Emma’s Moana Themed Birthday Party

If you haven’t noticed already, ever since Emma watched Moana for the very first time, she was immediately hooked. It was also the first movie she actually sat through. So naturally, she now wants everything Moana. She especially loves to belt out the theme song, How Far I’ll Go. Case in point here. So when it came to her 2nd birthday party theme, it was an easy decision. I wanted to find a budget friendly party ideas, so off to Pinterest I went for DIY decor. I also didn’t want anything extravagant (mainly because I didn’t have the time), so decided to do a Moana themed sweets table. After five nights of designing, cutting, gluing, I was so excited to see my vision come to life! Also, I would not have pulled it off if it wasn’t for my friend, Morgan and her Cricut! That thing was a lifesaver for sure! For desserts, I made the cupcakes & Heart of Te Fiti sugar cookies. The highlight of the sweets table has to be the Moana boat my husband built. Originally, I was going to make the boat with paper towel rolls, but he said he can do something much better. And off he went into the garage. After a night of sawing, hammering and nailing, he legit built her a boat! Please give this man Father of the Year Award.


Along with Emma’s friends, we had both set of grandparents and aunts come to celebrate her birthday (we missed you Paul!). I don’t think Emma understands the concept of birthdays, but she sure had a lot of fun singing the Happy Birthday song and eating A LOT of her birthday cake. Oh, and of course, she loved all the presents and running around with all of her friends. I know I say this every time, but we are so lucky to have such great friends and family. I’m forever grateful for all the love Emma receives. Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate Emma’s birthday with us!!







To Emma (Letter #2)

Our dearest Emma,


Your second birthday has come and gone, and Mama is more emotional than when your first birthday came along. As wonderful as your first year was, a big chunk of that year was in survival mode. Your second year though, was soaking up every single moment of your growth because it literally went by too fast. With a blink of an eye, you somehow transformed into an independent young girl. And as each day passed, it was as if our baby was disappearing.

As I desperately try to hold onto every second of your “needing Mama moments”, I also know I have to let you fly. One of the biggest milestones this year was fostering your independence by enrolling you in school. Though the initial transition was tough (probably tougher on Mama than you), we are so proud of how well you adjusted and how much you love learning new things. I hope you never lose your curiosity and passion for exploring new things in life. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The best part of my day is when you run into my arms with a huge grin, shouting “MAMA!” when I come pick you up at school. I sincerely hope that never changes. And even when you are 18 years old, you still find comfort in my arms.

As always, I am so grateful for being your Mama. Papa and I thank you for another wonderful year of being a healthy and happy baby. We love you so much sweet girl, and we cannot wait to learn more things about you as your personality shines through each day.




To Emma (Letter #1)

Our dearest Emma,

You came into our world a year ago on October 2nd, 2015. Your grand entrance was as dramatic as it could be, just like the bright star you are! You gave us a scare with malrotation and emergency surgery, but mama and dada knew you would be as strong as ever. The past year, you have been thriving, surprising us with your appetite and developmental growth. Everyday with you was something new even when we didn’t sleep for the first three months. 😉 Despite the lack of sleep, you always brought so much joy in our household and we are so thankful to have a healthy , happy and sweet, sweet baby.

When we found out that you were going to be a girl, we knew Emma would be the perfect name. It was daddy’s first choice and the meaning of “whole” and “universal” fit so perfectly with what we wish for you to be one day. We want you to explore the world, in tune with everything around you – the best life lessons come from travelling and experiencing different cultures and people. And we hope that you too will enjoy travelling as much as we do. This will make you a well balanced person and it will make you whole.

Always follow your heart and your passion, and don’t hesitate to understand others before yourself. Being selfless is one of the best characteristics to have. Don’t get caught up in greed because greed will always make you think you don’t have enough, and you will never be able to stop and breathe. Even though we’d like to shield you from all things negative, you will find yourself in a slump one day, there’s no way around it. But please know that it shall pass, it always does. Things happen for a reason, and bad things end to make room for good things. Change isn’t always bad, it can be good, we promise. And always remember, no matter what, we will forever love you.


Happy first birthday, baby girl. We are so lucky to be your parents.

-mama and dada

Hubby’s Big 3-0!

Finally! Steve turned 30! Steve and I were born in the same year, but his birthday is later than mine so whenever I’m “older” than him, I can’t wait until he catches up. It makes me feel less old. Haha.

Turning thirty is a big deal, it’s one of big birthday milestones. I wanted to do something special for Steve’s 30th birthday. For people who know Steve, he is a simple man. He doesn’t ask for much, and he doesn’t like fancy schmancy things like me. 😛 I mean, this man even forgot his birthday this year for God’s sake.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to get him for his birthday present then it suddenly hit me one day. HIS BEST BUDS! His two best friends are both in Chicago, and he doesn’t get to see them much. And I knew more than anything, Steve would want to celebrate his birthday with the people he love. So for his 30th birthday present, I decided to fly out his best friends from Chicago and keep it a SURPRISE. I then decided to outdo myself and throw him another surprise, a PARTY! Man, throwing a surprise party is tough work, I don’t know how people do it. I had to sneak around the week leading up to his surprise party to get things ready. I was hosting it at our house, so I had to hide the things I got for the party hoping he wouldn’t snoop in the pantries. But I am happy to report, he was TOTALLY surprised with both the party and his buds coming for a visit. I do have to confess though, he knew that “someone” was coming the day his friends were arriving. He kept pestering me all day about it so I just let him have it. But he had NO idea it was going to be his best friends, he thought someone else was coming and the look on his face when I came back with his friends was priceless. We have a video, but there’s a lot of profanity so I won’t share.


Morning of the party, boys did a good job at getting Steve out of the house. *thumbs up!* PC: Mike


All in all, it made me just as happy to see Steve so ecstatic on his birthday weekend. He’s been stressed this past year with home buying process, so he definitely deserved every happiness he felt on his birthday weekend. My only regret is that I didn’t get to take a lot of pictures, I actually didn’t take any pictures at the party, can you believe that? I really gotta make sure to take as many pictures as possible! Some pictures are from our friend (thanks, Mike!).

Thank you so much to all of our family and friends for coming to celebrate this man! We love you all! Cheers to another decade!



Prom pose with my twin! ❤ 



Hwang siblings ❤ 


Goofs ❤


Steve and his best buds! 😀



Cheers to a New Decade!


That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I turned 30 years old! My fruitful 20’s are long gone, and I have entered into real adulthood. 😉 I read somewhere that your 20’s are for experimenting and making mistakes whereas in your 30’s, you should get your shit, act together. No denying that I did my fair share of having of fun in my 20’s, and I am now ready to be a grown up! Having a baby will instantly turn you into a mature adult. I mean you are now responsible for another human being, so you kinda have no other choice. But okay, joking (kind of) aside, I’m thankful to have celebrated this milestone birthday with the people I love the most. I didn’t want anything extravagant, I just wanted to spend the day/weekend with my little family, and we did just that!

I took Friday off from work to have a mommy and daughter day. Em and I went to a baby time class. We listened to stories, sang and danced with lots of other babies. We ended up staying longer to talk to other mommies in the class and have an impromptu playdate. Em was kind of aloof in the beginning being in a room with lots of babies, but she eased up a bit towards the end. Note to myself: make baby classes a regular thing, so Em can learn to socialize.

Saturday was my birthday, and the weather god was good to me, it was absolutely gorgeous! We lunched at our favorite deli place and sat outside for some vitamin D. I wanted to start a tradition of taking pictures with Em (and future sibling(s)) on our birthdays, so we checked out Historic Yates Mill County Park in Raleigh to snap some shots. The pictures Steve took came out great, Em gave us her full cooperation. 😉 And I just cannot get enough of Em in her romper and sun hat from Gap Baby! TOO adorable. After the park, we went to Brewgaloo, an annual beer festival in Raleigh and ended up having a lot of fun! It was a great ending to my birthday!


Even though my birthday was over, the celebration continued. Steve was so sweet to have made a reservation at Coquette for a brunch on Sunday to kick start a pamper day for me. After brunch, Steve and Em went home, and I got pampered with a massage and mani & pedi. It was so nice having some me time to relax!

At some point, birthdays start to feel less important. The days of throwing a huge party start becoming a distant memory from the past. All I really wanted to do for my birthday this year was to chill and spend quality time with Steve and Em. It’s funny how your perspective on things change when you are settled with a family of your own. Real adulting right there LOL. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, really appreciate all the love! And the biggest thanks goes to my parents for having me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to have a family of my own to love. I cannot wait to experience new memories my 30’s will bring!


Here’s to the Last Year of My Twenties!

So I have entered the last year of my twenties! I think it’s appropriate to dedicate a short reflective post on this small milestone of mine as I listen to 90’s K-Pop hits. Clearly, setting the perfect mood for this post is just as important as writing it.

My twenties were all about growing up. At the age of 19, I moved away from my parents to a city I’ve never been to without knowing a soul. With new-found freedom, I certainly did my share of having “too” much fun in my early twenties – making mistakes, taking things for granted, and not caring about the world. I did have to make up for it later, and it definitely was not easy. LOL. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any regrets. Sure, there are a few things a 29-year-old Maddie would tell a 20-year-old Maddie not to do, but I truly believe that things happen for a reason. And to be honest, most are a reflection of your actions. Whatever roads I took as my young, reckless self, I am healthy, happy and eternally grateful for my life at 29. I know I still have a lot more maturing to do, but I feel great to welcome last year of my twenties! I mean after all, this time around next year, I’ll probably be celebrating my birthday with barf all over my shirt. I gotta make the best of it while it lasts! 😉

Joking aside, I know this year is going to the most amazing year of my life, and I’m so ready to experience all things new with this cutie by my side! ❤