Even before Raine was born, we were told that she would be a child of grace. And like most things of grace, Raine was definitely undeserved. I mean, how could two such grumpy people like The Hubby and myself produce such a happy, sunny child (though there are times when Raine is acting up that I scream inside my head--what did I do to deserve this? I'd scream it out loud but the neighbors might think I'm weird--and this is an entirely different topic, the stresses of motherhood)?
Aside from the grace, we've also experienced God's favor. The Hubby got a new, well-paying job that gives me the option not to work so I can focus on Raine. I also got several opportunities for my writing that still allowed me to work from home. Sort of. We discovered that The Great Aling Lourdes also makes a fantastic babysitter for Raine, so I can leave them together without worry. My mom visits us regularly, and so I get additional motherhood coaching, someone to have decent adult conversation with while The Hubby us at work, and another babysitter! The blessings go on and on.
So it's little wonder that when we celebrated Raine's first birthday and her dedication, it was filled with grace and favor. Take the venue and the food. When we started planning, my mom said in that cheerful, optimistic voice of hers, "Let's have it catered by Mario's!" And I just rolled my eyes and gave a snort. Like, hello,mom. Mario's is fine dining and expensive and we're working with a small budget...
I mean I love Mario's. Growing up in Baguio (where the original Mario's is), going to Mario's was such a treat. I remember my mom would save up so we could eat there on special occasions. And then she'd give us lessons on fine dining, like which fork to use, and how to tip the waiter (short side story: when I was about 10 years old, I got a summer job peeling potatoes at a french fry factory. With my pay, I treated my mom to lunch at Mario's. When I got the bill, my mom stopped me from counting out the exact amount and told me to give a larger bill so I had change to leave as tip). So I know the food is good. And I know that they're pricey. So I didn't even put Mario's on my list.
I started making the calls of different restaurants and caterers. It was frustrating. My main problem was I had grand visions and a small budget. And since it was March and I started party preparations late, the places with the reasonable prices were already booked (grad season!). Two and a half weeks before the party date, I finally asked my mom if we could try Mario's. "Ok," she said, "I'll call the owner." And she did. And we ended up in Mario's Kitchen, Tiendesitas. We had a fantastic brunch (they were fully booked in the afternoon), the food was great, the place looked classy, the service was good, and they worked with our budget. The churros were a hit. Lesson learned? Even when you're older and you have a kid of your own, mother knows best, oh me of little faith.
Then there's the cake. I've always loved Claycakes. Even way back when I was planning my wedding, I had my eye on Claycakes, but I never asked because they looked too expensive. Then during my Masigasig stint last year, I sort of met Karla Magbanua, the 'sugar artist' behind Claycakes. She was so nice and really down to earth. I really wanted a Claycake for Raine, because I wanted something unique (all Karla's cakes are unique--she interviews her clients so she can come up with a design that really reflects them!) and because I knew only Karla could make a Rainey cake topper the way I imagined it. But the budget held me back. Finally, my mom stepped in again. She told me that it can't hurt to ask. And so cringing with embarrassment, and prepared to be shot down, I called Karla. And God's favor was upon us again.
Karla was beyond accommodating. She was even enthusiastic! The design of the cake she created was based on Raine's giveaway book (a story I wrote--more on that later). It was perfect. The Rainey cake topper was really like Raine in her classic sitting-down-and-beaming pose. And it was scrumptious. I mean days after the party, it was still good! And the yummy, chewy icing was so mindblowing. But beyond the cake, I was really touched by her effort. She even went to Mario's to do an ocular, and explained to the staff how to serve the cake. So lesson learned? Again, listen to your mom. It doesn't hurt to ask.