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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The best gifts of the Christmas season and so on…


Above / Mariko Jane Penick was photographed by Bella Baby on Dec. 29, 2017, about 24 hours before she went home to meet Maki, her parents’ playful little puppy. (Updated Jan. 1, 2018)

Above / Mariko Jane Penick arrived at 6:44AM Wed., Dec. 27, 2017, weighing in at 7 lbs. 5 oz.  Here the precious bundle of  bubble-blowing joy is pictured at 12.5 hours old. Mother and Dad are doing fine in Chicago—and so are her first-time grandparents back in Naperville.

The Best Gift

The best gift
That I ever got
Didn’t really weigh a lot
It didn’t have a ribbon ’round
And it sometimes made the terrible sound
The best of all it seems to me
It wasn’t neath the Christmas tree
And yet, I guess I’d have to say
That it made all the other presents twice as gay
The best gift that I’ve ever known
I’d always wanted most to own
Yet in my dreams of sugar and spice
I never thought it could be so nice
The best gift that I ever get
Was sometimes dry and sometimes wet
Was usually pink but oftentimes red
As it lay so innocently in its bed
The best gift of the year to me
The one I hold most dear to me
A gift that simply drove me wild
Was a tiny new born child…

Lyrics to “The Best Gift” were written by Lan O’Kun. Barbra Streisand sings the beautiful song on “A Christmas Album” (1967).

Back on the first day of spring in 1979, our first child was born 10-and-a-half weeks premature. The instant she came into the world with so many needs that took her to the special neonatal unit at New York Hospital, I recall thinking, “So that’s why my mother always cared and was so concerned about my every move.”

The familiar words to “The Best Gift” featured on my all-time favorite Christmas album also began to resonate even more. And all these years later, “The Best Gift” is forever on my play list, a song I know by heart, and one I often sing when I walk alone.

On Christmas Day, that little girl became engaged to be married.

And as if that weren’t enough excitement for one holiday season, our third child and his wife welcomed our first grandchild into this world on Dec. 27.

Happy New Year!

—Stephanie “Grandma” Penick, PN Publisher

PN UPDATE, Feb. 4, 2018 / Until Mariko Jane Penick celebrates her first birthday, this page will post occasional photos.

These photos picture her at five-and-one-half weeks old getting to know her grandfather as her watchful puppy, Maki, stays close to the conversation.


PN UPDATE, March 11, 2018 / During her 10-week check-up, Mariko, pictured here with Dad and Mom and her pup, Maki, weighed in about a pound more than Maki! (Photo thanks to Instagram!)

Mariko Jane Penick, an 11-pound bundle of joy, behaves perfectly in her car seat during an outing for Sunday brunch on March 11, 2018. She’s just beginning to coo as she ignites smiles from everyone she meets.







PN Update, March 22, 2018 / This is the week that was when Katherine headed back to work, ready to juggle the care for this precious little girl among others who already love her, too.  At 12 weeks, Mariko Jane is pretty in pink and prepared for her next two-month adventure with her daddy in charge.

And to think her Auntie Ashley, our first child of three, turned 39 on March 20, the first day of spring, with plans to be married on April 14, 2018.

Ashley & Mike’s Wedding Day

Mindful that April weather always is unpredictable, the forecast included rain with temperatures in the low 40s for Sat., April 14.

Early Saturday morning, friends began sending warm well wishes via email for our big day. And though we were disappointed that outdoor family photos would not be in the mix, we were pleased that the brief ceremony at 5PM would be followed by a dinner reception all inside the church.

“Tell Ashley it was windy cold and miserable on our Wedding Day and on May 12 we will be married 45 years, so I would classify that as good luck! Love you all and congratulations!” —Mary Ann and Paul

Ashley’s Uncle Jim gave the opening prayer. Angie Wagoner stood up with Ashley. And Frank Schoen stood up with Mike. Then the official ring ceremony took about ten minutes when guests witnessed part of the special day! (Photo by Katherine Penick)

Meet Hailey Korbel with her dad as Ashley officially welcomes everyone to the reception. (Photo by Tep Penick)

Ashley’s prayer was that her Grandpa Crookston would be present on her wedding day along with her aunts and uncles. Her grandfather will celebrate his 95th birthday on May 18! (Photo by Tep Penick)

The sounds of music at Ashley and Mike’s wedding reception were lovely. Fourteen-week-old Mariko, however, wasn’t so sure she enjoyed dancing with her grandmother to Mike’s playlist. (Photo by Jim Penick)

Ashley Penick married Michael Korbel on April 14, 2018. Here she’s telling everyone at the reception why she’s so happy! (Photo by Katherine Penick)

Pictured are descendants of Ashley’s grandparents, Carol and Don Crookston, with her new family, Hailey and Mike Korbel. From left,  Jaden, Brandon, Angie, Jim Crookston, Peyton, Barbara, Jim, Grandpa, Stephanie, Ashley, Mike, Mariko, Jeff, Katherine, Cathy and Jay Crookston; front, Allie Grace, Hailey and Tep.

For the wedding, Mike selected three hymns that were beautifully performed on the church organ by Tim Sleep. One of the lovely songs was “Families Can Be Together Forever.”

The first verse goes: “I have a family here on Earth. They are so good to me. I want to share my life with them through all eternity. Families can be together through heavenly Father’s plan. I always want to be with my own family. And the Lord has shown me how I can. The Lord has shown me how I can…”

Maki goes home after a weekend in Naperville

In late April, Jeff and Katherine created a weekend getaway in Galena, so Maki stayed in Naperville. Always a fun and lively house guest, Maki and Karl-the-girl-Papillon get along well. 

Maki just loves the new addition to his family and many photos prove he can’t keep his eyes off Mariko.

Mother’s Day Eve with Mariko Jane

Just have to say, the best thing about this Mother’s Day is our growing family! Becoming a first-time grandmother on Dec. 27, 2017, gives the day a whole new meaning with lots of cherished memories of my mother who is watching over all of us.

We enjoyed listening to Mariko’s sweet sounds and watching her examine her fingers. Soon she’ll be playing Pat-A-Cake.






Father’s Day Weekend 2018

As Mariko Jane approaches her 6-month birthday June 27, she has two bottom teeth, she chatters and squeals, she spins around on her stomach to the left, and she appears to know some sign speak. And she has inherited her mother’s long eyelashes.


Last Updated June 21, 2018

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.

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