Archive for January, 2001

Christmas Letter 2000


Happy New Year 2001! Ok, so I am a little late for a holiday letter.  Things happen, you know?  My goal is to get this out by the time they change the postage rates on the 7th, so ACTUALLY I am a few days ahead of schedule.  If you have trouble with this maybe you are a little bit too deadline driven.

Hopefully 2000 was good to all of you and to your families.  We had an exciting year – we seem to keep very busy, but as I sat down to write this and contemplate the year’s activities, I wondered what we really had done?!  Time flies so quickly that someday Mike and I will be excited for the early-bird dinner special, our favorite food will be creamed corn, and everything that before kids used to be pointing north will have headed south.  Uh-oh, never mind.  Guess you can’t stop the march of time and the drag of gravity.

Mike has been very busy traveling this year.  Mostly I mind a lot, but I do enjoy eating and having a roof over our heads, so I better not complain too much.  This year Mike has been to Seattle too many times to count, Boston once, New York twice, Europe thrice, and China once.  I always encourage him to take vacation time when in places like Shanghai or Beijing, because he may never get back there again.  This year he visited Tien An Men Square, the Great Wall, and the Terra Cotta Soldiers in Xi’an.  What really kills him is the food in those places.  His guide kept checking the restaurants to see if they had, in her words, “clean food”.  Not exactly what you want to hear to make you feel comfortable!  He ate jellyfish, snake (he asked what kind and they told him a ‘big one’), sea horse soup, beef tendons, and other untranslatable dishes.  I can’t believe he ate all of that stuff!  This is the man that complains that my meatballs are like eating billiard balls.  Ingrate!

We took a trip in late July with our friends Mark and Kate Fejfar and their two small kids.  We had been with them to Yellowstone and Glacier Parks in 1999 and we decided to give it a whirl again in the opposite direction.  I was the vacation planner and after our last trip Mark put me on a 1600 mile diet for this time.  We decided that the 1999 trip, which consisted of 13 days, seven national parks and 3800 miles was a little too much ‘fun’ for four adults and five kids under the age of eight.  So, this year we visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Dollywood, Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati and a brief stop in Chicago to see Sue, the new T-rex at the Field Museum.  It was going along great until we hit Dollywood and kids started dropping like flies. Emily and Abby came down with strep throat at Dollywood and this caused us to spend only half a day there.  Mark and Kate’s son Luke developed his illness about 30 or so hours later at King’s Island.  Boy, you haven’t had vacation fun until you’ve taken sick kids to the Baptist Hospital emergency room in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Anyway, I think I’ve mentioned before that we are leisure challenged.  Do you need more proof?  Well, read on…

The week after Thanksgiving Grandma and Grandpa Gries, against their better judgement, agreed to relieve us of our parental duties so that Mike and I could take a vacation to France.  Our mission was two-fold: Mike had a conference in Toulouse for two days and I wanted to visit my French family with whom I have stayed several times and received credit as a exchange student back in my college days.  The night before we left Will came down with the stomach flu.  After spending our first few hours in France it became obvious that all was not well with us.  At 4 a.m. Mike was praying to the porcelain god.  Never one to let him have all the fun I followed by a mere hour or so.  You know, it was not quite the romantic getaway we had imagined- I was running through the hotel room yelling, “Move over Sugar Lump, my turn to make a wish!”  Well, Mike ended up missing his conference and we spent the next few days trying to eat bland French foods.  In the meantime, Emily, Abby and Grandpa Gries were all sick with it back in Marion.  Hopefully we didn’t push Grandma and Grandpa over the edge. However, Mike and I did recover enough to spend time with our friends in Brittany.  We had a great time trying to defend/analyze/reform the American political system.  We sure had a lot of things to talk about this year!

The kids are all doing well.  Will is nine years old and in the fourth grade.  Emily recently turned six years old and she started kindergarten in the fall.  Abby, 2.5 years old, is enjoying having me to herself while the older kids are at school.  Not that I am excited or anything, but Abby will start preschool in the fall of 2001.  Whoooppeeee!  Now I know why gerbils eat their young.

Probably the most traumatic thing that happened this year was that Will broke his wrist in September.  We were at a friend’s house and all the kids were being wild in the basement.  Will climbed up on a chair and jumped for one of those basement- type support poles.  He wiped out and bounced back on his arm.  Well, he came to me and said, “Mom, I hurt my wrist really bad!”  Being the kind, caring mother that I am I said, “Will, why do you always over exaggerate!  Why don’t you shake it off like a man, tough it out and go back and play!”  Well!?  It didn’t look broken and who knew?  By the time we got home a couple of hours later it was a little puffy, but nothing that would cause you to panic, so Mike told him that if it hurt in the morning we would take him to the hospital to have it x-rayed.  That was enough for Will!  I don’t know what he thought was involved with an x-ray, but you would have thought that we said we would take him to have it amputated.  He was bawling and carrying on and Mike, in his stellar role as a caring parent said, “Will, if your wrist is really broken we need to find out.  If it is broken and we don’t get your arm treated your hand may turn black and fall off!”  Kudos to us as parents of the year!  Move over Ward and June Cleaver.

Our home is usually always the same – there are kid toys everywhere, the t.v. is blaring, there are dirty dishes on the counter, and dinner cooking up at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Clean laundry is available in wrinkled piles in various baskets throughout the house.  Bills (and Christmas cards) are usually a couple of days late and we are always out of crucial paper products. (Read: bring your own!)  At least we are consistent!  Anyway, we always have more than enough chocolate to go around and we love to have people come over- the more the merrier!  Heck, I’ll even promise “clean food.”

Love and best wishes to you all!  Happy 2001!!