Eric Utz describes his mom as being like a lion, strong and fierce – but also like a puppy, cute and loving.
Barb Utz is the mother of six children – two girls and four boys. Eric, 10, is her youngest child and he is in the fourth grade at St. Anthony Grade School in Janet Cummins' class. When Barb found out that his letter was one of four picked as gift winners from Weber Jewelry, she admits that she was surprised.
"I cried," she said. "There are so many other mothers out there. I was surprised."
Eric also touched on the fact that his mother has three jobs to feed them. Utz said she is a special needs and inclusion instructor at Millikin University, a developmental therapist for early intervention for children birth to age 3 and she works from home doing billing for early intervention providers. Even though she works three jobs she drives her children to school in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon. Three of her children attend St. Anthony and three of them have already graduated.
One of her sons, Luke, has special needs. He was born with three chambers in his heart instead of four and has underwent 41 surgeries at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Luke is currently a sophomore at St. Anthony High School.
Her oldest daughter, Kari, works as a nurse in Altamont. Her other daughter, Anna, lives in Granite City and works as a sales representative. Her son Greg lives in Effingham and is attending Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
When asked if they are close or not, Utz said that they hang out a lot.
"He's 10 and his next sibling is 16 so we hang out a lot," she said "We do a lot together."
Some of the things that they enjoy doing include riding four wheelers and walking down country roads collecting cans.
"Our goal this summer is to float down the Wabash River behind our house," Utz said.
She said that the she tries to cook a home cooked meal every night and they try to eat together. A family dinner favorite is meatloaf wrapped in bacon. Mom isn't the only one doing the cooking and cleaning in the house though. According to Utz, her children all have chores and do the laundry, clean their rooms and do some cooking.
"All the boys pitch in," she said. "All the wood that we cleared when we built our house went into the house."
She added that all of her children helped with the process of building their home.
"I like that my mom cooks good food and taught me things like how to ride a bike and how to do laundry," Eric said.
Crystal Reed can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 131
My mother, Barb Utz, deserves to be "Mother of The Year" because she is sweet and kind, and she is the best. My mom has three jobs just to feed 5 guys. She might discipline us sometimes, but it is because she loves us. One of my brothers has special needs, and my mom takes care of him every day. She even has to take a 7 mile trip into town every day. She is like a lion, strong and fierce. She's also like a puppy, cute and loving.
– Eric Utz