Report Card: Milhizer 2014

This year’s assessment reflects our performance normalized against state success standards and improvement over 2013 benchmarks.

Business: A

Eric left T-Mobile in August to become head of marketing for Sage Telecom. In 4 months, he has already filed for a patent, created a new brand, and launched a new marketing strategy. Being in charge has its advantages, namely getting all of your ideas past the head of marketing.

English: A

On the same day Eric started his new job, I began teaching Junior English at Carroll Senior High School. I am combining my love of books with my creativity and bossiness. I love it, and it’s all worth it to hear a football player tell me he “loves poetry.” I even had a student paint my portrait as a project. He gave me eyebrows, so it was an automatic A.

Economics:  B-

While Eric’s job was a significant increase in responsibility and pay, suffice it to say, I went the other way. My job is enriching in other ways, none of which is salary, benefits, grading, administration, failure conferences, armed combatant training, or lesson planning. But it’s all worth it when the lightbulb goes on and students shout, “Wait, that’s irony,” and they’re mostly right.

Math: D

Last year I bought a new Christmas tree. The 8′ tree we had was overwhelmed by the 20′ ceilings. We finally hauled the new one out of its 3 boxes last weekend, and while a 12′ tree is appropriate in a 20′ room, it is not appropriate when your tallest family member is 5’9″.

Physical Education: B

Nate and Gus are bringing up the average here. Gus continues to compete in Tae Kwon Do tournaments, and he has joined a performance hip hop company in addition to his regular dance company schedule. Nate enjoys golf lessons, and spent 3 weeks in sailing camp on Crystal Lake in Michigan. He’ll be trying spring baseball this year.

I still teach yoga, but I’ve had to drop down to 1 class/week with my new schedule.

We also took a family ski trip to Breckenridge for spring break. Let’s just say I’m killing the family average here, though contributing significantly to the ongoing success of Advil.

Music: A+

Gus spent 3 weeks at a piano camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan this summer, and has already signed up for next year. The difference in his playing is remarkable. He plays piano for the middle school Jazz Band and percussion in the top concert band.

Nate continues his piano and guitar lessons, and has an impressive ability to play by ear. He was in 2 musical theater productions this year. His big frustration was having to prompt others with their lines. Amateurs.

Study Abroad: A+

This summer we were able to take a fantastic trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England with the boys and my mom. Everyone kept up with my punishing itinerary, and we were able to see quite a bit of countryside on both islands. The highlight was a visit to Castle Lachlan for the MacLachlan Clan Gathering near Inveraray.

Health: A

We’ve enjoyed another year of health and happiness. We’ve got no complaints, other than I have a hard time staying up past 9 pm.

Overall Score: Exceeds Expectations

We wish you all A+ holidays and a generous curve on 2015. Now for the filmstrip:


The Milhizers

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.

Milhizers in Europe 2013

Follow us on our journey to 3 of my all-time favorite cities. I had the great experience of living and studying in Munich my junior year of college. I have not been back to these cities in 20 years. So, it seemed like the perfect opportunity when the boys complained they were not invited to our trip to Turkey 2 years ago. It was dubbed the Mozart/Castle/Beer Tour. Something for everyone! Here’s how the trip rated for each of its intrepid travelers:

Barbara: Still amazing cities. Even better on a post-college travel budget. Can still rock the German and the chocolate croissant.

Eric: Beer. Pretzels. Milka Bars. He’s in.

Gus: Museums, concerts, subways! Already knows 30 useful phrases in Czech and is deciding where to be an exchange student first.

Nate: Walked those little legs everywhere with little complaint.  Thumbs up.

Moving Forward to Take America Back 2012!

We had an abundance of things to be thankful for this year in the Milhizer household, and not the least of these is the inspiration I know each of us took from the illuminating and ever-present campaigning and election process. We were wrapped up in the intricacies of polling numbers, Electoral College scenarios, and familiarity with county maps of Florida. We, at the Milhizer house, are sad to see it go and as such are considering a move to Ohio, which is like the North Pole, except for year-round elections instead of Christmas. Imagine a world where Hobby Lobby already has its 2016 red, white, and blue bunting up in anticipation! Can you say, “confetti cannon”? And so to extend the joy until the exploratory committees emerge next week, an homage, Milhizer style…

Editor’s note: For full effect, read aloud in your best “Investigative Journalist” voice with equal parts outrage and opprobrium.

60% of Milhizer Household: TAKERS!

Three out of 5 Milhizers pay no income taxes; never mind that they don’t have income. That’s not the point. All they do is demand food, clothing, the latest gadgets, and to be driven to an extreme number of extra-curricular activities. Just keeping the hybrid fueled up has forced Barbara to maintain 3 jobs: as HR consultant, yoga instructor, and unpaid (yet much loved) blogger. And yet, she finds time to practice piano, photo-document the family, and spend quality time with her Crock Pot.

Children Exploited to Enhance Facebook Posts

It’s clear that without being able to brag about their children’s accomplishments, these people would have absolutely nothing to say. For example:


  • 2011-2012 Piano Student of the Year
  • 4th grade All A Honor Roll
  • 4th place Durham Intermediate Spelling Bee
  • 1st place Back Kick Board Break and 2nd place Staff Form, Hamandang Texas Tae Kwon Do Competition


  • 2 goals to cement the Rovers’ single win of the season
  • Superior Rating in Fall Piano Festival
  • Voted Best Laugh EVER

Such disgusting and shameless use of their offspring. They are probably angling for a reality TV show. Somewhere Honey Boo Boo weeps.

Blue State Vacation Bias?

Don’t think it has gone unnoticed that 100% of vacations the Milhizers took were to BLUE STATES!

  • Skiing in Steamboat Colorado for Spring Break!
  • A week in Chicago over the summer visiting public institutions, like museums! And you know what goes on in Chicago…community organizing!
  • Torch Lake, Michigan. Isn’t that really South Canada?
  • And Hawaii, which Donald Trump doesn’t even recognize as a state!

The only thing less American would be a trip to Europe, and our sources indicate that’s in the works for 2013.


Seamus, the hard-working family dog, was simply doing his job as retriever when he tried to bag a neighborhood cyclist for the family. Simply pulling his weight, we say. (The neighbor and local law enforcement saw it somewhat differently.) What did loyalty and honest work get Seamus? OUTSOURCED! Now he lives in the country with other dogs, competing for survival, and relegated to riding on car roofs. Meanwhile, his cozy bed and chew toys are taken over by a “Portuguese Water Dog.” Our investigators looked it up, and we’re pretty sure Portugal isn’t even in this country. As a result, we are unable to authenticate the birth certificate of this so-called Sheba. Another example of American jobs going to undocumented workers? You be the judge.

Foreign Take-Over! Heiliger Apfelstrudel!

T-Mobile is buying MetroPCS, where Eric is VP of Marketing. T-Mobile is owned by Deutsche Telekom. I think we all know where this is going…half of Eric’s salary will be earmarked for the Greek Debt Alleviation Fund, the Milhizers will now be forced to pledge allegiance to Angela Merkel, and they must now learn to accessorize properly with scarves. Jawohl!

You Didn’t Build That!

Still no house on the property on Lake Charlevoix. It’s almost like they are expecting someone to come along and build the heli-pad and car elevators for them.

Polls Indicate Milhizers Bitterly Divided

On any given day these people can’t agree on what to name the new puppy, where to eat, whose turn it is to pick the song in the car, or who started the argument, and yet they manage to take as many vacations a Congress and still maintain a higher favorability rating. But they all agree on the following end to the annual letter…

May your post-election bounce be permanent, your gaffes few, your fiscal cliff a short drop, your PAC replete with funds, and your fate not rest in the hands of (clearly incapable) Florida. (Can we just replace them with Puerto Rico? Then we wouldn’t have to re-do the stars on the flag.)

Wishing you happy holidays and a terrific 2 years until congressional elections,

Eric, Barbara, Gus, and Nate

I am Barbara Milhizer, and I approved this message. Cue the video montage…

A Snooty Thanksgiving

In keeping with the holiday tradition, a list of things even a snoot is thankful for…

  1. I do not work at Wal-Mart
  2. I do not live near a Wal-Mart
  3. I have no reason to visit a Wal-Mart, just like the other 364 days of the year
  4. I require no parking spaces today
  5. A day where marshmallows constitute an acceptable salad ingredient
  6. Twelve followers, just like Jesus
  7. Online retail
  8. Napping as an approved activity
  9. Pillsbury pie crusts
  10. Family, friends, health and a forum in which to out my inner snoot