Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birthday Boys (Part 2 of 2)

Before I become completely immersed into organizing Boy Wonder's 4th birthday, I was stressed out organizing Hubby's birthday. I decided since it was going to be his last birthday celebrated in HK, it would be nice to have a big-ish party for him. After consulting with a few of his friends/colleagues, I set the date and started inviting anyone I thought Hubby might like to see that evening. From something I thought would be a small dinner, it started bubbling into a full on party with close to 20 guests. I started to worry whether I could pull it off!

On the day of Hubby's birthday, his mum flew into town to surprise him with a birthday lunch. He totally did not see it coming and was also happy to see me when I turned up for lunch as well. It was a great diversion too because at that point I hoped he wasn't expecting anything else after such a wonderful surprise.

The next thing I was most worried about was how to get Hubby to the venue! I was worried he might schedule a long business trip and not come back that weekend. When it turned out he wasn't going anywhere that weekend, I became worried he'd suspect something if I insisted we go somewhere. So I started planting the idea of a dinner with my friends on May 3. I tried to act as nonchalant as possible and I think it worked. When the week of the party came along, I asked for the assistance of one of his friends by asking her to schedule drinks with him and another friend. That turned out well because I told him why not come by dinner with my friends before you head off to drinks with yours.

So the evening of his party finally arrived. After getting both kids to bed, we got ready and left on a cab. The whole time I was still worried whether Hubby was putting up a really good act of not knowing what was going on. When we got to the bar/restaurant I rushed in first to let people know we've arrived. And when Hubby stepped in, everyone started cheering. He was totally surprised!

As you can see from his wrinkling forehead, he was wondering what the heck was going on. Too bad he didn't have his glasses on when we stepped into the restaurant. He said he couldn't see anything and could only hear cheering. The first person he saw was his ex-boss and it was only after he had a better look at the table that he realized what was happening.

So all in all it was a great success. Hubby's mum coming was a double blessing and all of Hubby's friends were wonderfully helpful. Everyone had fun, the food was good and the drinks kept flowing. And most of all, Hubby had a great time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Birthday Boys (Part 1 of 2)

Yesterday, May 16 was Boy Wonder's 4th birthday. Since his current obsession are trains, or rather train crossings, I thought a train birthday cake would be perfect for the occasion. But after calling a few places I was shocked at how costly it was to order a train shaped cake. I couldn't understand how something that seemed simple enough to make would cost so much. So after consulting with a few friends, I decided to make it myself.

It was easy enough to buy the train shaped pan and coloring at the baking supplies shop. But since everything is imported, I was wary about buying a whole set of tips and piping bags which ain't cheap! Good thing Ragamuffin girl had some tips and bags, so she dropped by with them to help me out when it was time to experiment with the icing. We decided to use royal icing first, which was an egg-white and icing sugar mix. We were worried that the buttercream frosting would melt in this HK heat. When we started icing the cake, instead of a nicely coved train, we had a waterfall of colored icing, flowing off the train and into the fingers of Boy Wonder. I had to brush his teeth twice that morning to get rid of all that coloring!

Feeling totally defeated, I started wondering whether I should have just spent the money and ordered a cake instead. But after a chat with our baking guru mother-in-law, I decided to try with buttercream instead. She suggested if things don't work out, I could always just cover the whole cake with candies. What a great idea! So filled with confidence this time, I thought to myself there's no way I could go wrong. So I baked the actual cake and iced away. And this time the icing actually held its shape!

So came the night before Boy Wonder's birthday. The next day also turned out to be my turn to go to school for Parent Participation Day. I baked the final cake then waited for the kids to go to bed before icing it. I took me more than 2 hours to get it all done. But in the end I was really happy with the results. I'm happy I didn't give up and end up buying a cake.

So in addition to surprising Boy Wonder at school at the beginning of class, I was also able to stay the whole day and celebrate his birthday with all his teachers and classmates.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Past In 3 Boxes

These 3 boxes are all that's left of the 22 years I have lived in the Philippines.

On March 27, I took Nachos with me and flew down to Manila to pack up everything I wanted to keep before my mom cleared out our apartment to sell. I thought it was a difficult task the first time I cleared out a ton of my stuff when we moved from a house into an apartment. But this time was even harder. Everything I thought I'd keep for a lifetime had to go through another round of assessment. I really took to heart the question: Do I really need it?

Although I had officially moved to Hong Kong since 2002, packing up every single thing I still had floating around the apartment in Manila was so... final. My parents realized keeping an apartment fully furnished, with appliances and a phone line with no one in it for most of the year was not practical anymore. So after some persuading from a few very logical friends, they finally decided to make the move and sell our apartment. They flew in from the States and literally cleaned out everything they still had.

My mom showed me pictures of all the shoes she kept because she loved them but could no longer wear. Instead of shipping them to the States, she decided to simply take a few pictures of all the things she loved before giving them all away. I really felt my mom's hesitation. I could have said pain, but I don't think she felt that. She knew it had to be done. That was it.

So taking my mom's example, I jumped right into things the moment I arrived. And immediately I came to a screeching halt at the bin. I started by sorting through all my jewellery making stuff. I knew what I really didn't need anymore, but it sure was tough throwing out things that brought me to where I am now. Did I really need that badly made necklace? No. But it was the first one I ever made that led me to the perfect ones I make today. I sat there thinking through it and just threw them away.

Then came all the things in my keepsake box. I had a huge one underneath my bed. I had bags of letters, cards, notes, memorabilia, dried flowers, etc. All these things I kept that brought a smile to my face. Alot of letters and cards from friends I miss and wished was still around. A 5 word note from a friend who passed away due to brain cancer. How could I throw them away? Then there were the love letters! I read a few of them. Some I just chuckled and didn't hesitate to throw them. But some that touched me simply because it was so sweet. These people mean nothing to me anymore, but I just thought how nice it was to remember back to those days when you first thought you were in love. I thought hard whether I wanted to keep holding on to them. But then I felt why should I keep them? And I also didn't want to hurt Hubby's feelings if he ever saw them. I also thought about how I would feel if I found Hubby still kept love letters from his exes, so into the bin they all went. Sigh.

I packed up all the pictures I ever took. Some important looking documents I might need. And all the rest went into the bin. I thought in the end I would have alot more stuff. But 3 boxes was all that was left. If I ever knew I would only be left with 3 boxes of things that are worth keeping back when I still lived in Manila, I would have thought I was pathetic! But its amazing how different your life can become in a matter of years. If I were to pack up anything I have now in a matter of seconds and run, I guess 3 would be the number as well: Hubby, Boy Wonder and Nachos.