October: Halloween and First Communion

October 1

Grammie sent a French chalet, and Phoebe built it.

On October 6, I flew out to Southern California to see my good friend Karen. We drove from the John Wayne airport to Carpinteria because we were going to meet a new friend, Cleta, for the Avocado Festival.

Ah, this is the life.
Waves rolling in.
Karen beating me at pool in a fun Irish bar in Carpinteria.

October 7

In the morning on Saturday, I went for a run and wound up on this lovely path that ended overlooking the ocean. I don’t seem to have taken any photos at the festival, but we had a good time. Wandered around and ate some amazing guacamole.

I’ve always loved hens and chicks…and this is outside aloe!
My brother N works at PPG.
Not a bad midpoint to a run!
The trail I found.

Karen with the huge pine.
This is what it’s like to walk down the street in California.
Even in October.

October 8

After the festival, we drove to Ojai to see where Cleta lives. After stumbling on a Shooter Jennings concert in the park, Karen and I spent the night in the guest room of the assisted living home where Cleta’s mom lives; the accommodations were excellent, and it was comparatively inexpensive. They have a beautiful rose garden. In the morning, we went to the farmer’s market, and Cleta drove us up to Meditation Mount, where there’s a peaceful retreat center with an amazing view. Then Karen and I drove to Santa Barbara.

The kids and I love eggplant, and these colors are just stunning.
I’ve always loved these multicolored flowers.
The view from Meditation Mount in Ojai.
Karen enjoying the view and the sunny day.
Cleta didn’t want me to take her picture.
Interesting to see the agriculture below.

While I was away, the kids did their annual painting of a window on a downtown Lafayette business. We always paint with Phoebe’s friend Fritz and his family. This was the first year Benjamin was old enough for his own painting!

Phoebe painted herself as the daughter of the goddess of light.
Benjamin painted a waterslide.
I think I heard that Fritz painted a haunted house. I love that ghost, center right.

October 9

Karen and I found the East Beach Grill for breakfast; I can’t imagine a better place to sit by the beach and eat!

Karen and I went to the East Beach Grill in Santa Barbara for breakfast after learning that it will soon close. The bathhouse was built in 1926.
The food was good, too!
Huevos rancheros.

October 11

The kids help make lemon poppyseed waffles.

October 12

I attended CALCON, the Colorado Association of Libraries conference, up in Loveland, for the second year in a row. I really enjoy spending time with librarians!

My conference idea. Cute, but it didn’t work.

October 14

My sister-in-law Erin had a conference in Broomfield, so she spent two nights with us. It was so fun to see her! I haven’t spent much time with her without my brother Matt around, so I enjoyed getting to do some “girl talk.” Dave was busy playing sax for the Longmont Theater Company production of Rocky Horror Show.

Aunt Erin reads with Benjamin.
Books, tickling, and relatives make for happy kids!

October 15

A big day! After two weeks of instruction in Sunday School, Phoebe and four other Mount Calvary kids were ready to take their first communion. Dave and I are so proud of our big girl—getting more mature every day!

Look! Our kiddo is welcomed to take communion.
Here’s her certificate.

We like to occasionally get together with some friends Phoebe made at Take-A-Break before they all went their separate ways for kindergarten. Sunflower Farm in Longmont turned out to be a lovely place to meet up for the afternoon.

Phoebe, Kylie, Calae
Old Take-A-Break friends: Benjamin, Cole, Kylie, Phoebe, Elaina, Isabelle, Calae
Phoebe said this photo looks like a postcard!
A view of the mountains from Sunflower Farm.
Just being a goofy kid.
Friends at the farm!

For dinner, I made a beef stew from the vegetables Phoebe brought home from a Take-A-Break field trip to Miller Farms.

Take-A-Break took the kids to Miller’s Farm, and Phoebe came home with the makings of an excellent stew.
The finished stew. It was delicious. (Thanks for the recipe, Mom!)

October 27

October is Halloween costume month, and Dave offered to buy me a new sewing machine to make this labor of love easier. Wow; even this fairly inexpensive machine is impressive! (It’s nowhere near as beautiful or classy as the lovely old Singer I’ve been using until now.)

My new sewing machine, promptly named “Comrade.”

Weather has rolled in and out all month so far; just right for fall.

Low-hanging fog in the foothills.

October 31

Grammie and Pappy left after a really nice visit. Apparently, we were having so much fun, we didn’t take any photos!

My coworkers always come up with a theme for Halloween, and several of us dress up in order to win the company costume contest (we’re a shoo-in).

Without James, our graphic designer, we’d be nothing. (Nothing but a woman in a wig with eight babies and an ex-husband).
At work, we dressed up as reality TV stars.
Back row: Deadliest Catch, The Apprentice, Bob Ross
Middle row: The Amazing Race, Jon and Kate Plus Eight, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
Front row: Dancing with the Stars

The kids had Halloween parties at school; after school, we joined the Brinkmans for pizza, beer, and trick-or-treating, as has become a family tradition. We went up and down a new street this time, and there were so many kids and parents out to experience a street full of fabulous and scary decorations!

And here she is! The daughter of the goddess of light!
See him sneaking around the corner like a stealthy ninja?
He’s not crying, I promise. I asked him to smile!
I know; it’s terribly fuzzy, but it’s such a cute photo of that smile!
I’m not sure, but this might’ve been a ninja move.
Phoebe’s vegetable skeleton.
Trick-or-Treating on a new street with the Brinkmans. There were hundreds of kids!
Benjamin looking after another trick-or-treater.

Mostly September

This will be our 300th published blog post! That calls for a little celebration and a big thank-you to anyone who’s still reading us after all these years!

Here are some photos from the very end of August and from September.

August 25

Pretty end-of-summer flowers.
I pass these on my way to work.

August 26

The Post had a little brew fest, so we went over at the tail end. Dave and I had a beer and the kids did a few of the kids’ activities.

Relaxing at the Post beer festival.
Hey, she’s good at hillbilly golf!

September 3

Benjamin was playing trucks all day; he spent a ton of time describing who was driving around in them. I managed to capture a bit of his imaginative play on video.

September 6

All the fires in the West blew smoke our direction, so we couldn’t see the mountains—or the sun—for a few days.

All the fires in California, Wyoming, and Montana made smog so thick we couldn’t really see the mountains.
The smog made a lovely sunset!

September 9

We drove into Boulder to hang out for the afternoon, which started with some delicious gelato.

Licking gelato out of a cup balanced on a cone.
Benjamin’s dark chocolate gelato must’ve been yummy!
Happy boy!

September 10

Benjamin has homework this year; he has to put the numbers from 1–10 in order on top of a picture, and he also has to learn the letters and sounds of the alphabet. Here he’s working on his numbers.

Working on some numbers homework.

We decided to replace the crumbling, sun-faded flooring in the front room with new vinyl tiles, the kind you can grout.

We finally decided to replace the crumbling vinyl tiles in the front room.
Hey, it looks pretty nice! (This is before the grouting.)

September 11

On picture day we took a white cake with chocolate frosting over to our church friend Clint, who had turned 59 that week. Phoebe did the decorating.

Phoebe decorated Clint’s birthday cake: “Happy 59th Birthday Clint Yay Clint”
She did a great job!
…and she ate some blue icing.

September 14

I looked over, and there was Benjamin riding the vacuum.

Riding the vacuum cleaner.

September 16

I did a sprint triathlon in Morrison in the morning. I was really nervous about the swim because I’d had so much trouble with the swim last year. This year, not only did I do a much shorter race, I also rented a wetsuit. It was the thick kind they use for scuba diving, and when all the other women in my wave were freezing waiting for the race to begin, I felt pretty warm. I ended up being happy with my performance all around! Unfortunately for Dave and the kids, it was a chilly day—great for exercise but tough on the spectators.

Waiting for the race to start. Everyone but me is freezing!
I’m just a few minutes from getting into the water.
Finished the swim…on to the bike.

September 18

Phoebe gets a weekly report card from her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Marshall. Things are looking good at the beginning of the year!

We love to hear that she’s an awesome role model and a voracious and fluent reader! (She does talk too much in class, and she did forget the first math homework of the year…but we’re still so proud of her!)

September 19

King Soopers had some key limes, which I’d never seen before, so I made this pie, using stale molasses cookies for the crust. It was delicious!

Homemade key lime pie with molasses cookie crust and homemade whipped cream.

September 22

We got new chairs for the conference room at work. It was really fun to put them together! It was a project that could actually be finished, for a change.

This is what work actually looks like (occasionally). Putting together new chairs for the conference room.

September 23

Benjamin is enjoying one of his three raincoats.

I’ll smile! Cheese!

September 24

Remember Clint, our church friend? His wife Carolyn turned 59 a couple of weeks after he did, so the kids helped make her a spice cake (with spice frosting!).

Making a birthday cake for Carolyn (spice cake with spice icing!)
Phoebe did much of the work herself. She’s getting very handy in the kitchen.

September 25

We dropped off Carolyn’s cake a few days before her birthday. Again, Phoebe did a great job with the decorations.

“Happy 59th birthday Carolyn”
Happy kiddo.
Wooo! I decorated the cake!

September 26

Benjamin’s fifth birthday! It was a busy day. I volunteered at Laps for Lafayette, Phoebe’s school’s annual fundraiser. The kids run laps around the field for 45 minutes. Then we all went to the dentist, ate burritos for dinner, opened presents, and stopped by the library to get Benjamin his own library card. He had a wonderful birthday!

Holy crow; the littlest Gribble is 5!
Phoebe coming outside to start Laps for Lafayette.
Marching with purpose.
Here she goes!
Phoebe ran 3.75 miles!
Running with her teacher and her friend Ellie.
Glowing in the fresh air.
“Benjamin’s” mocha cupcakes with espresso frosting. (He doesn’t like cupcakes, so I made them for the rest of us.)
The kids play with birthday balloons.
Paw Patrol lunch bag and new light-up Woody cowboy boots! That’s a happy Benjamin.
At quarter till closing on his birthday, Benjamin got his own library card! (My friend Karen said he’s downloading the information straight into his brain.)

September 29

As we waited for Dave to meet us at the coffee shop after school/work, Phoebe drew tattoos for the three of us.

Phoebe giving Benjamin a spider tattoo—with web!
Working hard.
This is a trapezoid with a pig-cat zoid inside. (Trust me!)
Phoebe drew herself a cat.
That tattoo looks pretty boss.
I’m delighted with this one Phoebe came up with for me!

First Day of Kindergarten!

Benjamin missed yesterday because of the eclipse, so he started kindergarten today. He and Dave made his lunch last night, and he and I walked to school while Dave dropped Phoebe off and met us at Sanchez. Benjamin was both excited and nervous on the playground, but he lined up and made it into his classroom to put his lunch in the laundry basket marked “Mrs. Rothman” and adorned with a picture of a ladybug. He hung his backpack on his hook and disappeared from our view.

Just before leaving our house to walk to Alicia Sanchez International Elementary School.
Here he is on the playground getting ready for his first day of kindergarten.
He’s hidden by his friend Alejandro (with the red backpack; they were in preschool together), but he’s headed into the classroom with the other new kindergartners!

After school we learned that he’d had a good day. Congratulations, little boy! You’re truly getting big.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

We had such a great weekend! A year ago, we were camping with our friends the Gawenuses, and Kevin was telling us about a total solar eclipse that was coming in August of 2017. He said we’d need to get a hotel room almost immediately. It sounded very interesting, especially to Dave, our amateur astronomer, but also very far away. The year flew by, and after all that time waiting, the weekend finally came!

After considering the hotel option, we instead planned to camp somewhere in the zone of totality, because our home in Colorado is only a few hours away from the total eclipse. As the date neared, we poured over maps of BLM land and tried to figure out just how packed the highways were truly going to be. About a week ago, Lisa Gawenus mentioned a new plan: her mom and dad live in Dix, Nebraska, which is about 2 hours from here and only 1 hour from the zone. What if we camped in the Hochstedler backyard and drove up to Alliance, NE, or thereabouts on Monday morning?

A brilliant plan! We were able to spend Friday night NOT scrambling to get out of town. In fact, Dave and Phoebe went to a talk up at the Berthoud Observatory while Benjamin and I did the grocery shopping for the coming week. Saturday morning I went for a run, we had our usual burritos at Cannon Mine, and the kids and I strolled around the Lafayette Peach Festival while Dave got a haircut.

The kids pose in front of the pattern they made in the huge Connect 4.
Benjamin inches his way down the bouncy slide.
He’s much more comfortable climbing up!

We packed up the camping gear plus a load of astronomy equipment and drove off after lunch. After an uneventful drive with nary a spot of traffic, we beat the Gawenuses to Dix and introduced ourselves to John and Dorothy, Lisa’s parents, who welcomed us with open arms. We set up our tent, had some dinner, and put the kids to bed. It was very civilized to brush their teeth in the bathroom! We four grownups stayed up drinking wine and beer and chatting, gazing up at the clear Nebraska skies.

A wind farm in Wyoming. Note that we’re busy passing someone while I take the photo.
Lisa’s parents’ house.
Lisa and Fritz playing frisbee.
Benjamin had to take a 3-water-bottle shower after a dinner of spaghetti.

Sunday we spent the day lazing around the yard. We went to the playground, and Kevin flew his drone with the kids.

Video of B on playground:

Kevin and the big kids flying the drone.
Enjoying the afternoon outdoors.

We ate tons of food and made a slightly amended plan for the eclipse, based on the weather. The Internet informed us that the Scottsbluff area was going to be better viewing than Alliance, so we planned to leave for there by about 6:45 a.m. We were on the road right on time.

After a little bit of driving around, we stumbled on Lake Minatare State Recreation Area in Nebraska. We ended up on a road that led out to a peninsula and an old lighthouse built during the WPA era in the 1930s. There were dozens of people there, but not a crowd, and we were right on a lovely lake. After a bout of morning fog, the sun was shining like crazy. We walked along the beach while Dave set up his equipment and played some of what Benjamin calls frisbee ball. It wasn’t too long before C1 (the first contact of the edge of the moon with the edge of the sun). We alternated playing games with putting on our eclipse glasses and gazing up at the ever-shrinking sun. I’ll leave Dave to tell you about all of his filters and wedges; suffice it to say, we had all the cool gear. Phoebe had brought a notebook and wrote a report about what was happening (of her own volition!)

Our eclipse setup.
Kevin and Benjamin watching someone put a boat in the lake.
Our telescopes with the lighthouse in the background.
The perfect spot along Lake Minatare, NE.
A small crowd. Benjamin was ever ready to throw this great frisbee Fritz gave him.
Phoebe checking out the moon’s progress.
Writing a note in her eclipse journal.

A motorcyclist from California who was eager to check out our setup.
The motorcyclist has been all over the world!
Reliable bike with lots of capacity.
Phoebe checking out the view through the filtered telescope.

The wind kicked up. The sky got darker. We watched the bite out of the sun get bigger and bigger. We met other folks watching the sky. We ate snacks. We were all more excited than we thought we’d be, and then the moon slipped directly in front of the sun. Later, we all agreed that the 2 minutes went by in a flash. It was beautiful and spectacular. It was far more moving and powerful than I expected. It was worth every minute of the preparations and more. Just like the eclipse chasers on NPR said, once you’re seeing it, you’re watching in awe while wondering how soon you can see it again. We could see Venus clearly, and the sky looked like sunset. It was dark! And the edges of the sun slipping around the edges of the moon were glorious and otherworldly. It’s so hard to understand how powerful the sun is, but seeing how bright our sky is with most of the sun obscured was a great object lesson.

The eclipsing sun through a filter.
Almost gone…
Here you can see the eclipsed sun and Venus together.
The lighthouse with the eclipse.
It’s just after 11 a.m., but it looks like sunset.
Wow. Look at those coronal flares!
Total eclipse.

While we waited for Dave to photograph and view C4, we climbed up in the lighthouse, which was really neat.

A photo of Kevin taking a photo of Dave’s phone attached to the telescope.
Benjamin learning how to look through the special glasses.
Toward the end, Benjamin got interested and started looking up with his big sis.

What a perfect day! Great friends, the perfect place to have a stunning experience, and a pretty reasonable amount of traffic. We were home in time to eat a pizza and get Benjamin ready for his first day of kindergarten tomorrow.

Dave and Benjamin reading together the night before his first day of kindergarten!
Fire in the Forest, a favorite Lego book.