Monday, December 24, 2007

He really is a jolly old me!

At the Coast Guard Christmas party this past Saturday, Santa, (our famous local version who has done all the seasonally related jobs for as long as anyone can remember) showed up.  We hadn't brought gifts for him to give to our kids because we were pretty sure they'd be unsure about coming anywhere near him.  We were right.  So much for that treasured American tradition!

There is no way you can talk  a 3 year old into believing that an unfamiliar, bearded man in a bright red outfit is a friendly character.  It's a good thing Santa's getting a chuckle out of this whole situation.
Yep, that's a real beard.  Kids are pretty suprised to see "Santa" at the laundromat downtown throughout the year doing his laundry or strolling the aisles of the grocery store buying tomatoes.  You actually don't see them around town a lot because they live "out the road" at the base of Crystal Mountain.  Really.  One other amusing detail: "Santa" and his wife drive a very, very tiny 2 door car and zip around town in it.  Since he is such a tall, large fellow it almost looks like he's driving a toy car.  Only in Petersburg...
Later in the evening Mr. T was willing to give a timid stroke to Mrs. Santa's very soft cape.  But he completely ignored that other guy standing next to him with the bells and hat.

Christmas Picture (at church)

Christmas Eve Day, 2007

Church friends Jon and Tonna Parker graciously invited us over for a Christmas Eve Day adventure - a boat ride over to their place on the island opposite Petersburg, lunch, and a fun day just hanging out with them.  They live in and take care of the beautiful beachfront log home which is the Kupreanof City Building - it's where the tiny city of Kupreanof (35 residents) has their monthly city council meetings.  It was actually a very nice day for late December and the boys had lots of fun on the boat, hiking in to their house, exploring around their house, enjoying the delicious lunch, and feeding the seagulls on the way home.  It was a very Alaskan way to spend Christmas Eve day!
Christmas Eve Day, 2007
Petersburg is across the water in the background.

Feeding the seagulls as we head back into the harbor.
Heading home from a great Christmas Eve day adventure.
We had to hike a ways through the woods along the beach to get to Jon and Tonna's place.
Jon putts through the 2 boys' legs - the Smith version of croquet (sometimes the targets moved at the last minute!).  Mr. T was actually the one to come up with this game and it went on for a very, very, very long time.

Sledding Fun with playgroup friends - Dec. 2007

I guess O Boy thought this was a smile on his face...Good thing Mr. T and I held up our end of the "smile for the picture" bargain.
Ready to hit the slopes.  You can see how excited Mr. T is.
Everybody has to learn someday that what goes down, must get dragged back up.
Help, Mom!  I'm being chased by a snow snake!

Christmas Program

Here's the Smith family performance of "Away in a Manger" at our Family Christmas Program 2007.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Painting party

Peek-a-boo Mom!
Big smile with the masterpiece
Best Buds, Partners in Crime

Mr. T's very first Christmas program ever!

Here are pictures and a video from Mr. T's first-ever school Christmas program. He got a bit of stage fright and froze up during many of the songs but he warmed right up to the crowd after it was all over.

Here are the little reindeer getting ready to sing "Rudolf".
Mr. T gives a big kiss to "Grandma" Alice, one of his fans in the crowd.

Our car

I've had these 2 diaper boxes taped together and sitting around the house as a tunnel for the longest time and was about to toss them when O Boy flipped them over and crawled in one side the other day and announced, "CAR!"  He then forcefully encouraged Mr. T to get in the other side and then Dad got roped into shoved them around the house (a very big job).  You can't see the engine (Dad) that drives this car around because he's hidden behind, but you can tell their having a blast in their brand new car.

Preschool show and tell

This video clips are from a few weeks ago when Mr. T had show and tell at preschool.  They show his developing interaction and communication with the other kids and are just plain funny as only 3 year olds can be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Have you heard this hit song?

Here is O Boy singing a song of his own creation: "The Forklift Song."  If you listen very carefully to the video, he is repeating "fork-uh, fork-uh (forklift, forklift)" over and over.  The matchbox forklift happens to be one of his current favorite toys.  What's most amazing about this video is that he didn't realize I was videoing him!  Of course his older brother realized what was going on and had to come over and watch the action.  Enjoy this little music video from our resident budding composer/singer.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Setting up the Nativity scene - O Boy style

Here's the rascal with his arrangement.  You'll notice that the 3 Kings are walking AWAY from the gathering; must be on their way back home!  Mary is sitting all by herself in the front and Joseph is in back hanging out with a few shepherds.  Baby Jesus, on the other hand, is hanging out with the sheep over in the bottom left hand corner.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

O Christmas Tree

Well here's the picture of our Christmas tree my mom's been asking for. Getting it was a major feat by Phil, who had to lug it a very long way up and down a gully and across the sort of frozen muskeg behind our house. It's a mountain hemlock and we now understand why most people avoid these trees...they shed needles like crazy. But it HAS lots of needles to shed, so I don't think we'll have a bare tree by Christmas. Since most of the trees up here are very spare and scraggly as a result of growing in the acidic muskeg soil, people are pretty amazed when they see how bushy and full it is. We think it's pretty, and the boys obviously think it's HUGE!

This is the "Mom's trying to get us to smile and we're painfully complying" photo.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Up and Down

This is a video that probably only grandparents will sit through and enjoy, but I wanted to post it because it shows just how strong Mr. T is getting and also how verbal.  And, of course, O Boy shows his delightful personality in it as well...

New Church property

Show and Tell

It was Mr. T's show and tell day in preschool and we brought in his new Rockin' Rody to share.  Here he is with his preschool teacher.

Emotions Quiz

Mr. T's aide suggested that we take pictures showing different emotions so that she can make a book for him to learn both the emotion (how to express it) and the word (how to say it). Here's Phil and Mr. T doing their best to be very emotional...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Logging at the new church site

I wanted to post these videos because, if you're like me and you don't see huge trees cut down on a regular basis, you will probably find the process pretty amazing.  Phil and I also found it fascinating to watch how casually our friend Larry handles his chainsaw (probably the way Uncle Scott handles a chainsaw...?).  He joked with Phil, "Well, they don't cut through bone.  Oh, wait, maybe they do."  You can tell this guy has been a logger for quite some time...!

A big deal!

Here's a little video clip of our new church land being cleared.  This is something that has been prayed about, planned for, and worked on for over 10 years.   It's pretty cool to finally see God bringing it about in His time and way.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I had to post this video for a couple of reasons. 1) It's just our boys being themselves. 2) It shows just how much communicating Mr. T is doing these days.  He was just determined to run this playtime show his way, in his time.  Unfortunately his younger brother is not always a willing participant...!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trying to capture a memory

For quite sometime now I've been telling myself that I need to get a picture of the boys with the special blankies/toys that they sleep with - and record what they call them! So after several attempts to get a cute, adorable, cuddly, smiling picture, this is what I ended up with. BUT...I will still record what they call them, because I love how each one individually picked their own names for their blankies.

Mr. T: his blankie is called his "nik". This is also sort of his current all-purpose word to describe bed/blanket/sleep. He has 2 "niks" and loves to drag them around the house saying, "Nik! Nik! Nik!" One of his niks is a beautiful alphabet quilt that Grammy and Grandpa Wilson brought back from the Philippines. Both boys are starting to point to the letters and objects on it and name them. Cuddly and educational! His other nik I bought before he was born. This is the first time in his life he's really been attached to "comfort objects" and he doesn't have any stuffed animals that he enjoys sleeping with regularly. I wonder if his attachment has been encouraged by his extremely attached little brother...
O Boy: his blankie was made for him by 3 middle school girls in our church when he was born. He calls it "nigh nigh" and he loves to tickle his nose with the fringe pieces. That is very comforting to him. He also occasionally sleeps with "woah woah," the little yellow dog he's holding. He's extremely possessive of his blankie and if Mr. T should happen to playfully begin walking around the house with it or, even more devastating, lay on the the ground cuddling it, O Boy shrieks, "NIGH NIGH!" and runs to rescue it from wherever he is in the house.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Alaskan Playgroup

At playgroup the other day some of the kids noticed a nice large deer out on our lawn.
I love this picture.  Laurie seems to be saying, "Look at the huge rack on that deer, guys!  Can you imagine how many venison steaks we could get out of that deer?"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Grandma Margaret Sweater

There are a few of you out there who will know who I'm talking about when I say that this is a sweater made for my brother John 25 (?) years ago by our "Swiss Grandma" Margaret Messmer. Now O Boy is showing off his best smile for the camera and modeling it. Amazing! It's still soft, comfy, and in great condition.

Hello Senator! Say hi to the President for me!

2 weeks ago during our playgroup storytime at the library Senator Lisa Murkowski was across the hall addressing the local fishermen and women. Both events broke up at the same time and when we saw her in the hall chatting with some people, we ran out to ask her if she would come in and meet our toddler playgroup and sit in for a few pictures. Like any good politician, she graciously said yes. The kids were tired and some were crying and none of them knew what was going on, but the moms enjoyed the whole event. Here's Mr. T and O Boy doing a meet and greet with the Senator. I'm sure she's got their vote! Thanks Senator Murkowski!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Helper

Happily an old Little Tikes vacuum cleaner showed up at the Salvation Army a few weeks ago and we grabbed it for our little vacuum-aholic, O Boy. After cleaning 4 slugs and some paint off of it (guess it was being used to vacuum someone's lawn?), he now ecstatically zooms around the house with it ALL the time. It was also the item which motivated him to learn the word "mine!" for the first time. Here he is vacuuming with me - his little vacuum followed close behind every single move mine made. Too bad his doesn't pick up dust.
You really should click on this picture to enlarge it and see the happy expression on his face. Finally, a vacuum for O Boy!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Out for a walk with Super-Grandpa

We were very thankful to have Super-Grandpa Gotter come up for a few days to see Petersburg, be a part of Phil's ordination, and hang out with the boys. It was pretty rainy for most of his stay, but for a few hours on this day we all got out and took a walk on the boardwalk "out the road."

monster puddle!

the boys in their bubble suits

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

That's why we call him SUPER Grandpa!

Isn't it great to see how much joy and excitement toddlers get from simply watching their great-Grandpa throw a big rock into the water?

Matt takes tape road-building to the next level

Here's our high school friend Matt laying out a reproduction of the roads around his neighborhood in tape for our boys to drive on. Now that's realistic imaginary play!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living Art

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and to help educate our tiny town about DS (and our son!), we put together a bulletin board for our local library. One definite advantage to living in a small town: Mr. T. is a local celebrity (he is the only person with DS in our town - there has been no other for 10 years)!
Here is the display:

The main sign says, "Meet Trevor! He was born in Petersburg and diagnosed with Down syndrome 4 days after he was born. He loves to play with trucks, dance, and be chased by his little brother. Since he is still learning to use words to communicate, he uses sign language to help him "talk." He enjoys reading books with his daddy and cooking (making a mess) with his mommy. Trevor is great at walking, swimming, singing, and especially making friends."

This sign says, "Thumbs up for Dr. Down! In 1866 Dr. John Down was the first person to identify what we now call Down (or Down's) syndrome.

This sign says, "What is Down Syndrome? It is a genetic condition that some people are born with. In most ways people with Down syndrome are just like you and me. However, they will often do things like walking, talking and reading later than typical children. Usually they need extra help learning to do those things. When they grow up, people with Down syndrome may have a job and live on their own. Just like you and me, they all need friends, fun, and a meaningful life.

Here we featured a Signing Time DVD (our library ordered the whole series!).

One other sign we posted said: "How do we talk about a people with Down syndrome? It is not pronounced “Downs” but rather “Down syndrome.”Sometimes it is referred to as “Down’s syndrome” in honor of Dr. John Down. In the same way we would not say a person who has high blood pressure is a "high blood pressure person,” you would not say “the Down syndrome person” or “the Down's baby”. Down syndrome is only a medical diagnosis for that person, not who the person is. The proper way to discuss a person with Down syndrome is “the person with Down syndrome”. Additionally, it is most respectful to speak about children who are not affected by Down syndrome or other disabilities as "typical" rather than "normal."

The books we featured are all available for checkout from our library: We'll Paint the Octoput Red, What's It Like? Down Syndome, The Best Worst Brother, and Don't Call Me Special.