Haloween at Shama

Before we moved, the kids had noticed the candy and decorations and whatnot going up in Ann Arbor, and asked if there would be Halloween in China, and we told them probably not. Boy, were we wrong! There are Halloween displays everywhere, pop up shops, and about 10 zillion parties to choose from. Because we were totally unprepared, there was a bit of a panic about not having costumes, but then I remembered…we live in Shanghai! Land of the many many many tailors! And so that problem was easily solved…we bought a couple of masks, and then headed over to the tailor section of the nearby fake market to order up some capes. (Eli ordered a custom shirt, too. More on that later)

Today our apartment building is hosting Trick or Treating, and then a party. I had to do some searching, but I eventually was able to locate what I’d consider to be Halloween candy, bite sized pieces of familiar US brands. Turns out I needn’t have worried, there were an amazing array of things being given out. I’d also considered just buying a bunch of full size candy bars, since they were easier to find. Thank goodness I abandoned that plan, as there were 130+ kids! and the imported candy bars are outrageously expensive.

If you’re looking for photos of Eli, you’ll have to wait. He ditched us today in favor of a skateboarding camp over in Puxi. The folks that run his skateboarding after school activity also do weekend clinics, so he’s signed up for that the next 5 weekends. Hopefully he’ll finish up in time to join the party before it winds down.

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Halloween 2009

Halloween is always a busy time around our house. Last year and the year before we made Eli’s costume out of cardboard moving boxes.  In Sweden, Eli was a tree one year and we did our best to celebrate American style, but it just wasn’t the same.  Parke had to search pretty hard to find a pumpkin to carve. She did find one but it was about the size of a grapefruit.

We have finally finished unpacking and no longer have boxes lying around so we had to come up with something new this year.  I think Parke’s passion for the Steelers has rubbed off on Eli, because he decided to be Big Ben Roethlisberger.

Oliver was not much into dressing up so right before trick or treating time we strapped a vampire style cape on him and gave him a lollipop so he would forget about the cape. It all worked and he spent most of his time trick or treating while sitting in his stroller munching on his lollipop.

We had a group of friends over for dinner before trick or treating and Parke made some spooky food including mummy meatloaf, ancient eggs, decomposed salad, tomato and eyeball soup, and witches fingers. Johannes put a few pictures up on his blog of the food (No, we didn’t have a band at our place, that was a different party he went to.)


Pontiac Lake Orienteering

Eli and I enjoyed Sunday afternoon running around the woods with a map and compass searching for flags and trying not to get lost.  The day was perfect for one of my favorite activities, Orienteering.

From Wikipedia:

Orienteering is a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain. Participants are given a map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points.[1] Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers, orienteering has developed many variations. Among these, the oldest and the most popular is foot orienteering. For the purposes of this article, foot orienteering serves as a point of departure for discussion of all other variations, but basically any sport that involves racing against a clock and requires navigation using a map is a type of orienteering.

I took a class at the local YMCA a few years ago (Al Newman taught it) and I have been hooked ever since. Most orienteering events are organized by local clubs. The Southern Michigan Orienteering Club puts on 4-6 events each Spring and Fall. Each event has several levels of difficulty (White, Yellow, Orange, Green and Red) so everyone can enjoy the day.

This weekend’s event was at Pontiac Lake.  This is my first time at this venue and it is an excellent spot. There is plenty of interesting terrain, loads of hills, and the map is outstanding. (We still managed to get confused in one spot though).  Eli and I did one event last year and went with the White course. We breezed through that event and I thought we could handle Yellow course this time.

When you first get to the event, there is a check in table where you pick your course, pay the modest fee ($5 bucks if you are a member), and get your map.  There are usually people there to help out if you are a newbie and need some instruction.

Checking In

Checking In

Orienteering maps are extremely detailed.  The trick is to understand what each symbol means and to pay close attention to where you are and what features are around you. Sometimes it is a simple as “run along this trail until I get to an intersection” or ” run along this stream until I get to the bottom of the hill” and other times, it is using your compass to “take a bearing and run 25 strides”.

The Map

The Map

Each flag or control is represented by a circle on the map and you need to find all of the controls in order. (There are other variants of orienteering that have different rules, but the basics are the same) At each control is an orange and white flag with a punch. You punch your sheet to prove that you found each control.

First Control Found!

First Control Found!

The other key ingredient to a good day in the woods is to bring high energy snacks. We raided Eli’s Halloween stash and that did the trick.

Having a Snack

Having a Snack

Can’t wait to get back out there.

A Vista in SE Michigan!?!

A Vista in SE Michigan!?!

Dino costume

After much thought and many changes of mind, Eli settled on a dinosaur for Halloween. Here is the beginnings of a costume. One cardboard box, many nuts/bolts/washers, paint, and rope and we’ll be good to go.

Building the costume

done.jpgAs expected, Eli wanted to be Lightning McQueen, the race car from the movie Cars for Halloween. He hasn’t actually seen the movie in 6 months or so, but he really connects with that character. Every day in the week before Halloween he kept asking, Is today Halloween? When can we make my costume?

Eli and I had loads of fun putting it together. We started off with two cardboard boxes. With some nuts, bolts, washers, paper, glue, and paint, we built an Eli sized Lightning McQueen. Lighting has parked in his room every night since he was created.

Building SuppliesHalfway ThereLooking like a car nowEli painting LightningTest DriveFull Speed test drive