Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snowzilla & The Tournament of Roses Parade

No, Snowzilla won't be appearing at the Tournament of Roses Parade. It would be exciting, but it's just not going to happen. What did happen (a few days ago- sorry I'm so slow on the news updates) is a group of supporters came out to City Hall to protest the poor treatment of our beloved Snowzilla. It was a peaceful demonstration, and no one was arrested.
The picketing continued until dawn, and came to an abrupt end when city employees "cleaned the sidewalks" and the protesters were shoveled off into Alaska history.

On to the Tournament of Roses Parade. Be sure to tune in New Years morning and check out the float from the Last Frontier. We have entered a float titled "Celebrating Alaska-Spirit of the Wild." The reason for the float? It's our 50th Anniversary as a state! The float is 22 feet wide, 55 feet long, and 18 feet high. It's even animated: the moose and bear move their heads and steam comes out of the engine of the train. Two people will be riding on the float in kayaks. They are Kimberly Dullen, Miss World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and Miss Fairbanks Native Association, and Manuel Tumuluk, a Native Youth Olympics and WEIO world record holder. If you are interested in more information about our lovely float, go to and click on the section celebrating our 50 Years of Statehood. There is also a link in that section where you can order a special limited edition print of Denali. There are only 950 "Legacy of Alaska" prints being made and it is selling for a bargain price of $1,500 each. ($750 is tax deductible.) Be a sweetie and pick me up a copy while you are there. We'll call it a late Christmas gift.

Snowzilla pictures courtesy of Anchorage Daily News.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas Story: Hopefully Not A New Tradition

I haven't mentioned our interesting Christmas morning. The kids were just a tad excited on Christmas Eve, and had a little bit of trouble going to sleep. They didn't actually get into bed until after 10 pm. It was at least an hour later before they were asleep. Needless to say, It was a late night for me and Russ as well. We crawled into bed after midnight. The only bright spot on the horizon was the fact that our kids like to sleep late. Brandon normally gets up around 9:30 or 10 am on the weekends. Jess will sleep past that if she doesn't have something social planned.
At 3:30 Christmas morning, something entered our darkened bedroom. "Mama, can we get up now and open our presents?" Brandon. "Go back to sleep. It's not time yet. It's the middle of the night," I grumbled. "No it's not," he replied in a chipper manner, "It's morning!" "3:30 is not morning, it's the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! Go to bed." The pitter patter of little feet slowly faded away. Then back again. "Mama, can we get up now? It's later." "Brandon, 4 am is not later. It is still the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!" "OK." Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump...(sounds mercifully fade away). Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump...(and back again). "Mama, can I wake Jessica up now so we can open our presents?" I slowly open one eye toward the clock. "Brandon, what time does that say?" "4:30." "Do we get up at 4:30?" "Maybe we could today," he pleaded. Just for gee wiz, the cute little puppy dog eyes don't work when it's too dark to see them. "Go to bed." Thump, thump, thump, thump..."Mama?" Ugh. You have got to be kidding me. Why does he only come to my side of the bed? Why not ask Dad these questions? "Mama?" "What, Brandon?" "Is it time to get up now?" I try to focus my bloodshot eyes on the clock. It takes more than a little effort. 5:30 am. "Whatever," I grumbled. "Does that mean you're getting up? " he asks, ever hopeful. I give up. If they had Brandon at the Battle of the Alamo, it would have been a quick and painful victory. I wonder if I can rent him out to the military. He is much more efficient than Chinese Water Torture. "Get in bed Brandon. I need a shower. We'll do the present thing when I get out." I slowly crawl out of my nice, cozy bed. The boy bounces in and curls up in my warm spot. He is a happy camper. Me? Not so much. Victory is his.

Friday, December 26, 2008

T'was the Day After Christmas...

We survived the Blizzard of 2008! OK, that was a little dramatic, I admit, but it got your attention. We got a whopping 7 1/2 inches of snow yesterday. Most of it was directly on our driveway. I know this because I got to help clean it up. Yes, Gretchen, we actually used the snow blower this time. (Even I'm not that slow!) :0) There was no way we were doing all of this by hand.
It's beautiful outside right now. Everything looks like it's covered with frosting. Not too many kids playing at the park, though.
This is a tree in our neighbors front yard. By summer...normal tree. By winter...Super Bunny, fighting crime where he might find it!
This is my frozen mail box. You REALLY have to want to mail to go and get it.
Poor Santa is snowed in. Good thing he delivered all of the toys the night before! I think this is what they call "zero visibility".

Finally made it to the back patio. The snow was even with the top (third) step up to the porch. Definitely thick stuff. It was very tiring watching Russ do all this work. I think I'll go relax on the couch with a cup of hot coffee. Happy Blizzard Day!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are having a lovely White Christmas here! The snow has been falling for several hours, but we haven't ventured out in it yet. We had thoughts of going sledding today, but there are too many distractions inside right now with all the Christmas food and gifts, so it will have to wait. We got a Wii for Christmas this year. Tink has been very helpful in reading the directions and installing all of the hardware. I don't know what we'd do without her. I must say, she is very dedicated to her job. She was very thorough in making sure all of the parts were out of the box. See what I mean? Dedication!
She had a few problems that she had to work out with her supervisor (Ashley), but for the most part, it was a problem free installation. I think she just needs to work on her "people skills".

This is the beauty that Russ got me for Christmas. It's an ulu, hand carved out of a sun bleached walrus jaw. This was something I've been wanting since we moved to Alaska. An ulu is an Inuit all purpose knife that dates back to around 2500 BC. The handles are traditionally carved out of caribou antlers.

Before I forget, turn on your speakers for the full effect, because I've now added music to the blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Russ and I ventured out to do a little last minute Christmas shopping. The traffic wasn't too bad downtown. Hopefully we got everything we need. There is always something, though... We sort of took the long way home and checked out some of our favorite spots. I though I'd share a few pics of Christmas Eve in Alaska.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Catching Up

We had Russ' shop Christmas party this past Saturday. It was a lot of fun. The party was at the Chalet out at Six Mile Lake. The airmen that put it on did a super job and everyone had a great time. Fantastic food, great prizes, and lots of entertaining conversations.

I got a nice surprise last week when the school presented me with roses as a Thank You for helping out with the Christmas play. Very cool. Jess took some beautiful pictures of them, so I thought I'd put one on the blog.

We also went out to Hillburg and had some fun sledding last weekend. Jess took her camera there, too, and I just got around to downloading the pictures from that. These were taken during out relaxing break. It takes a lot of energy to keep climbing up that hill after you sled down.

It's snowing outside right now, and has been for the last few hours. Poor Russ shoveled off the driveway and sidewalk this afternoon. Then we went to a movie and out to eat. By the time we got home, there were a few more inches of snow on the driveway, so he got to do it all again. That's OK, it's great exercise. Trust me, I've done more than my share of shoveling, so I know. Hopefully it will keep snowing all night and the sledding hill will be ready to go tomorrow. We are going to have a beautiful white Christmas.

On a more interesting note, though, the story of Snowzilla continues. After the Grinch tried to stop the yearly building of our beloved Snowzilla, a group of elves magically built him back up to a very impressive height of 25 feet while the city slept last night. Bigger and better than ever. You guys rock! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. His spirit lives in all of us.
(Snowzilla photograph from the Anchorage Daily News)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Poor Snowzilla

We in Anchorage, Alaska are in mourning. Why, you ask? Because Scrooge came to town and gave the ax to Snowzilla. The city decided that the 16 foot tall snowman the Powers family builds each Christmas is a danger to society, and they have given him a cease and desist order to not build him this year. Apparently it interrupts the traffic on their residential street. It's a sad, sad day when you can get arrested for building a snowman. I say we all build snowmen so that they can picket city hall. But for now, take off your hats and fly the flags at half mast. Snowzilla...may he rest in peace.

(Photograph from Anchorage Daily News)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frosty Friday

Here are a couple of pictures that I took yesterday near our house. Things are rather monochromatic this time of the year. Everything seems to look cleaner with a nice coating of snow.

Brandon is hoping for a big blizzard to hit some time today or tomorrow. A nice, thick blanket of fresh snow would be awesome for the sledding hill. Nothing says Christmas Break better than shooting down a steep bank on a slick piece of plastic. Jess, on the other hand, is hoping global warming will kick in and bring a heat wave of around 85 degrees. The forecast shows sunny and a high in the 20's, so neither kid is going to get their wish. Those are the breaks.

I'm throwing in this picture of Bob in the front yard as a bonus. I took this last winter, but I haven't seen him lately and missed him. Maybe this picture will bring Bob home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Fun

I love the way the trees look covered with hoar frost. It was even better yesterday when the skies were such a pretty blue. It was also about 7 degrees when I took this picture at lunch. Ugh! Gloves would have been helpful. :0) When I take Brandon to school in the morning, the sun is just starting to come up and everything is a pale blue gray. Lately, we've had a lot of ice fog in the morning, so even the sky is that color. It makes everything appear ghostly. I'll try to get a picture of it one of these morning. Things have been very busy lately, and I can't leave the camera in the vehicle when I am running around town (it's just TOO cold), so I haven't been taking as many pictures. Today is the last day of school until after the New Year, so hopefully it will slow down. Brandon's class had their Christmas party yesterday. They had a lot of fun. They even made gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. Everyone had their own style, and it was interesting to see what they were trying. A group of kids went for height, and were trying to get 4 or 5 stories out of their houses. Needless to say, they all ended up toppling over. One kid made Santa's outhouse. Interesting and practical. Brandon went for a nice two story with a garage. Also practical. As I was taking some pictures, I notice something strange about his shirt. "Is that the same shirt you had on this morning?" "Unh huh", he answered. "Didn't it have writing on it?" "Unh huh", he replied. "Is your shirt on backwards?" "Unh huh", he mumbled. Clearly I was interfering in his creative building process. "Why?" (You know you are wondering the same thing. Surely there is a reason.) "I just like to do it sometimes." Good enough. This does explain how the back of his shirt has food, paint or ink on it some days. "Would you mind turning it around so I can see the front?" "I guess." It's the little things.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tales from the Tundra

It's warmed up a little bit. It's around 14 degrees now. That's practically balmy. Everything is covered with a layer of frost, and that layer is now being covered with a thin layer of snow. It started snowing again an hour or two ago.

I remember once when I had a nice looking Christmas tree. Now there are hardly any ornaments from about the middle of the tree down. Tink steals them. If you aren't there to appreciate this act, then she will hunt you down and proceed to chew on the ornament in front of you. Whoever saves the ornament then tosses it back at the top of the tree where Tink might not be able to reach it. All of the ornaments are on the top third of the tree. I will be surprised if the tree survives Christmas this year. I will be surprised if the Tink survives Christmas this year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Fun!

Here is a link that we enjoy at Christmas time. It has some cute games for the kids to play for now, and on Christmas Eve, you can track Santa's route as he delivers toys to kids throughout the world. They also have fun things like the weather at the north pole, Christmas recipes, Santa's Karaoke, and holiday stories. It's a great site, so check it out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Snowy December Day

It snowed again yesterday. Fresh snow always makes it feel more Christmasy. (Is that even a word? Spell check says no, but I beg to differ.) This is the overhang on our front porch. Whenever it warms up a little bit, the ice and snow slowly slide down the metal roof and ease over the edge. Then it refreezes at night, and we are left with what look like huge fingers or paws reaching over the roof of the house. It gets very exciting when it warms up again, because then the ice and snow slide off and hit the ground with a big boom. One big chunk almost took out a neighbor on his back patio last year. It's best to keep an eye on things while you are shoveling off your patios and porches. As you can see, we are getting a lot of use out of our fire pit right now. You can almost hear the crackling fire and smell the marshmallows roasting. As I was standing in the doorway, taking pictures of interesting things out back, a big gust of arctic wind came through. I jumped back into the house, reached out to shut the door, and happened to look down. What interesting tracks. Some small creature has been checking out my back porch. Then I looked down at the stairs. That's my small creature! Apparently Tink crept out when I was taking a picture. She's lucky I looked back before I shut the door! We could have ended up with a Tinksicle. Of course I yelled at her. I explained to her that I was wearing socks and was in no way going out there to get her. She was not impressed. I explained to her that her spoiled little rear would be frozen in minutes if I left her out there. She took a bite of snow.

I told her she was being a royal pain and I was shutting the door now, cat or no cat. She decided her toes were a little chilly and began to casually pick her way through the snow to the door. Of course, you can't rush the Tink. With each step, she would raise a paw, shake the snow off of it and carefully place it back down. Ugh. I wouldn't have half this trouble if I had just gotten the kids a reindeer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The North Pole

What could be more cool than getting to visit Santa and Mrs. Clause during their summer off? North of Anchorage is Fairbanks. Just beside Fairbanks, is the North Pole. We went there two summers ago and visited Santa's house.
It was a lot of fun. The kids got to meet and talk with the Clauses in person. Santa does a lot of traveling (obviously), so he knows a lot about different locations. We had a nice conversation about Florida (we had just moved from there) as well as other places that we have lived. Don't worry, we put in a good word with the Big Guy for our friends and family, too. These reindeer were back in Anchorage, but I couldn't resist putting these pictures in here. Look how much the kids have grown! These were taken right after we moved to Anchorage 3 summers ago. Time has gone by so fast! Here is Brandon tyring to convince me that we need one of these as a pet. I have to admit, they are much better behaved than Tink. I can't see one of these tearing down my Christmas tree and ripping open gifts. It might be something to consider. I just have to talk Santa into taking a cat as a trade in.