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

Tribute to Cole – He’s 13 Today!

What?! I officially have a teenager?!? News to me. Other than being the world’s biggest eavesdropper, Cole is nothing like your typical teenager (give it time, right?). He is still a great kid and I’m proud of him and glad he’s in our family. He is like a superhero – kind, helpful, courageous, righteous, strong, smart, imaginative, friendly – and he has only one weakness that I know of: spelling. It’s his achilles heel. Not a bad trade for a superhero.

Memories of Cole from when he was a baby: he cried constantly because he had reflux. We had to do step aerobics to bounce him to keep him happy. He has always loved animals – especially dogs (and they seem to love him, too). He is also a very good big brother – he has helped take care of each of his three brothers. His first word was “Jesus” (seriously, even before mama or dada). He has always made friends easily and has a great sense of humor. The daycare he went to as a baby called him Mr. Personality. He enjoys piano, just quit trombone (with our blessing; we’re just not band people), is a brown belt in taekwondo (sooo close to black!), scouting, camping, swimming, etc. I asked him if he wanted to live in the country or suburb when we moved to Houston and he said without hesitate, “country”. He’s just an easygoing kid. We are grateful for him! We’re proud of you Cole.

Yesterday, at church, he got to be the Bishop’s helper and he held the microphone for a confirmation and had to sit up on the stand all during sacrament. His brother, Jack, looked up and said, “What’s Cole got?” (we were thinking microphone) and then he answered his own question by saying, “Cole’s got the priesthood?!”

Jack Juice: A Tribute to a Wonderful 6 Year Old Boy!

I didn’t get a chance to write a special post about Jack for his birthday during all of the holiday hubbub. I wanted to write a note for each child’s birthday on what we love about them at this stage of their lives. Jack is all boy. Last Sunday my sister’s husband, Ron, watched Jack run down the hall at church. He ran into a woman in our branch that is usually sick and frail, but not old. Anyway, he bumped into her and kept going down the hall (backstory: he had received a candy bar certificate for his birthday in Primary and wanted to get it. Fast.). Ron, said that Jack turned on a dime, walked ALL THE WAY back down the hall, and of his own volition politely apologized and with complete sincerity asked her if she was okay. He didn’t just say sorry…he looked into her face and genuinely apologized. All without prompting! What a great kid! He still got his chocolate and we’ll take care of running down the halls some other time.

Some other things Jack is doing right now: His favorite word when he likes something is “chocoboolate” (pronounced chalk-uh-boo-law-tay). He is starting to be a real big brother to Ben. He shares his toys willingly almost all of the time. He really, really likes Star Wars. He was dying for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em for Christmas. He just discovered computer games and likes Civilization. He is, at the moment, a picky eater and likes chocolate, yogurt, milk, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal and not much else. He will eat salad but no other vegetable. He is a fast runner with the cutest little muscles (he’s got the most muscle of all of our kids). He has faint downy hair all over his body – more hair than a 6 yr old should have. He’s the best reader in Kindergarten by far – at least a 2nd grade level – and taught himself to read. He wants his hands free so badly that he had a cut in his skin from not wearing his mittens in the cold weather. He sleeps with Pokemon cards and books (we discovered 9 books in his bed with him). He likes to pull pillowcases over his legs and crawl in and fall asleep. His nickname is “Jack Juice” ever since it was his preschool icon for his backpack and cubby. When he was little, he’d come over to be tickled and say “Torture me!” and taunt you to catch him. His favorite shoes are camo mocs and crocs. He likes to wake up early EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He would stand up for the right in any situation; he was willing to rat out 3rd graders at school who killed Gabe’s slugs on the school bus. He can handle the money in Star Wars Monopoly (he adds and subtracts like a 2nd grader, too). He’s just an all-around great kid. I love his round nose, blue eyes, sandy blonde hair and freckles — it’s a killer combo. He is mischievous and sweet and we wouldn’t have it any other way.