Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ritzy SPAM

If you cringe when you hear the word SPAM, you're probably like I was 6 years ago. It was Erik Kokkonen who changed it all. You've never really had SPAM unless you've tried it Hawaiian-style - lightly coated in sugar and pan-fried. Put it with an egg and throw it over rice, and you've got yourself a sumptious meal.
So that's what we had for a late supper while we were staying at a beach house in Puerto Rico. It was delicious, but I made way too much to finish in one evening. When we were cleaning the house on the day that we were to check into the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan for my work conference, I decided to make that meal into a new one - SPAM fried rice. I threw in some leftover mofongo as well. If you know me, I will to go to all lengths to not waste food and to save money. We were planning to heat it up in the microwave at the hotel and have it for lunch.
When we arrived at the Ritz, however, we found that there was no microwave in our room. I called the front desk to ask them if there was one that we could use to heat up our food. She told me that she'd send someone right over. Shortly after, there was a knock at our door, and the Gentleman (as they call them) asked how long we'd like our food to be heated for. He then said that he'd plate it for us - he told us he wouldn't bring it back in the styrofoam container it was in. I asked him if he could bring us a fork, too.
Well, what we got was much more than our heated leftover lunch and a fork. He came in with a table on wheels covered with a white tablecloth, a setting for two, ice water, rolls & butterballs, our SPAM fried rice on a platter covered with a silver lid, and a carnation. Wow. Now that's how you eat leftovers. Fork, schmork. I'm just glad I didn't ask for a plastic fork, which is what I was planning on doing. I'm also glad we didn't have a half-eaten hamburger and three fries for our leftovers.
The best part was that, when the lady at the front desk called back about half an hour later to make sure that someone had indeed come, she told me that there was no charge for the service. "No, not at all," she assured me. I think you can tell that we're not at all used to this kind of service. Nor should we get used to it...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Update on it all

So, here's my fly-by review of our vacation filled last month.

Things I learned:
  • NYC and upstate NY are completely different sections of the world.
  • Go to upstate New York. Especially the church history sites. Totally worth it.
  • When nobody has a yard, it's easier to find people you know at the park. Fun!
  • Bring 3 times as many snacks as you think you need when you leave the house in NYC. Especially if you've got a pregnant woman with you.
  • Consider adult diapers on outings in NYC. It's as hard to find a public restroom there as it is in Europe.
  • Food tours in NYC are incredibly fun.
  • Cup cakes can in fact be delicious.
  • Donuts can too. (I already knew this. Kevin found out.)
  • Going into the Statue of Liberty, when one has a small child along, is actually a cruel form of torture.
  • But you can get a few good pictures up there.
  • And perhaps your child will learn to count as she climbs the stairs (1,2,6,9,10!)
  • People who don't get freaked out by large crowds have more fun in China Town.
  • When the Indian waiter at the Indian restaurant says what you ordered is very spicy, he means it.
  • Perhaps you should ask said waiter if it's spicy when you order rather than waiting for him to tell you when he delivers the food.
  • Alena loves duck feet and sucking off the bones from baby back ribs.
  • Alena does not love small children who show affection to her, or in fact touch her at all.
  • Alena should not wake up at 7:30.
  • It's not much fun to go to a museum with Alena when she got up at 7:30, hasn't had a real nap in days, and has dealt with an affectionate cousin all day.
  • It doesn't help when people give you dirty looks, contrary to what they must be thinking when offering them.
  • Turns out Tiffany was an artist, he didn't just make a store where you can eat breakfast.
  • There is actually a stroller friendly entrance to the Met.
  • The Subway is not actually stroller friendly.
  • 3 days is not enough to recover and get ready for another vacation.
  • Burger King wins the fast food war in Puerto Rico. It's like Starbucks in NYC.
  • Do not buy food that is not ever delivered at "El Jefe Burger Shack" in Luquillo.
  • It is not a 10 minute drive from said burger establishment to the kayaking excursion to Laguna Grande, no matter what the waiter tells you.
  • Bio-luminescent dynoflagellates are really, really, really cool.
  • Kayaking in the dark is not as fun/romantic as it should be when you allow yourself to become increasingly annoyed at the people who passed you and then discovered they have no idea how to steer.
  • GPS is not that useful when you don't know the address of your destination.
  • Some ferries leave 5 minutes early. Others leave an hour and a half late.
  • Talyn will be sunburned when spending an entire day on the beach SPF 70 applied 4 times notwithstanding.
  • The rain forest is beautiful.
  • But it is 99% jungle green in color, no matter how many beautifully colored flowers were in the rain forest you made in the hallway in elementary school.
  • Wear a swimsuit when you go to the rain forest. Then you can swim in waterfalls.
  • Don't pack as if the hikes are going to be as hard as the 60 year old women at church think they are.
  • Don't assume Alena will not throw her bottle into the river.
  • Remember to ask for no cheese when ordering Mexican food for if you're Kevin.
  • Humidity is most effectively battled with water. Getting into water to swim that is.
  • Beaches are fun!
  • Don't wait to wash towels until the last day, especially if you use more than one.
  • There are no laundromats in Dorado, no matter how helpful it would be to find one.
  • Alena is less interested in astronomy than she is in pushing buttons.
  • Eating is even more fun that I remembered. (I must have forgotten since becoming the primary chef around here)
  • The Trolley's in Viejo San Juan are free, so park by one of them.
  • Tourist junk is found by the cruise ships. Check there first.
  • If you attend all 3 hours of church, they just may invite you to the fourth (namely pot luck).
  • If you think people talking during Relief Society is distracting, try attending a Latin ward. You may find you never actually knew what talking during RS actually meant.
  • But the side conversations will be lesson based.
  • The benefit of being the nursery leader in Toa Baja is that you get the only effectively air conditioned room in the building.
  • Is the beach completely devoid of humans? Perhaps they know something you don't, like it's going to start pouring rain in about 15 minutes.
  • It's warmer in the water than in the rain.
  • It's fun to pretend you're rich for a couple of days.
  • The children's area at FAST events is where you can still relax and make sure your child doesn't get lost or fall in the pool. It is all it's cracked up to be.
  • Except Alena may come in contact with affectionate children.
  • Breakfast is the best meal of the day when somebody else has laid out several delicious choices.
  • Consider just hanging onto your shoes rather than putting them with the hundreds of others.
  • Beach umbrellas are also useful in protecting you from weather elements other than sun.
  • Beg Val to get you a flight that's not at 6:45 A.M., because 6:45 actually means leaving the hotel at 4:45 A.M.

Post Vacation Alena-isms:
  • Where _______ go? (Insert: Reuben, Justin, Brecken, Sarah, Laura, Jason, Baby Sadie, Baby Cedric, Kevin, Talyn, Daddy, Mommy, Reuben's stroller, Alena's Stroller, Car, Plane, Water) Repeated hundreds of times daily.
  • Swimming in the wawer?
  • I see the wawer.
  • I see the ocean wawer.
  • Air pane!
  • Ssssssss! Baby seepy (sleeping).
  • No! Mine!
  • (Putting a blanket over her head and walking around.)
There. Now, if it wasn't more fun to read than a journal entry, it was at least more fun to write. If you have questions about the gaping holes in the story, ask a question in the comments. If you want to see pictures, click the link above that says "photos." There are 3 albums from the last month.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In the Eye of the Storm

We just got back from our vacation in New York. We'll probably post some thoughts from our trip, but don't expect a detailed travelogue. I'll just refer you over to Brecken & Justin's blog. Here are some of our favorite pictures:

New York

We are currently in the "eye of the storm," as one of our friends has said. Tonight, we embark on a journey to the Caribbean...