Monday, February 04, 2008

Chilly Willy Day

Thanks to all ye faithful visitors of our blog even in two weeks of silence. All it really means is that life has been busy for us.

James is fully emeshed his last semester of college. As each semester has it's own quirks and challenges, this one also looks like none that have gone before. His twenty hours of working to earn our keep are now for a small company that courts him predigiously hoping that he'll choose to stay when bigger, flashier companies offer salary packages and experience elsewhere. His three classes are a brain numbing concrete class, a group project driven senior design class, and a fluffy freshman art apreciation class. He spends most of every Saturday working with his group on the senior design project of planning an American history memorial park for downtown Anchorage. He also has meetings to polish up the design for the steel bridge competition in April, and his bedtime reading is the FE exam prep book which he will have to take in late April (right about the time that he has finals). We decided that a good date night (we haven't taken one since our anniversary!) would be to go to the Anchorage Museum of Art so he can get credit for it in his art class. The funny thing is that he took me there on a date when I was in art appreciation back when I was 17! Yup, semester is in full swing.

On my side of things, it is the time of year when all my little bilingual kids have to be tested in English to see how their skills have progressed since last year. Since I am the only bilingual staff person at both schools (by title, not definition), this means that I have to organize test materials, procure rooms to test in, group students to test, send passes, run passes, proctor, fend off angry parents, soothe irrate teachers, and collect and return all materials intact. The testing materials are so sensitive that I had to sign in blood that I would watch them like a hawk and when I check them out each day, I have to chain them to my wrist--even taking them to the ladies' room with me! Thankfully, I am almost completely done at one school, and I am looking forward to a smaller group at the other so I hope I can complete it all in one day.

February 8, we went to the Kuenning's house to celebrate Mom's birthday. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, of course, of all Mom's favorites--some cooked on the grill (in sub-zero weather). Aspen made a German chocolate cake (Mom loves both coconut and chocolate), and we opened Kinder eggs--as is our birthday tradition now that we have a supplier (Thanks, Uncle Rick and Aunt Jan!). It was an enjoyable evening, and Brady and Aspen made it even better when they announced that they finally set a wedding date: May 31st! We teased them and said they were getting married on our two year, five month wedding anniversary, but it is really good to have something to plan and work for.

Sunday night, we had another family event, but of a different kind. I took the little sweater and cap that I had crocheted months before (and only put the finishing touches on Saturday!) and put them in a bag with my favorite Burt's Baby Bee products for little Drake's baby shower! It was a co-ed affair and nearly 40 people were there at the Smith's -- including all of my family, which was nice. It was the first time I had seen Drake since he was two days old. He was wide eyed and rapt in looking at my face and occasionally gave hints of a smile! He is a beautiful baby boy. It was good to connect to all the family, and I think everyone had a good time.

So now we get to Chilly Willy Day, while birthdays and babys are exciting, how often can you go to church dressed in a cowboy costume? Well, that's what we did Saturday afternoon. After placing my pie on a table groaning with the weight of chili pots and fruit and cream pies, I stood back and mingled with cowboys, cowgirls, indians, and a mountian man. James came dressed as the town mayor in vest, cravat, and pocketwatch. I wore a prairie dress, full apron, and bonnet.

After the chili and pie judging (and lunch) us wild west people were released into the auditorium which now looked nothing like it had before. In the town of "Ye Blessed" stood "Ye Blessed Bank", "Ye Blessed General Store" (fully stocked and functional), "Ye Blessed Mother Lode", and "Ye Not So Blessed Jail." Hung strategically around the room were wanted posters for many familiar faces. There was a cake walk, a (fake) firing range, a spittoon hitting contest (with waterguns), a place for kids to make bonnets and vests, pony rides (dispite the -10 degree weather), an ice cream eating contest, a bubble gum blowing contest, and a place to have pictures of your sweetie put on buttons.

All of it was completely free. We paid in fake gold coins which could be earned through winning various games, panning for gold, or turning in a wanted criminal. If anyone wanted to contribute in REAL currency, the money went toward sending our teens to AIM Camp Adventure. It was good to see the men playing sherrif and robbers with the kids, the women making bonnets with the girls, families fellowshiping, and so many visitors! It met a need that I didn't even know we had--for a little bit of fun in the middle of a cold, dreary winter.


  1. Shellmo5:35 PM

    Nice and interesting site! I particularly enjoyed reading about the bits & pieces of your life in Alaska - it's on mine and my husband's wish list to visit.

  2. andrea - i hardly ever comment, but i enjoy reading your blog and hearing about what is going on in your life. please give our love to your and your extended family:)
    love ya


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