Required Reading: Holiday 2013

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Welcome to the Milhizer Holiday Letter 2013 – the literary version. Why the literary version? Because it has often been said that life imitates art, and for what I’m about to reveal in a serious plot twist…

She’s Come Undone

Some might say I fell down the well and bumped my head this year. I did slip on the ice and fall into the pool during an ice storm, but as far as I remember I did not hit my head. I am down one appendix, however. To make up for it I decided to take on several new projects, including starting a Fine Arts Coalition, advocating for arts programming in the Carroll School District, becoming a featured writer in Southlake Arts Magazine, coordinating Youth Programming for Apex Arts League, and um… going back to school to get my post-grad certificate to teach High School English.

As for that last part, I blame Ms. Pete, my junior English teacher. Like an oracle in some Greek tragedy, she prophesied this would be my fate. So I accept it. I have fallen down the well, realized I’m 41, and look forward to what’s next. I’ve never been one to stay still for long, so I start classes in January at UNT. I’ve already passed my literature content exam and am knee-deep in high school reading lists, hence the literary version of this letter.

I still enjoy HR consulting at PeopleResults (which I plan to continue during my studies and over my summers), teaching yoga, practicing piano, planning vacations and photographing them. 

A Man for All Seasons

Eric may be the only constant around here. He’s the eye to our hurricane. He has the adaptability skills of phytoplankton. MetroPCS was bought by T-Mobile last spring, and Eric has transitioned well into the new organization. He was named a “Luminary” by Nielsen and invited to present at their annual leadership conference as a client who continually challenges them. I’ve yet to see what tangible benefits “Luminary” status confers, but if you look closely you can detect a faint glow about him.

Eric remains checker of math homework, expert Beignet-maker, ski coach, audio book hound, and indulger of my wild ideas. He keeps the boys in the latest technology and me from blowing myself up.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

What 2 years ago we might have thought of as passing fancy has become full-fledged obsession. Gus continues to pursue piano doggedly and has progressed to some very complicated pieces. He was invited to play at Thanksgiving mass this year on a Lang Lang signed Steinway. Trust me, it was a big deal. He’s decided to apply to Interlochen this year, a 3-week intensive camp in Northern Michigan. He’s my inspiration for continuing piano lessons and expanding Fine Arts opportunities in Southlake schools.

This year, he’s also playing percussion in the band at school, dancing in the Hip Hop Company, working on his 2nd degree black belt, and generally tearing up 6th grade. I can guess where he gets his intensity, but not his stamina.

He turns 12 this year, and like any pre-teen is experimenting with being alternately maddening and sweet. I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know our confrontations would mostly be over metronomes and sixteenth notes.

The Storyteller

Nate inhabits a world of wonder of his own making. If there is one area of 1st grade where he is laser-focused, that is story-writing/telling. His creations this year have included a tale of a lizard that lives on Eric’s head and the riveting “The Time Papaw Bumped the Curb.” He will also school you on the genetic peculiarities that make Colombians the master scissors-wielders that they are.

Nate plays the piano with a natural ear for it, unlike the rest of us who require sheet music. He began gymnastics this year, and is progressing to pre-competitive levels. He is resident comedian and entrepreneur. At my dad’s 75th birthday party, Nate saw an opportunity when asked to play the piano. He ran upstairs and emerged with a hat seeded with his own quarter. He collected quite a few dollars busking with “Joy to the World.”

He also hit the jackpot this year when two new neighbors moved in with a total of 4 boys between the ages of 6-9. We are all excited that Colombia will be in the World Cup this summer, in which they are sure to prevail if scissors-skills play any part.

On the Road

No Milhizer family letter is complete without an accounting of our travels. I can often be found on vacation planning the next one. This year we were in Michigan over the New Year where we watched Northwestern win its first bowl game in the post-war era. Needless to say, hopes of bowl-watching travel have been dashed handily this year.

We skied again in Steamboat for spring break with Gus passing my ability and everyone passing me in general. Slow skiers get no rest. But my thighs are the most taut given that I turn 300% more often than anyone else. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Our big trip this year took us overseas to relive my college days on a much improved budget. We visited Munich, Salzburg, and Prague and had a fantastic time. The boys went everywhere, tried every food, learned a little German and Czech, and generally impressed us with their adventurous spirit. We spent time at museums, castles, Mozart concerts, and a chapel decorated entirely with human skeletons. Something for everyone.

We rounded out the summer with our annual trip to Lake Charlevoix, where we discovered the joys of the stand-up paddleboard and the wisdom of wetsuits. Almost everyone came, and we enjoyed the rare instance in which all of Eric’s siblings and most of their kids were in one place.

We also finalized the plans for our vacation house up there and picked a builder. The bank was less enthusiastic about the size of the house than we were, so it will likely be another year before we start construction.

The Call of the Wild

Santa, ever the jokester, brought our dog, Sheba a friend last year. Otto, the Dalmatian joined our family and has tormented poor Sheba ever since. Santa’s return policy is unclear.

Having two dogs keeps things interesting, but scratches and bruises on children are way down. Torn-out clumps of fur and swollen paws (thanks to a Copperhead snake bite), however, are up.

Now that you’ve read the novel, here’s the movie

Twenty fourteen promises to bring more homework, piano practice, pre-teen angst, fabulous trips, laughs and a precious few moments of stillness. Stay tuned for the sequel, due out December 2014.

That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.

Crime and Punishment

Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year,

Barbara, et al.

4 thoughts on “Required Reading: Holiday 2013

  1. Fantastic letter! I love ’em. I’m sorry I didn’t get to hear about the adventures at Thanksgiving time. We were happy to see all of you at Meg & Kyle’s and it was a thrill to be together with my family — I am usually in Richmond, VA or Chicago. Now that Meg/Kyle are here, it’ll give us more holidays together with family. We spent Christmas with Barb/Ed and I realized that it was the first Christmas I spent in Michigan in 11 years. Those past years were spent doing the Delta route between Richmond and Detroit. Happy days are here again. I signed up for each new posting and am looking forward to receiving the latest news.

    Love to all,
    Aunty Marge

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