I am staying with the Kelley Family. In addition to Ms. Brubaker and Mr. Kelley, there are 4 children here - Emily (11 years old, attending 6th grade), Duncan (10 years old, attending 5th grade), Ronan (7 years old, attending 2nd grade) and Spencer (4 years old, attending preschool). There are also 2 cats - Finnegan and Seamus. The cats live outside, and are not quite a year old yet.
Holland has some interesting history. It was settled by people from the Netherlands, and there is a strong Dutch influence even today. I'm packing a map of the United States so that you can see where I am here. The Kelley's live about 10 miles from Lake Michigan. It's rather flat, and the soil has a lot of sand and clay. The weather here is very much affected by the lake - Holland can be quite a bit cooler than the inland cities in the summer, and quite a bit warmer than the inland cities before it freezes over in the fall and early winter. Because of the lake, Holland is known to get upwards of 100" of snow each year! It hasn't snowed here yet this season, but there is a chance that I may see some snow before I leave...
I missed the actually Halloween holiday, but there were still some decorations on the front porch. I put my costume on and posed... The Kelley family loved my costume! The children told me about their Halloween night - everyone gets dressed in a costume and goes to neighbors' doors during a time that is set by the city (so it may be different times, depending on where you live). They call this trick-or-treating. The people in costumes ring the doorbells of houses where the outside lights are on (this is the way that people let the trick-or-treaters know that they are participating), and when the door of the house opens, they yell 'Trick or Treat!!". Then they are offered candy. There are some houses that are decorated in amazing ways, with lights and scary mannequins that may even make spooky sounds, and some houses that have pumpkins carved with different faces. It's quite the holiday!
On Tuesday, it was a big election day in the United States, called Mid-term elections, because it did not include a presidential election. Many of the seats in the US Congress were being voted on, and several states were voting for their Governor (including Michigan). I was able to go along with Spencer and his mom to vote! In the United States, you need to be a citizen and at least 18 years old to actually vote, so Spencer and I talked with the nice ladies at the voting place. They gave us stickers for coming along :-)
I should mention how cold it was here today. At 9:00 this morning it still hadn't warmed to 30 degrees F! Eventually it warmed a little more, but winter weather has definitely arrived here. I'm bringing home the weather page from the newspaper so you can see how the weather looks for this week, as well as how it compares to the rest of the country.
Wednesday was a big day for me. I went with Spencer to see his preschool. Like all of you, Spencer is learning another language. His preschool is entirely in Spanish!
Then I went with his mom to Holland's Farmers' Market. The growing season is almost completely over in Michigan, as it has become very cold here, but there are still several crops that are sold from cold storage, including squash, peppers, apples, and Brussels sprouts. The market hosts farmers from the West Michigan area from mid-May until the first week of December.
Then I took a trip to Lake Michigan with Ronan and Spencer and their dad. Wow! This lake is so big that you can't see the other side! It looks like a sea, but there is no salt in the water, and there are only smaller fish. There is a lighthouse in Holland that is known to the people here as 'Big Red'. It helps to direct boats to the channel that leads from Lake Michigan to a smaller lake called Lake Macatawa.
It's been a great couple of days! I'll write more soon.
I miss all of you!
Here are some photos from Holland, Michigan! There is a photo of me with some peppers and one with me and some apples and one with me and some Brussels sprouts, and one with me and some squash. These are all from my trip to the Farmers' Market.
There's also a photo from Wednesday morning when I saw Spencer's Spanish preschool.
Then there are a few from Tuesday when I went to see Spencer's mom vote, and I also spent a little time with one of the family's pet cats, Seamus.
Finally, there are some photos of me and the Halloween decorations on the family's porch.
Here are the photos from my trip to Lake Michigan! The lighthouse is known here as Big Red - I can see why! There is a neat tile picture of the lake that Ronan and Spencer showed me. The sunset was really something tonight! I did get a bit sandy though :-)
November 7, 2010
I am on my way home now, and I'm anxious to see all of you!
On Thursday, I went with Ronan to his second grade class. They were very nice, and told me several things that they were learning about the city of Holland, Michigan. I found it especially interesting to learn that the first residents here were Native Americans, but the first white residents were French fur traders! Later, a man named A.C. Van Raalte settled here with many Dutch people and founded Holland.
I'm including a photo of Ronan's class.
On Thursday night, I went with Duncan and Ronan to their Tae Kwon Do class. I even got my own outfit to wear! I would need to practice a lot more to take these guys on again!
Friday was spent packing - I've collected several things while I've been here. There is a photo of me with the children that was taken in Centennial Park in downtown Holland. That is the central park for the city, and is often used for concerts and events, especially during the warmer months.
Thanks for sending me here - I've had a great time! See you soon !
Back in Paris, our KidsCreate students have enjoyed learning about Michigan in the Fall. Here are some Michigan map collages they did :