Last Saturday, Nov. 22, we had Noah's first birthday party. We invited a few families we have met during our time here and a co-worker of mine stopped by too. We had a family from Sweden, New Zealand and the States. Mom and Dad spent the entire Friday preparing to make this day as special for Noah as we could. He could definitely tell something was up and was running around excitedly enjoying the new furniture arrangement and the balloons.
The party menu included: Spring Rolls, Bacon wrapped Goat Cheese stuffed Dates and Chips/Dip to start, Pulled Pork, Swordfish in Coconut Cream, Potato Salad, Green Beans, Chicken Nuggets and Mac'n Cheese for the main course, and Cake, Cupcakes and Chocolate Covered Oreo's for dessert.
We had a little bit of an owl theme with the cakes, that's Noah's personal little brown owl. Mom did the baking and Dad did the decorating. Lots of kids were at the party and Noah was delighted as people began to show up and he got lots of attention. Things got pretty crazy as the house filled and Mom and Dad working on the food so we didn't pick up a camera again until cake time. We all sang Happy Birthday to Noah, at first he was a little startled by the attention but then a big smile came across his face!
Just prior to dessert we performed a Polish tradition of placing a bible, coin and shot glass in front of the birthday boy and seeing which is picked first. The items represent the child's future behavior as follows:
Shot Glass - Outgoing (Great socializer, people oriented)
Coin - Prosperous (Ambitious and driven, business-oriented)
Bible - Religious (Spiritual, awareness-oriented)
Noah picked the Bible and coin almost simultaneously, but he touched the Bible first. We only had video of the pick, but he examined the shot glass afterwards.
I wish we had a great picture of Noah covered in his little cake as he greedily ate it, but like his cousin Noah barely touched the cake and when he did he wanted us to wipe the frosting off his hand! After dessert it was present time!! Noah loved it and was opening his own gifts which was pretty cool.
You may have noticed the big number one on the table, that's a pinata that Mom made. After presents we went outside to smash it. The party went great and we are still eating left-overs.
Most importantly of all Noah felt HAPPY and LOVED!!
ABOVE - There are a few roads that go over the island, South to North, as you can imagine the view from the top is very nice when you can get it. There are commonly houses and trees obscuring the vistas, but atop one hill is the foundation of a house which was damaged in a hurricane and its a great spot to overlook Tafuna. We have made a couple trips there since it's one of the over-island roads our car can traverse without smelling like it's on fire! Further down this same road and looking North you can see Western Samoa on a clear day, unfortunately I never have a camera on those days. These pics are little older as some of you may note by the size of Noah.
BELOW - I managed to take a little snorkeling trip in a new spot last week. It's a little bay, Fagaal'u, with beautiful little pockets of sand between lots of coral. A river empties into this area and apparently the river mouth is a popular place for sharks to hang out and eat the garbage flowing out (littering is rampant here). Only reef sharks are common in this area and are relatively small, but unfortunately I have not seen one yet. It was a little windy the day I went so the water wasn't crystal clear, but I got some decent pics.
In the lower middle picture you can see a small cone shell sitting on the coral. This is a cone snail which, believe it or not, can kill a human (not all species are deadly, but 3 of them in A.S. are). The shell at the bottom still had the "clam" in it and the Samoan dude I was with said it was too small to eat so that was disappointing. Oh, and those are little sea horse like critters on the bottom right.
WINNING - A couple of weekends ago we went to the local music/book/coffee/internet cafe/golf store/electronic shop for their five year anniversary. Yep, it's all in one building (four separate stores). It's all run by some nice folks from Oregon, the party had free food and raffles. I won a guitar! And since my current guitar is better than the prize they were nice enough to let me trade it for an Ukulele. Now I can jam island style and it has a cool turtle engraving.
NOAH NEWS: Noah loved his party and the post will be up in a day or two.
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: I have mentioned the high utility bills ($300/month) but forgot to mention the additional one.... propane. If you have a stove or hot water you will need it, we have a tank for the kitchen and a big one for hot water and our costs have averaged $40/two months for the stove and $190/six months for the hot water. I still want to reiterate that the lack of sales tax and State taxes help make up for these costs.
Noah's first birthday is this week! We are having a party next Saturday so there should be lots of pictures coming up. Mom put Noah in a little pre-B-day photo shoot and he was dressed up in an outfit that hasn't been worn in 33 years! Dad wore the same thing on his first birthday, but I have to admit Noah does it better! Footwear sure makes a difference even if they are both nerdy!
We recently discovered that lemongrass grows here, so I went out and picked some to plant around our house. Prior to planting my pickings they had to be trimmed and cleaned and since every Samoan who saw my lemongrass suggested it, we made tea with the clipped leaves.
The "tea" came out very strong and reminded us a little of bug spray because most non-toxic bug sprays contain lemongrass. We added honey to some to drink, but have saved the rest for other uses. Lemongrass is good for keeping bugs away so we added it to our normal cleaner (vinegar and backing soda). Now our cleaner smells fresher and helps keep out bugs. It's also good for oily hair, acne and a long list of things you can find on Google... not to mention cooking.
Apparently they shrink a ton! Sorry, I forgot to get pre-cooked photo.... next time. Anyway, a little olive oil, lemon and seasoning and we had a delicious appetizer.
That seemed like an appropriate title for Halloween! I simply wanted to discuss one of the little nuances of island life. I am sure many of you who have traveled to tropical places for vacation have seen little geckos running on walls and ceilings just as we have on our previous trips. What you don't notice when you're vacationing (whether it's from the pool bar or just the short duration of the stay) is the noise they make, which you may have guessed sounds like an evil little Leprechaun laughing. It is a much louder sound then you would expect from such a little creature and when one cackles just above your head in the middle of the night for the first time it's very unsettling! (after that it's @##$$&@^$#%$ annoying!!)
On a personal note, Noah lost his GG (great-grandma) last week. She will always be in our hearts and watching over all her little ones. We love you Grandma Lolly.
The Jaskowiak Family
Subscribe to receive an e-mail when we update our blog: