Sofia turned 7: birthday week

My baby turned 7! I can’t believe how big she is now, not just physically but mentally and behaviorally. Although I am biased, I think Sofia might be the kindest person I know while at the same time the bravest. Our life as expat in Manila has reinforced her flexible, adaptable, amicable, friendly personality. She might seem like shy but she’s actually very confident, easy to make new friends, and have fun quickly with whatever she is doing. She’s smart, quick learner, and is learning that perseverance and hard work pays off at the end.

Her life turned very busy this year as she started first grade which comes with after school activities. Currently she’s doing swimming (after school and private lessons), brain buzz, soccer, mandarin, math, and piano. Everyday she practices 30-60 min of piano after all her activities, and practice mandarin for 10-15 min. Some days when she’s tired, she doesn’t want to, and I always remind/coerce to still do them (maybe shorter time) because that’s part of her responsibilities, just like mom’s work.

She is also a very caring person. Although she fights with Lizzy often, she deeply cares about her. Sometimes she’d tell me that she doesn’t like Lizzy all the time, because she annoys her (taking her things without asking for instance), but most of the times she takes care of her little sister in a daily basis (preparing her tooth paste morning and night, getting her water, or clean up for her). Sofia also cares about our helpers and driver, she’s so sweet with them and when they don’t feel well, she notices before anyone else. Needless to say, she cares about her mom the most. Somedays I’m tired and don’t want to read her before bed, she is always very understanding and next morning she’ll ask me if I had a good rest. She also loves and cares about grandma. Their bound is so strong. It was evident when we left shanghai. After one month traveling Europe with grandma, Sofia broke into cry when we said goodbye to grandma. She would love to have grandma living with us all the time, but she also understands that grandma is happier in shanghai with her friends.

Last year we went to Disney in Tokyo for her birthday. This year she asked for a party so I delivered. It’s so much more work than going on a trip and the final result was worth weeks of planning.

For her actually birthday, I made a vegan chocolate cake to bring to school. It was my first time making a vegan cake and I’m bloom away by the result. Nobody could believe it was refined sugar free, dairy free, and egg free.

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Recipe for a 9×13 inch cake:


  • 2 cups WW flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Chocolate frosting

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 300g dark chocolate


  • blend dates with warm water, add the rest of liquid ingredients
  • mix dry ingredients and mix with liquid ingredients, do not over mix
  • bake at 350F for 30-35 min
  • To make frosting: warm the milk until boil and pour over chopped chocolate. Mix and refrigerate until semi-solid

Lizzy and I went to Sofia class for the mini celebration

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they are doing the final assembly for the day


then we did the cake


the cake was a big hit among the kids, which is a great sign! 🙂


that night we went out for dinner

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and Sofia picked burger. So we went to Shake Shack



she also made a cake in school

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we hosted the birthday part last Sunday. Minimal decoration but festival enough


her friends arrived on time

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we did few games for the teams. Everyone engaged


some kids are super competitive


the theme of the party was SPA. so each girl got a mani/pedi with massage. What a luxury right? the crew brought everything including those bamboos for decoration and soothing music.


Sofia had a blast


then cake time! Homemade lemon cake


quick birthday song


and they all went back to play

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gift opening at the end


3 hours later… I was voiceless and tired but so happy to have organized this to my favorite person in the world 🙂 Let’s just hope next year she wants a trip. hehe…

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