Sangray Adventures 2010 & 2011 I Can’t Believe I Missed Another Year! If you keep track, you did not get the annual Sangray newsletter last year. I’m sure you were wondering what ever happened to us and you couldn’t wait to find out! I will attempt to fill you in.
From the Dome of the US Capitol, Washington DC
We don’t write. We don’t call. We rarely email. We seldom Facebook. We don’t tweet or twitter or anything like that! But we DO send out an annual recap of what we have been up to!
If you are one of those that don’t care for long Christmas letters, you might wonder why I bother. Here are some very good reasons why.
Recently Brad lost an old friend in a terrible accident and it gave us time to pause and reflect on our lives and the friends we have made along the way.
Also, as we have looped our way across Montana over the last twenty years we have made a lot of friends here and there, and making lots of moves always leaves dear friends far away. As we seem to lose track of each other, it is important for us to let you know we still consider you a friend and we want you to share in our life, despite the distance. So bear with me, I like to share our experiences and hope you will share yours, we really do like to know how you are too.
For all of you that LOVE to get and send long Christmas letters, I will do my best!! I absolutely can’t wait to get yours!
WARNING: Fun Stuff Only I only share all the fun stuff! So don’t feel bad if it seems like all we do is go have fun! We do work, we do not-so-fun monotonous stuff and we do get on each others nerves!
Brad and I’s 20th Anniversary golﬁng Big Sky
Brad spends six months in a suit in Washington DC! You have to see the picture to believe it!
The Big Story
First off, I must explain why I did not write to you last year. Last summer Brad was accepted to a fellowship with the Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms in Washington DC. He left for his 6 month tour the end of November 2010. He came home for Christmas and then the kids and I joined him the end of February for three months. Preparing my annual Christmas letter is a team effort, so it wasn’t going to happen last year. I’m a bit late getting this done this year too because I am the editor of the annual Montana Hope Project newsletter which is also due right now! (go to www.montanahope.org to see the website I manage and to see the newsletter, it will be posted soon.)
So… Back to early 2010 Home schooling is such a part of our life now that we are pretty much always “doing school”. We all can hardly wait to get our new school books in the fall and we like to get a head start in August so we can take the car rally and hunting camp off. We especially enjoyed our extended field trip to DC which fit in conveniently with our study of American History. Sports: Kaden kept busy with sports and loves playing baseball, soccer and even tried swim team. Brooke too plays all the sports available, but it’s all about the social aspect for her. The little girls would all sing songs while sitting on the bench cheering on their softball team mates, it was too cute.
Memorable Easters Celebrating the Risen Lord Easter 2010 was spent at Big Sky skiing the Yellowstone Club with friends. The skiing was awesome, but the kids’ favorite part was the goodies at the “sugar shacks” on various runs! We spent Easter morning at the sunrise service on top of the Yellowstone Club ski area; it was quite memorable! We never could have imagined that in 2011 we would spend Easter at the sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC!
Home Improvement The winter 2010 project was the guest The July bathroom. It is done and purple and ready for guests! The summer 2010 Deck Party project was the deck! It is really more than a deck, it is a storage shed was in with a deck on top. I made a schedule (imagine that!) of the deck project November! and anticipated having a “deck party” by July. Well it rained all of May and June! Then the enclosed shed walls, drainage system and sliding door took way more time than we thought it would. Well the project was declared complete in November and we had the party! It became a birthday party for me, going-away party for Brad and a deck party all in one. It worked great since I always like to be efficient anyway! But it’s done and we thoroughly enjoyed it THIS summer! The kids and I ate out there about every day and we had lots of dinners too! When we first started building our house we looked longingly over at our neighbors watching us work from the luxury of their deck. Now we get to watch our new neighbors built their house. With enough time, dreams really do come true! :) Summer 2011 Tea Party on the deck with Grandma and Grandpa Wilke
Kaden and I were talking about the disgusting trend to have huge holes in your ear lobes. We were laughing about how they will look when they get old and their ear lobe is hanging down to their shoulder! Kaden said, "as I walk by he’ll say, “Hey, do you want to put your elbow in my ear (hole)!””
Brad still thinks he’s pretty funny! To entertain our tractor collecting friend from England, we found a local tractor collector that agreed to show us his collection. We wandered for hours through rows and rows of old restored tractors. Brad and I and the kids followed along, without much knowledge or interest to engage in the enthusiastic conversation of the actual collectors. At one point they were discussing a certain part of a tractor and Brad pipes in, “well that wasn’t on the ’35”. Both our friend and our host looked at him like he was crazy, (or that he might be right and they were searching their memory so they could either agree or refute his claim.) In all reality, Brad had no clue what they were talking about or whether or not the ’35 had that particular part or not. They stopped and laughed at the joke for only a moment before continuing their discussion, but Brad got to get a word in!
Brooke and cousin Maddi in Arizona October 2010
Brooke’s Princess Birthday, age 7, 2010
Our niece Maddi had a difficult 2010 with medical issues and ended up having extensive surgery. Brooke and I flew to Phoenix to visit Andrea and Maddi and Grandma Barb met us there. Maddi was much improved and we had a nice time catching up and helping out. We did however miss elk camp. Kaden had a blast at elk camp and bagged 7 squirrels! He doubled that this year with 14 squirrels. He has his own “game pole” to hang them all on and he can’t wait to hunt BIG game next year. He is now in the rifle club and shoots every week. One night he even shot a 50, the highest score possible. He’s quite a shot off the rests and looks forward to growing some muscles so he can shoot off hand! Fourteen Squirrels at Elk Camp
We made a three day float trip on the Missouri River through the White Cliffs with friends. We began the adventure with a drenching down pour! Then we spent time alternating between The Chutes inhaling gasoline exhaust under the canopy we on the rigged over the boat, and baking out in the sun Missouri between rain showers. Other highlights were River “Camp Cowpie”, scaling the rock face to get to the famous “Hole in the Wall”, and walking up “the chutes” (water eroded gullies along the river). We also had a good laugh when a bystander’s picture of all of us at “the Hole” zoomed in and left out the “hole”!
All of us at the “Hole in the Wall”, but you can’t tell
We purposely made some trips during the summer to visit family and friends, and to take a break from the deck project! In June we headed to our condo at Big Sky and then the end of the month saw us enjoying the festivities at Fort Benton Days and then the Augusta Rodeo. To catch up with our Cut Bank friends we also went to Lewis & Clark Days.
There is the Hole!
At our Big Sky condo
Washington DC Sites: Ice Skating Rink at National Mall, Tenleytown Heritage Walk, National Cathedral and organ recital, Museum of American History, Wizards versus Chicago Bulls, Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, National Mall , White House, Ford Theater, FBI building tour, Law Enforcement Memorial, Museum of Building where President’s Inaugural Balls are held, National Historic Assoc Museum (has story of Billings and the menorahs from 1993 “Not in our Town”)
The Funny Part of the ATF Story: When Brad applied he thought the application said he’d have to wear a suit to conferences and meetings, but could wear business casual most days. He applied, got it and then reread the app. It was the other way around, to Brad’s dismay. He actually said he would not have applied had he known he’d have to wear a suit every day! But, he actually got used to the suit and tie and it wasn't nearly as bad as he imagined it would be. And, he is very glad he did it. It was a great experience for him and stretched him a bit AND he can tie a Windsor!
Washington DC 2011 What an amazing experience! The kids and I joined Brad the end of February and stayed until June. We were there after the snow and before the humidity, so I absolutely loved it! We did our school work in the mornings, ate lunch and then headed out to the museums until 7 or 8pm everyday. We were exhausted all the time. Kaden wore the soles off two pairs of shoes! (no joke!) We walked everywhere. We lived 3 blocks from the National Mall, right by the National Archives. We were 15 minutes to most museums and the capitol. We were out everyday seeing museums and monuments, simply absorbing history! It was awesome! Brad joined us on the weekends for more excursions. I came home with 4000 pictures that I made 5 hour-long movies out of and the stories fill a journal. We are thankful for the opportunity to go and we learned so much about our country’s history and government. Throughout the letter you will see a list of all the places we got to see. Walking home after hearing the Marine Chamber Ensemble at Navy Yard, Brad said a funny thing, “Well, this is something we don’t ever get to do.” He was not referring to getting to hear extremely talented musicians, he was referring to the four of us with our umbrellas walking down the street in the pouring rain! It doesn’t take
Taking a break with George Mason
much to impress us Montanans!
“Feet versus Feat” The kids and I got all the logistics worked out to go to DC; we got packed, secured house sitters, winterized the house, and we got on the train for DC the last week in February. We were learning homophones in English and I had a great explanation for “feat and feet”. It was a great “feat” that I got us all to DC! Part of our traveling adventure included escorting 50lbs of elk meat in a cooler! It would have all been no problem had we not missed our connection in Chicago and had to spend the night. Just imagine one Mom, two kids that cannot be left alone (for very long), more carry-on luggage than the three of us can carry at one time…. That’s enough variables to make an interesting story. Just getting us all from the curb to the check in counter was another “feat”!
Kaden Plays Football this Year! This year I relented and Kaden played flag football during the summer. It kind of eased me into the whole football thing since it’s not any more contact than soccer. Well then the real football sign ups came around and I was a bit anxious to say the least. Kaden and Brad convinced me that it would be fine and Kaden would play “safe” positions so he wouldn’t get creamed! Kaden is very strong and athletic, but that doesn’t do much good when your peers are a good foot taller and have 20-30 pounds on you! He actually did do fine and he had a blast. He was the smallest player and was commended by his coach for working so hard to learn the game and for being brave enough to go out there and face the “big kids”.
No Major Projects This Summer! After building the deck all last summer, we did not attempt so ambitious a project this summer. We did get a dozen or so trees and bushes though, and I got the garage ceiling mud, taped and painted (Brad assisted)!
Summer Time Fun: My sister Andrea & niece Maddi came home in August 2011. The kids and I met them in Wisdom and packed in a week of fun and adventure! We had a reunion with my old college buddies, Darlene and Marla; we swam at Lost Trail Hot Springs; kayaked and fished Twin Lakes; dug for crystals at Crystal Park; swam at Elk Horn Hot Springs; floated the Big Hole River; Kaden got a driving lesson in the Jeep; fished the creek at “The Ranch”; and took a tour of the old mining claims in the Jeep. And for those of you keeping track of Maddi, she had a rough summer with extended stays in the hospital again. But, as of now she is doing well and gaining weight, so we are thankful for that! Brad missed out on all these adventures as he was with his Dad who was having heart surgery. Grandpa Sangray gave us all quite a scare, but we are thankful to say he is doing well and made it to elk camp and filled the freezer with meat.
More Washington DC Sites we saw: Marine Chamber Ensemble Concerts at Navy Yard, National Zoo, Congressional Offices, Capitol Tour, House and Senate Floors, (we saw a vote!), Kennedy Center, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Capitol Civil War and Brumidi Tours, Arlington, Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, World War II Memorial, Vietnam & Korean Memorials, FDR Memorial, Old Town Alexandria, Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, Patrick Henry College, Parental Rights.org Headquarters, Winchester VA to visit our friends the Garneaus, Rose Hill Civil War Battle Site, Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center, Iwo Jima Memorial, Georgetown, Einstein Statue, Cherry Blossoms! George Mason Statue
Kaden is 10! Kaden turned 10 in January while Brad was in DC. I thought I was Mom enough to have a sleep over birthday party anyway! I took Kaden and three boys skating first. That went fine. But by 10pm I was wishing my voice was deeper and more forceful. The boys were “wound up” to say the least. Even Kaden said that he thought that it would be a good idea to only have one boy stay at a time. I won’t argue with that logic!
After our exhausting spring in DC, you’d think we’d take it easy when we got home, right!? You must not follow our annual letters very closely if you’d believe that! Here’s what we packed in:
Big Sky conference and golfing. I got the prize for the “Women’s Closest to the Hole!” If I was a great golfer, that would be called bragging. But the truth is, I golf about one time per year, usually at a scramble for some conference or meeting Brad attends. I golf so infrequently that I always have “beginners luck” the first few holes. Well, the “Women’s Closest to the Hole” prize was on my first hole! I really whacked it and it landed on the green, to my utter astonishment! I had a terrific putt too, about 20 feet and I had two awesome chip shots onto the green. If you clipped and edited the footage of my golf game that day and just showed those shots, you would be amazed! If you saw what ended up on the cutting room floor you would have a better perspective on how I actually play! Like when I say, “I was just practicing” when I actually completely missed the ball! It was sure fun though and a beautiful day for Brad and I to celebrate 20 years of marriage while at Big Sky. Augusta Rodeo. We go every year and realize all the kids are getting so much younger looking! On the way we spent a few days at Fort Benton Days. Family Camp at Hungry Horse. Our second year attending and we love it! We stay all week and go to church twice a day and hang out with friends the rest of the day. It is so relaxing & refreshing, physically & spiritually. Other Adventures: We went to the lake by Havre a few times, had some picnics and went for some hikes. We camped at Elk Creek at Augusta and climbed Lone Chief Mountain again and tried to enjoy all the sunny weather we could!
Pre-League Kaden said that Tee-League (baseball) should be called “Pre-League” because it is before C League. Makes sense to me.
Brooke’s Memorable 8th
Brooke turned 8 on the train home from DC. We celebrated from DC to Chicago. Then we ran into a road block, namely flooding all across Puffed Up! the prairies! We’d have been stranded for Brooke told me “that picture of you as weeks in Chicago with 12 pieces of checked baggage and 12 pieces of carry-ons if it wasn’t a cheerleader is hilarious… with your for some fast thinkhair all puffed up!” Hey! I was stylin! ing. After we exWhile hausted all our opunpacking at tions: wait it out in Chicago, get a rental, get a U-Haul; Brad endhome we heard ed up flying home and the kids and I escorted all the luggage a song on the across the country on the California Zephyr. The closest to radio about the Montana we could get was Salt Lake City! It all worked out, and “California was a memorable birthday for Brooke. She hopes next year is Zephyr”! less memorable and more fun! We did have a belated birthday party after we got home and she had a pink elephant cake.
6th and 7th Annual Going to the Sun Car Rally The 2010 route was awesome! We stayed at Teton Naonal Park by Jackson Hole WY, and we also stayed at Sun Valley (along with familiar places like Missoula and Bozeman). It was a spectacular trip. Our route this year took us through Waterton, Banﬀ, Lake Louise and back through Whiteﬁsh to Helena. As always, we had a great me. The weather was beauful! This year we auconed oﬀ the kids to beneﬁt a patrol family facing medical expenses from an injury. It was the highlight of the aucon when Kaden and Brooke wheeled their suitcases up to the front! It was hysterical!
Grandma Barb said that Kaden was “full of what makes the grass grow green.” Kaden immediately proclaimed, “That would be chlorophyll!”
Brooke is a “stuffer”. She stuffs things everywhere and collects everything! One day she said, “I found a dollar in my purse when I was looking for my pajamas.” I asked why her pajamas were in her purse and she said, “That’s where I keep them!” And she does!
Even more DC sites we got to see:
Brooke keeps herself busy!
Historical Society Museum, Smithsonian Castle, Asian, African and Freer Museums, National Portrait Gallery and American Art, Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (front row seats!), DC United Soccer game, Native American Indian Museum, National Archives, Navy Museum, Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum, Botanical Garden, White House, Lafayette Park, Renwick Art Gallery, FDIC Building, Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum, Eastern Market, Ronald Reagan International Airport Park, Lincoln’s Waffles! Old Post Office, Tidal Basin Paddle Boats, State Department tour, US Capital Rotunda Tour, Folger Shakespeare Museum, Postal Museum, Ford’s Theater and a Play!, Holocaust Museum, White House, Treasury Tour, Ronald Reagan Building, Roosevelt Island, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Law Enforcement Memorial, Candlelight Service Law Enforcement Memorial during Police Week,
Brooke is in 3rd grade this year and likes to do her best work. She likes math, history and is reading exciting books now. Brooke loved Vacation Bible Schools this summer, played soccer again this year, and loves art. She got some pointers from a real artist while we were at the American Gallery of Art in DC. She has no fear and will try anything Kaden will. Even some things he won’t. At the Big Sky Waterslide, Kaden would not go down the “Kamikaze "until Brooke went a dozen times first! Brooke loves swimming and is turning into a fish just like Kaden. They took full advantage of the pool at our apartment in DC; unfortunately, Brooke’s hair turned green! Brooke loves sleep overs! Sometimes Moms wonder if she’ll be “alright?” I just laugh because Brooke has never hesitated going on a sleep over. She’d stay a week if she could, especially if they have cats or dogs! The kids and I went to see an Elvis impersonator. Grandma Sangray has always claimed Elvis was her boyfriend, which the kids can’t quite figure out. During the performance, I think when “Elvis” had his skin-tight black leather suit on, Brooke turned to me and gushed, “Now I know why Grandma loves Elvis… Because I love him too!”
Outside DC Tours! Mount Vernon, Bethany Beach Delaware, Winchester VA, Massanutten, VA, Luray Caverns and Maze, New Market Battlefield, Montpelier, Harper’s Ferry, Shanksville Flight 93 Memorial,
Fort Benton Days Trooper on the Field at the Cat Game
The deck begins in May. Complete in November
Heinz History Museum, Heinz Steelers Stadium, Allegany and Mamogahela Rivers, Mount Washington Incline rail ride, Pamela’s for breakfast, Science Museum, “The Point”, Aspinsall Memorial Day Parade
Philadelphia PA Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, President’s House, Carpenter’s Hall, Market East, Betsy Ross House, Christ’s Church, Elfreth’s Alley, Franklin Court, Franklin Museum, City Tavern, Samuel Powell House, Penn’s Landing, Dr Physick House, Rocky’s Philadelphia Art Museum
Brooke on the Kamikaze!
The Kamikaze at Big Sky Water slide in Columbia Falls
Cut Bank Friends
Fishing the Ranch at Wisdom
Kaden earning his keep at Family Camp
After calling my newsletter complete, Brad reminded me I forgot to tell the most important stuff: about hunting season! First of all I’d like to explain a few terms: Spike: Young bull with spikes for antlers. Rag Horn: Bigger than a spike, but a young small bull with small antlers. You don’t brag about the size of any of the above elk, except that they are meat in the freezer. When you get a mature bull with some big antlers with some mass then you describe it by the number of points: a 6 point, a 6x7, etc. So, Brad got a 5 point rag horn in 2010. In 2011 as Kaden described Brad’s elk to me over the phone, he declared that it was a 2x3! Knowing Kaden’s quick wit, I will tell you he was not confused about the appropriate terms, he was getting in a little jab on his Dad! Brad and I were also drawn for a damage hunt just last week and came home with 3 more cow elk to fill our freezer and even a few friends’ freezers!
We hope to hear from you! Please write back! We would love to hear from you. I check my email almost daily (email@example.com) and I am on Facebook too. As we reflect on the past two years, we are thankful for the abundance of fun times, friends and family that the good Lord has blessed us with. We hope that as the year wraps up that you too will reflect on your blessings. As we have celebrated Advent in anticipation of Christmas, we have been reminded afresh of the plan of Salvation that God put into motion at the very beginning of creation. The plan to send God in the flesh to us as a Savior from sin and death. Rejoice with us that we can receive His mercy and forgiveness and eternal life as we place our trust and hope in Jesus. Our hope is that you too will be rejoicing in God’s love and grace and celebrating Christmas with a deliberate eye on Jesus, the Risen Lord, Our King and Savior. Warmest Regards, The Sangray Family
Brad, Kathy Kaden and Brooke
2011 Christmas letter