June 26, 2010

We're ready for some futbol!

We're ready! We waited a few days to put out our USA flag. June 24th was Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste day in Quebec and well, it's not wise to get all patriotic about other countries (or even Canada) on that day because it tends to piss off upset certain sectors of the Quebec population who would take it as an insult. Seriously, St. Jean Day is a big deal in Quebec and everything was closed...grocery stores, Home Depot, businesses, you name it. We wanted to go out and get some provisions and Paul came home and said he knows how our Jewish friends must feel like on Christmas day. Although, Tim Horton's was open!

So, to avoid conflict, we waited to show our enthusiasm for the World Cup and our home team.

It's amazing that here in Montreal we can watch each and every game on Canadian Broadcasting (CBC) and other stations and in a variety of languages. Seriously, EVERY game. The other day we wanted to watch the USA game and found ourselves watching again on CBC even though we ASSUMED it would be carried on ABC on our US stations (Boston). I guess the ad revenue from General Hospital is too important. We don't get ESPN here, only TSN -- the Canadian version with lots of hockey news and soccer news these days -- so I'm hoping our friends down south at least saw the game on ESPN. Today we noticed the game will be carried on ABC. That's nice of them. We can also watch on CBC and in several different languages.

But here's the irony -- we have a chance to watch all this World Cup coverage and CANADA DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A TEAM. People all over this city have their homes decorated in colours from different countries, flags on cars, jerseys on kids and adults and general enthusiasm everywhere. We hope it's like that in the States. After all, it is the biggest sport in the world -- even bigger than American Football.

June 25, 2010

Louis graduates from 6th grade

We must add that Louis picked out his own clothes, opting to wear a shirt and tie when he could have worn a simple polo!

Graduation is a big deal around Montreal. For the most part, kids only go to two schools -- an elementary school (grades K-6) and a high school (grades 7-11). Typically we are not a family that would think a ceremony for graduating 6th grade would be necessary. But, we went along with the festivities because, well, we had no choice. Were we ever surprised. First of all, the festivities and ceremony for the 6th graders were REALLY for the kids, not the parents.  It was amazing! Louis' "grad" events went on for about a week. (It's called "grad" for short, which refers to the actual ceremony, other events, and when they get in high school, the "prom." Fortunately, they don't have dances for ever holiday, instead, they save it up for a big event in grade 11). 

Louis and his classmates had the trip to Ottawa, a day at a water park and then there was the actual "grad" ceremony. 

We actually found ourselves sniffling due to seasonal allergies choked up. The kids all walked in to the amazing song "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan. Appropriate since it's during the World Cup and this artist happens to be Somali-Canadian. 

Paul was particularly impressed with one of Louis' teachers who quoted Bob Dylan's Forever Young at the end of his speech.

It was a simple and perfect ceremony. It was about the kids and for the kids. We're so fortunate that we found the perfect school for Louis. He has made some great friends. Unlike our life in Naperville, his classmates will go on to several different schools...French, English, private, public and international. Only 60% of his class is going to our local high school, Beaconsfield High School, or B.H.S. or as Louis keeps calling it..."B.S."

After the ceremony it was time for the kids parents to take photos. Many of these kids have been together since kindergarten.

Then it was time for the celebration...kids went home and changed for a party at the pool next door to the school and then a beach party in the gym. No parents were allowed! It was a great day for Louis and his friends. In the next couple of days we're going to write about a special award Louis received the next day, the last day of school which was yet another event for the kids...a special 6th grade breakfast and send-off. Very cool.

Click here for Wavin' Flag video/song

Forever Young

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young

May you stay forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

June 23, 2010

Sweet sixteen

Today our Danielle turned 16. For kids in "the states" this is the day parents take the kids to the DMV for the all-important driver's license. Here in Quebec, it's not so celebratory. We still have not navigated through the legal-eze, but basically, Danielle can't get her license, or even her permit, just yet. While we don't have a clear answer, we have "heard" she has to take classes for a year and then there's something about having to change her residency status to get a student visa which would enable her to get her permit and/or license in "like" a year. Confused? So are we. In the meantime, we're thankful we live in a city with adequate public transportation, which Danielle takes everyday to school and will take this summer to the city to visit with friends.

Speaking of school....we couldn't be more proud. Danielle was elected to a House Official position for her 11th grade year. It's a big deal. Think Hogwarts and Harry Potter. There are three houses in her school...Edgar, Cramp and Adami -- named after the important people who started the school, Miss Edgar and Miss Cramp, 100 years ago. Danielle was elected a House Official for "Edgar." Mom is thankful she is a member of the House of Edgar. Her athletic pants and sweats say "Edgar" rather than "Cramp." Yipee. (Dad is even more thankful the spirit wear does not say "The Beavers," which happens to be the school mascot. So, she's officially a House Official which amazing when you consider she has been at the school for just under two years.

She's officially a House Official -- the House of Edgar

At the Investiture ceremony

                        Danielle and her friends wear their new "house" ties and 11th grade blue shirts for the the first time at the closing ceremony at school in June
So, on Danielle's 16th birthday we get to brag a bit. She's adjusted very well to school. She has a fantastic group of friends and we are so pleased that she has embraced her high school life in Canada. Next year she and her friends will be the big kids on campus and enjoy life in Grade 11 or Sec. V as it's called here. In addition, she was appointed editor of the yearbook after spending the year as photo editor.  Danielle is truly a mix of her mom and dad....into the whole "arts" thing like mom, yet also does well in math and science. She asked mom for help with a math question recently. Her mom, who said "sorry" after 4th grade math in Naperville, took one look at a math problem recently (looked like Greek to me) and suggested she talk her talk to her dad. Dad took one look at the math problem (and he knows what he's talking about as an engineer) and basically mumbled something about "new" math and turned it back over to Danielle. The point is....she is doing well. The difference between her education here in Quebec and what she might have had in Naperville is this....she has 40 tenth graders in her entire "graduating" class. They rarely, if ever, have multiple choice questions. Her math final was over two hours long and SIX questions. Better? We don't know for sure. But we do know that they have a lot more writing to do in their exams which is why they refer to finals as "writing exams." 

All that aside. We're so very proud of our 16-year old. As parents, we're fortunate. Rather than fight us every step of the way (she did a bit when we first moved here and that's okay) she's embraced her life here in Canada. Just look at that hat!

Fille de bonbon à joyeux anniversaire

June 20, 2010

Field trip to our nation's capitol

There's nothing like a 12 hour day spent visiting our (temporary) nation's capitol with 70-something sixth graders and a couple of school buses. Last week Kish was one of the parents lucky enough to take this end-of-the year field trip to Ottawa, Canada's capitol, with Louis and his fellow classmates and teachers.

Ottawa is a little less than two hours west of us. It's a great city, and we have so much more to discover. Seeing Parliament Hill and the old buildings makes us want to learn more about the history of our temporary country. We hope to spend more time there this summer and sit in on Parliament which is supposed to be very entertaining.

After a visit to a science museum and a boat trip through the Rideau Canal (the canal is frozen during the winter and visitors can ice skate and skate and skate!), we stopped by Parliament Hill so the kids could run off some steam. Louis was a bit annoyed at his mom and her ever-present Nikon and was on his way to tell his mom to put the stupid camera away when this photo was snapped.

But not before we got one group shot. However, many of the kids were missing as they were buying Popsicles. It was like herding cats. Popsicles won.

So, after a museum, a great boat ride and free time on Parliament Hill, what did the kids seem to enjoy the most? Swimming at the University of Ottawa in the Olympic-sized pool and going off the diving platforms.

Sadly, the Pisani kids have been to Canada's capitol and not the U.S. Capitol. We're planning to change that this summer. Oh well...when in Canada.

Parents might think that after a busy day that it would make for a calm bus ride home at 6:30 pm. Turns out, when kids have a chance to eat at a buffet without their moms around, they will choose cookies over lasagna and root beer over milk, making for an amped up bus ride. Fortunately, this mom had ear plugs in her backpack left over from the Grand Prix race a few days prior.

June 19, 2010

Grand Prix du Canada

Safety first. No, Paul is not on his way to the Gun Club. As far as we know we don't have a Gun Club in Montreal. We were at the Grand Prix du Canada last weekend here in Montreal. The Grand Prix has been in Montreal for a while and skipped last year, our first summer here. It was our first Formula 1 event and quite cool. Or warm, as it was a "hot" day for our northern blood. Basically, we sat in "good" bleacher seats for an hour and half an watched cars make a hairpin turn while wearing our ear plugs and drinking expensive canned beer. Budweiser too. Huh? Not even a Molson?

We learned after the fact that we could bring a cooler, and that's what the smart Canadians did. We had a whole new education in the different beers available in cans...or canettes as they are called in Quebec. We did have a bottle of red wine in our back pack. But something about heat and red wine in a plastic cup just seemed so college. It was a great day and an interesting experience. Very good for people watching.

I already forgot who won, but I guess it was this English guy.

June 17, 2010

U.S. State Department tells Americans to stay out of Toronto?

I thought this was a joke. A travel alert in Canada?

The G20 summit is big news around here because, well, it is taking place in Canada. Those who live in and around Toronto are not at all pleased with the upcoming gathering because of what it will do to an already stressed out traffic situation and something about a $1 Billion security tab. Fortunately we had no plans of traveling to Toronto, and now of course with an official Travel Advisory issued for Americans traveling in CANADA, we'll for sure keep our distance. Apparently, walking around downtown Toronto with a Chicago Bears shirt might not be a good idea during the last weekend in June.

From the Globe and Mail
Thursday, June 17, 2010 2:10 PM

Americans warned to stay away from Toronto during G20

The US State Department has issued a travel alert warning people about the potential disruption of the G20 summit in Toronto.

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Toronto, Canada to the potential for large-scale demonstrations in downtown Toronto before and during the G-20 Summit scheduled for June 26-27, 2010. This Travel Alert expires on June 28, 2010," said the alert released today.

"Previous G-20 summits have drawn large numbers of protesters and activists, and a number of groups have announced plans to demonstrate throughout downtown Toronto. Protesters are expected to gather in Toronto in the days leading up to the Summit and access to parts of the downtown area will be restricted due to security requirements. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the local news media has to say."

The State department warns U.S. citizens to avoid downtown Toronto during the summit, which is pretty good advice, actually.

June 13, 2010

The dog with even more names

Before we moved to Montreal our dog was known as, Duke Urlacher. When we moved to Canada we added Gretzky and he became Duke Urlacher Gretzky. When the Penguins won the Cup last year we added Crosby (click here) because, well, Kish just thinks that Syd the Kid is cute. So the addition this year is obvious...Duke Urlacher Gretzky Crosby Toews.  Here he is sitting on the front porch staring out at the Blackhawks flag, which might be hanging into July when we put out the Stars and Stripes for American Independence Day. Nothing says summer like a Blackhawks flag in the front yard.

We're thrilled with the Blackhawks win. Most of the Canadians are just as happy -- they really like the Blackhawks, unless of course they are playing the Canadiens. Seems like Louis knows a bit about probability. (click here). Kish, however, thinks the reason they won is because last week while Kish and Paul were in Antigua, her pink Blackhawks flag blew off her head while on a boat and is someplace in the Caribbean.
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