30 Years Young: Starting the Decade Off Right!

Around ManilaForeign Service LifeSocial Gatherings
July 10, 2010

You are all well aware of the fact that I don’t really believe in doing anything small, especially when it comes to milestone birthdays.  All it took was 5 months of hinting on my part before Nick caved and graciously agreed to host a 30th birthday bash for me (against his better judgment).  And what fun we had…

But before we go into all the juicy details of the night, let’s first explore why 30 is such a big deal for me.  Now, I find birthday conversations a bit frustrating at times because most people expect you to be depressed about getting older.  You see, that’s never been a fear for me.  Actually, for as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to be an adult.  This goes back as far as age 10 when my parents would be hosting dinner parties and I’d sneak down and put my ear to the wall of the adjacent room and revel in the adult conversation.  In high school I remember leaving the party in the basement and going up and chatting with the host’s parents (yup, I was a full-fledged dork).  Dare I say I even preferred talking to adults over my peers.  It was a sad day when mom sat me down and told me I need to spend more time with people my age!

I thought the 20’s would finally get me into the “adult club,” but it always seemed to elude me.  I still found that more senior adults disregarded my opinion because I was a 20-something or questioned my ability to coach them because of my lack of life experience.  And that proved to be insanely frustrating because what I’ve known for a long time is that is that age is irrelevant –  I just happen to be an OLD SOUL…..who now has the digits to back it up!  No more writing me off as a mistake-making 20-year-old because 30 is the REAL DEAL.  30 is maturity.  30 is baby-making time (a very grown-up thing to do).  And 30 is above-all-else, not the 20’s!

And so I’m sure you can see now why this was such a HUGE DEAL.  This was my débutante ball, my adult coming-out party and my day of birth all rolled into one.  Happily, the hubby came through big time on this one!  He started by surprising me with my gifts the night BEFORE my birthday.  This is unheard of in the Novak family, I might even go so far as to say it’s prohibited.  And since I believe in opening a gift as soon as it’s given, you can imagine that this has created some tension in our newly-joined family.  So imagine my delight when he proposed that I open it early!?!  YES PLEASE!

Again, I need to fill you in on some background details.  Being that we’re traveling like mad this year, we both agreed that we’d just spend $100 on birthday gifts.  Being the rule follower that I am, I stayed perfectly within the budget for his 30th birthday last December.  He got some very cool sandals, a fab new briefcase and an electronic helicopter (okay, it even sounds pathetic when I write it – but I swear, it seemed very adequate at the time).  Well, imagine my surprise when I unwrap my gift and discover a beautiful new phone (for texting, of course – I do now live in the texting capital of the world) that was well above the limit.  I was tickled pink and only feeling mildly guilty until we’re laying in bed later that night and he mysteriously pulls out another package.  Yup, you guessed it, that little punk totally broke the rules and got me the most gorgeous new long-range camera lens (a 55-250 mm).  I couldn’t decide whether to be pissed or delighted, as this was totally and completely unexpected (and inappropriate).  He looked so excited about it though that I just melted and buried my shame at giving him such crap gifts (stupid rule following – never again)!

Fast forward to my actual birthday: I decided to take a nice ‘n easy Manila pampering day since the evening was going to be very people-filled.  I managed to fit in a manicure, lunch out and a massage (of course).  Nick had rented a place called Nicotina’s for the evening.  It’s a favorite hang-out of the Embassy folks that we were introduced to earlier this year.  I immediately fell in love with the open-air setting, good food and live band!  When Nick suggested it for my birthday, I knew that was the perfect spot.  Here’s what it looks like inside:

The venue was AMAZING to work with.  We had about 30 RSVP’s, so Nick had pre-ordered 10 pizzas.  They allowed us to bring in our own cake as well, which was really nice.  Best of all though, Nick arranged the opportunity for me to sing with the band!  Talk about dreamy… that’s 1000 times better than regular karaoke!

Traffic was bad, so people trickled in throughout the night.  We started with lots of eating, drinking and dancing.  Once I was sufficiently relaxed I was ready to rock (I get insanely nervous when I haven’t soloed in awhile).  I started with my signature Karoake song, Alone by Heart.  Nothing like a classic 80’s ballad to belt out.  Once I was feeling good, we moved into some duets (with the band’s lead singer).  We took on Hopelessly Devoted To You from Grease and One Sweet Day by Mariah Carey.  To close down the set, my friend Jen came up and dueted with me on Alison Krause’s When You Say Nothing At All.   What you’ll notice as you watch the progression of these pictures, is that I’m getting more and more into it with my ENTIRE BODY.  Hands, eyes closed, head back – I brought it, diva-style!  :)  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night!  Thanks to everyone who made it so magical….

PS- Nick was on picture-detail for the night, so check out his work at SMUGMUG.

Bring it on 30, I am SOOOO ready for you!
It’s going to be a fan-frickin’-tastic decade ahead!

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  1. John says:

    Nice party! Looks like you owned the microphone that night, did anyone even had the chance to sing??? You were really in the zone, Sarah ;)
    Nick was so nice to give you those gifts ;) so sweet, glad you had a fun Manila birthday ;)

  2. Chris Coleman says:

    Dearest Sweet Sarah – Darlin’, with your positive attitude, amazing outlook on life, the sense of a sage many years your senior, and most importantly your caring soul, the next decade(s) can be nothing BUT fan-frickin’-tastic! Woo hoo! So happy you celebrated your 30th which such joie de vivre! Love u.

  3. Rebecca White says:

    How amazing and fabulous are YOU!?!?! Welcome to your 30s…they really ARE amazing. I’m so much happier with my SELF and my life in my 30s. It’s a great decade…and you’re starting it off right! Hooray!

  4. You are soooooo cute!! Loved reading, loved seeing the pix and need I say – you rock, you’re one of a kind & you make me laugh! :D YAY 30’s!!!!! MWAH!!

  5. Lorie Brunner says:

    Happy Birthday Sarah!!! Yes, it does keep getting better with age……..
    I don’t think we’ll get to the cabin this year but we’ll be closer to visit with your parents!!!

  6. minnesotagal says:

    It was absolutely perfect, truly!

  7. minnesotagal says:

    Awww Chris- I’m blushing! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. There wasn’t a single thing I would have changed about the night! XOXO

  8. minnesotagal says:

    Awww darling, yay for growing older and wiser! You are such a fabulous new addition to my life! Excited to spend more time together next weekend…

  9. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks Tia – comments like that mean so much coming from you! I am so lucky to have you as my social media friend and I am SOOO looking forward to the day when we meet as in-person friends too! I figure it’s only a matter of time and a little intention setting… :)

  10. minnesotagal says:

    Thank you Lorie – sorry to hear you can’t get there this year! It can be tough to make all the scheduling work out! Take care and thanks for reading…

  11. bfiles says:

    happy birthday! I wish there was video of you singing….glad you had such a wonderful celebration.

  12. minnesotagal says:

    Aww thanks, I’m sure I’ll get up and sing again there. We’ll try and get one for the next round!

  13. Katrina says:

    Sarah-I never once doubted that you wouldn’t rock out your 30th birthday! Welcome to the “adult” group-we are SO happy to have you apart of us =;)

  14. minnesotagal says:

    It was amazing, truly! The icing on the cake would have been “beaming up” my favorite peeps from MN! I know you were there in spirit though…

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