And So I Turn 30…

I’ve had various mixed feelings about today. Mostly along the lines of panic (“eeeek!”), indifference (“who cares, it’s JUST a number”), excitement (“psshhh…30 is the new 20!”), and defiance (“I refuse to believe that I’m old!!!”).

What it all comes down to–I’ve realized–should be not so much how I feel about this milestone, but what wisdom I can impart my two-year-old son. What, with all the highs and lows, blessings and blows, rejoices and regrets of life thus far, can I gift him, on this my 30th birthday.

THAT wisdom can be summed up into this Holstee Manifesto, for which I am grateful someone else have already come up with–but pretty much sums up my every thought of lesson and legacy for Miguel.

This is your LIFE, son. Live it, and live it well.


Memorables and Mentionables–From His 2nd Birthday Party

Truth be told, I was hoping for a simple and stress-free birthday party. But then again, when you have kids involved…is it EVER going to be simple and stress-free?

Party Theme. CHECK.

We’ve decided on the theme months ago. While on vacation in Orlando, we came across some Little Einsteins party supplies and immediately decided that they would be perfect. Miguel just LOVES The Little Einsteins.

Party Activity. CHECK.

Over the next months I’ve TRIED to think up ways on how to celebrate his 2nd birthday in the middle of Arizona’s August simmer (and the still looming monsoon season). The only thing I could come up with was WATER. Lots and lots of water. Miguel LOVES playing in, swimming in, and jumping in water.

I’ve thought up things that involved water in the toddler pool, water toys, water balloons…just NOT water coming from the sky (last year we got a pretty hard downpour that rendered the backyard useless on the day of his birthday party). Thankfully, despite some rain, wind, and yes, blowing dust up to a day prior, the weather cooperated. The sun shone brightly on party day.

Party WOW Factors. UN-CHECK and UN-CHECK.

I had grand ideas in the back of my head for some additional OOMPH for this party (I wanted to make a home-made Little Einsteins Rocket pinata, as inspired by this blog post; and I also wanted to create some melted crayons reshaped to form Rocket to place in the giveaway bags, as inspired by this blog post). Unfortunately, these didn’t quite materialize (maybe in another time, another place, another form…they will). Cool as the Rocket pinata and crayons might have been, they would have taken so much effort on my part, only to be destroyed in mere minutes at the party.

Thankfully (or more like, SUPER thankfully), our guests–both young and old–were über easy to impress…

Miguel WOWED at the simple party banner that had his favorite characters (Leo, Quincy, Annie and June! He made sure to name them all…)

Kids went crazy over these party blowouts I got (note to self for future…GET extras of these!!!)

My Mom’s labor of love cooking had guests–even non-Filipino ones–coming back for platefuls of dinuguan, kare-kare, her own version of pancit Malabon, and mami. And the kids and grown-ups enjoyed even the no-cook meals we added on (rotisserie chicken, store-bought lumpiang Shanghai, baked vegetable lasagna, and the dinosaur chicken nuggets from Costco…gosh those were such a hit!)

Outside, it didn’t take much effort for the kids to play with–and enjoy–the kiddie pool, slip and slide, and bevy of sprinkler-type contraptions Terrence had set up. They enjoyed it so much that we all forgot about the water balloons (a shame…because I was looking forward to those!!!)

And to think I was considering renting a giant water pool/slide for this party! Insane.

Inside, we all equally enjoyed the Carvel ice cream cake my sister bought for Miggz. There is an enormous lack out there of Little Einsteins cake decor. You can buy them…but I guess due to Little Einsteins being not-too-popular any more…the little supply of cupcake decorations and cake toppers bearing any resemblance to Little Einsteins come at a premium. My sister instead, had my brother DRAW Rocket on the ice cream cake. It was INGENIOUS!! And it came out great!

To think my sister ALMOST paid $80 to commission her co-worker to make a proper a la Cake Boss Little Einsteins cake!!

At the end of the day, we all DID keep it simple. AND fairly low-stress. I think it’s so easy to get carried away with going over the top for a birthday party that we forget what really matters: celebrating a milestone in your child’s life…

Seeing that smile, could all we’ve prepared have been enough?

I think so.

And NewMammas out there…if you think a simple birthday song and your son about to blow out his two-year birthday candles don’t have the power to move you to tears, you better think again.

I almost did.


Here is a look back on that day, in photos:

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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too


Life should not only be lived. It should be celebrated.


Today ends more than a week’s worth of celebrations in my family. It started with my husband’s birthday, followed by my youngest sister’s two days later, and then followed by mine five days after.

My hubby celebrated a significant birthday—his 35th. On the evening of his birthday, we went with the whole family to The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. It was a nice place…great food, excellent service. He always chooses great spots to eat, and this one is definitely worth coming back to. After dinner we headed home and lit his “3” and “5”candles atop a red velvet cake we got from Costco the day before. What a find it was! Very yummy…I’ve had different red velvet cakes/cupcakes from different places, and Costco’s is definitely a winner…the icing was not too sweet, and the cake was just nice and moist. I don’t usually eat a lot of cake, but after that night, I’ve had leftovers of that cake for breakfast (with coffee), and also as a midnight snack. So bad, yet so good.

My sister is in college, so she did what typical college kids do and threw a party at her off-campus apartment. We were not there of course LOL. Who invites family at their college parties?!?! That would have been funny.

I celebrated my 29th a little early…we picked up my Louis Vuitton travel tote last Sunday. And then yesterday, my parents cooked what to them was a normal dinner, but it certainly felt like a feast to me! Dad made sopas (macaroni soup in chicken stock with chicken, vegetables, and milk), mom fried some lumpiang shanghai (Asian egg rolls with seasoned ground meat and vegetable filling), and dad also mixed up some cocktails (vodka with orange and cranberry juice garnished with maraschino cherries). Honestly, THAT could have been my birthday dinner. But being that my two sisters live away from home, they were not here to enjoy all of that (and my little sis called mom early today asking, “what are we doing for Ate’s birthday?”). We really made no plans until today, and decided we should try Kona Grill. My siblings have been there before, but Te and I haven’t, so I figured this would be a good time to try it and bring the whole family. Food was good too, but the service was so-so at this place. I’m a little biased because we really had such great service at The Keg last week…I guess those are really hard to come by these days. So at Kona Grill, I had my first try of hot sake (I got light-headed shortly after drinking a tiny bit, and this was after my meal…LOL. I think at 29, it’s too late to break me in. I don’t—and will probably never be able to—handle my alcohol well. At the end of dinner, I got a hefty slice of…guess what, more red velvet cake, which was soo yummy-looking, but I barely had the stomach space for. Thankfully, everyone else took a bite. We didn’t even get to eat the Harry & David Chocolate Mousse Cake waiting at home that my sister-in-law sent for our birthdays. It’s okay…that means there will be more cake waiting to be eaten tomorrow 🙂

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