As seen in Figure 1, 2016 was quite busy, between Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, flag football, dance lessons, teaching religious education, band practice, chess club, choir practice, and so on. Our predictions from last year were fairly conservative, and we met most all of them. There was one unexpected change - after almost 16 months working as a data scientist at Automattic, Rob found himself missing linguistics, and decided to go back to his previous company, Nuance Communications, where he is working on getting your car to understand you when you talk to it.

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Figure 1: Number of events per week on the Fedibblety calendar

First Quarter

The first adventure of the year was a trip to meet the newest member of the Dibble organization, Wolfgang, the product of the Baek-Dibble merger from 2014. Clare managed to find the poison oak near Aunt Jean’s house, which took several weeks to cure.

When the weather was frightful, Meg spent some time doing science experiments she had gotten for Christmas, and Spencer enjoyed playing football games on the Wii, as well as working on his first Pinewood Derby car for Cub Scouts.

Rob attended the annual man’s weekend at Sean Gallagher’s lake-front house in Kalamazoo, which included the usual bonfires, curling, and hammerschlagen. Yes , they competed to see who could drive in a nail the fastest.

We celebrated Meg and Spencer’s 5th and 7th birthday respectively in a joint celebration at an indoor trampoline place. Spencer and his friends spent pretty much the entire time playing football instead of bouncing. Sometimes he has a one track mind.

In March, Spencer earned his Tiger scout badge. Rob has very much enjoyed being his den leader. Meg has also attended many scouting events, including several trash pickups on the section of road we have adopted nearby. She thinks that picking up trash is one of the Scouts main activities, which is not too far from the truth.

The one thing frequently missing in the first quarter was Clare —as she spent about 1 week per month in California working on her cannabis extraction business. To greet her as she returned from one of these trips, Meg got the idea from one of her High Five magazines to put together the Sunshine Café for Clare - which involved Spencer and Meg making up a sign, a menu, and decorating the table for a meal of homemade ravioli and apple pie.

Second Quarter

Activities really started heating up in the second quarter, as Spencer joined The Crush flag football team, and Meg started gymnastics. Spencer’s coach used to work as the weight trainer for the Green Bay Packers, so he was pretty intense, which worked out just great for Spencer.

Rob had several work trips in the second quarter. Ironically, both were actually in Denver, but the retreat nature of the events still kept him away from home. One of these events included Memorial Day, which was a bit of a bummer.

For Mother’s Day, Meg pulled out another idea from her High Five magazine —we made Clare breakfast in bed including French toast and berries, which everyone enjoyed.

In June, the whole family took a road trip to Grinnell, Iowa for Rob’s 15 year college reunion. We stayed in Dibble Hall, and had a great time checking out the new olympic-size pool, eating in the dining hall, listening to Rob’s advisor sing about homegrown tomatoes, and catching up with old friends. By the end of the weekend, the kids decided they are going to attend Grinnell College. Dave and Ellen met us in Iowa in the RV, and they and the kids continued on to Spencer, Indiana, where they had a great time relaxing, and trying to avoid the mosquitoes. While they were gone, Clare spent most of her time helping to organize the Denver mini Maker-faire, a conference for people who like to make things —all sorts of stuff including 3D-printing, robots, weaving, pinball machines, and fire-breathing dragons.

Other activities in June included camping with Colorado friends near Lake Granby with some friends. Other than getting our car stuck on a rock, it was a great time, with 5 kids and 8 adults, including the Wagner and Ichneumen clans. We also joined over 100 other Unitarian Universalists from around the Denver area to make a rainbow of people in the Denver Pride Fest parade. We managed to make it almost all 2 miles in the 100 degree heat. Next year we might just cheer people on from under a shady tree.

Third Quarter

After the kids returned from the RV trip, they spent some time in a school age enrichment program offered through our public schools. They went on all sorts of fun field trips, including a pool or two each week, and one day they even went to the local amusement park. The kids are both beginning to become really good swimmers, which is lots of fun. Clare and Rob also joined in on a number of pool trips. Clare got to spend more of the summer playing with the kids, as she stepped back from the struggling cannabis venture.

In July we traveled to Michigan celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Felty organization. We spent a week swimming, boating, and relaxing on Horseshoe Lake just north of Ann Arbor. Spencer became a pro at monopoly and the Goold family card game: Hell. Our kids enjoyed bonding with Cousin Sadie and Aunt Erika. We also got the chance to reconnect with the Sanchezes, the Moores and the van Kampens.

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The third quarter came to a close with Meg starting kindergarten —she got the same teacher that Spencer had, and is really enjoying school. Spencer started flag football again, and Meg did another round of gymnastics. Rob, Meg, and Spencer went camping with the Cub Scouts while Clare attended her 20 year high school reunion in Indiana.

Fourth Quarter

As usual, the fourth quarter was filled with special celebrations. Meg and Rob enjoyed the annual scarecrow festival in Olde Town Arvada. The neighborhood kids enjoyed jumping in the biggest leaf pile we have made to date. Clare helped organize another Mini Maker Faire in northern Colorado; this time the kids and grandparents were around to enjoy it.

For Halloween, both kids decided to be ninjas (although Spencer changed his costume after school to football player). After a remarkably warm fall, we got a decent snow mid-November, so the kids got to sled to school, one of our favorite features of our house.

For Thanksgiving this year we hosted Clare’s parents and some new friends, the Pugh-Donovans, who recently moved here from California with a boy Spencer’s age and a girl just older than Meg. We had a kids table and adult table, which allowed the adults to have some actual conversation while the kids scarfed down a bit of food before running off to play more.

Other activities in the fourth quarter included open-mic night at our church, where Meg shared some jokes and the kids performed with the children’s choir. Meg also performed at a dance recital at school. Spencer also joined the chess club.

The level of excitement for Christmas this year must surely be at a peak. The kids were practically bouncing off the walls all of December. On December 4th, we cut down a beautiful 12 foot Christmas tree, to accentuate our vaulted ceiling in the living room. On December 7th, it came crashing down on Rob’s head. Apparently we had gotten it off balance while hanging decorations. Fortunately only 3 or 4 ornaments broke. We decided to go with the 7 foot fake tree after we cleaned up the mess. Next time we opt for a big tree, we will take the advice to anchor it to the wall.

2017 Forecast

The last couple years we have made some fairly vague predictions, so this year we will be bold and make some more specific predictions. We predict that Spencer will get really good at inline skating, and that Meg will be reading much of the back of her cereal box by the end of the year. After so much fun in the water this past summer, we predict a trip to Water World, which Rob has been anticipating since he last attended while visiting Colorado in second grade. We also plan to continue to improve our garden, and do a bit more camping. With any luck, our schedule will continue to be full of fun and friends, work and play, connection and compassion in 2017.

Wishing you an excellent 2017,
Rob, Clare, Spencer, and Meg

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