Mother is a Verb

Mother is a Verb

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

 In 2010 our family logged enough frequent flier miles to fund our very own airline, affectionately named for our friends at TSA, Don’t Touch My Junk Air.   

While some families’ mission over the holidays is to make a difference in their community, we decided to make a difference in Cozumel, Mexico. Concerned about their over-abundance of rum and tequila products, we descended upon the cheapest all-inclusive we could find to help correct the situation. In the spirit of true humanitarianism, we stooped so far as to insist that not-quite-18-year-old Kev, do his part, along with slightly less illegal Kris & Will.

Returning to a legal drinking age of 21, plus an accepted cocktail hour that was not only, literally an hour, but 10 hours into the day, rather than two, was quite a shock to five of our systems.

Personally, I spent the rest of January in detox, while trying to keep track of all the user names, passwords, email addresses, and screen names I’ve acquired since launching MidChix. My aliases include 475Gretch, Ginger27, gretchen27, Javamama27, gretchen174, ChiefChick, ChiefChick27, Georgie27, and Macaroni. Plus, occasionally, Sam.

For a short month, February sure packed in its share of miles. I flew to Philly to help Kris celebrate legitimate legalness, and Nicki flew to Hawaii to lose her driver’s permit (more on this later). Then Kris flew home for Villanova’s winter break, which began a week after Cam’s winter break ended.

February turned to March only a week before Will’s spring break started, coincidentally, the same week of Kevin’s school trip to Peru. In another somewhat questionable coincidence, possibly engineered by those sneaky TSA agents or probably Kevin himself, his flight home arrived at DIA @ an hour after Cam, Nicki, and I departed for 5 days of playing tourist with mom in NYC. Besides seeing Will perform, we tackled Central Park, Radio City, and a very intimate security line for the Ellis Island Ferry.  When Nicki, a new theatre major, begged off so she could get an infusion of Broadway, I’m not sure if my trepidation was over her going to a show solo, or that the show, Next To Normal, is about a mother and her worsening mental illness!

On the last day of March, I finally found the strength to endure an afternoon at the Denver Department of Motor Vehicles in order to replace Nicki’s lost permit. Unfortunately for Phil, there is nothing to do while waiting at the DMV... except surf the internet on your iPhone. So, after spending the requisite 10 minutes playing Your Team (see Christmas 2007), Nic and I began checking out dogs at the Denver Dumb Friends League. (In case any of you don’t actually know us well enough to know that Phil long ago said “absolutely not” to a well as a fifth child, moving from Elm Street, buying a bay house,  and getting a trampoline*, well let’s just say you better go back and start from the beginning).

 So, lo and behold, that’s how we found Augie, formerly named Dilbert by some dog rescue dude with a sense of humor. Nicki and I hot-footed it over to the DDFL as soon as she had that flattering permit photo taken … and twenty-four hours later, appropriately, April Fools' Day, Augie was a part of the family.

A dog was not exactly the 18th birthday present that kynophobic Kevin was hoping for. Luckily his acceptance letter to Claremont McKenna arrived the following week and he began his transformation into the-glass-is-half-full kind of guy. Unfortunately, his glass seems to be half -full on a fairly regular basis these days...

The youngest of five, Cam has been the first kid we took to PG-13 before hitting double digits, the first on Facebook at age 10, the first to have a cell phone at 11, and the first to get stitches, after Augie took issue with the proximity of his face. Despite blood pouring down his chin, Cam's main concern was keeping Augie. So keep him we did, and spent a good chunk of money diagnosing his "possession aggression" and his aversion to training.

Come late May, Kevin's graduation was bittersweet. We missed Pop-pop and Grandpa, who both would've been bursting with pride; fortunately, Lollie and Grandma were on hand for the festivities and, even better, with both being on East Coast time, cocktail hour started promptly at 5 (which isn't such a bad thing when three matriarchs are sharing a kitchen...).

A few weeks later my sanity took a road trip along with Nicki, Cam and Augie in a remake of the Summer of '04.  It was totally worth three solid days crammed into the Highlander when an elderly woman in our Chicago hotel mistook Cam for Nicki's daughter!  I'm not sure which of them get the biggest Good Sport Award...

Driving cross-country was a breeze, given the destination was a two and a half week long sleep-away camp where I dumped the kids in the rain before high-tailing it down to the bayhouse for five, count 'em,  five days of complete freedom... except for Augie, the doggie.  Then Phil arrived for a  second honeymoon of sorts, (though he still insists I didn't live up to the contract he'd drafted, and I'd signed, during the dog negotiations).

I had to giggle a couple of weeks later when he got his first taste of hospital gown indignity after the doc decided his appendix had to go. This photo was sweet payback for all those labors when he kept telling me to " just relax, honey".

Kris threatened to forego her own future labor after working the delivery unit at Jefferson Hospital. To add insult to injury, after seeing where babies actually come from, as a summer nanny, she also saw what happens when they get old enough to talk back! She's considering requesting a tubal ligation in lieu of a graduation gift!

California dreamin' took on new meaning in August, when we dropped Kev at his new school. Phil was racked by feelings of insane jealousy as he stared longingly at the perfectly manicured fields, the signs announcing upcoming keg parties, and the slew of cute co-eds, moving in down the hall of the dorm.  I spent the rest of the trip trying to console him by bringing up memories of our own college years in frigid Williamstown... to no avail.

In keeping with the year's frequent flier theme, the day after we arrived home, I headed back East to see Will perform at Radio City.  It was a memorable trip in more ways than one.  Although it's nearly 4 months since my wallet was stolen, Phil still won't let me head over to the DMV to replace my license for fear I'll come back with another dog!

In September, he did make an exception for 16 year-old Nicki...praise the lord. She is now the designated driver to Denver School of the Arts. With Cam finally at the same school, I now spend mornings at home in my jammies! Tho' I must admit to missing some of those early morning car rides with Nic.  She taught me plenty, including how to cut back on word waste...  no kid. she is into abbrevs . having a convo with her is worse than coit interrupt. soon i may be texting my blog...except if i do it via my iphone it'll just b garble. i knew i had to stick with typing on a real keyboard after it changed "forgive me" to "f$ck me".

October was marked by an eventful fall break with Kris home, and  Phils' brother and wife here for their first visit in years.  We decided to fly Kev in as a surprise, and soon found ourselves hosting a family beer pong tournament on the patio. When I suggested that he may have had one too many and Kev good-naturedly protested, I gently reminded him that he'd had his arm around me for nearly half an hour.

November found us back in NY to see Will perform again; I won't be including a link to this it was our first exposure to... well,  full exposure as one scene of Take Me Out is performed in a locker room, and in the nude! In typical fashion, Phil gave Will a pretty powerful pep talk before the show "Now don't forget, this is a reflection on me too!" To which Will replied " No worries, Dad...I'll do you proud."

December descended with travel vengeance!  Kris headed to El Paso for a week of midwifery training, Nicki wowed them at State Thespian Convention, scoring her the dubious honor of a June trip to Lincoln, NE for Nationals, and  Cam and I flew back East to be with Mom, as we marked a year since saying goodbye to my Dad.

Then, December 16th, Kris and her long-time beau, Jeff, starred in their very own romantic comedy in Cancun. Down on one knee, Jeff glanced over to see why Kris was laughing, and realized that the rose petals he'd paid the Mexican concierge to arrange on the beach, spelled out Married Me?

Phil tried to top Kris' engagement news by turning 50 last week.  He was a good sport, and has set a high bar for me to follow three months from today.  Being the competitive types that we are, we've decided to best all of our friends having 50th birthday celebrations this year and are planning a 100 years party sometime soon.  (all of my blog followers will be invited, so do us all a favor and  subscribe via email by clicking here! pressure, no sirree...)

*Santa pulled off The Miracle on Franklin Street  when (s)he scored a Craig's List trampoline purchase, disassembly, move, and reassembly surprise on Christmas Eve, with the help of two pretty-handy-considering-being-right-brained elves.

Cameron's face made it all worth it, not to mention Phil's...

We want to wish you all a healthy, happy, and humor-filled  2011...and remind you: don't hide weapons in your underwear next time you fly...

P.S. Reminder for all you gals that are "mid" chix ... please humor me and sign up  here!  With @1700 members
across 50 states and 13 countries, MidChix has recently relaunched as an online community for women who aren't just social, but also socially conscious! We urge you to check us out, sign yourself up, and spread the word to your friends.


  1. This is hilarious!! Gretchen, what a writer you are! I don't know how I missed your blog before, but now I will keep up.

    Your family is amazing! I think you should treat the midchix to a photo of the locker room play though, just to 'jog' some of our memories!! ha

    Happy New Year,
    Sandy Comstock

  2. WHOA! Kris is GETTING MARRIED!!! (So much for Phil's plan to stash her in a convent.) And nearly everyone is LEGAL! This can only mean...we're friggin' OLD! I still remember you going into LABOR for Kevin!
    Wonderful letter. Especially enjoyed Phil in the compromising hospital gown photo. Should maybe be his Facebook profile photo.
    Looking forward to ringing in 50 with you, Gretch. You make it look good.
    xox mel

  3. What a fabulous letter. But my biggest question, is how on earth do you remember all of that? I have trouble remembering what I did the day before, much less all year.

    It sounds like you have an amazing family. Congratulations on a job well done.

    And one of my 3 Moronic Mutts looks just like your Augie, at least without the half milk carton around his neck. Seriously. They could be related. Delilah is fond of rolling in other dog's poop and fetching me rotting carcasses of dead animals from the woods. Does your Augie have any of these admirable traits?

    I hope your new year is as joyous and adventurous as your last one.