Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we were very fortunate to be invited to our friends' home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with them. We had never experienced Thanksgiving before so it was a bit of a mystery to us but we had a beautiful meal and a very enjoyable afternoon. The meal is the focus of the celebration and ours was fantastic, turkey, two kinds of potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and at least 3 different kinds of pies. Check out to find out more about Thanksgiving in America.
It was very special to be included in such a quintessentially American holiday and I am very thankful that we have had the opportunity to come here and experience life in America first-hand.

Elvis is Alive and Well in Las Vegas

The weekend before last we drove to Las Vegas to spend a fantastic weekend seeing the lights and sights of Sin City and meeting up with my sister J L and her husband who had flown in from Canada. I hadn't seen J L since 1992 and I'd never met her husband so we had a wonderful time catching up and spending a great weekend together.

Las Vegas is a total hedonist's delight; it's the city of excess, almost a Disneyland for grown-ups, with every imaginable theme, gimmick and piece of bling dished up in larger-than-life style for the paying customer. From the scale replica Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty, the copy of Central Park that even has manholes with steam coming out, the gondolas at the Venetian, to the erupting volcano and the sinking pirate ship at Treasure Island, it's all there to entice you inside the endless casinos, to be more dazzled and more entertained than at the establishment next door. Several years ago Vegas tried to clean up its act and became more family-friendly but now it has gone back to its raunchy former self and the focus is back on fun that's almost exclusively for adults.

We enjoyed checking out the lights and got an all-day bus pass so we could visit some of the more child-friendly attractions (while trying not to wear out the little legs): the pirate ships at Treasure Island, the amusement park at Circus Circus and M&M World (4 floors of M&Memorabilia, over-the-top) were all on the agenda. On the way back from visiting Luxor (the casino that is shaped like a pyramid) we saw Elvis posing for photos outside the Harley Davidson cafe. If he was going to be anywhere, he'd be in Vegas! Although we didn't gamble even a single cent, and didn't manage to see any shows (pretty difficult when you have a 3 year old with you), we had a great time and we will definitely try to go there again. I want to get one of those photos with Elvis...

Amusing Questions We Have Been Asked - Part 3 in an Occasional Series

"Aren't New Zealand and Australia part of the same country?"

(Not last time I checked)


This October we celebrated our first Halloween in America. Halloween is a big deal here in the States and some people go to a great deal of trouble to decorate their house and prepare a mountain of candy for the children who come trick or treating on October 31. There was a Halloween carnival on October 27 at our local community centre, featuring a haunted house, costume contest and lots of games and prizes (almost all of them were edible) for the children. N dressed up as Superman (see the photo) and had a whole lot of sugar-fuelled fun of course. On the 31st there was a Halloween party at his preschool (he brought home 3 bags full of lollies) followed by trick or treating around the community centre with his classmates (more lollies), then that night I took him trick or treating (even more lollies) with his friend Peter and Peter's family. P stayed at home and handed out the treat bags that I had filled and decorated (I made about 70 of those; we were warned to expect "a lot" of trick or treaters). We had a great time walking in our neighbourhood, knocking on doors, avoiding the scary haunted houses (some of them were fully decked-out inside like a haunted house, complete with scary monsters and ghouls jumping out to try to freak the kids out), especially the one with the chainsaw-toting monster in the front yard... a real guy, with a real chainsaw. When we got home P had given out about 30 lolly bags and we thought we had got off pretty lightly but by the time we ran out of candy (we were told to turn off our outside light when the candy ran out, a signal that no more trick or treaters were welcome to knock on the door) the total was 110 kids coming to the house to ask for lollies. Yikes! Now we know that we have to be even more prepared next year!