Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Prague, winter 2008 
Today is a regular working day here in Prague, but I still feel the excitement of Thanksgiving and the long weekend all the way from the States. We'll be celebrating tomorrow and Saturday - who knew a dollop of cranberry sauce could be looked forward to with such anticipation!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The chef's away

Work, which heaps itself upon my head come Christmas season, has done its job and I am buried under snow drifts far from home most days. Here's a picture of James this weekend though, already getting into the dress up game with Caroline.

Monday, November 10, 2008

She had me at ladybug

ladybug and umbrella rainy day pic 
Saturday's rainy weather didn't stop us from getting out of the house for provisions and a treat at mamacoffee. Caroline decided to go out dressed up, and I snapped lots of pictures of her walking through the gloom, armed and capped with a pink umbrella and ladybug hat. None of the pictures came out as sparkly as reality so I added a filter and a poem to dress this one up a bit.

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lanterns for St. Martin

lanterns in PragueSaturday night the weather behaved and we gathered with friends at the top of one of Prague's seven hills to parade with lanterns through the dark. None of our friends knew quite what inspired the show, but it seemed to be a cross between Halloween and a St. Martin's day parade. All the children dressed up in costume and carried paper lanterns (with lit candles inside, ours only singed a bit).

The organizers carved pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and handed out candy to the children as they marched through the night, following a candlelit path through the park and the woods on the trail of a mysterious cat who had stolen a giant pumpkin and must be pursued!

The end of the trail led us to a small stage set up for shadow theater. There the cat was duly tracked down by the children, who bought the pumpkin off of her for a treasure of silver coins (chestnuts wrapped in aluminum foil), and were then rewarded with babovka and more bonbons.

It was all very satisfyingly scary and safe at the same time and Caroline ranked it right up there with trick-or-treating for fun, though as she noted, there was a little too much "boo-ky"* involved for total comfort.

*boo-ky = a Czechlish word made up by C to mean scary in a Halloween sort of way.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ladybugs for Obama

ladybug costume 
I've just set my alarm to wake me up at 2 so I can check the polls (and instant message with my sister who is also planning to wake up then). Exciting times ahead tonight and tomorrow and in the meantime, I thought I'd post a funny pic of C's latest dress-up endeavor.

Because not all things red are Republican...

Updated to add: Hurray! Red or Blue, I'm proud of the United States of America. Can we change, yes we can!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Current Preoccupation

I think I've worn out the link to this site, I'm a bit obsessed these days!! electoral map of the U.S. November 2, 2008 Isn't it elegantly done? I do love good information design. Map courtesy of the Princeton Election Consortium.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pippi Longstocking - Winter Wear

When October dawned, the choice of a Halloween costume turned into a hot topic in our house. C knew who she would be, but "What would Pippi wear?" became a matter of great debate.

We knew what her braids should look like (and even how to do them) and we already had a pencil picked out for her freckles. I'd spotted just the right stocking/sock combo and had decided to not worry about her shoes - hard to see in the dark, not on her feet at any party she might go to. But we still weren't sure about the main ingredient, Pippi's dress. C suggested we veer toward the ugly and the large. Her babysitter thought she should wear something whose next stop was under the sink as a cleaning cloth. I had visions of a jumper and sewn-on patchwork.

In the end we compromised. I found a denim dress, large, with cool pockets. C wore one of my big painting shirts under it, sleeves rolled up. To keep the winter out, she topped it all with an old sweater of mine (paper patched), a super spotty scarf and a very warm hat. We took lots of pictures, then we headed out for some candy collection.

Trick-or-treating in Prague? Well may you ask. There is no long-term Halloween tradition in the Czech Republic. You have to head to tourist or expat oriented stores if you're looking for Halloween decorations, and costumes come from places focused on costume balls or theater, not October 31st. But every year, it does seem to get easier to find pumpkins, and there are lots of things to do with kids, from pumpkin carving to partying at the bagel shop.

And there is one neighborhood that rolls out the candy carpet for kids. Nicknamed Little America for its suburban feel, Nebušice in Prague 6 has become a mecca for trick-or-treating children. For the last two years, we have met up with friends, woven through bands of costumed children and gone door to door with C. Next to an international school, Nebušice is a favorite spot for round the world households, and a lot of the families dress up in their native costumes to greet the kids. We've seen tiny children dressed in Korean robes, ladies in Swedish dresses, and my favorite - a British family dressed in colonial capes with a prison stock in their front yard.

I'm out of practice with the whole concept of trick-or-treating, so I am inevitably impressed by the generosity of these families as they open their doors to kids who are mostly not from their neighborhood. I appreciate the way an entire community turns a foreign holiday into a celebration that feels like home, and gives kids a sense of being a part of a big group of English speakers. That's something C usually only gets to experience when we head to the States once a year.

Pippi and J (he went as a well-bundled baby) slept on the car ride home, and we spent the drive talking about our favorite Halloween memories. I remembered the parties we had as children, the suburban trick-or-treating in middle school, the massive costume parades we went to in graduate school. We wondered how Caroline would remember her 5th Halloween as Pippi of the long stockings, the night we drove from Prague to Little America and back again.