Birthdays, Birthdays, and More Birthdays

We have been celebrating a lot of birthdays since the beginning of the year! Starting with my sister Mimi’s birthday, where we took her to her all-time favorite restaurant–Crustacean, for their famous Roast Crab. 🙂

IMG_0556IMG_0557 IMG_0582The girls wanted to make something special for Mimi’s birthday gift, so I took them to Laurel Street Arts after school where they got to use that fabulously creative brain of theirs to design 2 nice ceramic pieces for Mimi.

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My brother in law sent my sister's favorite flower on her birthday morning
My brother in law sent my sister’s favorite flower on her birthday morning
Another birthday treat at my sister's favorite sushi joint!
Another birthday treat at my sister’s favorite sushi joint!

Alan laughs, because our birthday celebrations often last an entire week. So, that meant that we were busy celebrating birthdays most of January, February, and March! 🙂 I explained to him that any excuse for good food and cake is worthy of our time.

Next up was Brianne’s birthday, where we pre-celebrated with her favorite cookies and cream ice cream cake after a family dinner at Cooking Papa.

I surprised Brianne with this cake a few days before her birthday :)
I surprised Brianne with this cake a few days before her birthday 🙂

IMG_0681The Friday before Brianne’s birthday, my sis and I made fruit skewers and brought them to her kindergarten class. These days, health is a big topic in schools, so parents are not allowed to bring cakes or cupcakes into the classroom for birthday celebrations. Fruit skewers would have to do! The kids loved them though! 🙂

IMG_0691For Brianne’s actual birthday, we spent it down in Monterey. I’ll blog about that weekend trip in a separate post, but we had a wonderful time there. Brianne chose to visit the aquarium for her birthday, and got a special birthday pin from the Information Desk. 🙂

We stayed at the fairly new Intercontinental The Clement in Monterey, and I woke up extra early on Brianne’s birthday to decorate our room to surprise her. She was elated, and felt really special!

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My birthday was the week after Brianne’s, and Mimi took the reins in organizing most the festivities. It fell on a Friday, and I treated myself to a day off from work! I had lunch with my dad, parent in laws, cousin Joey, and Mimi. Then, we picked the girls up from school early for the “surprise” that my sister had been planning. Two weeks prior, she had asked that I reserve the afternoon of my birthday for her and the girls, as she had planned to take me to a very special place. I was dying to know where. Her only instructions were to wear long pants.

“Do I need to dress fancy on the top?”

“What kind of shoes should I wear?”

“Will I be indoors or outdoors?”

I was driving my sis nuts with all my questions but she kept her composure and said other than the long pants, everything else was up to me. The possibilities swirled around my head…

Girls’ spa day, perhaps? But why would I need to wear long pants?

Movie day at the theater? But what’s with the long pants?

High tea? Wouldn’t she ask me to dress up then?

I finally decided that we were going to get a mani/pedi, and that she only mentioned the pant thing to throw me off. When we left that house that afternoon, I made sure to sneak a pair of flip flops in the trunk, just in case….

As it turned out, the place that Mimi took me was beyond what I would have ever guessed…

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The roller skating rink.

I seriously didn’t even know roller skating rinks still existed. Even more surprising, this rink was only a few miles away from our home! When we arrived, I was too shocked for words, but my heart was bursting with happiness….

Circa 1986-1988, the roller skating rink was a big part of my life in Nampa, Idaho. Roller Drome was where my sister and I spent countless afternoons and weekends. We would skate for hours, using our allowances to buy junk food during our breaks. Though I was only 9-10 years old then, I can still vividly remember the feeling of racing around the rink to Michael Jackson songs with disco balls spinning above me.

As we entered the Redwood Roller Rink, the stale smell and 80’s music immediately brought back memories of the fun times we had at Roller Drome decades ago. I couldn’t believe how much this rink resembled the one we went to. It screamed “80’s” in every corner!

IMG_0828skate1I was ecstatic. The girls, on the other hand, weren’t quite sure what to make of the place.

IMG_0829We put on our roller skates and I hastily hit the shiny rink first to take it all in. I was a little rusty on my turns at first, but it only took a few minutes before I was skating as freely and effortlessly as I did 28 years ago.

IMG_0846skate2We skated for about an hour before we had to leave for my birthday dinner. I loved every minute on that rink, despite the girls’ constant whining about their tired feet. Thank you sooooo much to my lovely sister for such a thoughtful surprise!

That night, we met up with my cousin Connie, Joey, and my nephew Jovian for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the city–Prospect!

IMG_0864IMG_0870 IMG_0873 DSC_3490Though we left with way too much food and wine in our tummies, we still went home to indulge in the delicious cake that Mimi bought from Paris Baguette. I love any and every opportunity to blow out birthday candles! 🙂

IMG_0880birthdaycake1IMG_0893Since my birthday fell on a Friday this year, it was only natural to extend the celebrations through the weekend. On Saturday, my cousin Jacqueline and her soon-to-be-fiance Peter hosted a wonderful dinner at their house. We had home made prime rib that rivaled the House of Prime Rib! That night, I had more candles to blow out, from one of my favorite cakes–the Napoleon at Schubert’s Bakery.

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My aunt and I share the same birthday, so we always have at least one celebration together every year :)
My aunt and I share the same birthday, so we always have at least one celebration together every year 🙂
Truly one of the BEST.CAKE.EVER!
Truly one of the BEST.CAKE.EVER!

On Sunday, my sister treated me to a birthday brunch at the lovely Palace Hotel in San Francisco…the kind filled with bottomless mimosas, fresh seafood, and way too many dessert selections. 🙂

IMG_0942IMG_0944palace_brunchIMG_0946That night, one of my best friends from college, Brittina, organized a karaoke evening for the final stretch of my 3-day birthday celebration. It was an incredibly fun night with many of my good friends as we sang our hearts out at E Plus Karaoke in South San Francisco.

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Another birthday cake, yay!
Another birthday cake, yay!
Late night snack + sake after karaoke
Late night snack + sake after karaoke at Mokutanya

Now that we all have kids, it’s not easy to get together, and nearly impossible to stay out so late. I was really grateful that everyone took the time to come celebrate with me…thank you so much to all my family and friends!

The girls gifted me a one-of-a-kind chef's hat and apron set, which they worked very hard on!
The girls gifted me a one-of-a-kind chef’s hat and apron set, which they worked very hard on!

Following my birthday was my father in law’s birthday, and he likes predictability at his age, so we celebrated with him at his favorite restaurant–Mayflower in Milpitas.

IMG_0988Shortly after that, we jetted off to Hong Kong for the girls’ mid-winter break, and poor little Bridgette spent most of her birthday sick in bed. In fact, she was so sick that her morning was spent at the doctor’s office, and the evening at the emergency room. 😦 Her fever was around 103 and just wouldn’t subside, despite the rainbow of color in meds that she was prescribed.

IMG_1316To lift her birthday spirits, her great grandmother’s two caretakers, Ada and Citi, decorated the house and bought her a cake anyway. We woke Bridgette up to sing happy birthday to her, as she groggily cut the cake, and then went right back to bed.

Cutting the cake with her grandparents
Cutting the cake with her grandparents

When she was back to her perky self a few days later, we let her pick what she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday again. She chose one of her favorite activities in Hong Kong–high tea!

High tea with grandma at the Mandarin Oriental
High tea with grandma at the Mandarin Oriental

By the time we returned home from our 10 day trip to Hong Kong, it was time to celebrate Alan’s birthday! The first of his series of birthday treat included a meal at one of our favorite places–Burma Superstar on Clement Street.

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A double birthday celebration with a super decadent chocolate cake
A double birthday celebration with a super decadent chocolate cake

As a part of Alan’s birthday festivities, he and I took a Friday off from work to head up to the Wine Country, for a Thomas Keller food excursion. We started with the famous fried chicken at Addendum, followed by some treats at Bouchon Bakery. In the afternoon, we strolled around the pretty town of St. Helena, and that night, we got to indulge in an extraordinary 10 course dinner at the French Laundry!

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Gorgeous sunset
Gorgeous sunset

IMG_1745french_laundryfrench_laundry1french_laundry2…and that concludes all the birthday festivities for the first quarter! 🙂 I will blog about the girls’ joint birthday party in a separate post!

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