to order from Costco, but apparently once they started selling red velvet cake, they stopped selling cupcakes. So plan B was to order from Albertsons, and they turned out great. They're smaller than the ginormous Costco ones, but that's probably a better serving size anyways...and they're cheaper! Yay! We just ordered the different color frostings, and then topped them with white and dark chocolate chips, sprinkles, banana candy, etc. at home. I just love how the display turned out. And Jadon's cake was a last minute purchase from the WalMart bakery, topped with a little Curious George figurine my dad drilled a hole into for the candle. Poor little head, but it turned out so cute.
I was definitely looking forward to the Cake Smash part of the party, as the only sugar Jadon had ever had before was the little bit of ice cream a couple days earlier on his actual birthday. Yay for sugar! :) Jadon started out a bit tentaive, unsure of this big brown thing on his plate (doesn't much look like mashed up fruits and vegetables, y'know!). But he figured it out quickly, and it was just a matter of time until he devoured the entire thing. That's my boy! :)

It took awhile to get a picture of our entire family together, whatwith all the mayhem and Jadon's fans. But we had such a good, rich day, surrounded by people who we love and who love us. Couldn't ask for much more in life! (BTW, I made these matching shirts with a picture of Curious George I found online and good ol' iron on transfers. I was SO shocked Jim agreed to wear one! :))

Sunday, July 3, 2011

2 months of celebrations

Whew! It has been a couple of fun-filled months around here! May and June are the months of celebrating in our house, and we have been getting our fill of party on!

May 5--my birthday
Lots of people celebrate with fiestas on the Cinco de Mayo, and while I'd like to claim that they're all just ecstatic about my birth, I know full well they're mostly just ecstatic about an excuse to consume large amounts of alcohol. Oh well. If they only knew me... ;o)

This year, Jim asked if I wanted to get a babysitter and go out to dinner or something, but when I thought about it, I realized that for the last few birthdays, all I REALLY wanted for my birthday was a baby. Last birthday was particularly bummer for me, and I just felt old and unsatisfied with my life. So the LAST thing I wanted this year was to leave my baby behind! Jadon is my best birthday gift ever, and so I opted for a night in...tailored to me. Jim picked up Pizza Hut (my favorite splurge, since it's twice the price of Little Caesars, and probably twice the calories, too) (I know, my tastes are simple), and then graciously walked the aisles of Home Depot with me and helped me get supplies for my garden. (That was probably the most generous gift he's ever given me--he HATES shopping, and has no interest whatsoever in home improvement projects. PATIENTLY walking through the store WITH A SMILE was one of his sweetest moments. I love that guy!)

I unwrapped a few presents from others, including an AMAZING edible bouquet from Abbey, Jadon's aunt from his birthmom's side, the one who originally called us to see if we would be interested in adopting Jadon. Eleven months earlier she gave me the best gift ever, and I am so blessed with the new friendship we have now on top of that. Oh, and the other gift from Jim was a combination Rachel's birthday-anniversary-Jim's birthday gift. We decided to spend the next 90 days doing P90X together. (For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is an intense 90 day fitness program.) We bought the dvd's for half price on Craigslist, then spent a lot more money than we expected on dumbells and yoga mats and protein powder and recovery drink powder, and started the program on May 2. We will be done on July 30, supposedly with the "beach bodies" of our dreams. I doubt it, but more on that later...

Oh yeah, this is what Jadon does while we work out:
Lucky kid! I wish I could be snacking!

This birthday was 180 degrees better than last year, probably due more to my state of mind than anything else. While last year I was struggling with depression and hopelessness and frustration primarily due to our infertility, this year I feel happier and more hopeful and more satisfied than I have in a long time (maybe ever). I feel like I am walking in God's sweet spot and am drenched with unending showers of his blessing. It feels SO fantastic! Thank you Jesus!

May 8--Mother's Day
Three days later was pretty much just an extension of my birthday. And again, this holiday was polar opposite from last year. Last year, Jim took me on a writing getaway over the Mother's Day weekend. I took 2 days off of school, we drove up to a friend's cabin, and ditched church on the day dedicated to mothers so I wouldn't have to deal with any of it. And we wrote like crazy (like 12-16 hours a day)! It was really nice...but this year was so much better!!! After church, Jim took me to Coco's (his favorite restaurant right now because of some special they have), and then we went home and worked more on my garden. And once again, it really didn't matter what we did. As long as I got to hang out with my Jadon, I was the happiest mother I could be. God is good!
This is when we were just getting started on the garden:

This is it after my dad helped us put the finishing touches on it (OK, correction, when my dad finished what we had barely started), nearly a month later when my parents came down for Jadon's birthday. Unfortunately by then all of our stupid ground squirrels ate all the plants I had bought, except for my strawberries and sweet 100 tomatoes. Bummer.

Oh, and Jadon and I made some really cute Mothers' Day cards this year for his grandmas. I saw these hand and footprint flowers hanging in the window of a day care next to our church, and was inspired to try it out on my own. Jadon wasn't quite as excited about the prospects, and turned out covered with paint. But I liked the end results. Maybe next year he'll be more into it... June 1--Our 9th anniversary
A few weeks later, we celebrated our wedding anniversary. Nine years sounds like such a long time to me! And it has gone by so fast! This past year of marriage has been our best one yet, thanks in large part to becoming parents. (Do you sense a common thread...hmmmm...) Sure, certain more intimate aspects of matrimony have suffered, but overall we have grown closer and are enjoying life together more than ever. And at a month into our P90X program, we're finally getting over the worst soreness and starting to feel that maybe, just maybe, it's working a little and we're getting a little stronger...
Our anniversary fell on a Wednesday night, which happens to be our couples' small group night at church, so we didn't really do much on the actual day, but on Friday night, Jim got Abbey and her family to babysit Jadon overnight (our first night away from the kiddo! eek!), and we drove down to our favorite date night spot, the Imperial Beach Drive-Ins. Once again, we got Pizza Hut (totally not part of the P90X nutrition plan!) and Jack in the Box Oreo Shakes (our first unofficial date), and watched X-Men (the only first feature we were even remotely interested in) (Jim fell asleep) and then Pirates of the Carribean 4. Of course, that was the movie I really wanted to see, but as the first features don't start until dark, the second one didn't start until 11pm, which is far later than we are accustomed to staying up. And we had packed Jim's Jeep SO comfy with pillows and blankets, it was like a little nest just begging you to cuddle up, and so needless to say, I didn't see much of this one. So sad. I guess I'll just have to wait until it comes out on video. I did see the last 15 or so minutes, though, and they weren't bad. After the movie was done after 1am, we drove across the street to the Days Inn where we had a reservation. Yeah, kind of ghetto area, but like I've said, our tastes are simple (which is one of the things I love most about Jim). So we crashed, and I didn't even worry about Jadon! Until Jim's phone rang at 4 am. Immediately I expected the worst, but Jim was so out of it he missed the call. But it didn't matter, since it turned out to be a friend from back east who accidentally butt-dialed Jim. Bummer. My one night NOT to wake up at 4am to Jadon's cries. Oh well. Turns out Jadon woke up crying right about the time anyways, but Abbey and Jason quickly consoled him and none of us missed too much sleep.

June 8--Jadon turns 1
This day came quicker than I could ever believe. My baby is 1 year old already!!! Where did the time go?

To celebrate Jadon's special day, we started with Mickey Mouse blueberry whole grain pancakes with strawberry topping. Jadon was pretty happy. After playing in his new ball pit, we took my dad's truck in to get smogged, did some yard work, and hung out. For dinner we barbecued, and Jadon's favorite part was an empty corn on the cob. Cute boy. Jadon's birthday also happened to be the graduation ceremonies of 4 of our local high schools, which happens to be a pretty important event for those of us in youth ministry. So this year, we divided and conquered. Jim went to the beginning of El Camino's and the end of Vista's, and I went to the end of Oceanside's so I could see my old students graduate in addition to the students in our youth group. Jadon was a trooper, and when we got home at 8:30, he finally got his first real taste of sugar: vanilla ice cream. I am an ice cream addict, and so this was a long anticipated day for me. Sadly, Jadon was a little apathetic to the sweet tasty treat. I think I'll attribute it to exhaustion from his long day. I look forward to many more icecream dates with my kiddo...

June 11--Jadon's 1st birthday party
That Saturday was Jadon's party. Whew! What an undertaking. I'll devote a whole other post to that!

June 19--Father's Day
The party continued with Father's Day. It landed in the middle of a month of weekends where Jim had to preach 5 services a day, so he was pretty exhausted and didn't want to do much. So I barbecued for him, we had a nice liesurely afternoon, and that was about it.
This is the best shot I got because seconds later Jadon lunged out of Jim's arms so he could go play. Jim barely caught him in time. Crazy kid! :o)

June 23--Jim's birthday
We rounded out our months of celebration with Jim's birthday. Being much less sentimental than me, he chose the baby-sitter route, and we used a gift card to Claim Jumper and two movie passes to see Super 8, while Jadon had a date with one of his favorite people, Amy Seed. Dinner was delicious (it is SO great to have an excuse to break our nutrition plan!!! Our dessert alone was 1700 calories!!! (good thing we shared it and brought half of it home!)), and the movie was surprisingly good. Based on the trailer, I didn't think I'd be that into it, but I LOVED the dialogue between the main characters, this group of middle schoolers who acted their parts SO realistically. It inspired me to work on the dialogue of the current movie script we're writing, making it more quirky and witty and endearing. And Jadon did great, in spite of taking a turn for the cranky that afternoon. He LOVES Miss Amy!

This is Jim talking to his parents while enjoying his "special" birthday breakfast, a la P90X--scrambled egg whites with bell peppers WITH CHEESE as a special treat. Oh how we'll be glad when P90X is over! Jim had to rush off to work, so this was the only picture I got.

It is such a blessing to have this much to celebrate. And not only that, now it's summertime, our favorite time of year. Not much time for blogging, but we are having a blast!!!