Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US and the UK (Part 7) – A great time with brother and SIL

After seeing off the rest of the group go off to where ever was planned earlier, my brother and SIL stayed on awhile to snap a few more photos.

Then it was to a craft shop that I have been dreaming of that someday I get to step foot into the shop!

It was about an hour’s drive from New York, with a picturesque view all along the way.

When we arrived at Joann’s, I felt like another dream just came true again!

Thanks and syukur alhamdullilah to Allah for making this dream come true!

I had one hour to spend at Joann’s as we other places we wanted to go to.

Boy! I was really spoilt for choice!

Luckily, or, was that unluckily, I am not a millionaire. If I were, I’d buy the whole store! LOL!

I dabble in so many hobbies, and trying to decide what to buy and to buy something that is worth it, coming all the way to the US, which I can’t find in Malaysia or are too expensive, was difficult, because a lot of the things were either not so easily available in Malaysia or, they cost an arm and a leg.

I couldn’t decide between which hobbies that I wanted to spend on – scrapbooking? Cross stitching? Patchwork and quilting? Rubber stamping? Baking? Crocheting? Sewing? It was like trying to make a major decision! LOL!

I went around and around Joann several times before finally making my choices.

Thanks, NikAi, for taking the photos! I was so excited I was in Joann's that I forgot to snap photos of my own!

Just look at all those fabrics! Trying to decide which one was hard! I want them all! LOL!

I finally decided on some patchwork and quilting stuff, a few things for my scrapbook and rubber stamping hobby and bought a couple of patterns for my sewing hobby.

The stash? You will have to wait for a separate posting dedicated just on the stash that I bought, but I am sure my craft friends are going to be envious when they see the stash that I actually managed to haul from this trip! LOL! *wink*

Next stop? The Woodbury Common Premium Outlet!

I am not actually a person who goes crazy buying branded items, especially when they cost a bomb. I’d rather spend it on craft stash. But, occasionally, when I find something branded that I like and it suits my budget (which isn’t exactly sky high *grin*), I would buy it, but that does not happen often.

I prefer to buy something that would either make me look good or makes me feel good about myself, and gives me confidence to go about my day, and it may or may not be a branded item.

So, I wasn’t initially excited about going to the Woodbury, but since everyone said that if you are in New York, you must visit the Premium Outlet. If not, your New York trip would not be complete. So, I was excited about the fact that I finally get to visit the much talked about Outlet!

It was an hour’s drive from Joann.

I never imagined how big the Outlet was going to be, and now that I have arrived at the Outlet, now I know why it is a must visit place when in New York!

I was in awe of how big it was and how many branded shops could be located all in one location! It was awesome, and yes, I was awestruck! I could not believe I was there! LOL!

When my brother and SIL asked me which shop I wanted to visit, I was at a lost.

There were so many shops to choose from but most of them were selling items I know I could only dream of ever being able to afford them.

Furthermore, I think I have better things I would rather spend my money on. Also, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to buy a handbag where the price is the cost of half of my salary. I‘d be crazy to spend that much money!

But in awe I was, and I wanted to visit them all as I don’t think I will have an opportunity to visit Woodbury again in the near future.

But Coach is a must visit store as this is one brand that many of my friends and relatives have been talking about and I was told it is one of the more affordable brands. I told myself that I must at least come home with one Coach Handbag! LOL! *wink*

I brother said that I should visit the Prada store as in Malaysia, I might never dare to step into one! LOL! He is right about that!

So here I am with a Prada handbag that I could never afford! LOL! Not yet, at least! *wink*

Just posing in front of another store I could never imagine buying from their items – Gucci. At least not yet! *grin*

So, let’s walk away for now.....

We chance upon members of my group who also took the opportunity to come to Woodbury.

We got to the Coach store, and oh my, I was spoilt for choice, and most of the items were, err.....kind of affordable! LOL!

I fell in love with this beige bag the minute I set eyes on it, but the price made me put it down again. But, wait, it was on sale! The final price? I am not telling! LOL! *wink*

The red salmon bag is lovely too!

Checking out a bag at Vera Bradley.

No, I did not buy anything at Vera Bradley as I think most of the items sold looks like something I can make myself. Maybe I can someday promote Uniquely Aznique too? *wink*

We just gave Burberry a pass as it was way too expensive for me to buy anything from there.

We took a short break at one of the many food courts available at the Outlet to enjoy Eli’s home cooked Nasi Lemak.

It was delicious! Really love it! Nasi Lemak all the way from New Jersey! See that satisfied look on my face? I look rounded too! LOL!

Thanks, NikAi and Eli!

After the short break, it was another round of going around to see more stores!

We stopped by Nine West and I almost did not buy this pair of boots when another lady would not let go of the other side of the shoe when she saw me trying it out.

I decided to just let it go. I did not feel like arguing with her over a pair of boots.

However when we came back later, she did not even buy the boots, so I decided to buy it as it was 60% off, if I remember it.

I am glad that we went back to get the boots because it was these pair of boots that kept my feet from freezing up the next few days as the boots I brought with me from Malaysia were not thick enough to sustain the freezing weather of New York and London.

Next stop, Kate Spade, as my brother wanted to get something for my mum.

I like this colourful handbag my SIL chose for my mum.

I feel like a little kid posing with my mum's Kate Spade! LOL!

If I wasn’t too worried about my luggage being in excess, I think I would have gone overboard and over my spending limit buying all the handbags I like! LOL!

In actual fact, I did actually buy an extra luggage, but that was planned well in advance as I had pre-ordered some craft items to be sent to my brother’s house well ahead of my journey and I needed another luggage to bring them back home with me as I started the trip with only a single standard size luggage. My brother had advised that I get the second luggage in the US as it would be cheaper and I would get a better quality luggage at the Outlet.

I could not, however, resist buying at least one Michael Korrs Handbag though! LOL! *wink*

It was another bag that I fell in love with the minute I saw it at the store front! LOL!

After that purchase, I told my brother that we are not making any more stops as I might not be able to resist buying another handbag! LOL!

I have no regrets about buying the things I bought that day, although I am not about to reveal how many pieces of handbags I bought that day *wink*, but, no, I did not go mad and bought 10 handbags! LOL!

Maybe if my luggage could fit,.....maybe..... LOL! *wink*

By the way, I also bought my son 2 pairs of High Top Converse shoes in red and black, and bought my hubby a Bostonian shoes at the Clarks Store. Unfortunately, I bought the wrong size. Hubby said that he will be keeping them for when Aiman can fit into them.

We arrived at the hotel and took a short rest before we headed out to dinner at the same halal shop I had dinner with my friends just the night before.

We were hungry and too tired to venture any further for dinner.

After dinner, we decided to go sightseeing......

Day 5 to be continued...again! – 6th February 2013 – the night is still young!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US and the UK (Part 6) – More of New York!

I got up early on my first morning in New York. Even though I hardly slept the night before, but I was eager to get up as I was excited to meet up with my brother and SIL who I have not met in over 2 years!

He will be meeting me after my visit to another special school.

As soon as we were done with breakfast, we headed on to Professor Juan Bosch Public School located on Ellwood St., Manhattan, which adopts the AS Nest program for high-functioning autistic children who are mainstreamed in small classes. They also have classes that mix a variety of children with special needs with general education students.

You can read more about it here.

Again, no photos were allowed, except for these.

Between this school and the two previous schools we visited in Washington D.C., I find the program that this school adopts to be the most interesting because this school does not separate the special need children with the mainstream children.

They pride themselves in being a school of inclusion where children with special needs are included early into the mainstream education as soon and as early as possible so that they may lead as normal a life as possible as other children.

We were brought to visit some of the classrooms while the teachings were going on and despite trying very hard to try to distinguish between the children with normal needs and those with special needs, we could not tell the difference.

The only tell tale signs were when we were shown the tables of the special children as their tables had pictorial signs fixed on them as pictures are used as their learning tools.

Compared to the Ivymount School that has a ratio of teacher student of almost 1:1, this school has 2 teachers in a classroom of 4 – 6 children, some even up to 12 children.

When we were done at the school, we had the rest of the day free for us to do some sightseeing and do some shopping, as our next agenda was only on the next day.

When I came out of the school, I thought I saw a glimpse of someone familiar. But of course! My brother and SIL were already waiting for me when I got out! LOL!

My brother had driven all the way from New Jersey, guided by the schedule that I had emailed to him prior to coming, so that he knows where I will be during the whole trip that I was in the US. He knew what time I would be done at the school, knowing how punctual Americans are!

After a quick introduction to all the members of the delegation, Dato’ Harjeet teased me by jokingly said that I am excused from the group today to spend time with my brother and SIL. *grin*

From left: Fauwaz, Dato' Harjeet, Azezee, Dato' Noraini, Eli (SIL), me and Dr. Hasnah 

We stayed on awhile to see the group off and then proceeded to take more photographs in front of the school before we headed on to our first agenda for the day – a visit to a craft store which I could only ever dream that I would someday see it in person! LOL!

Want to know which craft shop we went to? Wait for the next posting! *wink*

Day 5 to be continued! – 6th February 2013 - more excitement to share!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US and the UK (Part 5) – New York! New York!

We arrived in New York at 6.30pm after a 1 hour flight from Washington D.C.

Heheheh....I don't usually get that many comments on my posting in FB, unlike my sister, Lin, who can easily attract more than 20 - 30 comments within the first hour of her posting on FB! LOL!

But for some reason, this particular posting managed to attract more than the usual number of comments! I must have gotten everyone excited by being in New York itself, a city that is always robust with activities, or, shall I say, vibrant, borrowing words from a cousin, Zawiyah.

We immediately made our way to our hotel at Affinia Manhattan, a hotel located smack in the middle of a the very busy street of Manhattan, New York.

Madison Square Garden is located right in front of the hotel, and Times Square is just a few blocks away!

Here’s the link if you want to stay here should you find yourself in New York.

No, I have no affiliation with the hotel nor am I getting any commission, but I am recommending this hotel because, despite it being probably only a 3-star hotel, it’s got a lot of amenities in the room which, compared to many 5-star hotels that I have stayed during my work travels, none could actually compare to what Affinia Manhattan could offer.

It’s got two double size beds. I love the backdrop behind the bed.

There is this cute little furry animal toy on the bed that greets you as you enter the room.

Nope, the little furry friend is not free. There is a card that says that it is just to keep you company while you stay in the room. If you want it to follow you home, you will have to purchase it!

The living area is big enough to accommodate a few more people in the room should you want to have your family join you. But shhh...... LOL! *wink*

There is a kitchenette complete with a microwave oven, a standard size fridge instead of just a mini bar, pots for cooking, plates and bowls, forks and spoons.

The hotel even provided a dish washing soap and wash cloth. It’s more like an apartment than a hotel. So, definitely I would recommend this hotel to anyone going to New York, all the more so because it is located strategically in the busiest part of New York!

Love the ceiling design of the hotel lobby!

After checking into the hotel, I met up with Dato’ Noraini, Azezee, Fauwaz and Mumtazah for dinner. We ate at a nearby halal restaurant on 29th Street. I forgot the name and I forgot to snap a photo of the place. :(

They charge you by the weight of the food, so mine was the most expensive when I took lamb with all the bones. But the food was delicious, so I did mind having to pay USD7.00 for my dinner.

After dinner, we decided to check out a souvenir shop which is just a couple of doors from our hotel. I did not buy anything though. I wanted to reserve the souvenir shopping for the last day since the shop is just close by.

Azezee decided that he was tired and went back to the hotel while myself, Dato’ Noraini, Fauwaz and Mumtazah decided to check out New York at night, the town that never sleeps.

I and Dato’ Noraini only managed to go as fas as only a few blocks before we felt that the freezing cold was getting to us, and decided to head back to the hotel, but not before we drop by at a nearby convenience shop for a cup of hot cappuccino and biscuits.

The cappuccino was delicious! I think it was the best cup of cappuccino that I have ever tasted so far!

Fauwaz and Mumtazah ventured on and I was told the next day that they went all the way to Times Square, which was about 10 blocks away, in the freezing cold!

Now Day 4 has ended! LOL! – 5th February 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US and the UK (Part 4) – a visit to 2 schools

It was another night of not being able to sleep on the 2nd night at Washington D.C.

So, I got up to make a bowl of instant noodle which I had bought at a nearby convenience store across the street from the hotel. See previous posting.

It was going to be a long day that as we had 2 schools to visit that day and a flight to New York to catch.

The first school we visited was Ivymount.

Ivymount is a school that provides school- and community -based services for children and young adults with special needs. You can read more about it here.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos of the school nor the children for safety reasons.

These were the only photos allowed.

Our next school was McLean School of Maryland. It is a school for children with learning disabilities. You can read more about it here.


This school reminds me so much of Aiman’s primary school – the layout, the facilities, the classrooms, everything was so similar.

For a while, as I went about looking at the school, I felt in lump in my throat. I miss my son very much!

The flags put up represents the country where the students are from.

See the Malaysian flag? There must be a Malaysian child studying here.

Time was very tight and as soon as we were done at McLean, we had to rush to the airport to catch our flight to New York.

New York! New York! Here we come!

Day 4 hasn’t ended yet! – 5th February 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Journal for Aiman - a page from FB, 6 Feb. 2013

I left for my US trip on the 2nd of February 2013 at 11.55pm. The last time I spoke to Aiman was at about 9.30pm that night.

Upon arriving in the US, for some reason, the international roaming for both my phones would not work. Usually my DiGi would have automatic international roaming, and I had just requested from Celcom to activate my international roaming prior to leaving for the trip. Just when I so needed it badly, both services would not work on either network.

I was not able to call home, and not being able to hear my son's voice every night makes me sick in the heart.

I decided to subscribe to the internet service in the room so that at least I may keep in touch with hubby through FB and Skype, but I had no way of contacting my son as he is not allowed any form of social media websites at his school.

It was frustrating, but when I finally managed to get my international roaming and the local phone line connected to my handphone, it was like heaven on earth! LOL!

With my brother's help, he managed to reload more credit onto my phone, and hubby reloaded my son's credit on his phone, allowing me to be able to call my son and vice versa, eventhough I ended up getting calls from my son at 2.00 am as it is after his class already at 2.00pm in Malaysia! LOL! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A time to get creative......

It's another night when I could not sleep again.

So, I decided to get up and make myself a bowl of instant noodle, but, the room did not provide any fork and spoon.

So, what do you do? You get creative......