Liza and Hrair Simonian making the rounds, making home work
Dr. Hrair and Liza Simonian with their children, from left, Pierre and Izabelle, Eliza and Leo.
Making Home Work
Liza and Hrair Simonian making the rounds
Hrair and Liza Simonian share a common goal: to give their children a wealth of experiences throughout their adolescence. Parents to 11-year-old twins, Pierre and Izabelle, 9-year-old Leo and 18-month-old Eliza, the couple makes the most of their already busy schedules and encourages their children to stretch themselves in new ways all the time.
As the head of gastroenterology at Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith, Dr. Hrair Simonian works to make the most of each hour of his day. Liza does the same at home, caring for their children and managing the family’s day-to-day affairs. Hrair logs countless hours caring for patients and making rounds at the hospital, while Liza spends her afternoons making the rounds to the children’s full slate of practices and activities.
The couple met in London, where Liza was born. While working as an attorney, she attended an Armenian party where she met Hrair, who was visiting a friend. They are both of Armenian heritage.
“He was working in Philadelphia at the time, but after the party, we stayed in touch,” explained Liza. “Eventually, I convinced her to move to the States and we were married,” added Hrair.
“We both come from major cities, Liza from London and me from L.A., but we wanted to experience the small-town life,” Hrair said. “When the opportunity at Sparks came open and I visited, I thought, ‘This is what we want.’ I just loved it here and still do.”
Ten years later, the family is fully immersed into the community, staying active through their church, work, school and volunteering.
“Our children love to do everything,” Liza laughed.
Every weekday looks a little different for the Simonian crew, but a common theme includes hustling from one practice or program to the next. Three days a week, Liza takes her children to the Academy of the Arts at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
“Izabelle wants to be a movie star,” Liza said. To further advance her skills, Izabelle also takes extra voice and acting lessons. The children have participated in a number of productions, including the upcoming show “Alice in Wonderful,” in which Izabelle will star as Alice, Pierre as the King of Hearts and Leo will play the lobster.
Twice a week, the children take tennis lessons and have matches at Hardscrabble Country Club. Leo also plays soccer through Express Academy, where he serves as his team’s goalie. The children participate in other sports throughout the year, including basketball.
In addition to their after-school commitments, the twins are both student council officers at Christ the King Catholic School: Izabelle serves as vice president and Pierre as treasurer. The oldest three routinely are called as altar servers at school and at church. The children also play chess after school during the week and compete in annual competitions.
“We have a lot going on, but I feel these extra-curricular activities are helping them and making them into more self-sufficient, confident people,” Liza said. Hrair added, “Education is very important to us and we believe these experiences are beneficial and will help them to be more advanced.”
The youngest of the bunch, Eliza, happily tags along with her mom and siblings.
“Thankfully, she is a really good baby,” bragged Liza. During the school day, Liza makes time for just the two of them. “I was so busy with the older three, especially since they were so close in age. This time, though, I am able to slow down a bit and just enjoy her and this stage.”
While he may miss out on evening meals and afterschool activities, Hrair is committed to carving out time each day with his children.
“I take them to school every morning and that is something that is very important to me,” he said. “I love that five to 10 minutes I have with them in the car.”
And weekends are for family time.
“We go to dinner and movies. I wait until the kids are home and in bed before I go back to the hospital to make my rounds,” Hrair said. “My patients all know they aren’t going to see me until night, unless there is an emergency.”
Last year, the Simonians took a Disney Cruise and, during the holidays, they visit California to spend time with Hrair’s family. They spend summers in London with Liza’s parents and sister. Even during their vacation, the children stay active, including doing theater in London. This summer, Pierre, Izabelle and Leo will push themselves outside of their comfort zone and attend their first-ever summer camp. “None of us are really outdoors people, but we want this to be something our children experience and appreciate,” Hrair said.
Although it means lots of meals on-the-go and an unfortunate number of hours apart, the Simonians appreciate the opportunities they have been afforded.
“I love my work, my hospital and what I do, otherwise I would have burned out,” Hrair said. “I am so grateful for my wife and all that she does for us and for our children and I appreciate their understanding of my job and how I work to be able to provide for our family so we can do all of these things.”
Liza reciprocates, thankful for Hrair’s commitment to his patients and to their family. The two also share great joy watching their children grow.
“We are so proud of them and love watching them learn from all of these different experiences,” Liza said. “It is certainly a busy life, but we love it.”
– By Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the May 2016 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.