My gosh. I have written a bunch of different posts for all of my kids’ birthdays at different times. But this one? This one is for the books. And it’s not as if it was a crazy over the top birthday where we did something so out of the ordinary. It was just here in the metro. We only invited my sister and a few friends who may be on the same journey as we are in our parenthood, and a few of the girls whom I consider my tribe. Small by most people’s standards, but the biggest party to date for Gelli, and eye opening for us as a family. Gelli’s 8 and great, and we couldn’t be more blessed by her presence in our lives.
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There’s my girl. In the middle of all this chaos. Making a wish. Really hard. Livin’ her best life, wildly. With her friends around her. And my friends’ kids around her too. And we are so blessed by her. And by everyone who celebrated with her today at the most awesome play place that is inclusive and safe and fun. This was a totally unstructured party where Gelli had all of her favorite things, and her Toy Story Cake. And I got to hang with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Chat with my mommas Who part of my tribe. And not worry that the kids weren’t playing nice. Baby Girl, I pray really hard for you. For your health. For your happiness. And for your growth in Christ. I am so blessed that you chose me as your momma. I love watching you grow. • • • • #gellibean #mommanmanila #birthday #downsyndromerocks #downsyndromelove #friends #inclusive #hatchopen #hatchph #podiummall #birthdayparty #playplace #manila #parenthood
Usually, for her birthday, we do something simple. In the past, Gia has baked her cake, or I have made cupcakes for her classmates, or we just kept it simple because we know how overwhelmed Gelli gets when it’s too loud, has too many people, or just has too much energy.
MY TRIBE BECOMES HER TRIBE
But this year, after I visited Hatch in The Podium Mall, we had the idea to collaborate for Gelli’s birthday, and I KNEW it was going to be extra special for my little. We invited her whole class from school, some of my momma friends from the Down Syndrome Community, and my best girls who I met in this day and age of the digital landscape.
MOMS ON A MISSION
Hatch Open is a wonderful new center that focuses on sensory play and therapies for kids with exceptionalities. They are located on the fourth floor of The Podium Mall and opened this past May.
Owners, Grace and Tootsie, shared that it is their goal to provide a safe and nurturing environment for kids of all abilities to come and enjoy free play, because that’s the way it’s supposed to be! Hooray for inclusive play places for our kiddos!
FUN FOR KIDS OF ALL ABILITIES
BUT they are so much more than just an inclusive play place!
When you visit, you will find pods for free lance therapists to take clients in a quiet atmosphere. You will also see a “Toddler Room,” that is safer for the little ones when the bigger kids are in the bigger “play gym.”
Parents register their kids before play.
They also offer classes for kids that teach socialization, community integration, and life skills too. They even have SPECIALIZED sensory integration therapists, which is also not easy to come by here in Manila ALL IN ONE PLACE.
Here are some of the other things that they offer:
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding (SOS)
- Oral Placement Therapy
- Handwriting Therapy
- Community Living
- Social Thinking Therapy
- SPED Tutorial
MORE THAN THAT
And beyond all of these services that they offer, they also offer the ability to rent out the entire gym to celebrate your kiddo’s birthday party. With a maximum of up to 20 kids, you can choose to rent the whole play area for a total of 3 hours, and it will be closed off to the public so you can enjoy this new inclusive gym with your friends and your family.
FOCUS ON FUN
The play area, come gym and therapy room, includes the added use of the multipurpose room so that the kids (and the parents) can also enjoy a quick snack before returning to back to the fun at hand. The multipurpose room also comes equipped with kiddie sized tables and has filtered drinking water to refill your own water jugs.
This makes it really easy to set up the area for some light and healthy snacks for everyone who will join the festivities. In addition to this room that is just off the play area, there are also six pods which serve as the spaces for the one on one therapies that are offered through the free lance therapists associated with the center.
DIY WITH THE HELP OF MY FRIENDS
I am blessed because I have so many creative friends who share their talents with my kiddos. We knew that Gelli wanted to celebrate her birthday in a Toy Story theme, when she asked her Tita Sab for a Toy Story cake. And because her Tita Sab and her Tita Maggie love her so, they lovingly prepared a CHOCOLATE cake (you know our girl loves chocolate!) with sugar cookies decorated “to the T” that her Toy Story love affair embodies.
KEEP CALM AND BENTO ON
That’s the beauty in hanging out with inspiring creative wonderful women! We get to love on one another when we take trips together to recharge, and we get to love on one another’s kids too. Gelli is loved by all of my momma friends and this includes The Bento Mommas too!
I met Kaye years ago when I started blogging because I wanted to learn how to pack lunches that were just as much fun as much as they were nutritious. But I quickly learned that it was not as easy as these ladies make it look! I decide pretty early on that I would just pack our leftovers from dinner into my kiddos Yumboxes, and leave the prettifying the lunch boxes to the experts.
These ladies have it down pat. No need to worry. I coordinated with Monet via messenger. She arranged for Lalamove, and all I had to do was send the boys down to pick up the Bento Boxes once I received the call that they were close.
CAN YOU SAY EASY PEASY?
Of course, you guys know that my big kids and Nino played a huge part in making sure everything went smoothly for the party, from entertaining other big kids, to getting the tables ready with cartolina and colored pencils after Tootsie from Hatch offered to print some Toy Story coloring pages.
Gia even made sure that all the kids wrote their names on the paper cups so we wouldn’t be so wasteful.
That, plus the affordable decorations that my BFF Vanesse picked up for me while I was in NY in July, plus all the other little touches that made my girl happy on her 8th birthday with everything that was TOY STORY, just completed the day.
She told us that she wanted a Toy Story Cake, and she got way more than that…
And of course, we wanted to send her friends off with something special as a thank you to celebrating her being so great at eight.
Inside each of her loot bags that she gave her friends who joined us was a yummy cookie from The Little Whisk, a set of fun markers from Brightbrands.ph, and a travel set of Gelli’s favorite lotions and skin care line from Mustela.
This party was by far one of the most enjoyable birthday parties we have put together, and honestly one of the least stressful for me as a momma. Gia and Miguel took care of covering the tables with cartolina.
The food was awesome (as always) arrived fresh from the Bento Mommas Kitchen by Monet, and the sweets were perfect by Sabrina and Maggie.
The focus was for everyone to have fun playing. For everyone to be included. And for Gelli to feel like the most important human being in our lives at that very moment. I think we celebrated in style and Gelli is GREAT at eight.
If you would like to plan a super easy celebration for your little in the same way that I did? Check out all of these places and suppliers to make it EASY PEASY.
Level 4, The Podium
Phone: 0928 506 7821
Sinfully Sabrina’s Cakes
The Little Whisk Cookies