Happy New Year!

A month of 2019 has already gone by, but the year is still relatively young. We had a wonderful holiday and hope the same is true for all of you.

(Quick note: Phoebe wrote some of the photo captions. She identifies herself with this cat symbol: ^_^ )

We traveled to Ohio and Pennsylvania to see as many relatives as we could. Fortunately, the cheapest plane tickets were for travel on Sunday, December 23, so we had that Saturday to get ready for the trip. You know how it is—you hardly have any space when you travel by plane, but somehow it still takes the whole day to pack. Our flight was at 6:00 a.m., so we left the house at 3:15 with the kids in pajamas. The airport was already reasonably busy, but we waited a few minutes for the walking bridge to Terminal A to open at 4:30 a.m. and breezed through security. We got McDonald’s and sat on the floor by one of the big posts to eat breakfast. I took the kids to the bathroom right around boarding time, and when we got back, it turned out that our gate had moved all the way across the airport, so we had to hustle. We still got on the flight with no problems, and the kids slept almost two of the three hours.

Grandpa met us at the Cleveland airport, and we stuffed his trunk full of huge bags. We drove to Sagamore Hills to eat lunch, and Dave and I had to wrap a few presents we’d shipped to Ohio. The kids played with Grandma and Grandpa. In the early afternoon, we took temporary possession of my dad’s old car and drove the couple of hours to West Mifflin to Grandma and Grandpa Gribble’s house. Unfortunately, Dave and I had come down with a bug, so neither one of us was really up for dinner. We spent an unpleasant night, but it was just a 24-hour illness, and we were able to go over to Erika and Heidi’s for the day on Monday. Grammie and Pappy were visiting too. The kids were delighted to see their cousins, and we had plenty of time to talk with the grownups. We opened a few presents and ate a delicious dinner: Heidi stuffed a pork loin, and we had cheesy potatoes, broccoli, and deviled eggs. All too soon, it was time to drive up to Allison Park for Christmas Eve worship at my brother N and sister-in-law Laura’s church. My parents were there too; N, Mom, and Dad sang in the choir. I really enjoyed worshiping with my folks. Afterward, we drove back to the Gribbles’ and managed to get everyone to bed after writing the obligatory note to leave with Santa’s cookies and Rudolph’s carrot. Benjamin was so excited about Santa Claus, he woke up at about 3:45 and shouted in my face (we were sharing a bed), “Mom, is it wake-up time?” I told him it was dark out and went back to sleep—until the next time, and the next, and the next, until it was finally morning.

mom and Ben playing Jenga
Cordelia, Phoebe, Benjamin, and Grammie in the living room at Erika and Heidi’s.
From left: Laura, Nathaniel, Betti, Chris, Phoebe, Jess, Benjamin, Dave
Christmas Eve photo. We clean up pretty nicely! We all attended Nathaniel and Laura’s church in Allison Park.
The grown-ups actually got to play a game with no kids roaming around.
Pappy with his granddaughters and grandson.
Don better retire soon so he can get started on all these bike rides!
Those are Phoebe and Benjamin’s school pictures they’re grinning about!
Grammie and Pappy admiring the pieces in the Liberty Puzzle.
Grandpa Grandson time
A bottle of whiskey for Erika and Heidi.
cousins photo shoot!
Pappy helps Benjamin with a present.
Aunt Heidi relaxing.
This is a pretty photo of Cordelia!
Opening presents!!!!!!
All the cousins and Grammie must be watching something interesting!
Phoebe’s very grown-up note to Santa.
Benjamin got to choose what went on the back.

The kids were delighted to find that Santa had come, even to Grandma and Grandpa Gribble’s house. Stockings were quickly dispatched, and we had plenty of time to play before the whole crew arrived at 2:00 p.m. (“Not a minute before!” they were instructed.) Santa had brought Phoebe a fox cross-stitch, but the instructions were limited, so we found a few YouTube videos to fill in the gaps. Without media, she stayed focused and almost finished the cross-stitch in a few hours. (Like so many crafts, even though it was a heartbeat from being complete, it’s still not done.)

He carried this present from Santa around for a while before it was time to open it
Waiting patiently to open the full stockings.
Santa brought Everest from Paw Patrol
Mommy opening a gift from Santa.
Santa came and left a note!
Dave got a book by Wynton Marsalis.
Grandma got a game.
Grandpa got a game too.
Oh my! Benjamin got Minecraft pajamas!
Of course, he put them on immediately.
Santa brought beaded ornaments made in Guatemala.
He also brought four pairs of 3D glasses that made everyone (even the grownups) very happy!
Because look! This photo was taken through one pair of glasses, looking at the lights on the Christmas tree.
Benjamin got a book about the Grinch; Phoebe was reading to him.
Playing with his new Batmobile.
Phoebe is learning to cross stitch and Jess is reading Wolf Hall. Must be vacation! That circle pin was Grandma Mazak’s.
Cross-stitching a fox.
You can see the fox starting to take shape.
Back to my book! It’s really good.

In the afternoon, Dave’s sister Erika and her wife Heidi arrived with the cousins, Genevieve and Cordelia. Sandy’s daughter Megan and her husband Jeff brought their four kids, Darren, Grace, Sarah, and Jessa. Megan’s brother Aaron and his wife Lisa were there too. Sandy made spaghetti for the whole crew, and it was delicious. A very nice change from the usual holiday roast! We had a lovely time visiting with everyone, culminating in a hilarious game of Funemployment, which Santa had brought for Sandy, and a few online Nintendo Switch contests.

Aunt Heidi snuggling Cordelia.
Nice to spend a little grown-up time with people we hardly ever get to see.
Grandpa flips through a book.
Megan, Sandra, Benjamin, Grace, Phoebe, Genevieve, and Sarah.
Kids’ photo: Phoebe, Genevieve, Sarah, Cordelia, Jessa, Grace, Darren, and Benjamin
From left: Sandra, Dave Sr., Jess, Dave Jr., Lisa, Erika, Aaron, Heidi, Jeff, Megan, Darren
Back row: Grandpa, Cordelia, Grandma, Jessa, Grace, Darren
Front row: Phoebe, Genevieve, Sarah, Benjamin
Now this is a nice Kodachrome-looking photo! Wiggly Cordelia.
The silly photo.
Trying out our new camera’s panorama function. Pretty good, although Megan has a mirror embedded in her back!

The day after Christmas we’d planned to go back to Erika and Heidi’s for some more time with the cousins and Grammie and Pappy, but Erika had fallen ill with the bug Dave and I must’ve brought with us. We ended up meeting Grammie and Pappy for breakfast at Eat N Park before they started the drive back to Ephrata. After breakfast, we grabbed some coffee and took the kids to a playground for a game of Benjamin’s new ninja ribbons and some obstacle courses. It was pretty great weather for late December in PA! Heidi dropped off the girls, and the cousins played all afternoon. They hated to say goodbye that night!

Getting ready to play Ninja Ribbons.
Starting an obstacle course.
Run, run!
so fun!
Monkey girl.
Bowing before a game of ninja ribbons.
Benjamin goes for one of Mommy’s ribbons.
Grandpa’s doing pretty well!
Heated competition.
Phoebe must’ve grabbed one!
Grandpa with the little kids.
Cordelia and Benjamin play with his new blocks.

On Thursday morning, we packed up Grandpa Hazelton’s car and left Grandma Gribble taking care of a very sick Grandpa Gribble. That stomach bug was no fun! The drive to Cleveland was easy, and we spent the rest of the day hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa whipped up a pair of stilts for Phoebe, and Benjamin ended up watching some afternoon TV in his pajamas with Grandpa.

Stilt Walking!!!!!!!!!!
Hard to get balanced.
Grandpa’s good at it!
Benjamin is watching TV; Grandpa is resting his eyes.

Friday we went bowling in the afternoon before Dave and the kids and I went over to the Otts’ for a Christmas party they were throwing for their dance-parent friends. We’d never seen their real house!

he shoots and he scores!

On Saturday at 1:00 p.m., the relatives joined us at Mom and Dad’s for another Christmas celebration. We had snacks, presents, and a lovely time. I actually had time to talk to almost everyone and really enjoyed myself!

so fancy
Benjamin does the job of the littlest kid—passing out presents.
Rita, Martha, Larry
Larry, Laura, Nathaniel
Matt talks to Lee, Erin is amused, Grandpa checks out the hologram glasses.
Cathleen thinks about Sarah’s pile of cards.
Caught Aunt Nancy in the middle of a thought!
Something strikes everyone funny.
Rita and Martha look a bit like sisters in those cable-knit sweaters.
Cindy must think something is fabulous!
Benjamin under the amazing cape Evers and Ashe made for him.
How do you put this thing on?
Larry and Nathaniel look pretty dashing!
Martha is disobeying Phoebe’s sign!
Matt, Erin, Linda, Evers, Ashe
Phoebe doesn’t like having her photo taken.
N and Laura
Benjamin might develop the Mazak nose yet!
Mom and Dad
Grandpa’s amused.
Happy Dave.
Phoebe helping to read the tags.
The gorgeous shawl Erin made Mom by shearing their sheep, spinning the wool, and knitting. Wow!
The Hazelton/Gribble clan!

On Sunday the 30th, we flew home. Naturally, no one could wait to open even more presents, so we opened gifts from friends and relatives who had sent them to the house. We had a couple of days before we had to go back to work and daycare (the kids still had a week of vacation left), so we had time to relax and get used to being back in Colorado. It was a wonderful holiday!

“WOW” I wonder what this is for?

Tired already.

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