Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hello Family and Friends

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while.
We haven't visited any where "new" lately, so there aren't any new pictures to share.
However, we were excited to find a local campground over the weekend!
We booked the month of July in an adorable little canvas tent cabin. 
We are really looking forward to moving on June 30th.
I will share more with you soon!

In the meantime, for my own memory, I wanted to document a few little things.

Just yesterday...
Celene said, "I miss my home in the United States."
(Every time she talks about homey things, she calls them "in the United States." Cracks me up.)
Me: "What do you miss the most, Celene?"
Celene: "I miss my church, my kitty, and my tramp."
In that order. 
Thought it was cute. :)
For the record...she LOVES the church we have been attending. It is a missionary church with the purpose of evangelizing the African immigrants. Their delightful traditional outfits and fun hair and bright shoes totally enthrall her. The music choices for the most part are familiar hymns, but the tempo is quite increased from what we generally listen to, and the people add lots of clapping and movement and even their own little instruments, such as tambourines. She said she "wishes our church had music like that." I kind-of agree. ;)

Things about Quebec that we love:
POUTINE!!! Ever hear of it?
It's a simple dish of fries, brown gravy, and fresh cheese curds. Every restaurant, no matter what kind, has it on it's menu, even McDonalds. It's delicious. All of us love it.

Parks. There are soooo many in our town, and in all the local towns. Many have fountains that are ok to play in!!! We are always finding news ones tucked away in little town back roads. We just found another BIG one with a splash pad yesterday, and since it's looking hot today, we will go check it out after breakfast.

Rollerblading. Wow, there are soooo many people riding them! Little kids up to Grandpas. We imagine because of the huge hockey culture up here, that's the way to keep the skills alive through the summer. The kids are sooooo jealous. We will definitely have to invest in some.

Public pools. 3 in the local area that we've found so far! Sure is a nice option that isn't as popular in WI, that I know of. And it's usually pretty cheap to swim...just a dollar or two.

The rivers. They are big, very big, and running fast to the St. Lawrence Seaway. So there are lots of fun waterfront things to explore and the fishing seems to be really good. The kids met a wonderful man at the park last who taught them to fly fish. They caught some really nice sized bass. What a lovely experience! There are also no lack of ducks to feed, which also brings the fun little chipmunks and squirrels to feed as well.

Other interesting things:
The French language. Other than in Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, English is nearly non-existent. It's a major source of pride here. They intentionally do not teach their children to speak English, until they get it as a second language in public school. One would think it would be difficult to maintain an economy, given that the rest of Canada speaks English. Shawn says the language barrier is worse here than it was when he worked in Belgium and Holland. Talking to some bi-lingual-ish people at the parks, it seems some families are beginning to see the folly in the this, as Quebec is becoming more isolated from the world (other than France), and are teaching their kids to speak English. Especially in the bigger cities. Even the road signs, rule signs, how the police officers speak...everything in French, without translation. It is truly a separate country.

Iced tea. Seems to be THE beverage to drink around here.

Hats on kids. You will NEVER, I mean NEVER, see a kid/baby under middle school age without a hat. All kinds...sunhats, baseball caps, bonnets, kerchiefs, etc. It's the funniest thing. I finally asked a grandma at a park if I was noticing a trend. (She was babystitting her hatless Scottish grandkids who were visiting from Montreal.) She said that, yes, it was a "French thing." It's kinda funny to me because French Canadian kids have heads full of black hair and olive skin, which I can't imagine sunburns too easily.

Socks and shoes. I guess it's early here yet, but hot nonetheless, and you'll rarely see sandals or flipflops. On kids, never. It's always socks and shoes. Even on sandy beaches and sandy playgrounds. Even in the water!

Blond hair. Actually, the lack there-of. Me and my kids stand out like sore thumbs and get a lot of comments too. Apparently they don't see much of it. I haven't seen much of it either!

Brightly colored hair. That's a trend among women. All colors...purple, green, red, orange...there's not too many women with original black hair.

Catholicism. There's only 1 non-Catholic church in our area, and many, many Catholic ones. Supposedly, the separation is not necessarily to preserve the French language, but it's actually a religion issue.

Smoking. It's still fashionable here. And many people do it. 

Trash. Most parks, and everywhere, you have to watch for broken glass, cig butts, and trash. It's not horrible, but it's there. Hey, maybe that's the reason for the socks and shoes!!

No more than 1 or 2 kids. Three kids is considered a lot...so you can imagine the comments I hear. Every day. Some are flabbergasted. Some are disgusted. Many just shake their heads. There's never a non-reaction. And the old people all want to finger their blond hair. :)

Food. You can grown your own, but you can't sell it. It's the law. The farming is controlled by the government. It's expensive. Eggs are $7 doz. Butter is $5 pound. Bread $4 loaf for the cheap junk. Milk $5 for half gallon.

Taxes. 15% on everything, including food. It adds up fast. Probably why there's no more than 2 kids per family. Can't afford to feed them!

Music. It's big here! At least one of the parks is hosting a music fest at any given time. All kinds of music...African and Hispanic cultural, kids groups, groups with hand instruments, old people dancing to old American country...you name it. It's fun!

Well...that's enough for today. Kids are ready for breakfast!

Looking forward to seeing you all at home in month! We've officially passed the mid-point of the trip...IF Shawn doesn't get extended another week. Which is definitely possible.

Love to all!!!!


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