Friday, July 31, 2009

Smith family reunion 2009

This summer Phil's parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage. To honor them as a family (and so that they could experience where we live), all the Smith kids and many of their assorted family members gathered in Petersburg at the end of June for a very nice (though rainy) reunion.

This picture has a pretty high percentage of good smiles despite the fact that it was taken in a drenching, misty rain (note Tirsa!).

David did an excellent job taking many beautiful scenic shots. It's always fun to look at the place you live through the eyes of a visitor and to be reminded again just how special and uniquely beautiful "plain old home" really is.

The very first day everyone was here was the nicest weather (it got colder and wetter from then on) so we hopped on church friends Jeff and Alana's boat to go out sightseeing with the whole crew. It was a stunningly beautiful day and we got to follow several gillnetters around and watch the whole gillnetting process. The boat was large enough so that some (kids!) could sit inside and do puzzles and the rest could sit up on the fly bridge and inundate Jeff with questions about everything from the temperature of the water to the current price of salmon. Thanks to Jeff and Alana (a longtime commercial fishing couple), we had a wonderful day really giving the family a deeper understanding of life in a fishing town and an up close experience of the beautiful environment around Petersburg.

Another day we went to check out some sea life at low tide. Here's a picture of a starfish with a clamshell it has opened. This is something I'd only ever seen in books or nature films so it was fun to see it for REAL!

Tirsa examines some strange Alaskan wildlife.
Later we took them on a tour of our new church building. As usual, O Boy discovered a "treasure" to take back home with him.
The inside of our new church chapel area.

Another fun (though pretty chilly) activity was heading out to Blind River Rapids to throw rocks (kids), jump and splash (kids), get soaking wet (kids), and shiver (adults).

Of course the main focus of the reunion was the 50th wedding anniversary celebrated this summer by Mom and Dad Smith. One evening was set aside to formally recognize this milestone and church friends prepared a beautiful fish dinner at the church for the whole family. It was a wonderful evening of good food and good fun as we listened to both Mom and Dad Smith reflect on their 50 years together.

More Sandy Beach fun

Today O Boy and the Little Sweetie and I borrowed an inflatable boat and headed out to Sandy Beach for some boating fun. Phil and Mr. T are in Juneau for some dr. visits so I figured I could tackle this activity with 2 (but not 3) kids. Even with 2 it was a juggling act getting the Little Sweetie out of the backpack and into the boat without getting her wet (or dropping her!) while I was standing in knee-deep water. ! And yes, she did have a life jacket that she was wearing at one point but there was really no need and she was much happier without I took it off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

VBS 2009 - Detectives Discover: Who is Jesus?

Here are a few shots from our 2009 VBS program. It was an excellent curriculum that portrayed the kids as detectives uncovering clues (via storytellers) about who Jesus is.

The Little Sweetie with her detective hat on.
This is a group of girls from our church who formed a band they called, "The Shoes" (Gumshoes!) and played daily for the singing time. Each day they all wore matching "disguises".
One of our excellent storytellers portraying the woman at the well.
The VBS director Michele Pfundt was, of course, The Chief. Each day she had a new clue that the teams had to investigate. She also changed her costume daily and came up with some pretty stunning disguises.
Phil got to play a minor role on one day, portraying the Roman guard in charge of John the Baptist. He would introduce John and "release" him from the jail you see in the background, leave the room for the story, and then reappear to lock him back up at the end.
We had fun creating this costume. I'm not sure how people did things like this (creating costumes) without the internet. I guess they used encyclopedias?? The double headed eagle on his breastplate is actually from a photograph of a crest on a gate somewhere (in Greece?). We just printed it out, blew it up using our scanner, cut it out and glued it on the breastplate.

The boys are in costume because, of course, dad is. They proceeded to wear these costumes each day to VBS when we went to visit and take pictures. They got it into their heads that VBS means that everyone is in costume.
Here's The Chief in another one of her disguises.
Just a funny shot - John the Baptist and the Roman Centurion strolling around together.

He's got wheels

From what I've gathered, bike riding is a pretty challenging skill for kids with DS to master. There are so many components that most of us never even think about: the steering, the balancing, the coordination of muscles to pedal, the braking, etc. etc. And tricyle riding just never caught on at our house despite our best efforts. But a little two wheeler that was passed on to us has really fired up the interest of the boys in biking. We're still a long, long way from heading out on a family bike trip, but beginning steps like this are very exciting!

Bathtime with the big boys

A bit ago we thought it would be fun (not sure for who?) to try the Little Sweetie out in the bath with the boys - with some extra flotational assistance of course. I'm sure the boys had fun, and we sure enjoyed taking pictures. The jury's still out as to whether she appreciated the experience as fully as the rest of us.

"S-O-S! I'm going down with the boat!"

You had to know this was coming. We truly didn't stage a splash war simply for a funny picture. I'm pretty sure Phil snapped this at the same time we were watching in shock as Mr. T gave his sister a dunking.

Sandy Beach fun in the sun

We've had fantastic weather the past few days - so what's a better place to head than the beach?

One afternoon we were there some friends from church were tracking down floatable logs to turn into "boats". O Boy was trying to help out with this project here.
He told me, "We're off to fish for some salmon, Mom!"

Now Mr. T will make an attempt at riding the "boat".
He didn't like sitting on the logs by himself because they were pretty tippy so mom and the Little Sweetie got to ride too.
I'm lovin' the sun!

Salmonberry Pie party

For the first time since living here in Alaska, I discovered what salmon berries are and the boys and I began discovering them all over the church property. Our hunts for more salmon berries (which look a lot like raspberries) usually went like this: the boys would see some berries and tell me (with the Little Sweetie in a backpack) to go wade deep into the bushes and get them! Both the Little Sweetie and I ended up with a few brush scratches from this plan. It's certainly not like heading out to my parents' garden to grab a few raspberries off their carefully cultivated bushes. Thankfully, this is a bumper crop year for salmon berries and over the course of a few days "we" (O Boy did end up helping but Mr. T usually ate any berries he discovered) picked enough to make a pie. This was O Boy's idea.
First, he decided "we" would pick the berries. Then he wanted "us" to make a party, making pizza, rice and salad to serve. Then he began working on the guest list, which quickly included most of the people he knows (that would have meant several salmon berry pies!). His plan for the party was that we would eat pie, eat the above menu and pick salmon berries.
The final draft of the party actually included a very large poster welcoming guests to the salmon berry pie party, berry napkins I'd been given years ago and had never found the right occasion to put them to use, paper cups with berries on them, and printed Thomas the tank engine coloring pages (off the internet) for every guest. And of course the guests included his most favorite friend Charlotte, her mom, and two sisters. On a side note Charlotte began crying when they arrived for the party because she insisted that she was the only one invited and not her older two sisters. She was surprised to discover that they had been included (at Ollie's request) in the invitation too!
And now to the pie...this too went through several phases of planning as I began getting hints from several different conversations that salmon berries are not usually used to make pies! This was of course after I'd agreed to make one. This is because they are, in the words of one recipe site, "watery and insipid." So after suggestions from my chiropractor, who has provided many excellent cooking tips before, and a local friend who also decided to make a salmon berry pie with her sons, we finally tracked down a recipe online. And with enough sugar, raspberry jello and whipped cream, it was actually a very delicious pie!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pretty in pink.2

Apparently I already have a blog post titled "pretty in pink" here so I guess this will now have to become a series. I know, I know, she may grow up to hate the color, but I admit that it is terribly fun to dress her in complete pink for now.
Wow, has she changed a lot in 6 months!

Sweet peas

Our friend Janice just finished a beautiful little winter cap for the Little Sweetie. She used fleece yarn to knit it, so it is super soft. Of course Mr. T thought he should try it on too...
I think she looks like a little sweet pea in it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Love-ly baby

Thanks for the shirt, Aunt Julie! And thanks to ALL my aunties who love me!