Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Made 2008 Great

We're traveling to New York to celebrate the holidays and are reflecting on a fun year. If you're seeing our blog for the first time, feel free to browse our events and stories from the last couple of years by looking through the archives listed in the lower left hand column.

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If you've been following our news, take a minute to reminisce and check out some of our top ten things that made 2008 great!
10. Lily Started School
9. We Survived Yellowstone
8. We Were in a Parade
7. Scouting is Awesome
6. Mexico: Fun in the Sun
5. A Wii Made Jack's #9 Feel Fine
4. Going on a Bear Hunt. Are You Afraid?
3. Tennis Anyone?
2. We live in a very fun neighborhood in a great town.
1. Our blessings are numerous and our hearts are full.

We hope your holidays are happy and your new year is filled to overflowing with happy times, good health and a heart full with gratitude.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'Tis the Season

It's officially here! We celebrated with our town on the day after Thanksgiving at the Mayor's annual tree lighting ceremony in old town Parker. It was so beautiful to see all the trees lit up and we even had some snow at the end of the evening to add even more sparkle to the event. That's a picture of Julie and the kids with the mayor. It's fun to live in a place with such a small-town feel.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Very Thankful

We enjoyed a simple, family Thanksgiving, beginning with watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in our pajamas. The kids helped with the cooking and were so excited that Uncle Tom could join us for dinner.

We are pondering many blessings this year, almost too numerous to list, but we thought you might enjoy seeing what the kids are thankful for this year:


  • My School
  • Bugs
  • My [pretend] Dog Emily
  • Green Beans
  • My Family

  • My Family
  • My Spine
  • My Grandma Who Passed On
  • My Heart
  • My Pets
  • Food and Water

Jack (wrote a Thanksgiving family letter)
Dear Mom, Dad, Lily and Kate,

You are the best family in the world. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. There are many ways I am thankful for you.

Mom, you are the best mom in the world. I'm thankful for you cooking for me. Also thank you for being nice and for helping me. Mom, you're the best.

Dad, you're the best dad in the universe. I am very thankful for you for playing with me and for working to put food on the table. Also, thank you for helping clean. All in all, you are the best dad in the world.

Lily is the best. I'm thankful for you being nice. Also for giving me hugs. As you can see, Lily is awesome.

Kate is the coolest sister in the world. I'm thankful for you giving me favors, also for sharing. Obviously, she is cool.

You're the best family in the world. I'm so glad to have you. Thank you for being the best.

Your family member,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Fun

Here's an update of what we've been doing this fall. Julie's Dad, or Poppy (as the kids call him) is with us until November 3rd. He and Julie took the kids to Littleton Farm, which houses two restored turn-of-the-century farm houses that you can explore. Their museum features hands-on exhibits like how grain is milled and how typesetting for a newspaper is done (Jack and I found a plate for the television guide for 1971--the year I was born.) In the collage above, you see the kids amongst barrels in a wagon and there are many other ways for kids to see what pioneer and farm life was like years ago. (See More Farm Pictures by Clicking HERE)

Poppy also had a chance to visit Lily's Preschool Class. He read them two stories and got a tour of their recent art projects that hang all over the walls. All the kids have been crafting decorations for Halloween lately. In Brownies we made Jack-O-Lantern Jars and we've been collecting milk jugs for weeks so that we could decorate them with spooky faces, stuff them with Christmas lights and tuck them into the bushes in our yard.

Other signs of the season include a couple of Halloween signs made from John's For Sale signs and painted with greetings. On All Hallows Eve they will be flipped around and messages will invite friends to stop in for some (spiced cider) Witch's Brew while the kiddos are trick-or-treating. Katelyn's celebrating began this weekend with a classmate's Halloween party. She dressed as the most beautiful clown, complete with baloon animals!

A new neighbor was born this week. Joe and Wendy had their second child, Dillon Lukas and Kirsten is a very excited big sister!

All of these fun activities kept us busy while John was hunting. He traveled to Steamboat (elk), Wyoming (antelope) and Craig (deer) for 10 days and came home with three animals. He saw some beautiful country, got lots of exercise, and that big dose of the outdoors that renews his spirit.

To see more photos of all this fall fun, click here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lily's Funny Faces

I snapped a few photos before school on picture day. I wonder which of these funny faces Lily made when she got her picture taken at school. I heard that as soon as she saw the camera, she was all teeth and squinty eyes. I wonder if her mom takes her picture a lot.

By the way, in case you don't read Simple Scrapbooks magazine, guess who is on page 12?

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

We visited our friends Kevin and Stephanie in Craig, which is in Colorado, but quite close to Wyoming. This trip was a real family affair. Kate and Lily even got a chance to go out with the guys to hunt antelope.

Brownie Food Drive Fun

Our Brownies had lots of fun collecting food for our local food bank. Girl Scouts of all ages from our unit participated and our Troop collected the third highest number of items at 485!

After collecting the bags of donated food around our neighborhood, we had everyone bring their donations to our house and we celebrated . . .

with donuts . . .

on a string!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Walsenburg Bear Hunt

The Griffith Guys added a new animal to their hunting experience. They visited the Garcia's family ranch where bears have become quite numerous and came home with a blonde/cinnamon-colored black bear. They got to do quite a bit of hiking through some really beautiful country and actually encountered three bears together.

"Were you scared, Jack?"

"No; not really." Ignorance truly is bliss.

Lily Begins Preschool

On the first day, she threw her arms around my neck and said, "Mommy, don't leave me!"

There were tears. (I'm not sure if there were more coming from my eyes or hers.)

On the second day, I said, "Lily, it's time to get ready for school." On the way, Lily said, "It's OK, Mommy. You can leave me at school. I have a lot of fun at school."

Family Visits Here & There

Nana and Pop were with us at the beginning of August and they brought Nick this time. He and Jack had a great time catching up and exploring. A week later, Uncle Rick and Noreen from Erie and cousins Scott, Ousaima, Keenan and Leta from NYC came for a visit. We met them in Estes Park where they were staying at the YMCA of the Rockies. It's an awesome place to stay for family fun. John and Scott, who had played together when they were young, had a great time introducing the next generation of cousins to each other.

Unfortunately, the visit was cut short. Grandma Griffith passed away on August 27th and everyone (including John) traveled back for the funeral. John was glad to be able to be with family and remember Grandma. She will be dearly missed.


Lucille S. Griffith

Lucille S. Griffith Devoted Wife, Mother, Grandmother Lucille S. Griffith, 89, of Erie, passed away Wednesday, August 27, 2008, at St. Vincent Health Center. She was born August 9, 1919, in Jersey City, N.J., a daughter of the late Joseph and Florence Mandel Shopp. She had worked for the Pa. Department of Public Assistance and Penn Traffic Co in Johnstown. She was a founding member of St. Luke Parish where she was a Eucharistic Minister, was on the board of the Altar and Rosary Society and sang in the choir. She had a beautiful singing voice and sang with the Siebenbuerger Singers and the Fun Chorus of Englewood, Fla. She also enjoyed baking and gardening. She was preceded in death by a brother, Joseph Shopp and a sister, Irene Jensen. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, John J. Griffith; four sons, John J. Griffith, wife Barbara, of North Syracuse, N.Y., Robert J. Griffith, wife Toni, of Erie, Richard E. Griffith, wife Noreen, of Erie and Jeffery P. Griffith, wife Susan, of Erie; two daughters, Linda Kester of Erie and Mary Anne Beljan, husband James, of Columbus, Ohio; a sister, Eleanor Diefenbach, husband Donald, of Cincinnati, Ohio; 13 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Friends may call at the A. Brugger & Sons Funeral Home, LLP, 845 E. 38th St. and Pine Ave., Monday from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. and attend services there Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. followed by a Mass at St. Luke Church at 10 a.m. Burial in Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the St. Luke School Scholarship Fund, 425 E. 38th St., Erie, PA 16504. Condolences at www.bruggerfuneralhomes.com Sign the guestbook at www.GoErie.com/obits

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three Candles for Lily

There has been lots of celebrating around here for Lily's birthday! It began with breakfast in bed, our tradition. However, Lily had left her balloon filled bedroom during the night in favor for the soft pile of pillows next to our bed. When the kids and I gathered all the balloons from her room and entered with her tray, she was not in the mood. (That is soooo Griffith.) After she woke up a little, she enjoyed her sprinkle-topped oatmeal with us at the breakfast table before Jack and Kate went off to school.

Later we had birthday dinner next to the pond, opened presents by the fire and then came in for mud pie. She loved receiving brand new Playdough!

That weekend we were joined by Nana, Pop and Nick Griffith and we celebrated with a big princess party. (There were plenty of princes and other members of the kingdom as well.) Kate and Barb helped Julie prepare and assemble the cupcake castle and everyone had fun making fun foam decorations for their room. (It might have been a little more fun if it wasn't raining and we could play outside, but we made the best of it!) We enjoyed simple barbecue food and were glad for the chance to catch up with neighbors and friends. What fun!

Tennis Anyone?

Kate has been taking lessons with a few friends this summer and having a ton of fun!

Cub Scout Campout

Jacked pitched and slept in his own tent during his first Cub Scout campout. The whole family joined in the fun as well, (brought the camper) and took part in some really fun activities. Now that Jack is a Webelo, he shares more responsibility in his pack. We helped sponsor an activity (homemade ice cream) and helped make breakfast for our group of 50. We also flew kits, made pet rocks, acted out skits next to the campfire and participated in a flag retiring ceremony.

Ice cream was one of the favorite activities. It kept us cool while we were making it and eating it! We used a combination of spoons and straws to taste the treat, after rolling around our double-bagged recipe inside a can with ice and salt.

Two other boy favorites were the egg toss and learning to launch little weed rockets. (Thanks Mrs. Anderson--sometimes it's the littlest memories that kiddos treasure!) To see the activities in a little more detail, click the photos or go here to see more Campout Photos.

New Look in Lily's Room

Look who's big enough for a big girl bed! I guess it's time to say goodbye to the Beatrix Potter decorations and try something new. New colors and flowered decorations are appearing on Lily's walls and she's pretty excited about it. She has always liked being in her room and she loves snuggling into her bed at bedtime.
Her quilt was a hand-made gift from my Aunt Glad and it's just as cozy now as it was in her crib. I made a couple of the flowered decorations for her wall with my scrapbooking supplies and the elegant wall sconces were a gift from our friend Tom that have finally made their way to the perfect spot in our home.
We packed away the changing pad that was on her dresser. We hadn't used it for a couple of years now, of course, and Lily has been officially out of diapers for about a month. I guess that's one of the little unneeded baby items you leave laying around because you're just not ready for your baby to grow up! But growing up she is. Check out the cute shot of her doing finger paints in our tub . . . (freezer paper clipped to an acrylic cutting board is a great canvas. After the fun, we just run water and wash away the mess.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

NonStop Action-Packed Family Fun Weekend

The weekend began with Friday night Bunco for the moms, while John and the kids had family movie night with the Balbonas. It ended on Sunday with a picnic celebration for our neighbor, (and Katelyn's piano teacher) Nancy's birthday. In the middle was one of the best get-togethers of the summer: Quail Creek's neighborhood picnic.

With just the perfect mix of fluffy, passing clouds and Parker's signature breeze, we almost didn't need the keep-cool activities, but they were a ton of fun. In addition to a band and a visit from the fire department, we kept busy with a water slide, water ballon games and a wacky frozen t-shirt contest. What's that? You havent' heard of that game? Well, the photos below should fill you in . . . .

If you'd like to go see the photos in more detail, click here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Camping/Road Trip

We survived: 5 states, 4 blown camper tires, over 30 hours in the car, one dead SUV battery, two overnight stomache bugs, one broken cooler, and still managed to have one of the best family vacations, EVER!

Yellowstone National Park is just amazing. From the wonders of the surroundings to the animals that live there, we saw and experienced some incredible things---things we won't soon forget. In the process we all learned some lessons on patience and making the best of any situation.
If you'd like to see more of our favorite Yellowstone photos, go here. We also got some great video, so we're working on a little slide show.

We ended our trip at Bear Lake in Utah for the 4th of July weekend. Our friends were also there to enjoy the sand, sun and beautiful lake. It was very relaxing.

Above from top left, Jack catches a dragon fly, a peek at the 50 miles of shoreline on the lake, canoeing and fishing an inlet, Lily waited all week to get to play on the beach. Katelyn and new friend Melissa, Julie and Lily on Joe's boat, Jack riding the "Manta Ray" tube, the last of our five camp sites from the week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Camping in Montana

What an adventure! While Julie was in Kansas, John brought the kids to Montana for a family camping weekend, hosted by his friend John. They joined families with kids of all ages to fish in the ponds, catch frogs and turtles, sing karaoke around the campfire and even search for treasure on a hunt designed for the enjoyment of the beautiful natural surroundings. The kids did great on the car ride--practice for our next trip! We're off to Yellowstone, Teton Natl. Park and Bear Lake (Utah) on Friday.

Angel of the Year Award

Julie has just returned from The Angel Company's annual seminar, where a new catalogue is unveiled, there are projects, classes, lots of fellowship and an awards banquet. Julie was honored to receive the 2008 Angel of the Year Award. It's one of three that don't necessarily recognize sales and recruiting, but rather creative and charitible endeavors. Her design work for TAC, along with collaborating on events and projects with other Angels and stamping friends has brought her great joy and the feeling of making a difference in the lives of others. What a blessing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scouts, Scooters, a Parade, and Dad's Day

Here's our weekend in pictures. See more Here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thai Dinner Club, Die Hard Ice Cream Socialites and Camping

Neighbors Anne and Kevin hosted our recent dinner club and we enjoyed Thai food. It's so fun to try new recipes and get together with friends. Our hosts prepared the main course and we all brought side items. Our dish was chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce. Pictured in the photo is Ellen, Deanna, Julie and Anne. You can see more photos from the evening here.

Another fun neighborhood event (although a little chilly) was the first ice cream social. They are scheduled throughout the summer months and last year it always managed to rain or be generally yucky on ice cream night. This year's first followed the same pattern. There was a break in the rain, so Margaret (who organizes the event) and I started scooping. Helen arrived and said, "Well, you must be die hard ice cream socialites to brave this weather!" I guess we are. (Click here to see the photo album.)

We had a visit from John's cousin, Scott, who was in town for a bachelor celebration for a friend who will marry at the end of the summer. We look forward to the wedding, when Scott's wife and two kids, as well as our Uncle Rick and Noreen will come too!

We went on our first camping trip to Jackson Lake, about an hour and a half northeast of here. We joined our friends, Joe and Wendy, who took us out boating.

The first night was a little stormy, but the second night was more mild and we got to have a campfire, which of course is one of the highlights of camping. We roasted perfect marshmallows, (Lily toasted her first all by herself!) lit sparklers, and we have a new favorite camp recipe: baked bananas. Yum! We will definitely have to make those again on one of our next camping trips. Later this month, John will be taking the kids to Montana camping, while Julie is in Kansas for TAC's Annual Seminar and together we will all travel on a 10-day trip to the Tetons, Yellowstone, Flaming Gorge and Bear Lake in Utah. (Click here to see all camping photos.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Fun: Digital I Spy

Well, raindrops inturrupted what was a glorious day of outside play, so after the kids were tired of crafts, we tried something new: Digital I Spy.

Jack has been taking pictures with our old digital camera and putting the SD card into his Wii to play slideshows. This gave me an idea for a game. I gathered up a few flash cards, busied the girls with something else and took him around the house, placing each card on an item that had an interesting pattern or texture. We took about 10 photos on the macro setting, then played them back for the girls to guess what the item was. They were so excited when they guessed what the item was.

After a little practice, they got the hang of it and the girls did one round for Jack. This has been great fun! Hopefully tomorrow they can play outside and I can try to get something done in my studio!

Are you a mom looking for kids' activities? Go here! Rocks in My Dryer

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pancake Morning

Memorial Day was a little cool here, so we
started the day with a pancake breakfast, to warm us up. Kate and Lily both helped mix and flip.

We made our favorite: letter pancakes. My mom, Lois, started the tradition when I was a kid. She had a large French's mustard container that she would fill with pancake batter, so she could precisely write the letters to our names. What fun! When I had kids, she even gifted me a recycled mustard jar so I could carry on the tradition, which of course, I have!

Well, with all sorts of new packaging on the market, I've added an additional letter pancake dispenser to my arsenal. It's from a squeezable jelly container (and it has a little wider mouth so I can pour the batter directly into the dispenser.)

I also have another favorite tool, which I feel is absolutely essential if you have kids, but even if you don't, it's super handy. It's a plastic pizza cutter. You need a nice sharp metal one too, but this plastic version is safe for the kids to use and it won't damage your Dora the Explorer plastic plates or non-stick bakeware. You seriously need this thing if you cut your share of pancakes, waffles, pizza or almost anything that you want to turn into bite size pieces in a hurry. If you have a helper in the kitchen, it's an even better tool---what could be more wonderful than a kid that is learning that cooking is fun and she can do it all by herself!

May Days

The days in May go by so quickly! Here are some of May's happenings:

Jack graduated from a Bear Cub Scout to a Webelo. He did trail clean-up recently and will ride a float in our Parker Country Festival Parade. He and John attended an all-day first aid and safety training that is part of his Webelo training. This important info may be helpful during the guys' outdoor trips together--all part of being prepared!

Kate and Julie wrapped up their year of Brownies with some fun outings, which were funded by the girls' cookie sales. They all went skating together even had an overnight trip! They stayed over at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, an hour south in Colorado Springs for the Wild Nights program. They toured the zoo after everyone went home, had s'mores, slept in a lodge building and then visited with the animals again in the morning, just as they were waking up and being fed. We got an intimate and informative tour of the animals and beautiful mountain surroundings.

Julie celebrated a birthday (reluctantly) this month; her 37th. It's actually a week of celebrating, with Mother's Day falling around the same time, so there were flowers, breakfast in bed, window shopping, eating out and other fun stuff. We also had some nice weather, amidst what has been a cool spring so far. One of her gifts was a new laptop (wow!) and it is such a treasured gift, since it's such a useful tool for preserving and enjoying pictures and videos of family events-- and for sharing them with you!

Memorial day brings the end of the school year for the kids. They are now in 4th and 2nd grades! We celebrated by having s'mores and a sleepover in the camper, which we had set up out front to get ready for the season. (Some of the kiddos in the photo just joined us for s'mores, but we did have 6 kids and 2 parents in the camper all together!)