The end of October saw another Halloween and, this time, I went trick-or-treating with Sam and the girls and, it seems, the rest of California.
There is a street in Millbrae that everyone seems to go to. The fun thing is that everyone in the street sits out on their front porch with a big bowl of sweets and all the kids go from house to house lining up to get a Tootsie Roll. Some houses really get into the swing of things. There was one house which had decked out their garage like a spooky diner with UV lights, brains, worms and smoke. We did a lot of walking that night and the girls managed to fill their cauldrons with sweets. It’s amazing how ungrateful children can be. They had a cauldron full of sweets and were still complaining when some houses didn’t answer the knock on the door !
The best bit was that, because we were out trick-or-treating, we’d turned off our porch light and nobody came knocking on our door. Consequently, I have two $10 bags of sweets sitting next to my bed that I’ve been dipping into while I’m sitting in bed watching Family Guy 🙂
I was chuffed with myself this year because I managed to carve 3 pumpkins in 45 minutes. That’s not going to break any records but, considering that I’ve only had one pumpkin carving experience since we moved here, it’s an achievement and everybody was impressed.
My costume this year was a Frankenstein-like affair complete with green face and head scar. We went to a Halloween party the weekend before and I was introduced as “really a serious business man underneath all that make up” to all of the guests. I think I frightened off one little pirate because we turned up at the same time as he did. The look on his face was basically “there is *no* way I’m going in there with *that* (pointing at me)”. His parents couldn’t convince him to come in so they left without stepping foot over the threshold.
The party was fun and I ended up getting wrapped up in toilet roll along with a pirate father from next door.
November 1st saw us greet Sam’s mum and step-dad. The house hasn’t been this clean since the arrival of the last visitor from the UK. We rented a Dodge Grand Caravan (MPV) for the two weeks that they are here so that we can ferry them around. They stayed in a hotel in the city for a couple of days so that they could get over their jet lag and we picked them up again and brought them back to us to stay for a week. They’ve been getting into the American lifestyle which, apparently, consists of coffee mornings and shopping. Sam’s mum is loving it, Sam’s step-dad is taking the opportunity to relax at our house whilst not participating in coffee mornings and shopping.
We took them to the Golden Gate bridge on Saturday morning but the fog was very low so they couldn’t get too many pictures. They were still impressed with the scale of it all but a little disappointed they couldn’t see everything. The Exploratorium is close to the bridge so we took them there as well. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the Exploratorium before but it’s a fantastic place with lots of science experiments that everyone can play on. To make sure that we get a chance to play on everything, we have to elbow a lot of little children out of the way but all’s fair in love and war.
The best “experiment” is a room with a fluorescent wall and a bright light that flashes every 20 seconds. When the light flashes, the fluorescent wall leaves persistent shadows. This means you can make lots of silly shapes and see them on the wall. Hours of endless fun and we also get a discount for being members of AAA (American Automobile Association). What more can you ask for ?
When we left the Exploratorium in the afternoon, all of the fog had burnt off so I took everybody back to the bridge so they could take more photos. This time, we went to the Marin headlands which allows us to get a better view of the bridge from a higher angle. That made Sam’s step-dad’s week.
After the Saturday tour, Sunday saw the girls, Sam and Sam’s mum go to the girls’ swimming class while the men went to Frys.
The swimming school is fantastic. It’s in Burlingame which is only 5-10 minutes from the house and it’s a very popular place. Sam’s been trying to get the girls into the school at the same time so that it’s easier for us all to go but in the interim, Rachel got into a class. They’ve come on in leaps and bounds ( or should I say strokes and breaths ? ). The school has a ribbon system to mark their progress. Rainbow, Green, Blue, Red, Purple and Gold. Rachel got her blue ribbon within 3 weeks of joining and when Joanna finally joined she skipped Rainbow and got her Green. The school has a deal with the local Baskin and Robbins to give the kids an ice cream when they get a ribbon which gives them an incentive to keep swimming.
The trip to Frys was an eye-opener for Sam’s step-dad and we spent a good hour or two just browsing the store. I finally relented to Apple and bought an iPod with an iTrip which broadcasts the music on an FM channel so that it can be picked up by the car radio. Quality is very good but I need a remote control to allow me to change tracks while I’m driving otherwise I’m going to have to put my cellphone down.