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! :))

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