Ouray Ice Festival 2019

This year, my dear friend Karen Williams flew out from California to go to Ouray with us. She arrived on Wednesday while we were attending Phoebe’s learning fair, so her friend Zazou picked her up from the airport and drove her to our house. She survived a night on our futon, and in the morning she was cheerful about watching terrible cartoons with the children. I got up early and went for a run before packing up the car for the trip. Dave had a work phone meeting, so he went to the coffee shop, and we all piled into Cherry Blaze to go and meet him. Alas, when I pressed the starter button, the engine wouldn’t turn over. Dave came back and disassembled the battery while we watched some more terrible cartoons. He went out to the auto parts store, bought a new battery, and installed it. Then we all piled back into the car and went to get some burritos for breakfast. It was snowing like the dickens when we headed out, which meant it was going to be a long drive. Hero Dave drove the whole way, often in blowing snow, and it only took us 7.5 hours, including stops.

Coconut (Benjamin’s favorite Christmas stuffie) is wearing a french-fry box hat.
Little Lion looks pretty cool in Jess’s sunglasses.

We unloaded the car at Alpenglow Condo #6 and went out for dinner—Karen stayed behind because she hadn’t been feeling well throughout the car ride. Poor thing! The Gribbles enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Ouray Brewery. I had something called the loaded bowl: quinoa tossed with sauteed spinach and mushrooms and topped with sweet potato crisps, house-made romesco sauce, fresh avacado, and a fried egg. Yum! We all went to bed pretty early that night, worn out from the drive.

In the morning on Friday, Dave and I went out reasonably early to find a climb. We got a cup of coffee at Mouse’s and walked up the hill. After checking out a few things at the tents, we hiked up to South Park and were actually able to find a spot a few showerheads from the downclimb. One of the things I love best about the climbing in Ouray is the walk from town up to the climbs. It’s so strenuous and familiar, thudding through the snow in my heavy plastic books. I’ve seen the same scenery so many times, and it’s so beautiful every time. I know where all the little hills are, and the new outhouse, and the ladder over the pipe. Our climb was fairly easy, which was a nice reintroduction to waterfall ice. Dave and I each climbed twice, and then we packed up; we had promised to be back at the condo for lunch.

In the canyon during the Ouray Ice Festival.
Looking the other way.
Our Friday climb.
The river was running between these two boulders.
Dave at the top of our climb.
A bluebird day!
Starting to get busy in the canyon.
Climbs near ours.

Karen and I went to the grocery store to get some lunch food and supplies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next day. We made some sandwiches and had a few chips and vegetables.

The view out the window of our condo. (Photo by Phoebe)
Close-up of the mountain out our window.

That afternoon, we went down to the hot springs pool for a couple of hours. They did quite a bit of work on it during the past year; it was wonderful before, but now it’s just amazing. After the hot springs, we had dinner at the Outlaw; I look forward to it all year, but Phoebe always complains that it’s creepy in there. I managed to enjoy my 6-oz. filet despite her disapproval. (The kids ate spaghetti.) We went back to the room for a little while before Karen, Phoebe, and I went to hear a DJ and then a roundtable being given by four women climbers and mountaineers to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the climbing school Chicks with Picks.

Each person is on an electronic device!
The stage for the 20th-anniversary celebration of Chicks with Picks.
Jess and Karen at the presentation.
Hilaree Nelson, Kitty Calhoun, Caroline Gleich, Steph Davis

The next morning, Dave and I left about half an hour earlier to try to get an even better climb than the day before. We took the bus that runs during the festival and hiked straight up to South Park. We were indeed early enough, and we got a terrific climb; there was a good place to stand to belay, and we could attempt a couple of different routes on the same rope. Being earlier, it was a bit colder, but when a couple of guys asked if they could hop on our rope, of course we said sure. I assumed they’d be very good climbers and sprint up, but they took their time while I froze. I was starting to feel somewhat miserable when, lo and behold! The sun came out. My temperature and my mood both warmed right up, and we had a great morning of climbing.

The town of Ouray, looking back down the hill.

Our Saturday climb is the waterfall ice to the left of the photo. The tree in the foreground made a great belay anchor.

You have to have a keen eye to see the rope attached here for the walkdown. With all the snow, the walkdown was the least sketchy in years!
There’s Dave up top.
A wider view of our climb.
I love this photo of Dave throwing the rope! Look carefully above his head.
My pack nestled in an out-of-the-way spot.
This is the other side of the canyon. See my pack under the tree.
Jess climbing. (Nothing too fancy!)
The guy halfway up in a blue one-piece suit is climbing on our rope.
Look at that gorgeous sky!
Dave heading up. The sun has come out.
Looking back down the road at the mountains that surround Ouray.

We got back to the condo at noon and had some lunch with Karen and the kids. Then we all bundled up and took the school bus up to the lower bridge. We watched some of the climbing competition, checked out the gear tents, and moseyed up to the upper bridge, but Phoebe decided she wasn’t up for climbing with the Kids Climbing School this year. It was a great day to be out, and we saw some incredible climbing in the competition!

I’m not totally sure, but this might be Liam Foster attempting the competition route.
He made it to the hanging box! Climbers weren’t allowed to hook a hand, foot, or tool on the top of the box.
Moving around to the side.

Nope, he didn’t fall off at that point!
Still maneuvering.
Upside down with his foot hooked over the only sizable hold on the climb.
Almost to the second trapeze.
Reaching for the hold on the back of the box. He didn’t win this competition (that was Sam Elias), but he did win the speed climbing competition on Sunday.
I can’t remember who was wearing the red European pants, but they were made much of by the commentators.

Karen wearing the hat her niece knitted.
Our only photo of Phoebe outdoors.
Karen, Benjamin, and the mammoth bottom.
Mommy and Benjamin.
Marianne van der Steen, who won the women’s mixed climbing competition. Men and women compete on the same route.
In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s still bitter cold out there.

I love this photo with her ice axe clenched in her teeth.

She was just about here when she ran out of time. (Competitors have to finish the route within 11 minutes.)
The crowd urged her to keep climbing, and she obliged!


Lowering down to plenty of applause.

Back at the condo, we made spaghetti for dinner and Karen and I took the kids to the hot springs pool while Dave went to hear Marcus Garcia and Nick Bullock give presentations.  We spent one more night in town and headed home in the morning. The drive was easy, and we got Karen back to Zazou’s house in Boulder just as it was getting dark. Another amazing Ouray Ice Festival in the books!

Adorable hat hair!
Karen as we get ready to leave condo #6.

Phoebe promised to put together a presentation for her class, so I helped with the slide show while she wrote an account of the trip, which follows.

Thursday, January 24
Friday, January 25
Saturday, January 26
Sunday, January 27


January 21

We had a great time ice skating with the Wilensky Berzanskises on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Phoebe, Whit, Tilley, Milam.

January 2019

The Lafayette Oatmeal Festival, which was called off by Quaker Oats but re-negotiated by some folks in Lafaytte, was January 12. Dave dislikes both oatmeal and running, so he stays away, but the kids and I love the festival, and we’ve been joining up with my friend Karen Maye for a few years now. This year (like last), Phoebe’s friend Fritz came along. It was the day after the first real snowfall of the year and pretty cold, so we bundled up. Karen brought one of her dogs, Biscuit, and Benjamin couldn’t have been more delighted. All three kids ran quite a bit, and we filled up on oatmeal (so many toppings!), oatmeal muffins, and oatcakes.

Playing in the music garden before the race.
Fritz, Jess, Phoebe, and Benjamin are ready to run!
Bell choir playing rock music along the path.
Karen pats Biscuit.
Biscuit gets a good sniff.
The boys eating breakfast at the Oatmeal Festival.
Great photo of Phoebe and Karen!
Fritz has a yellow tongue.
Benjamin sticks his out too.
Fuzzy, but our times are in there. We were in the 44-minute range this year!

January 13

It’s a small group for Sunday school, but the kids always enjoy it.

Sunday school.

January 18

Phoebe and Benjamin doing push-ups in the living room.

Kids doing push-ups.
Watch us!

Phoebe decided to read to Benjamin, as she occasionally does.

Phoebe is reading The Library to Benjamin.

January 19

It’s almost always lovely to run in Colorado, even when the trail is full of snow.

Midway on a snowy run.
Pretty nice view!

January 20

Phoebe brought this home in her backpack.

No wonder Phoebe doesn’t want to cut her hair!

January 21

Came across this beautiful dead owl outside my office building. It looked so peaceful, with no visible damage, though it probably ran into a window.

Here’s a photo from one of Phoebe’s gymnastics classes.

Phoebe’s taking a tumbling class.

January 23

Phoebe invited us to the third-grade learning fair, and of course we were delighted to watch her sing songs and show off some of the work she’s been doing this year in class. She’s very interested in Greek mythology, so she’s been writing many reports about that, and she and a team of other students put together a news video on the state of Utah.

Here’s a snippet of a pretty one called “Winter Walk.”

Phoebe practiced and practiced to learn “Fifty Nifty United States.” She got to be one of the announcers, too.

Third-graders waiting for the concert to start.
Phoebe singing with the third graders at the learning fair.
Dancing to “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”

Here are the things Phoebe loves—glad family is included!
Well, there you have it.

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.