Friday, October 30, 2009

I like Uncle Jay

"Uncle Jay" has a weekly show to "help small minds understand big news." This week's show:
Swine flu? That's NOTHING compared to America's seasonal plague of political ads. They infect every TV, radio, billboard, mailbox, lawn and trick-or-treat bag. There's no vaccine. But at least Uncle Jay can explain how to understand them!
Elections happen on Tuesday next week and even though there is very little difference between the two candidates for mayor of our town, (other than the fact that one is the incumbent and the other isn't,) I will be voting. Because I can, when for so many years I couldn't. Because it's the right thing to do - even though I think in the long run it probably won't make much difference in this particular local race :-(

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Nappy Valley Girl's excellent blog post about Halloween has prompted me to write about it yet again, even though I wrote about it in 2006, 2007 and 2008!

The kids have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks now. The costume planning started back at the beginning of September. We live in a neighborhood that is a great place to go trick-or-treating. There are lots of kids around the same age as ours and they all like to get together and do the rounds of the houses together. This year they have been trying to coordinate their costumes on a theme. It's working, kind of. My two are going to be a hot dog and a bottle of ketchup. (One costume borrowed and the other bought at a tag sale.) The neighbors' kids are going to be containers of popcorn, candy, and 'a movie'.

It will be a two-day celebration this year as we have been invited to a friend's house on Friday for a 'pumpkin carving party'. (We get pumpkins a couple of weeks or more in advance and leave them out on the doorstep, but never carve them until a night or two before as they start to rot if the weather is warm.) Then on Saturday, one of the neighbors is hosting a party for the kids from 4 to 6, before they all go out trick-or-treating at 6.

Although we really enjoy Halloween, we keep it much lower key than many people. No inflatable lawn decorations for example!

Nor do I decorate the the house inside and out the way some people do. This year I did learn about a new tradition, which I'm wishing I'd heard of earlier because it's probably too late to implement it now. Apparently some people have their children leave the Halloween candy in front of the fireplace when they go to bed. Overnight a witch removes the candy and leaves gifts for the children instead. Of course, the witch must end up very fat from eating all the candy, and that would definitely be a bad thing, but I suppose she could take the candy to work to share. Or not.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Special days

In a recent blog post, Iota was commenting on the variety of festivals here in the US. I loved her comment about how the 'seasonal' aisles in the stores seem to exist in a time zone of their own. Christmas things are in the stores already and we haven't even had Halloween yet. In fact, in one store I was in this afternoon, there was a distinct lack of Halloween items, and what was there was already 50% off! I give it another week or so till the New Year's Eve decorations are on the shelves!

Iota noted the colours associated with various holidays here in the US:
Valentine’s Day: red and pink
St Patrick’s Day: green
Easter: yellow (and pastel shades generally)
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: red, white and blue
Hallowe’en: orange, black and purple
Christmas: green and red.
I'd add blue and silver for Hannukah and red, green and black for Kwanzaa and that the holidays each have specific shapes associated with them too:
Valentine’s Day: hearts
St Patrick’s Day: shamrocks
Easter: easter eggs, bunnies and chicks
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: stars and stripes (of course)
Hallowe’en: pumpkins and ghosts
Thanksgiving: turkeys
Hannukah: Menorahs and dreidels
Christmas: Christmas trees, holly and candy canes
Kwanzaa: kinara (candelabras)
Winter (if one is decorating for the season but avoiding specific holidays to be politically correct): snowmen and snowflakes
There are lots of other 'special days' that don't necessarily involve decorations that the kids learn about in school:
Arbor Day
Chinese New Year
Cinco de Mayo
Earth Day
Father's Day
Flag Day
Grandparents Day
Groundhog Day
Labor Day
Lincoln's Birthday
Mardi Gras
Martin Luther King Day
Mother's Day
Patriots Day
Presidents Day
Rosh Hashanah
Veteran's Day
Yom Kippur
Given the shortage of school holidays over here, they do help mark the passing of the year, even though most of them are not actually days off school. I would love to have the kids follow a 190 day English school year with regular holidays instead of the 180 days of school with most of the holidays in the summer. DD was horrified to hear that in the UK the kids are still in school till the middle of July or later. I bet she'd love to have a 2 week holiday at Christmas though! This year she'll be in school until 3 p.m. on December 23rd - what do you think of that, Auntie England?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall foliage

Thanks to my brother for sending me the link to this cartoon:

From the webcomic xkcd (whose author has allowed the reuse of this image here.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Americans only speak English

We went out for dinner tonight to a local bar that has a good deal on beer and a burger so long as you eat before 5:30 p.m. It was a little early for dinner, but it was easier than cooking.

It was a family-friendly establishment with a kids menu, but still definitely a bar-ish kind of place. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, DS commented on how loud the group of people at the bar were. I said, "Well, that's because they're Americans and Americans are loud."
DS: "We're not loud!"
DH and AA: "Oh yes you are!"
DS: "Well mommy's not loud and she's half American."
DD: "Mommy's not American!"
DH: "Right, she's Almost American!"
AA: "Why am I not American?"
DD: "You were born in England."
DS: "But you've been to other countries and speak other languages."
AA: [to DD] "How about you sweetheart? Are you American or British?"
DS: "She's half Chinese."
AA and DH: "Huh?!!!"
DD: "No, I'm not!"
DS: "Yes, you are, you're learning to speak Chinese!"
AA: [to DS] "Well are you half Chinese then, 'cos you're learning Chinese too?"
DS: "Yes."
AA: "So if you speak another language you're not American?"
DS: "That's right!"
AA: "And if you speak English you're American?"
DS: "Yes."
AA: "Well they speak English in England don't they?"
DD: "No they don't. It's a different language. Cookies are biscuits over there."

At bedtime, DS was still insisting that real Americans don't speak other languages. Sadly, how right he is! I had an email conversation this week with someone (who should know better) who commented on my "impressive array of language learning experiences." I had only told her about my French and (not even really minimal) Chinese, and had not mentioned German and Spanish at all! Hmm - I'm thinking maybe the kids need Muzzy for Christmas!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Columbus Day Weekend

Another beautiful Columbus Day weekend, although it was a lot colder than this time last year.

The trees aren't quite at their peak colour yet, but still pretty.

What are these? Anyone know? Very pretty (but the fruit does make a mess on the ground!)

Lots of good food. The fries were even served with salt and vinegar :-) DH went on to have a kielbasa grinder (hot sandwich) after this.

Fried dough with maple cream - a tradition not to be missed, despite how unhealthy it is! Still, sharing makes it a little less bad for you!

Lots of other food offerings too. It was a bit cold as far as I was concerned for sno-cones or ice cream, but the blueberry cobbler was outstanding!

Reminders that we really were out in the country!

There were lots of wonderful craft stalls. These glass pumpkins are sold at this festival every year and I always think about buying one and then never do. Maybe next year! Without a lot of restraint, it could have been a very expensive day. It was nice to see how many of the crafters were people we know.

As always, it was a good day out.

How quickly they forget!

Was woken this morning by shouts from DS:

"Mommy, mommy, it snowed!"

Funny - that wasn't in the forecast! They predicted clear skies overnight, and sunshine today - perfect for going to the Fall Festival! Ah yes, clear skies overnight - our first frost of the season! Not even a heavy frost either! How he mistook this for snow, I have no idea!

Just wishful thinking I suppose.

He's going to be SO excited when we finally DO get snow. He was talking yesterday about how he's really looking forward to it. Not because he wants to go sledding or make a snowman, but because he wants to shovel the driveway!
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