A Father’s Day Tribute to the Father of My Children

don1He must feel this way often in our family!

don3Fishing with Jack in Columbia, Missouri a few weeks ago.

don2I love the posts all over Facebook today celebrating fathers, husbands, and even young men who are not-yet-dads.  There are exceptions to the fatherly role in all varieties, and for many reasons, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is fun to see so many loved and appreciated dads all over the world!  It kind of restores my faith in humanity.

I love my own father very much, and I called him today.  It is good to hear his voice and I am so thankful he is still on this Earth with us so that I may call him anytime, for any reason.  He’s that kind of dad (and with his sleeping schedule, he’d probably be awake at any time of day or night!).  But today I want to focus on the father of my children, otherwise known as the love of my life.

My man.  Where do I start?  We often joke that the reason we married (and stay married!) is because we’re each so weird that nobody else would have us.  It’s probably true, at least for my part.  My husband IS weird but he’s also so many good things that any woman would be lucky to have him.

My man loves me.  He loves me nice, grumpy, fat, skinny (and every size in between!).  He loves me blonde, brunette, hair falling out, good hair days, bad hair-don’ts.  He loves me 24/7 even when I force him to watch yet another BBC murder mystery.

My man lets me sleep.  I need lots of sleep just to function.  I need even more sleep to be kind.  My husband, however, has the ability to nap in short intervals anytime, anywhere.  It’s truly a gift, and one I wish I had.  He is also very kind on very little sleep.  It says quite a bit about his character!  I had a coworker once who complained about his wife still being in bed when he left for work in the early morning, nevermind they had small children and she was probably still tired from giving birth to them!  Don has never once begrudged me one minute of sleep.  Not one minute!  He is the kind of husband who got up with the newborn babies, without complaining, for nearly a decade — not just occasionally, but 99% of the time!  Because he can.  Because he cares.  Because he knew if I got up, the world would be up with me.  Also, because he loves babies.  I love that I can’t stop him from making goofy faces at babies in Sacrament meeting at church.

My man loves animals.  I recently witnessed him let a chihuahua (our least favorite type of dog) put his bum in his face and watch two hours of television with that puppy on his chest.  He often stops on highways and back-roads to help a turtle cross the road.  It has been said you can tell much about a man by the way they treat animals and, if that is true, this man’s heart is golden.

My man is patient.  He’s not only patient with the kids, he’s patient with me.  He’s the kind of guy you would be lucky to get on the other end of a suicide line!  His voice is calming and he defuses situations with ease.  He excelled at a computer call center job early on in our marriage because he has a way with helping people out in the toughest situations while keeping calm.  Nothing seems to phase him.  He’s temperance personified.

My man is kind.  He would never intentionally hurt anyone.  We have been married almost 25 years and I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone else, even when I’ve tried to goad him into it!  He has feelings and gets hurt and might even think something negative but he knows how to “bridle his tongue”.  Which brings me to…

My man reminds me of James.  Yes, the scriptural James, brother of John.  As far as apostles go, Peter is the Hollywood superstar – everyone loves Peter because he’s identifiable and has such charisma.  John is beloved.  But James?  We hardly ever talk about James. Let me tell you a little of what I’ve learned about James over the years — he is smart, kind, dedicated, worthy, righteous, valiant and quiet.  I know this about James because I have come to believe James’ personality was probably similar to that of my husband.  In fact, James’ short chapters in the New Testament talk about bridling your tongue and being valiant.  Yep.  That’s my man.

My man is a true gentleman.  He holds doors open for ladies and those that are less-than-ladylike because of who HE is, not because of who is walking through the door.  He is quick to help and, over the years, has never complained about any service he has rendered.  His example has taught his sons well as they have carried on the tradition of helping people move, paint, clean gutters, fix windows, replace appliances, fix cars, fix roofs, install garage doors, etc.  Our sons are better for his example.  He helps so much that sometimes things at home get put off way too long.  He is always helping someone in some way — often ways I’m not even aware of.

My man is steadfast.  He is my rock.  He is solid.  He is the one who always answers reassuringly when I ask, “Are we going to be okay?”

My man is strong.  He has lifted many washers and dryers on his lone back.

My man is not greedy.  He would never dream of having a brand new, shiny truck as long as there are family needs that take precedence.  He dreams of the truck, I assure you, but he’s patient enough and willing to wait until our kids are on missions and through college (or at least until his current 15 year old SUV breaks down for good!).

My man is confident in his own way.  He does not get jealous.  Believe me, I’ve tried!

My man is easygoing.  He takes things one day at a time and everything in stride.  I once asked where he’d like to be buried (I was not plotting his death!) and he said, “I don’t care, I’ll be dead!”  Yep.  That about sums him up.

My man is smart.  I spent the first 10 or 15 years of our marriage thinking I was smarter.  But, over the ensuing years, I have realized that he is WAY smarter than I am.  A few things I’ve learned from him a little too late:  there is wisdom in not responding to emails and phone calls right away; I don’t need to respond immediately.  I still struggle with this but often, things work out on their own and usually by those who harbored the initial problem in the first place.  People must be given a chance to solve their own problems whether that is at home, work or church.  The Lord helps those who help themselves!  I’ve also learned that simple is good.  One can fulfill an obligation without going overboard or complicating things.  For me, this concept was — and still is — revolutionary.  The marketing person in me wants to plan, advertise, aggrandize and make things bigger and better — which is often not appropriate.  Much like how the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost pierces the soul, simple action in fulfilling callings and obligations can be more effective than any other superfluous activity.  He does what matters most and he does it right.  There’s James showing up again.

My man is a hard worker.  He has worked full-time and then an overnight part-time job on the side as well as finishing his Master’s degree while working and raising small kids.  He is the type of man who would do any kind of work to support his family.  He would never say any work was beneath him if his family was in need.

My man loves nature.  He is a fisherman at heart.  I don’t get it, but whatever.  He loves it so much that he fly-fished for fish (not trout!) in Omaha occasionally over his lunch breaks in small streams near his workplace.  He loves to tie flies and has taught his boys.  No vacation is complete without a state park visit, fishing or hiking.  We have been to so many zoos and state parks, I’ve lost count!  He is the perfect father for our boys.

My man eats anything.  Even when I have called and asked him what he wants for dinner, he says the same thing, “Anything.”  He has never once complained about anything I’ve ever cooked.  He often praises my cooking and is the only willing leftover-eater in the house!  As if that weren’t good enough, he occasionally comes home after a long day and cooks for the family — especially if I’m still at the computer finishing up a job.  He knows how difficult it is to work from home and fit everything in.  The crazy thing is, this man cooks with love.  Everything he makes tastes fantastic and the kids have requested his cooking more than mine.  He has the patience to chop and dice finely (which I don’t – you get big chunks of onion from me because I’m always in a hurry!).  He knows just how much mustard and onion go together for the perfect hot dog topping.  He is grill master.  I say, with 100% certainty, if he ever left this Earth while I was still on it, I would never grill again (mostly because I don’t even know how to start the grill).  His steaks and chicken are legendary and he often is the one who grills for company.

My man is athletic.  Some people might laugh at this but they shouldn’t!  He often runs with me on Sunday mornings and he hates running!  He says he’s willing to go just because he wants to spend time with me doing something I love.   The thing that really ticks me off, though, is that he can run for two weeks and go farther and longer than I’ve been able to work up to in 9 years of running!  He’s got good genes.

My man helps around the house.  More often than I’d like to admit.  He fixes things, cleans and pitches in just about every way imaginable.

My man is funny.  Seriously, funny.  Our children have great senses of humor and I think they get this from their dad.  He makes me laugh often!

My man loves books.  Recently we had a book “race” where he read the paper book and I listened to the audiobook while I exercised and we finished at the same time.  It was funny how often we would end the day just at the same “scene” and it was fun to discuss it a little at night.

My man is righteous.  I don’t mean self-righteous.  He’s not that at all.  He is righteous in that he loves God with all of his heart and is a valiant priesthood holder in our home.  He blesses our children before school years begin, before scout camp, before anything and anytime we ask for a father’s blessing.  He’s not perfect, but he’s trying and he’s perfect for me.

Happy Father’s Day, Don.  You’re still my best friend and the first person I call for anything.  I’m sorry you had to leave at 7 a.m. for California on this Father’s Day — know you are loved and missed at home.  I love you.  We love you.  You are the best father to our children I could have ever hoped for.

Love,

Lizabeth

What I Designed Today: Kid’s Wolfie Mozart Design

What I designed today is still in the works but here’s the first draft. I had a client make an unusual request: they wanted a mascot of sorts for their children’s publications. It’s not their logo, but it’s a friendly “wolfie” which was, apparently, Mozart’s nickname as a youth. He’s to be splashed all over their publications involving youth during the coming year. I’ve created two wolfies (each with slight variations): one for a younger audience, heavily based off this royalty-free art from comodo777 at BigStock and a second one entirely created by me for a slightly older audience. Which would you choose?  Let me just say, drawing that wig was so satisfying!  And, also, there is zero vector artwork readily available for Mozart wigs.  Just sayin’.  Well, now there’s one…

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Cole Turns 15

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Sigh. He’s 15. We should be getting a learner’s permit, right? He’s got some catching up to do in scouts for that to happen. He’ll do it – he’s a self-motivated kid and we don’t push like some scout parents. I wish we could have given him a bigger celebration this year because he means the world to us but finances are tight and the poor kid didn’t get anything at all present-wise from us though his grandparents on both sides came through. He does know we love him and I offered to make him his favorite dinner but he couldn’t commit to one so we had Taco Bell. He did get the traditional family chocolate cake. He is the best kid we could have ever asked for! I wouldn’t even trade him for a girl. He’s always been a good kid and here’s to hoping it lasts at least through the rest of the teenage years (one can hope, right?). So anyway, here’s a very public birthday note for Cole: We love you, Cole! You make us proud in every single thing you do. You are a great big brother. You are a smart, capable, responsible young man and you surprise us almost every day with your intelligence and witty humor. We will forgive you the antics on early morning seminary drives (that would be your antics, not ours). Love, Mom & Dad

Thanksgiving at the Church

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So there were lots of people so my MIL reserved the church. It was nice to have everyone sit down to eat together but there was an awkwardness afterward with no football and no couches. Moral of the story: Thanksgiving was meant to be held at home! It WAS fun, however, to see all of the Roberts and meet Ali’s kids and Rebecca and Josh, Boyd’s new wife and baby.

Happy Birthday, Gabe!

Gabe turned 9 today. I did not spend the day in tears like I did when Cole turned 10. Maybe next year. I am sad, however, that the time flies so very quickly. I remember the day he was born as if it were yesterday. He was such a chubby baby! 9 lb 1 oz. As they carried him across the surgery room, his chubby arm flopped over the towel and it looked like I had a toddler! I was nervous because he did not cry. Just opened his eyes and looked around. They laid him near my face so I could see him – even though my arms were strapped down so I could not hold him — and he just laid there and looked at me for the longest time. I think I got to hold him in the surgery room for more time than any of the other boys.

Today, he is still an observant yet quiet kid – until you push him too far. He’s the one who can ride in the car without too many arguments with his brothers (except he is our carsick-easy kid). I love this about him. He can be engrossed in just being outside, or a book, or a movie and is completely content.

Some of my favorite things about Gabe:
1: He lounges. The pic above was at Hermann Park. Everybody else was climbing, running, getting hurt and Gabe was lounging. The arms behind the head is a sure sign of Gabe’s favorite position. He is a laid-back kind of guy. I love this!

2: He loves cold things: ice cream, popsicles. This is my kind of kid. Ayurvedics call this vata, I think (or is it pitta?)…whatever. It’s his area of expertise. He can devour cold things like nobody’s business.

3: He is kind. When I offered to take him alone to see “How to Train Your Dragon” the first words out of his mouth were a soft but surprised, “But I don’t want to go without my brothers.”

4: Gabe is smart. He was his 2nd grade teacher’s favorite student. He continues to do very well in school. He is so imaginative that he has to work on concentrating but watch out when he applies himself, the sky is the limit.

5: He is funny. He has an amazing sense of humor – better than most adults that I know. Gabe has been making us laugh since before he was born. He tried to grab the amnioscentesis needle TWICE as the doctor reinserted it in different pockets of fluid. He could sense a disturbance in the force. It’s no wonder he’s a Star Wars fan. He’s a seriously funny kid – even at 2 weeks old. I was singing in the temple choir for Winter Quarters and had to buy a nice dress (2 weeks post baby!) for the dedication and we were in a nice department store and Don was holding Gabe outside the dressing rooms. He tooted so loud and so often that it sounded – no joke – like an adult. EVERY single woman there thought it was Don and he was trying to pass the blame to Gabe – a 2 week old baby (yeah, right!)…but it really was Gabe. We used to say “Gabriel won’t you blow your horn?” when he was so very tiny. Thankfully he grew out of this stage very quickly.

Gabe is many more things – I could never cover them all – but today, he’s 9. One more year we’ve been lucky to have him in our lives. We love you, kiddo. Love, Mom & Dad

Temple & Scripture Poster

I am so, so, so very excited to get one of these printed up on a canvas for our new home. It will be a 24 x 36 inch size (2′ x 3′) hanging portrait/vertically. I need to fix some of the typography but I think it will be pretty.

Never Looked So Good!

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The realtor’s sign has never, ever looked as good as with it’s “SOLD” sleeve on it. Cole admitted he went out and hugged it after he watched the realtor put it on. HOORAY! Fingers still crossed for a smooth closing…

Gabe’s Baptism & Birthday

This past Sunday was about as perfect as any day could get. Gabe was sweet and brave and got baptized on his 8th birthday. His teacher, Miss Gibb, came and many friends and family. We are so lucky to have him in our family! Gabe is funny, smart, generous and kind (not to mention cute). We had a lovely time at the church during the baptism and yummy treats and cream filled cake afterwards. Thanks to all who came for making it such a special day. It was good to see cousins that we don’t see enough as well as old friends from Papillion. We love you all.