Judah’s 2nd Birthday!
We weren’t there on the day that Judah Mahesh was born. If you haven’t read the story of where we were and what we were doing on the day Judah was born, you should really check it out. It is such an amazing story that could have only been written by God. I will forever praise God that we were actually celebrating our son on the day that he was born.
We weren’t there on the day that Judah Mahesh turned one. We were actually at another one year old’s birthday party. Her mama had planned a beautiful party for her, and we were thrilled to celebrate her. But that first birthday party evoked feelings and emotions that I wasn’t prepared to feel. On the drive home from the party, I just kept thinking about all we’d missed in our son’s first year and about how he’d never get to have a first birthday party like that one. I knew that his orphanage was so large and underfunded that they probably didn’t even acknowledge birthdays, let alone celebrate them. Then God, in His goodness, stepped into that situation and tangibly said, “I care for you, and I care for him.” On that drive home, with tears in my eyes, I received a message with four photos and a video of our boy. We also got a phone call that day about a grant that we had just received, which covered most of our remaining expenses for our adoption. You might say, “Oh those are neat coincidences!” but I don’t believe in those. I believe in God’s sovereign story that He writes, and we are humbled to be a part of it.
We might have missed a few occasions, but we WERE there on the day that Judah Mahesh turned two, and it was so special to be able to celebrate that day with our son and our friends and family who had also waited years for him to come home.
Deciding on the theme for Judah’s FIRST EVER birthday party was easy. There is nothing Judah loves more than automobiles. He excitedly points and squeals at every car that drives by (especially if it’s blue), he rolls his toy cars and trucks all over the house, and even his food becomes a car as he drives it around his plate - instead of into his mouth. A little blue car was the very first thing we gave him on the day we met, and a tiny vroom vroom was one of the first sounds we ever heard him make. So yes, there was no other theme more appropriate than cars. For (electronic) invitations, I went with the tag line, “Beep! Beep! Coming Through! Judah Mahesh is almost TWO!”
Decorating was easy because, as you can imagine, toy cars are in no short supply in our house. I also used a checkerboard pattern with red, yellow, and green accents (like a stoplight). The checkerboard pennant banner came from amazon and was included with a few rolls of duct tape, which came in handy for several projects for his party. I added some red construction paper and my teacher bulletin board letters to make some shorter, personalized banners. There was still plenty left to hang up in other places as well. I also made some stoplights out of black poster board and construction paper, and I hung them up with a gold and black “Happy Birthday” sign that we had in our box of birthday decorations. The “Speed Limit 2” sign was made from foam board, paint, and black poster board as well. It was so fun to see Judah’s eyes light up as he pointed to all the party decorations all around the room and said “Whoa!” (It was not as fun to hear him scream, “MINE!” about every toy car he spotted in the decor, though!)
My brother is a graphic designer, and he designed and printed Judah’s shirt for him. I love that he can wear it all year long because he will be TWO for a full year! Judah loved the little car drawings on his hand-lettered chalkboard sign...so much so that a few are a little smeared if you look close enough! He weighed in at 22 pounds and 32 inches on his second birthday, which means that he has gained 7 pounds and grown 7 inches since coming home in May!
We also set up a few games around the house that kids could just play at their leisure. I set out orange cones and glow necklaces for a ring toss game, which was Hattie’s favorite game. We also used a black foam board and some duck tape to make a ramp to race cars downhill. Judah thought that was pretty fun. Marcus and I got Judah a Rug City Playmat (Amazon) and some Hot Wheels for his birthday, and they made a great addition to the party decor as well. Kids could always be found in that area.
Finger foods were easy to throw together, but - of course - I needed them to match the theme! If people made a “Pit Stop,” there were plenty of options to choose from! We had Stoplight Snacks (strawberries, pineapple, and green grapes), Airbags (marshmallows), Seatbelts (Twizzlers), Nuts & Bolts (peanuts and M&Ms), Dip Sticks (carrots, cucumbers, green peppers, and pretzels + Ranch, of course because Ranch IS one of Judah’s favorite foods!), and Spare Tires (mini chocolate donuts). Leftover black poster board and chalk markers made great signs to label the food as well.
I also made chocolate cupcakes. They were easy, but looked cute with the decor. Some were frosted with chocolate icing and had red, yellow, and green M&Ms to make them (slightly) resemble a stoplight. Some were frosted with vanilla icing and topped with an Oreo (to look like a tire) and a racing flag (made with duct tape and toothpicks). A few were also topped with a mini car (glued on a golf tee, so that they could be taken off and played with after enjoying the cupcake).
I made Judah a small two-tier, cake. It was chocolate (his favorite!) with vanilla frosting. I put Oreos around the bottom because they looked like tires. Some Twizzlers and crushed Oreos made a little road, and I used some red, yellow, and green M&Ms to line the edge of the cake. Duct tape and kabob skewers made some nice racing flags, and the cake was topped with two mini cars (glued on golf-tees) and a number 2 candle, of course!
It was pretty cute, and he was so excited to see it - his very FIRST birthday cake! I teared up as everyone sang him happy birthday and he blew out his very first birthday candle. (Hattie teared up too because we started singing before she had her party hat on her head - oops!) Judah probably would have eaten the whole cake, but we cut him a generous slice and shared the rest with a couple of party guests who preferred cake to cupcakes.
The “Refueling Station” included bottled water (wrapped in checkerboard duct tape) and lemonade. We had red cups and black and white paper straws for the lemonade. Black plates, yellow napkins, and red forks completed the necessary utensils and kept with the stoplight scheme, and a car hauler kept all those things contained for us.
It’s probably the teacher in me, but I LOVE having friends and family write in picture books on special occasions. Those books go on our bookshelf, and it’s fun to read the sweet comments and remember the special day each time we enjoy that book. For Judah’s Guest Book, I chose “The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk.” It’s about an auto-rickshaw in India, and it’s set to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.” It was perfect for our automobile-loving Indian babe. Friends could grab some bubbles on the way out as well. I picked up some cherry-scented bubbles (because they were on sale and they were red!) and wrapped them in duct tape (I’m telling you, that stuff had so many uses!). Then I hot-glued mini cars on top. The cars could be removed and played with as well, so it was kind of like a double prize!
Overall, it was a great party filled with so many family and friends, many who had prayed for our son to come home for over 5 years! On dark days in the adoption process, one of the daydreams that I held onto was experiencing “firsts” with our son. His very first birthday party at home was so special, and we are so grateful to be a part of his story. We are so very thankful for our smart, resilient, independent, joyful Judah Mahesh - who is now TWO!