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.

Happy Halloween!

I know, I know…we’re a little behind on blogging. (Okay, a lot.) I promise to catch up one of these days. But yesterday was a Very Important Day for children around the nation: Halloween! The Gribble kids had an extended holiday. We always start the season by painting windows at the businesses in downtown Lafaytte with Phoebe’s friend Fritz and his family. The kids got a spot at Eats and Sweets, a local ice-cream and sandwich shop, which meant that their paintings were probably seen by a lot of people!

Fritz’s window painting.
Phoebe’s half sun, half moon.
Benjamin drew all the characters from Paw Patrol. Or superheroes. You can see him inside the window.

The PTA at Benjamin’s school, Alicia Sanchez International Elementary, threw a Halloween bash last Saturday. There were art projects (Día de los Muertos skulls to color, Tootsie Pop ghosts to create, cookies and marshmallows to decorate); a costume contest; a photo booth; snacks; face painting; and dancing in the darkened, decorated gym. The kids were excited to try out their Halloween costumes!*

I insisted they be photographed before we could walk over to the party. Phoebe’s school friend Maggie Jane came along as a play date.

I asked him to do a superhero pose.

Turn around so we can see your cape! I’m so glad I decided to make the collar after all.
What a charming evil trickster pixie of stars!
Look evil!

This was the best photo I could get of the two of them together.
Waiting in line for face painting.
Frosting a sugar cookie. (Looks like she’s been eating the sprinkles, too!)
Phoebe’s school friend Maggie Jane.
Two happy third graders!
Spider art. (He asked for Spider Man.)
Getting inked.
Checking out his face painting.
This play date concluded with the girls saying “let’s read!” and each picking up a Raina Telgemeier book.
Disrobing the Robin costume.

On Monday night we had an evening free, so we carved pumpkins.

Cutting off the top all by herself this year!
I love this photo with her nose just sticking out of all that hair.
She’s getting to be a pro with that sharp pumpkin knife!
The boys are working on opening up Benjamin’s pumpkin.
Dave is showing Benjamin all the pumpkin guts.
Chase pumpkin (from Paw Patrol).
I think I did a pretty good job free-handing it!
Phoebe’s moon pumpkin.
She did a great job on that star!
Mommy’s little white pumpkin with the boring old jack-o-lantern face.

On Tuesday night our piano teacher, Walt, did a recital with a soprano who’s been singing with our choir, Paige Sentianin. We only stayed for half of it, due to bedtimes, but dressing up was encouraged and the kids got to wear their costumes again.

On Halloween morning, Benjamin came home from school sick and was disconsolate about missing the parade. After a check-up, I decided to bring him over to school to process across the stage with his class. He was feeling a lot better and was annoyed when I dragged him home again—he missed some sort of decorating project—but I had a phone meeting. Working parenthood!

It started to get pretty noisy as all the classes filed into the gym for the Halloween parade.
Benjamin wasn’t at all afraid to be up on stage with his class.

My colleagues always comes up with a theme for Halloween costumes. This year, we were “zombies through the decades,” based on a series of books we’re publishing on pop music through the decades. I had to pick up Benjamin, so I didn’t make it into the group photo.

I was going to be a hippie zombie, but I had to go pick Benjamin up from school before I could get zombified.
My coworkers dressed as zombies from the decades.

We trick-or-treated with the Gawenuses this year; the Brinkmans have grown up, and they went out with individual friends. While we missed seeing them, it was nice to be close to home. We ate some pumpkin-shaped pepperoni pizzas and Phoebe’s vegetable owl, and I made chocolate-chip-Werther’s-caramel cookies. Phoebe and I really enjoyed smashing the Werther’s with a hammer on the garage floor (in a baggie, of course).

Phoebe’s vegetable owl.

The Gawenuses’ neighborhood was wonderful for trick-or-treating; the big kids (Phoebe and Fritz) stayed out for an hour. Benjamin and I went back early to warm up (it was pretty chilly) and help Lisa pass out candy. When the big kids got back, they dumped their prodigious bags on candy into one huge pile and shared it out evenly. Benjamin got every “odd” piece; the fifth Hershey’s bar, the third Whopper package (which Phoebe kept pronouncing “Whooper,” to my delight). The redistribution was their idea and gives me great hope for the future. Everyone managed to eat a disgusting amount of candy before we dragged the kids home for bed.

Benjamin, Fritz, and Phoebe are ready to head out trick-or-treating.
Fritz, Phoebe, and Benjamin at the first trick-or-treat stop.
Robin is ready for the next house!

*Note: This year, Phoebe wrote “start sewing costumes” on the school lunch calendar on October 1. I don’t think I started until October 8, but I was pretty pleased with the results. Now the sewing machine is back in the garage, to be resurrected on October 1, 2019, or when I need to fix a seam, whichever comes first.

May 2018

May 1

Spring in Colorado.

May 5

Benjamin trimming new growth in the Canada clump-form cherry.
Phoebe using the loppers.

May 6

As you know, Phoebe and I have been taking piano lessons from Walton Lott, the accompanist at church. He’s an amazing pianist, and he’s been challenging us to learn some music theory along with playing the music on the keyboard.

Our piano teacher, Walt, on Sunday morning.

The first third of life committe, of which I’m the chairwoman, planned a youth Sunday. It went really well! The kids did a great job, and the adults really enjoyed having them as part of the worship service.

Sophie, Sarah, Julia, and Phoebe greet parishoners.
Alyssa holds the door.
Benjamin dressed all in blue for his big debut as a concierge!
The children and Amelia leading worship.
Bill Renfer, our nonagenarian, still singing in the choir.
The choir and the altar cloth (made by the children out of paper) on Youth Sunday.
Last song…with instruments!
Ben Wirth was the cross bearer.
The big boys messing around in the back of the sanctuary.
We have new babies!
All the kiddos. First row: Sophia, Benjamin, Sarah. Second row: Annika, Audrey, Julia, Phoebe, Alyssa, Thomas, John. Third row: Ella, Maggie, Ben, Sienna
Climbing the chain web at Peak to Peak.
Having a drink after good work on youth Sunday.
Benjamin loves chocolate milk.
Definitely worthy of a Band-Aid.

May 7

Benjamin is now enrolled in three therapies. Here he’s working with his physical therapist.

Working hard on the swing with Miss Lindsey.

May 11

Phoebe won an individual and team medal in the Noetic Math Contest!

Phoebe won two medals in the Noetic Math Contest!

Phoebe took a video of Benjamin’s first soccer practice:

Working on his soccer moves.

May 13

Even on Mother’s Day, the kids and I make our weekendly trek to the grocery store, but it enabled me to make a delicious beef stew.

I just liked the visual of Phoebe reading a book (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) on the back of the horse at the grocery store. Plus, they’re sharing!
Mother’s Day feast: beef stew and homemade challah.

May 18

Dave and I took the morning off work to enjoy first Phoebe’s second-grade class “Shelebration,” at which the kids acted out and recited Shel Silverstein poems from memory. Next, we watched Benjamin’s kindergarten carnival, which was a celebration of the end of the kindergarten year.


Rock ‘N Roll Band


Egg poem

Mirror poem

Kindergarten Carnival

Dressed up for his stint as a poodle. (Looks more like a rapper to me!)
Kindergarten portraits.
He must’ve been in his brown period.
There’s our little poodle!

Singing songs at the kindergarten carnival.

Poodle tricks

May 19

Phoebe and I were invited to Gwen and Bill Wharton’s house to watch the royal wedding with other church friends. We had to be there at 4 a.m., so we climbed out of bed and dr

Stretching during the royal weddingove into Boulder in the middle of the night. It was a great bonding experience—I think we’ll both remember it forever. And what a lovely wedding! Just as the eclipse turned us into eclipse chasers, this might’ve turned us into royal wedding junkies.
Jess, Phoebe, and Big Lion watching the royal wedding.
A scone and a digestive—fond reminders of England!
A few royal watchers: Gwen, her friend, Patricia, Elain, Phoebe, Tina, and Terry
Really cool Flatiron tiles in the Whartons’ bathroom!
This painting was in the bathroom too. I just love it.
Starting to wear out.
The inevitable consequence of the morning festivities!

Later that day, the kids and I joined the Gawenus family for Lafayette’s first Ninja Warrior festival. A Ninja Warrior gym just opened next to XTreme Altitude, the gymnastics facility. Lafayette is such a cool town! It was freezing that day.

Benjamin on the kiddo obstacle course.
Phoebe partway through the ninja warrior course.
Handling the web with no problem.
Crossing over to the Swiss cheese.
Scrambling as high as she can on the warped wall.

During Dave’s last performance of Gypsy with the Longmont Theater Company, he took a time-lapse video of all of his instrument changes.

May 20

After Dave’s Longmont Concert Band concert, he played in a saxophone quartet.

Saxophone quartet after the Longmont Concert Band concert.
Handsomest tenor player!

I caught only a few seconds on video:

May 21

This is Benjamin working with his occupational therapist. Mat man teaches kids to draw a body so they don’t draw arms and legs coming out of a head.

Drawing mat man.
Building mat man with Miss Brittany.

April 2018

April 3

I went on a field trip with Phoebe’s class to Sombrero Marsh in Boulder. I didn’t even know it was there! It was freezing that day, but we still had a marvelous time learning about birds, insects, plants, and animals.

Eating lunch at Sombrero Marsh on a cold, windy field trip.
Who packed that nice lunch?
Happy second-grader.
Really happy second-grader! (Or she’s waiting for a bug to fly in.)
Selfie at lunch.
Huge storytime.
Lovely view from the marsh.
Kids in the bird blind.
I can see Phoebe in the middle there.
Looking toward the north Boulder smokestacks.
Here’s the education building.

April 4

Benjamin had a fever and stayed home from school.

Sick kid.
Showing some sign of life.
Finally eating some crackers after 3 full days of sleep.
Matzo ball soup (left untouched, alas).

April 8

I’ve never seen him draw a mouth before, but this is one happy car.
Rocking the trike!
Phoebe wasn’t feeling well enough to read to a dog, so we took a photo for her. Benjamin got to pet him gently a couple of times.

April 9

Now Phoebe’s home from school.

Reading Harry Potter on a sick day.

April 12

The Alicia Sanchez kindergartners had a choir concert. This time, Benjamin was appropriately dressed! (More or less.) It’s early June now, and he’s still singing some of the songs from their performance. It was terrific.

Kindergarten concert. Who’s that nonchalant businessman right up front?
Check out the socks and Lightening McQueen sandals. Next tech billionaire? Or Big Lebowski?
We’re all done!

April 14

Some work friends and I got together to bake Mittens the Cat Cake, an incredibly complicated recipe Jane discovered on NPR around Thanksgiving.

Mittens the Cat Cake.
The chocolate and pumpkin mousse interior.

Phoebe fell in love with Harry Potter and read it over and over.

Final page, book 1, Harry Potter.
Hmm. This might actually be the final page.

April 17

This is the second of the two Mittens the Cat Cakes. This one also had gelatin issues, but it’s so pretty!

April 23

Benjamin did ten weeks of physical therapy at KidSPOT, which is owned by his first physical therapist, Jessica Fuentes! He worked hard, had fun, and progressed a lot. He earned his hot chocolates. (KidSPOT is located below Vic’s Coffee Shop in Louisville.)

Hot chocolate with a bendy straw after a physical therapy session with Miss Lindsey.

I interviewed the kids about their plans for being a grown-up.

April 24

Turns out, melty beads are very relaxing! I made this for my friend Jenn, who got a new job.

April 25

This must almost be the end of the snowy mountains for the year.

April 26

Benjamin was working on a melty bead project and singing a song from his school concert.

April 27

I tried to get Benjamin to come to Take Your Children to Work Day, but he declined. Phoebe came with me the day after the official day; BVSD schools were closed because so many teachers were marching in Denver for better pay and more money for schools.

Working on snap circuits in “her” cubicle.
Drinking hot chocolate and working on a puzzle.
Finally working! My colleague Robin asked Phoebe to open a bunch of envelopes from the Copyright Office.
Take Your Children to Work Day.
Now Robin has her unpacking books.

Third year in a row taking this photo in front of the ABC-CLIO logo!
What a cutie.

April 28

Phoebe won first place for second- and third-graders in the Lafayette Youth Poetry Awards! She was invited to a reception to read her poem, which was truly wonderful.

Phoebe reading her prize-winning poem.

The judge for the poetry in English explaining his thought process on Phoebe’s poem.
Benjamin and his apple sitting on a peacock sitting on a frog. Public art!

April 29

California rolls for lunch.
Pam’s apple tree in bloom.
Looking up through the branches of the apple tree.
Snapped this one at the library because Phoebe looks like a grownup with keys in one hand and a shopping bag in the other.
That little perch must’ve been made for kiddos!