Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Happy Birthday

I recently celebrated my birthday, and it was wonderful. I really missed being able to do the small things I love when I'm at home while I was overseas. First, I went to my mom's house to eat some delicious Korean food.

In Korean culture, you eat miyeok guk (slimy seaweed soup) on your birthday. There are a lot of superstitions about miyeok guk, including that you should eat it when you're pregnant but not when you take a test. Regardless, it's absolutely delicious. So I enjoyed the soup and a bunch of other delicious foods my mom made for me. As far as I'm concerned, nobody can cook quite like my mom.

We also lit a fire in the dining room, where my childhood bedroom used to be. It brought back a lot of memories of cozying up by the fire in the winter months with my sister and sometimes even making s'mores from our beds if our parents would let us. My mom even spoiled me with some new winter clothes since I had been in Kenya without winter for a few years! She's the best.

The next day, my Korean class gave me a birthday surprise with homemade cupcakes and mini cheesecakes. I even got to blow out candles for the first time in many years! They sang me "Happy Birthday" in Korean. (You can listen to how that goes here). It was just so kind and really warmed my heart. That same day, I reached my birthday fundraiser goal on Facebook to donate to Britepaths, a wonderful organization that helps people in need in Fairfax County, Virginia. I was impressed by the generosity of my friends.

Then, it was M's turn to treat me. We went to The Melting Pot, a fondue chain restaurant we've loved since even before we were married (and the location of the first photo of this post). After dinner, we rushed to the movie theatre and barely made it in time to see the newly-released Frozen 2. Y'all, I loved this movie! I really enjoy how it features relatable sister love as the focal point and a main character who isn't driven by romance. Also, Disney's music is always so great that I find myself playing the songs on repeat long after I've seen one of their films.

Later this weekend, we went to the Kennedy Center in DC to see a beautiful series of traditional Korean performance arts. We also went out to Lighthouse Tofu, a Korean restaurant recommended by a mutual friend and Koreaphile we met in Nairobi, and I caught up with a dear mentor and friend. The food was delicious and the portions were truly staggering! We ate until we hurt and still wound up taking leftovers home. I highly recommend this place.

Last, I enjoyed my favorite birthday tradition: sitting back and relaxing while M cooks all of the food I want for a day. He even incorporated my request for more fresh, healthy foods this year. I am definitely the cook in our marriage, so it's fun to take a break and have him pamper me with foods I typically wouldn't make myself anyway. Even though it takes him ages to make the food, it always tastes divine. This year, he made me a green lentil salad, ginger-carrot soup, roasted chicken thighs, and dark chocolate mousse. He's just amazing.

So now I'm looking forward to riding the high of a fabulous birthday right into one of my favorite American holidays, Thanksgiving! As much as I love traveling the world, it sure is good to be home - and especially this time of year. Who else loves the holiday season?

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