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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween Day had us up bright and early getting the girls dressed in their costumes and ready for their school's Halloween Parade and parties! Fred had to work Halloween night (again) and since he wouldn't be joining us for trick-or-treating that evening, he wanted to be there for the girls' parade. They were so eager to show off their costumes. We were just as eager to see them. Ü

The parade started at 9am and we got to the school 15 minutes early thinking it would leave us ample time to find a seat. Boy, were we wrong! The school doesn't have a large parking lot to begin with but I had no idea that we wouldn't find a parking spot for two blocks! We rushed to the gym and of course...it was crowded. We found some pretty awesome standing room right by the door and captured some shots of Mady's class waiting in the halls. The Kinderkids were last to march and they were so patient. Sariah's class went towards the middle of the parade.
Some of the costumes were so creative! Our favorites (aside from our girls) were the Chinese Take-Out Box and Pac Man. Pac Man was especially cute because his little brother dressed up as one of the little ghosts from the game. How stinkin' cute is that?! Sariah has already decided that she wants to make her own costume next year. She's been buzzing about ideas ever since!
After the parade, Fred headed to the gym while I stayed to volunteer in Mady's class. They sang songs, had story time and then broke into groups and visited different stations in the classroom. I led the Erase-A-Poem station which was pretty fun. The other stations included Halloween Bingo, a word matching game and a slime making station. I'm sure that was the kids' most favorite since it was the messiest! After class all of the kids received Halloween goody bags filled with candies (of course), crayons, erasers and glow sticks for trick-or-treating that night.
I didn't get a chance to volunteer in Sariah's class that day but she didn't hesitate to tell us all about their Halloween activities when we picked her up. Including how they decorated as many sugar cookies as they wanted. And eagerly consumed, I'm sure. Ü

We decided to stay local for trick-or-treating on Halloween night. We headed out just as the sun was setting. My nephew Tairiq joined us for the evening and he literally ran from house to house for the first hour. Mady was already calling it quits 30 minutes after we started so I gave her some words of encouragement to get her going again. Ü It was pretty funny getting cans of soda from two different houses. After walking several blocks and driving down a few others, we made our way back home. I checked over all the candy for the girls, tossed a few funky looking ones, separated the junky ones and let them gobble up a few pieces. Kudos to me for not completely indulging in all of the chocolate goodness they received. I wonder how long that will last?

Trunk-or-Treat Blues...Say No More.

I'm not sure why, but our ward primary hasn't done a Halloween activity since we started attending last year. Not cool. It really makes missing our ward back home in CA a lot harder . We've had a trunk-or-treat party every year for as long as we can remember. Loving on those good memories.

We were invited by some friends to attend the Heritage Samoan Ward's Primary Activity this week and we jumped at the chance! There were so many people who participated in their Trunk-or-Treat and some of the trunks were pretty amazing. We decorated our trunk as well with our good ole' dependable decorations we've sported for the last four years. Ü
The kids went trunk-or-treating until all the cars were out of candy. There were costumes and kids a-plenty and thankfully tons of candy to go round. After most of the cars went dry everyone made their way into the cultural hall for the costume parade. Not sure how the judges did their job that night because all of the chickadees looked great. They provided some yummy grub for the kids after the parade and some refreshments for the adults as well. A fun time indeed and I think we're warmed up and ready for Halloween Night!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Party

My best friend, Gloria, threw a Halloween Party on Friday and since we hadn't done any Halloween activities yet (totally unlike us) we were all excited to attend. The forever working hubs had a short work day on Friday so you can imagine how thrilled we were that he would be coming along! On a side note-I'm so grateful for such a hard-working husband who, on his days off, doesn't think once about extra sleep but instead, uses every minute of his time spending it with his family. Lucky us. Ü Okay, back to the party.

The girls were anxious the entire week to put their costumes on for the first time this month. Sariah chose to stick with her costume from last year and rightfully so because everyone raved about how she was the perfect Cleopatra. :) Mady got a new costume this year and, against my wishes, chose to be a Disney princess. Now don't get me wrong..I love Disney. Huge fan. But seriously, every other little girl is a Disney princess for Halloween. Nonetheless, being the girly-girl that she is, she was so excited. It's really cold in Utah for Halloween so I promised her that she could wear her princess costume to the Halloween party indoors (because face it, wearing a dress is not warm enough for outdoor trick-or-treating) and that she would wear last year's Ladybug costume on Halloween night because it was much warmer. She agreed. The girls looked so cute once they donned their Halloween costumes and once my cupcakes and homemade Creamy Potato Soup were done we headed to the party!
The other kiddos at the party had some pretty fun costumes as well. The first thing I did when I arrived was to take photos before the candy made them crazy. I could not stop laughing when I saw the group photo of the kids. Check out Mike Meyers (Loi) and Mady. Way to be in character kids! Lol
After my attempt at taking sibling photos went awry, the kids headed back inside and played a few relay games before trick-or-treating around the house. We set up a soup-in-a-bowl buffet for dinner and enjoyed the selections of Broccoli Cheddar, Clam Chowder and my Creamy Potato Soup with bacon bits, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Yummo! Seven Layer Dip and Funeral Potatoes accompanied the soup along with cupcakes, witch hat cookies, cream puffs and Halloween cupcakes for dessert. I must admit that my cupcakes weren't as great as I wanted them to be because we were short on time. They sure weren't lacking in flavor though. Check out my Halloween cupcakes from last year here. Ü
We spent the rest of the evening laughing, chatting and hanging out as we usually do during these get-together before making our way back home. Thanks to our friends and family for another splendid gathering.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New York + 2 Tourists + 11 Hours

A few weeks ago my friend Verona Sagato and I decided that we wanted to go to New York for the day! We invited several of our friends and siblings to go with us but since it was a bit last minute, it ended up just being the two of us. We were still so excited. We had a long..long list of things we wanted to see but more importantly, places we wanted to eat! Looking back now, our list was pretty ambitious considering the time we had. Ü Here's how our day went...

11:30 pm
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:30pm on Tuesday night but ended up being delayed almost an hour. We made the best of it and finally left for NYC at almost 12:30am. Thank you Jetblue for the Snooze Kit!
6:30 am
We finally arrived in New York. It took us forever to get out of the airport because we spent a lot of time trying to find our way, listening to a rude worker at the Welcome Desk tell us about transportation, asking for directions and finding out what the fastest way to the city would be. Am I the only one that finds a rude person working at the Welcome Desk to be conflicting?

8:25 am
We're riding the subway! We took the AirTrain out of the airport to the Jamaica Station where we caught the E Line. If you've ever seen a scene from a movie where there are so many people on the subway that you can barely move...that was us. It was so crowded. I couldn't even take my camera out to snap of pic of us (sardines) because there was literally ZERO elbow room. This picture was taken when the subway finally started to empty.
9:02 am
We walked up the stairs out of the subway and got our very first view of the city. I loved it already. The city was bustling, horns were honking and people were crossing the streets in large waves. One of the first things I noticed was how beautiful some of the buildings were! The architecture and design was amazing. Our first stop was to see the 9/11 Memorial. We came to the work site and it was surreal to think we were standing in the very spot that marked one of the greatest events in US history. We made our way to the memorial site and we were pretty disappointed to find that we had to have purchased tickets in advance. Alas, New York was waiting for us so it was goodbye disappointment and hello stop number two!
9:30 am
We came across a tiny old cemetery across the street from the World Trade Center site and later came to find it was St. Paul's Chapel. History is something that sparks my interest and I looked up info on St. Paul's Chapel and learned that it was built in 1766 and is the oldest public building still in use in Manhattan. It was closed when we got there so we didn't get the chance to go in but it was amazing to look at through the iron fence. The gravestones were so old and the names barely visible if any. It was hauntingly beautiful and a wonderful find on our trip.
9:37 am
As we continued to walk, we came across a park that was filled with people participating in the Occupy Wall Street rally. We didn't stay long enough to hear any of their protesting speeches but their thoughts and opinions were made clear by their signs, shouts and ironically...even by their silence.
9:40 am
The Trinity Chapel and more beautiful buildings followed our stop at the protest and after walking almost 10 blocks we arrived at Battery Park. We got our tickets to board the ferry for the Liberty & Ellis Island Tours. I prayed that I wouldn't get sea sick. Thanks goodness it was a short ride!

10:30 am
The ferry was packed with people (no surprise there), but we got a great seat outside and I was delightfully surprised at how short the ride was. My original plan was take the ferry closer to sunset so we could see the city lights but we had to opt for an earlier ride because of time. The view of the city was magnificent as we pulled away from the dock. I can only imagine, for now, how much more beautiful it would have been at night.
Everyone scrambled to the side of the boat as we approached Liberty Island in hopes of the perfect shot of the Statue of Liberty. Patience is a virtue and I eventually snagged some absolutely amazing photos of her. We got off the ferry and made our way around Liberty Island stopping every so often for some photo ops. The Statue of Liberty was my favorite part of the whole trip. She is beautiful. We didn't have time to go any higher than ground level to see the statue but that was just fine for me. I honestly could not stop taking pictures of her...hence my upcoming overload of SOL photos. :) It was really an awe inspiring sight. Before we boarded the ferry again, I made sure to stop at the gift shop (I know-I'm a tourist sucker) to snag some souvenirs for my girls. I love you Lady Liberty!
12:09 pm
After leaving Liberty Island the ferry took us over to Ellis Island and can you believe our feet were already throbbing!? We decided to stay aboard the ferry and after about 20 minutes we made our way back to the city. After the tour we walked another 10 blocks back to the subway and spent a good 30 minutes or so being lost. Being lost in a subway is twice as bad when there's no one around to ask for directions. Not fun. It's NYC for crying out loud...where did everyone go?
Miraculously it starts to feel like NY again and the subway fills up with people. We eventually get some info and head towards Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market was featured on one of the episodes of The Next Food Network Star, so I made it a point to stop there for lunch. It's a huge building that houses tons of eateries and shops-an indoor food court if you will. We window shopped at a few of the restaurants and ended up at Bar Suzette Creperie and Tuck Shop. We got the Hoisin Duck Crepe which had smoked duck, fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, hoisin and sri racha chili. I'm not a huge fan of duck but it was pretty good and the crepe was perfectly done. The ground beef meat pie from Tuck Shop was more 'my thing'. It was simple, greasy and delicious! Oh, and even better with tomato sauce.
Check out the price on these bad boys!
2:33 pm
After making our way towards Midtown for lunch we walked a few blocks more towards the subway again and attempted to navigate our way towards Times Square. Yep, we got lost again. But only for about 20 minutes this time. Did I mention how beautiful the buildings were?
We landed about 2 blocks away from our destination and walked the rest of the way towards Times Square. It was crazy! The billboards, the lights, the even crazier traffic and the crowds of people were just as I imagined it would be. It's true that Times Square is a bit overrated but I still considered it a great opportunity to see and it wouldn't have been an NYC trip if we didn't stop there. Verona brought along her Samoa flag and we made plans before our trip that we would take pics with it once we got to NYC in support of our awesome rugby team. Go The Manu!
We were running short on time so we skipped a ton of the shops we wanted to browse and headed for the M&M's store. That place was huge with three floors of anything-you-can-think-of M&M merchandise. $3000 M&M jacket anyone? I grabbed a few things for the girls and we headed back to the subway and journeyed towards The Museum of Natural History & Central Park.
4:25 pm
If our feet could express emotion, they would be crying hysterically at this point. The pain we were feeling was ten times worse than what a full day at Disneyland could do. It was excruciating! By the way, we probably switched back and forth between our tennis shoes and our sandals about 6 times during our entire trip searching for any type of relief. It didn't last very long between changes though. We trudged onward and had originally planned to actually enter the Museum of Natural History. By the time we got there, all we wanted to do was see the outside of the building as we saw in the movie, Night At The Museum. We plopped ourselves down on the front stairs and looked across to Central Park. Once again, it was a beautiful view. Even the taxis made it all the more prettier because it was a prominent reminder that we were really in New York City. Ü Might as well have a New York hot dog from a cart while we were waiting and I hate to admit it, but it was better than what we had at Chelsea Market.
5:30 pm
As much as we would have liked to sit and take in the New York atmosphere, we had to start making our way back to airport because we certainly didn't want to be a victim to the NY traffic stories everyone warned us about before our trip and how we needed more than 3 hours to make it back on time because the normally 30 minute trip would most definitely be longer. Yeah, not true that day. We left the museum at about 5:30pm and made it back to the airport before 6:30pm. Not bad. Exhausted doesn't even begin to justify how we felt on the subway. We were extremely tired and we were suddenly starving by the time we got to JFK airport. I had hoped we would have time to eat at all of the places on our list but it just wasn't the case. Does getting pizza at the airport count as "real" NY pizza? Either way...it was good!
We couldn't wait to get on the plane where some much needed sleep awaited us. Our short visit to New York was phenomenal. We tried to do as much as we could and even though we murdered our feet in the process, it was worth the first-time experience. I loved everything we saw and for everything we didn't see...well, there's always next time.