Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Jackson's Third Birthday Party

I truly had no intention of hosting a "friend" birthday party for another year or so, BUT, Jackson has been invited to no less than 5 parties this year and was absolutely pumped to have his own party.  So, obviously, I caved. 

I really wanted a theme that was age appropriate and not tied to a cartoon character, so barnyard it was!

Off to Etsy I went searching for the perfect invitation 😊 I found it here.

A few months ago, there was a petting zoo at Jackson's school which was huge hit with all the kids, so naturally I had to get a mini zoo and pony for the party.  I also hit up Pinterest for party ideas.  My board is full of awesome ideas.

A few trips to Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and Dollar General later and voila, an awesome barnyard party!

Because, really, who wants to be answering the doorbell in the middle of the party?

Hot dogs, veggie platter, chips, oreos, and popcorn were easy peasy and pretty much universally loved by preschoolers everywhere.  Iced tea, lemonade, water and chocolate milk topped off the beverage selections.

Pie tins for plates, miniature milk bottles for kids, pink cups with drawn on pig noses for adults, and wooden forks and spoons (aka pitchforks and shovels) were all a hit.

Of course the stars of the show were the animals!

Another fan favorite was returning all the pigs to their pen!  Pink balloons with drawn on faces acted as the pigs and I set up a cheap little fence around the crepe myrtle as the pen.  The kids loved chasing down the balloons.

I had a ton of left over Easter eggs, so a pseudo egg hunt was a great way to finally use them up!

The milking cow was something I found on Pinterest and had to figure out how to make happen.  Out came the handy dandy saw horse, poster board, a bit of ribbon, a Dixie cup, glove, and some staples.  The kids thought it was a hoot!  I had to add "JB" on the rear as a branding of Jackson's initials 😄

A few stick horses and a "barrel" were perfect for barrel racing 😃

I made a strawberry pig cake, but accidentally only added 2 candles to the cake!  It was a scramble to get the third candle added at the end!

I love useful party favors so whipped up some farm play mats out of felt, added some plastic farm animals, a farm coloring page, and a few crayons into a red basket, attached a thank you note and had a fun and fairly cheap favor that all the kids loved!

After the party, Jackson posed with his Sticky Bellies birthday poster, he was perfectly giddy with being three!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Adoption Day! Finally :)

I remember thinking when Jackson finally came home, I just want all of this done with by the end of the year.  It was the end of February and I felt that 10 months was PLENTY of time to get the adoption ball rolling and finally be able to celebrate finalization.  Looking back, things really did go rather smoothly even though it didn't always seem to be the case in the moment.  When I finally received the phone call that the adoption finalization was being scheduled it almost didn't seem real.  It was FINALLY going to happen and I couldn't wait.  The case worker gave me the date, November 18, 2015 and then asked if I planned on coming to court or if I wanted to finalize over the phone.  There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to stand in front of the judge so I automatically confirmed that I would be there. 
I called all of the family, told all of my friends, and started an Instagram adoption countdown :)

I couldn't wait to show his sweet face to the world so I became a pro at taking faceless pics!

I wanted Jackson's adoption day to be special.  I wanted him to be able to look back and pictures and see how important that day was.  I became semi-obsessed with finding the perfect outfit for his special day.  When I saw this cute outfit I knew it was the one.  I had his initials added to the outfit and couldn't wait for his name to legally match the monogram. 

Like many other foster to adopt parents, I missed out on the opportunity to do a birth announcement, so I was determined to send out a fabulous adoption announcement!  I found a great photographer and got some amazing pictures of Jackson.  I couldn't wait to share him with the world!

I wanted to commemorate the day properly, so I hired a photographer for the big day.  Brittany Busk took the very first photos of Jackson and me in December 2014 and it was so special to me that she was able to be there to capture his adoption.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 Jackson was blessed to be surrounded by people who love him including his Nana and Papa, Aunt Stephanie, Aunt Jamie, Cousins Katie and Kenzie, and his Mamie (by best friend Amy.)

It was a surreal moment and I had a hard time containing my emotions.  It was a relief.  I could finally breathe easy.  He was finally mine.  He was finally Jackson.  I pray that he always knows how wanted he is and how blessed I am to have him.  People constantly tell me how lucky Jackson is, how blessed he is and while I agree with that there is always a twinge of dissent that lingers in my brain about it. 

Jackson is lucky and he is blessed, but so are all children who are privileged enough to be raised in a loving home.  While I always want him to feel chosen, I also want him to be humble, to be kind, to be trustworthy, and to love God.  He will be a great many things in his life and I truly pray that being adopted doesn't reach into his top ten.  It is how his life started, but it doesn't define him.  He will always bear the title of being a former foster child, he will always know that he is adopted, and he will always know that he is loved.  Love is what I want him to grab onto.  Love is why he is Jackson Benet Smith.