Baduday Turns Two!
Zoe turned 2 years old yesterday. We started her special day by waking her up to hear the 6 am mass. I tell you, Zoe is not and has never been a morning person, so waking her up that early was a much-dreaded task. We didn’t want to spoil her day but we had to disturb her at such an ungodly hour. Surprisingly, Zoe was as gracious as can be. There were a few grunts and leg kicking, but overall, she was cooperative, as if she knew it was her special day and she has to be in her best behavior, even if that means waking up before sunrise. She was quiet at church, just sitting with us on the pew most of the time, although she did ask her dad to roam around with her during the homily part, not that she was listening to the homily, haha. After mass we headed home and I cooked egg noodles (aka misua) with ground pork and patola for breakfast. Zoe ate her birthday noodles and after a few minutes more of pretending to be a morning person, she demanded to be put back to sleep by saying in her i-need-you-here-right-now voice, “Mommmy dede!” I, of course, happily obliged the birthday girl to her favorite milk and went back to sleep with her. As you may now know, I also am not a morning person…after all, I am my daughter’s mother (haha). I woke up with my husband taking a picture of me and Zoe, the Sleeping Duo as he fondly calls us. My husband just loves taking pictures of me at my horrid best—asleep with my mouth open, saliva drooling from my mouth, with Zoe positioned horizontally over my breast and suckling the way puppies and piglets do. It’s really horrifying but he sees otherwise…as some sort of tender Kodak moment between mother and child. I have, many times, secretly considered wearing make-up to bed because I never know when this cameraman will strike. Sorry, I will not post the picture here! It was almost time for lunch when I woke up. The birthday girl was still snoozing away in dreamland. Because of the shift in the day’s pattern (waking up at 6 am disrupted Zoe’s sleep schedule for the day. Her normal wake time is 10 am), again, it took us forever to wake her up for lunch. My husband had sung all the Barney and Elmo songs he knows to get her up and about, to no avail. Funny how Zoe seems so deep in sleep when you want her awake, but so easy to wake (at the drop of a feather!) when you want her sleeping soundly because mommy and daddy would like to have some, ahem, private moment together. Why is that so? I guess it’s one of those universal why’s, huh?
Lunch was eaten at Toho Restaurant along President’s Avenue in BF. I have eaten here ages ago but hubby has never tried it, and a feature on QTV as one of the oldest restos in the metro got us curious. We ordered tofu w/ lechon, lumpia letsugas, and yang chow fried rice. Zoe ate a lot of the rice, by herself, and the free soup. The food was okay, nothing spectacular. The price was very reasonable. Perhaps we’d go back to try their other dishes. We capped our lunch by buying ice cream at the nearby Ice Cream Store. It had all sorts of ice cream with various flavors from the ice pops to pinipig to ice cream in cups, and even an ice cream sandwich. We are not familiar with the brand of ice cream they had but their ice cream passed our tastebuds. A cup of ice cream for less than 10 pesos, not bad at all. We’re thinking of stocking up on their ice cream for our personal consumption, hehe.
After lunch we headed to Merville to get Zoe’s cake, which I pre-ordered from Ms. Polly’s. Although you could order your cake in Jollibee (costs Php800 to Ms. Polly’s Php475) and get to serve it to the guests during the party, I opted to buy the cake myself and decorate it. The only hitch is we wouldn’t be able to serve it at the party, which is fine by me because that only means I get to enjoy the cake the day after, when it’s cold and moist. It was my first time to do the lettering on the cake. The night before, I practiced icing on a plate and it turned out a disaster. There was something wrong with my icing because after spelling out Zoe’s name, the icing would blur and melt before my eyes. I ended up licking the icing and praying for a miracle that my icing for Zoe’s birthday cake would hold up. It did hold up but there was another problem…I got the margins all wrong and ended up with the last “m” dangling from the word “Mom”! I could have opted for a “Love, Dad & Ma” but I wasn’t Zoe’s Ma, so I stubbornly insisted on the “mom” even if it looked like it was squeezed in at the last minute. The birthday girl didn’t notice my blunder anyway and marveled at her birthday cake with all her zoo animals on it. I hurriedly sprinkled Nips all over the cake before Zoe finished them off.
This year, we decided to celebrate Zoe’s birthday differently. If last year’s was a Care Bears party extravaganza with everyone invited and a houpla of clowns, bubble machines, and happy hop inflatable were what made the party fun, not to mention renting out a gym for the party venue and hiring a caterer for the adults, this year’s party was a no-frills one. We had it at Jollibee and invited less-fortunate kids as guests. Because Zoe’s party fell on a weekday, most of our close relatives couldn’t make it, but the party was, nevertheless, well-attended because the kids came in droves! A few days before the party, Suerte and I were wondering how and where to gather these kids. We prayed that somehow we be led to them, and led to them He did. While I was in charge of icing/lettering the cake, Suerte handled the harder part. A few hours before the party, he walked outside our village and on to the main road of Sucat, talked to street vendors (vendors selling isaw, bbq, candy, and the like) and asked them if they have kids who would like to attend Zoe’s birthday party. He brought Jollibee invitations with him. One vendor was too shy to even look at Suerte in the eye, much less talk to him, but when another joyfully accepted our invitation, she joined in too and presented her kids. One man, upon eavesdropping of a party at Jollibee, approached my husband and asked if he be so kind as to invite his kids also to the party. A kid gathering empty bottles and trash was nearby and Suerte also asked her to join. Before he knew it, all the invitations were handed out and it was time to head home and prepare ourselves for the unexpected. We had two fears. One was no one would show up for Zoe’s party, and the other was a lot would show up way, way beyond what we expected, causing some sort of stampede or making us have to turn down so many due to lack of space, lack of budget, or both. When we got to Jollibee, there were a lot of kids already waiting outside. They were with their parents and some of their parents joined the party, too. It was touching to see that they tried to be at their most party-best, dressing up for the occasion and looking neat and tidy. They were a rowdy bunch, but in a fun sort of way. Zoe was, as usual, wary of strangers and hardly smiled during her party. Her guests were shy at first, not knowing whether to approach me or greet Zoe, but when the party started, they warmed up and joined in the fun. The kids were so game! They didn’t need any coaxing when it was time for the party games. Everyone wanted to join! Even the mommies participated when asked by the host to dance. We only made a reservation for 30 kids, but the kids numbered to 45 that we had to make additional orders both for the kids and the adults (there were, I think, 18 of them, I lost count). From the looks on their faces, you could tell they were having fun. Zoe also enjoyed her party especially when Jollibee the mascot appeared. The kids crowded over Jollibee, wanting to touch him, hug him, and kiss him. Zoe adores Jollibee so much that she rushed to welcome him to her party. Zoe followed Jollibee around, not wanting to lose sight of him, so much so that Jollibee accidentally bumped Zoe when he did an abrupt about-face. The birthday girl landed butt-first but was quick enough to prevent her head from hitting the floor. Zoe was almost in tears, more out of embarrassment than getting hurt, but Jollibee was quick to apologize and console her. He carried her right away and gave her a hug. After a dance number with the serice crew, Jollibee joined us as the kids gathered around the birthday cake. All the kids sang the Happy Birthday song with gusto and Zoe blew the candles, with a little help from her dad.
Much as I am fond of Jollibee for making all the kids smile and for lighting up the party, I couldn’t help but smell him! Nope, he didn’t smell good at all. The mascot smelled of sweat and dust combined, it was as if the costume hasn’t been given a decent wash in ages! I’m just thankful Zoe isn’t asthmatic or allergic to sweat and dust or else she might have had an attack right there. My husband smelled Jollibee’s odor, too, and couldn’t help but say it out loud to Jollibee during our family pictorial with him, “Jollibee hindi ka naligo noh?”
After the candle blowing, Zoe handed out the lootbags. Instead of purchasing the lootbags from Jollibee, I opted to go to Divisoria and fill the lootbags myself. It turned out cheaper plus I had fun preparing them and curling the ribbons on the bags. I was worried the lootbags wouldn’t be enough. Luckily, I had extras with me so everyone went home with a lootbag.
After the candle blowing and giving out of lootbags, it was time to say goodbye. The kids gathered around Zoe, greeting her happy birthday and thanking me and my husband. The parents were very thankful for the invitation, wishing that we be blessed more. We have so much to be so thankful for and this is just our way of giving back or paying it forward. They were so sincere in showing how much they appreciated our gesture of goodwill that I couldn’t help but get emotional and shed a few tears, but it was Zoe who cried the hardest because she couldn’t bear seeing Jollibee go. She wanted to take Jollibee home with her! She pointed at the door where Jollibee entered (the employees’ room) and cried. No amount of soothing and distraction can comfort her. She went home sobbing and fell asleep exhausted.
We hope Zoe was able to make a lot of kids and parents happy that day, and somehow, Zoe’s party will bring a smile on their faces for a long, long time. The joy we felt seeing everyone having fun will be forever etched in our memory and in our hearts.