The Last Hurrah – Aunt Lili Visits Houston


My sister Lili flew in on late Thursday afternoon and we went to Mega Mel’s Cafe in Tomball and then to the boys’ favorite tire park (Jerry Matheson park, also in Tomball). We are going to miss those places. I heart Tomball. If we ever have to move back to Houston, that is where we would go! Then, Friday, we got up early and drove to San Antonio and went to Six Flags for the day and wore everyone out. Saturday we drove to Kemah Boardwalk for the Crawfish Festival with Zydeco music and, no, I did not eat any crawfish. We went to one of the best restaurants for my birthday that I have ever eaten at: Saltgrass Steakhouse. It was very yummy and I only had the steak salad! Sunday we went to church and then looked for dolphins as we took the ferry across Galveston to the Bolivar Peninsula and spent the day at Crystal Beach. It was a wild ride (with lots of time in the car!) but we had such a great time with Lili here to celebrate my birthday. When we dropped her back off at the airport on Monday, I think it felt like she had just arrived — what a whirlwind tour. It was nice to have a visitor before we leave for Oklahoma.

Big News! Moving to Bartlesville, Oklahoma


We are excited to move to Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  It sounds like the area is right up our alley (tornado alley, that is) and really our speed.  We love smaller towns and are so excited to be closer to Omaha.  ConocoPhillips (yes, I believe it’s all one word) moved fast and hired Don very quickly.  He’s really looking forward to working with his new boss and team – they sound like great people to work with.  It will be a big change after thirteen years at Hewlett Packard but change is good and I know this move will be really good for him.  I’m worried a bit that the move has something to do with Bartlesville being the home of the largest Colt museum in the world…it sounds like Oklahoma is an outdoor paradise for hunting, fishing, and shooting.  Don + Oklahoma + a Cabela’s catalog = a midlife crisis I can live with!!!

Nebraska: The Good Life

I’m sitting in the car, blogging on the laptop, windows down, 75 degrees outside and breezy — THE BREEZE! — it seems there are never breezes in Houston. None of us wants to go back to Texas. I can’t even call it “home” — too hot, too many bugs. We are enjoying Nebraska and Iowa so much that even the kids don’t want to leave (and Cole’s spent a month on Papa & Nana’s floor!). The little boys have been rotating couches and seem to be fine. It’s amazing how kids can adjust. Three more days in heaven and then we head back to the sauna known as Houston. It will be great to see Don again — I think if he wasn’t there, we’d just move in and I’d enroll the kids in Ralston. Sure, we’d miss Gretna but I’d do just about anything to stay here. So many great friends are here, too. It was great to see ALMOST everyone. There were a few friends and family we missed. One thing is for sure: we’ll be back! Plus, we’ll be just as annoying and stay just as long!!!

Pepper the Pound Puppy

Introducing Pepper, the pound puppy. We adopted her last Saturday on a whim. We have been wanting a puppy for awhile – mastiff, rottweiler or german shepherd but when we saw this brindle boxer / black lab mix at the pound she was so sweet and we couldn’t leave her behind. She’s just shy of 5 months old and it’s taken a week but she’s starting to come out of her shell. Welcome to our home, Pepper!

Happy Birthday, Dear Ben!


My baby is 4. And he’s not a baby (hasn’t been for awhile but I’ve been blissfully ignorant). He has taken THE. LONGEST. TIME. to potty train. All of my other boys were trained before 3 or at least right when they turned 3. I know boys take longer but aaaaaaaah! He’s finally got it…almost. We’re still working on #2 but he is doing so very good at staying dry in skivvies all day. He picked out a dragon birthday cupcake-cake and we all had green frosting everywhere for the evening. Bennie is such a joy. I just love to kiss his freckled face and squeeze him for hugs. He is a delight. I’m so glad he’s mine.

Ben’s Eye Surgery: Before & After

The bed so generously given to us by a good friend – thanks, Becky! Pre-surgery but anticipating his new accommodations in Mom & Dad’s room!

It’s been so long and I haven’t been able to write out the details. So, you’ve been spared, dear reader. However, things went perfectly well. The cyst was about a half an inch long when it came out and the surgeon said it looked like a calcified cyst. A normal overgrowth of cells that most likely is not cancerous or anything dangerous or recurring, though they did send it off for tests but told us that we probably wouldn’t be hearing anything (which, knock on wood, we have not!). He still has the tape on them but the incision and stitches look good – they will dissolve, eventually. He is a trooper!

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

What I Designed Today: Book Cover for Dandelions for Mother’s Day

I get to do a quick and fun book cover for Brenda Craner Benedict. She did the cute dandelion illustration on the cover (as well as writing the book!). My job can be so much fun sometimes. Plus, I get to meet great people.

Potty Talk at the School’s Playground Park

So the boys have piano lessons from a family member that lives near a school park. Whenever the boys go to piano, we go to the park in her backyard. I was trying to be such a cool mom so I invited some friends and picked them up on the way. I love invitations that involve a park because it doesn’t involve messing up the house. Anyway…this park is also a school playground. Our time there often overlaps with the after-school-daycare kids (i.e. a bunch of 2nd and 3rd graders, usually). This mix has never posed a problem but today it certainly created an interesting experience for me.

Whenever I take Daisy, I am hands-down the most popular woman at school. Boys AND girls come up and hang out next to me just to pet her — like a good 85% of the kids that are there. While they were petting Daisy, Ben came up and said, “I’m flea (three)!” I continued to converse on their level by asking how old they were. Ben ran away and somehow one of the kids noticed he’s still in a diaper. I told them that yes, we’re working on potty training and told them Ben was a little scared of the potty seat. Then, I proceeded to ask one of the craziest questions ever, “Were you ever afraid of the potty seat or have trouble learning?” Encircled by the wisdom of a very diverse group of 7, 8 and 9 year old kids – BOY did I get a lesson! One said that he wasn’t afraid of the potty seat but his brother was and that he got to pee outside. Another said that his mom put toys in the toilet for him to pee on. A little girl piped up that she wasn’t afraid of the potty but when she was 3, she ate a cockroach. Oh, man, these kids were cute! They were so adult about the whole thing – giving me advice and telling me that it would all work out and being totally supportive of Ben and not making fun of him one bit. I think kid wisdom is underestimated. I didn’t see any of these kids go and tease him behind my back or anything!!

Spring Break, George Bush Park & Old Friends!!


We had a great day today! It felt like it was the first day in 8 months (since we moved here) where we could just get in the car and explore. We met some old Nebraska friends at George Bush Park in Katy and then we headed to Bass Pro at Katy Mills to get Cole some things for his scouting adventure this week. We wandered home on the back roads with happy hour Sonic drinks and had a wonderful day. It was so good to see the amazing women from back home. Love ya, Lorelei, Julia & Becki — you’re part of who I am. I have the fondest memories of growing up together. xoxo Lizabeth

Book Club at My House (aka Learning to Make Do)

Book club at my home was approaching. All the other book club ladies have such nice homes and nice furniture to go with them. I was aching for a coffee table and perhaps an end table or two so that people wouldn’t have to put plates on their laps. It is a tight week for us this week so I also wanted to make nice things to eat without going to the store. Which meant no fresh fruit. Hmmm. I made a blackberry coffee cake streusel and a bundt cinnamon coffee cake as well as a hash brown bake. No going to the store also meant no paper plates (at least not sturdy enough ones to use)…no problem, I don’t mind doing dishes, and using real plates is always nicer than paper.

I was trying to clean stains off the couches, stains off the carpet and feeling bad for myself that I didn’t have all new-matching-beautiful-perfect furniture. I could quickly see everywhere the dog has been…but would I give up the dog? Definitely not. She is worth the stains and hair. Then, I quickly got a grip and realized none of those things are important.

The house looked so nice from midnight to about 10 minutes AFTER book club was over. I was very thankful for Cole – one of the BEST KIDS EVER – who was more than willing to stay up and help me clean. He even manually picked out leftover red M&Ms from the Christmas bags I stocked up on after the holiday when they went on sale (he did the same thing with candy DOTS! What a kid!). The red looked so cute in my valentine heart dishes and nobody knew how frugal I really was.

I had been at Kohl’s earlier that day and had a clearance banquet tablecloth in my hand for $19.99. Mind you, I have two white banquet tablecloths that I can’t seem to locate since our move. I searched. Don searched. No such luck. I put the purchase back on the shelf at Kohl’s and walked out empty handed. Even though I felt like I desperately needed that tablecloth. So, I went home and took a cream colored fabric shower curtain and washed it and laid it out on half the table. Then, I took another cream colored tablecloth I had (smaller than banquet) and put it over the other half. Then, I took a small square tablecloth my mother made for me and put it over the seam. I can honestly say that I doubt anybody even noticed and it looked so good! I really AM learning how to make do and it felt pretty good! Give it about 3 days and I’ll find my white banquet tablecloths somewhere…isn’t that how it always goes?!

When all was said and done, I was so happy with how everything looked and tasted and the company was the best of all. I learned a couple of things: 1) if you refrain from the impulse to buy something just because you think you need it, DON’T DO IT!!. You’ll feel better in the long run. You and your home can shine with what you already are or have. 2) Women who don’t care about those things, anyway, are the best friends to have. If anybody would have cared in the least, I really wouldn’t want to have them as a friend, anyway!!!

Sleeping Boys

Pretty self explanatory. We only have 4 more days with the parents…we are so sad it is almost time for them to go!

Slow Dance Poem

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun into the fading light?
You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask how are you, do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow
And in your haste not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch.  Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time to call and and say, “Hi!”
You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day
It is like an unopened gift…Thrown away.
Life is not a race
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

— Anonymous

Heavenly Reminders

Wednesday this week, we thought we lost Gabe. Things were hectic, so I ordered pizza. Gabe and Ben didn’t come downstairs to eat with the rest of us. We were in a hurry and going fifteen different directions that night so I didn’t think too much of it as Cole and I scarfed down our pizza and headed out the door to tae kwon do. Halfway to the Woodlands, Don calls and asks if I’ve seen Gabe. He can’t find him anywhere. The last time I saw him was just before the pizza came and he was doing homework in my office. I had sent him upstairs to put away his orange belt and he never came back down. Don frantically searched the house, the perimeter and went to the neighbors’ home. None of my boys go outside or over to friends without asking me first. We were very worried. Cole started praying AND crying and we turned around and headed home as quickly as we could. A very long 20 minutes or so later, Gabe was found sound asleep wrapped completely in a blanket at the back of his top bunk bed. He didn’t even wake up when Don was yelling for him right next to him! The skinny kid got lost up there! We are so grateful nothing happened to him and while we read scriptures that night, I just couldn’t stop hugging him.

Fast forward to Thursday. I woke up grumpy. Nothing too extensive…run-of-the-mill grumpiness. I was glad Gabe was okay but couldn’t shake my bad mood all. day. long…even with a morning run! I had a church meeting Thursday night and the hostess mentioned she had been at a funeral. Her neighbor boy had wandered into their neighbor’s pool and drowned. My heart sank. It was my nightmare come true! I feel so badly for this child’s family. What a tragedy. I was instantly reminded that life is so fragile and precious and I should not waste one minute of it being grumpy over my small trials.

Friday: I am up way too early but am going to make the best of it by going to the gym and getting my workout in very early. I have good things ahead today! I hope Friday and the weekend bring you many good things to look forward to as well! Happy Friday!!!

Settling In…

I’m too tired to even post a picture though I have a few really good ones of piles of boxes. The boys had an 11 or 12 foot tall fort created with boxes IN THE ENTRYWAY so that we couldn’t even get to the door if we wanted to.

We love this house. It feels like a little bit of heaven. We love the paint colors. We love the layout. I adore the kitchen and master bedroom – it is so big that Cole claims we could cut it in half and give him some extra yard outside! I am a bit afraid to go upstairs and see how the boys have unpacked their things! Back to the kitchen…I’ve been there for 2 days straight…it’s not a gas stove or a double oven (both were on my “must have” list) but I am so happy with what is here. I love the tile and the cabinets. I want to paint the inside of them Martha Stewart bluish green (probably the same color the previous owners used on the wainscoting in the laundry room which is DREAMY). Not only did the previous owners leave us a welcome basket of CHOCOLATE (dark, too!), she labeled all the house color paint cans with the room it was used in AND THE YEAR/DATE it was used…seriously, I wish everybody could buy a house from people as nice as we did. We were extremely blessed to meet them. Our own house “touches” will come in good time…I’m going to just enjoy our family being in a home again for awhile first.

The Zellmers really took good care of their home. The only hitch we’ve run into is our fridge won’t fit in the laundry room. Well, it fits in the slot but there is a windowsill in the way…not sure what we’re going to do about that yet. Our chest freezer was going to be sold but now Don thinks maybe that will fit instead. Let’s see…what else do we love? The kids love the big tub in the master bath. It’s not as big as our old one (nor is it a Jacuzzi) but they were all very pleased and seemed to like it more. I think not being a Jacuzzi is a plus.

The dog is in heaven. She keeps trying to sneak off into the field by our home. I bought a new rug for the kitchen today and she has claimed it.

The movers will need to replace 4 things: 1) Ben’s bunk bed headboard/footboard got lost before they even hit Texas (was never received in the warehouse) and 2) The loaders in Gretna damaged a big dresser on industrial wheels that we used to store the boys’ toys 3) my jogging stroller got damaged, and 4) a miscellaneous box of blankets was lost. Not too shabby for 20,720 lbs of stuff, I think. The only thing that breaks my heart is Ben is sleeping in Alex’s old room on the floor for now until his bed can be replaced. It’s okay, though, he is snuggling in blankets and the carpet is very soft. Hmm…as I type this he is sleeping in my bed. Not good.

I hear sawing upstairs. The older boys have taken my serrated kitchen knife and are building cardboard forts in the playroom. They asked for duct tape about an hour ago while I was preparing a lesson for church and I didn’t put two-and-two together…I’d better go take some pictures and see if anybody is bleeding!

More later when we’re coherent again.