Sunday, December 30, 2012

Traveling with Dad

It was a Christmas with lots of gifts that helped us keep dad close. Mom had bags made for us out of dad's jeans and we also received mittens made from his sweaters. It makes me happy to wear these and think of dad. We also got mom some gifts of rememberance. As she got on the plane today to head back to Thief River Falls she was carrying a large canvas portrait of dad that she received from Myndy. She gave me a call on her way to the airport and said, "Dad and I are heading home." I can just picture her holding that picture close on the airplane right now and telling everyone who will listen just how special her husband was.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dog Tricks

When Myndy and Jason first got Izzy Jason was really excited to teach her to be a fierce hunting dog. Jason worked with her, took her hunting and trained her well but there is one trick that she holds on to from Grandpa Myles. When you ask her to sit she holds up her paw and wants to shake with you...not exactly the image of the ferocious hunting dog Jason was trying to portray.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Runaway Boat

As my family gathered for Christmas this year they gave me lots of ideas for new stories for the blog. This was one that everyone remembered fondly. Dad was walleye fishing on his favorite lake, "Potato". It was early morning...probably around 7 am and he'd been fishing for a few hours. He came in, tied the boat up and went to get the truck. Somehow while he was gone the boat came loose from the dock and was floating out in the water without a passenger. Dad stripped down to his underwear and was ready to jump in after it but noticed a light on in a nearby cabin. He got dressed and went for help instead. The neighbor had noticed the boat floating around and helped dad retrieve it. PS...The quotes indicate the code name for dad's favorite lake. We can't give away the fishing spot or dad would never forgive us.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Johnny Cash

Tonight we were treated to a Willman brothers concert. They ended the concert with a Johnny Cash tune "Folsom Prison Blues" in honor of dad. I could just picture dad listening and giving his signature fist pump to show his appreciation. Love you, dad

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How did you meet?

We spent yesterday's Christmas at Myndy's house. It was a day filled with both tears and laughter. Something about our conversations yesterday must have prompted Ellie to ask grandma, "How did you and grandpa Myles meet?" Here's the story: It was the Thief River Falls bicentennial and there was a big dance. Mom was a new teacher in town and eager to meet some of the young people in town. She was wearing a long dress and a bonnet because it was a historical themed dance. Dad was just back home from the service. He watched her for a while and then got the courage up to ask her to dance. ( I think he had help from some liquid courage). After dancing a few songs he admitted dancing really wasn't his thing and they talked the rest of the evening. Mom visited him the next night during his shift at the Holiday gas station and the rest is history.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Prime Rib

Tonight we served our traditional rib. We began this tradition our first year of marriage when we were living in Winona. As a new bride I was very excited to show off my excellent cooking skills. All went well and the prime rib came out looking delcious. Next, it was time for the au jus. Being a novice in the kitchen I just thought the au jus was the drippings so I loaded up the grease and fat into a fancy gravy boat and served it proudly! I remember my dad being such a great sport and taking a large spoonful of au jus. I'm pretty sure he was humoring me. We made real au jus tonight, dad, but I thought of you and that first Christmas when Steve and I were newlyweds.

The Christmas Story

Katy called me last night with a great memory of dad. One of her favorite images was looking at his face when we were all gathered together reading the Christmas story. It was a look of pure joy.....his girls were home and safe and all was right with the world. I know we will all miss looking up at that face more than we can express this Christmas season.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Tonight we attended a sledding party at our friend's house. I always have a little trepidation when I hear kids are going sledding because of Myndy's sledding accident. I remember the call well. It was about nine-thirty at night and the folks connected with 4-H were calling to let us know that Myndy was involved in a sledding accident and would be hospitilized. Mom and dad drove to Little Falls and stayed by Myndy's bedside until she recovered. It was a long few days and I know both mom and dad were wracked with worry. Luckily she recovered nicely but I don't know if she's done too much sledding since this time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Away in a Manger

Tonight as I rocked Erik to sleep he asked for the song "Away in a Manger". Every time I sing this song I think of a Christmas eve service at Bethany Church. It must have been twenty or so years ago now but I sang this song. I remember looking at dad that night when I was singing and he looked so proud of me. Now it was a bit of an accomplishment to get him to go to a Christmas eve service. Once you are home and snug it's hard to muster up the energy to bundle up and head out but he did it and it's a memory that I treasure.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stormy Weather

It's stormy in Rochester today. We got seven inches of snow and it's now starting to blow. This reminded me of how dad always had to go in and plow when it was snowing in Thief River Falls. We always hoped they wouldn't need him but inevitably he'd get the call and have to head into town. The best times were when we were snowed in and couldn't leave the house. We'd light candles, watch movies, pop popcorn and enjoy being warm and cozy in the house.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Club

It was book club tonight and I had the incredible urge to call dad on the way home. He'd always know it was book club night because he kept great track of our schedules. He always teased me that we really didn't talk about the book but just needed a night out. That couldn't possibly be true, could it?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stacking Ring

My mother and I are both known for our difficulties with parking in the garage. Many years ago dad hung an orange stacking ring from a child's toy set up in the garage. Mom uses that ring to know how far she should drive in to the garage. Ever since dad hung that up she's had no difficulty.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Coffee Buddies

One of the best things about writing this blog is that I get stories from my siblings that I have never heard before. As Myndy and I were talking last night she told me that one of her best memories of dad was being his coffee buddy. The summer she worked at the city they would both have their cups of coffee when they drove into work together. Inevitably Myndy would spill her coffee somewhere but dad was always excited to have his "coffee buddy". I think he got lonely drinking his coffee alone since neither mom nor I liked to drink the stuff.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Lord's Chickens

My dad was one of the lucky few men who grew up in a house full of women. Even so he liked to roughhouse with us and occasionally used some of his old wrestling moves on us. One that I remember particularly vividly was "Do you want to see the Lord's chickens?" If we said yes or hesitated he would take his hands on each side of our head and lift us up off the ground. If you want a visual just let me know the next time you see me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Delightful snack

When dad was really trying to gross us out he would say, "Anyone for a scab sandwich and a glass of pus?" Not really sure what made me think of this today but that came out of the recesses of my mind.

Friday, December 14, 2012


One of my favorite Christmas treats is flatbread and no one made it better than my dad. I talked with mom on the phone tonight and she made a batch today. Although she said it turned out fine she wasn't sure she was able to get it as thin as dad did. That is the secret to great flatbread...thin and crispy pieces. One of my favorite memories of Christmas with grandma Vi and grandpa Rufus was the ice cream bucket of flatbread that they got each year from Beattie.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Erik's new thing is to be scared of everything...but pretend scared. He gets nervous when the vacuum is turned on, gets scared of the dishwasher's noise and runs from the hair dryer. He keeps saying, "Monster coming. Roar". This reminded me of one of my dad's inventions from childhood the rowies. ( Rhymes with Maui) When Myndy was little she was especially scared of the rowies and dad had a lot of fun getting her riled up. Remember those nights when mom was at ladie's aide, Myndy?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

We finally relented and bought an Elf on the Shelf. The kids are delighted with this and can't wait to see where the elf ends up each morning. I find myself wondering what fun dad would have had with this elf. Ever the prankster he always seemed to find a way to have some fun! Each night as Steve and I try to think up a new pose for the elf we try to channel our inner Myles. Tonight the Elf is spelling out LISTEN in cheerios. We'll take any "Myles inspired" ideas that you've got for us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Garage Clean Up

Mom reported this story to me so hopefully I have all the details correct: On Sunday during the storm Myndy's husband Jason decided to clean his garage. Although he has a three stall garage there was not enough room to park any of the cars inside. After a few hours of cleaning and organizing all the vehicles were able to be parked inside. Mom felt sure that Jason was haunted by dad because one of his favorite things to do was to help his son-in-laws clean the garage. Jason said he heard his voice saying, " A three stall garage and no place to park the cars?"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Erik's Magical Nap

Last Saturday we laid Erik down for a nap in Mylee's crib. Because Stella was sleeping near by I laid down on the floor with him until he fell asleep so he did not make noise. When I went to wake him up I asked, "Who took a nap with you?" thinking that he would say mommy. He answered, "Grandpa Myles." "What did you do with Grandpa Myles?" I asked. "We snuggled and went fourwheeling."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The First Snow

Today the kids enjoyed playing in the first snow and Steve "enjoyed" shoveling. Dad always got a kick out of calling us and getting the report when we were having a storm. I think he liked to picture Steve outside all bundled up snowblowing and shoveling. So here's the report dad... 5 inches of snow, three red-cheeked kids who enjoyed a snowball fight but no snowday in sight.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A night in Minneapolis

We spent today and this evening in Minneapolis with Myndy, Jason, Stella, and Mylee. We braved the lines to see the Macy's display and the kids were awe-struck! We ended the night at Gluecks for their giant pretzel and a few beers. Last year at this time Myndy and Jason were just announcing that they were expecting again. Throughout today we all were struck by the fact that just a year ago dad was doing all of these things with us. Last year at this time he went to see the Macy's display, enjoyed a bowl of beer cheese soup at Gluecks and had just found out he was going to be grandpa again. One year can change everything.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad, I thought of you tonight as I made the white knuckle drive from Minneapolis to Rochester. It was icy and I saw no less than 30 cars in the ditch...three rolled over completely. I kept my hands at 10 and 2, tried not to brake on bridges, and left two car lengths between me and the next car.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fish and Chips

Tonight Stella went out for dinner with grandma Susie and Myndy and Jason. She looked over the menu and decided it was fish and chips that she wanted. Jason was skeptical and didn't think she would eat the fish. By the end of the meal she had eaten all the walleye....I guess grandpa's love of fish has been passed on to another generation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gold Digger and Grandpa Dave

Last night Stella went out for dinner with Grandma Susie and her other grandparents, Dave and Sue. As they were leaving the restaurant they noticed a gold digger of grandpa Myles' favorites. Of course, Stella picked out a stuffed Santa that she had to have. Grandpa Dave gave it a valiant effort and said Myles helped him out. Stella came home with a new stuffed Santa and she's sleeping with it tonight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Egg Nog

Sticking with the food and drink theme tonight my memory is of egg nog. Dad loved it when the season came for Egg Nog to be out on the grocery store shelves. He liked to bring it home as a suprise and then sprinkle it with a little cinnamon. I'll have to see what the Willman kids think of this treat. It never was a favorite of mine.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cheez Its

One of the favorite snacks in the Willman household is Cheeze its. As I reached for the box tonight I got a clear picture of dad sitting in the recliner with his box of cheeze its, his reading glasses on and his can of coke on the table beside him.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grandpa and Plunky

Last week the daycare dog had to be put down. He was having trouble breathing and so they took a circle time to talk to the kids about how he was going to be in heaven running around and breathing freely. Last night when I was rocking Erik he said, "Grandpa is playing with Plunky." I can just picture dad with a few dog treats in his pocket playing with the dogs. He sure did like to spoil Walker and Izzy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How many snowmen can you see?

If you've been to my mom and dad's house you know that Grandma Susie is very fond of decorating for various holidays. One of my dad's favorite games was to sit at the counter and see how many snowmen he could see without moving from that spot. One year he claimed the total was over 25. He liked to bring this up every time my mom came home with a new decorative item for the house.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

True Words

Today was a hard day. It was an unexpected gift when I came across this quote tonight. I'm working on dancing with the limp. “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gingerbread House

As I drove home from book club tonight I had fun looking at all the pretty lights on the houses in the Pill Hill area. It reminded me of our house growing up. Dad would always get up on the roof and put up colored lights. We all thought our little brown house looked like a gingerbread house.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black and Blue

Ellie had a little incident today in phy ed class and is black and blue with a large gash under her eye. She was hit with a racquet (by accident of course). She called Auntie Katy tonight to tell her about the accident and both Katy and I were reminded of another little girl who had a black eye once upon a time. When Katy was about three I was out practicing my golf swing. If you've seen me golf you know that this practice was desperately needed. Katy ran up and was going to play a trick on me and remove the golf ball. I didn't see her coming and soon there was a little girl bleeding and two parents heading to the emergency room. I remember dad being pretty calm and mom...well she was a little worked up. I ran out to the field because I felt so badly about hurting my little sister. I was very relieved when they arrived back home from the hospital and all she had was a black and blue mark. Needless to say I only practiced my golf swing when the yard was empty after this day.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Tonight orange chicken was on the menu at the Willman household. As I prepared the rice and the chicken I thought about how much my dad loved Chinese food. One of my most vivid memories as a child was going to Shangrila in Grand Forks. I used to beg to sit up in the balcony. My dad would always order sweet and sour pour and he'd get extra rice to put in his soup. My favorite was the chicken fried rice and to this day I can't find a place that makes it as good as Shangrila. I'm sure it was more than the food that made our trips to Shangrila special. We usually went there after a busy day of shopping so we'd all share the bargains we got. Dad would tease us about who we were going to wear our new outfits for and Myndy and I would stuff our pockets with mints on the way out. There are two additional stories about Shangrila having to do with a "fluorescent green pea" and "guy ding" but I can't print them here in the blog. You'll have to ask Myndy about these stories.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Driving a 5 speed

We took the whole family to the movie Wreck it Ralph on Friday. In one scene the hero Ralph is trying to teach Vanellope how to drive a car with a manual transmission. That reminded me of my dad's experience trying to teach me to drive a 5 speed. I was doing pretty well on the straightaways so we ventured into Thief River Falls via Highway one. When we got in past the college we ran into a train and guess who was the first one in line. I got a little nervous...panicked,in fact, and dad had to run around and take the wheel. That was the first and last time I drove a car with a manual transmission. I think dad figured we'd be lucky just to get me a driver's license.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mylee's Baptism

We celebrated my niece Mylee's baptism today in Woodbury. As we gathered together I couldn't help but think of how much my dad would have loved to have been there. Then just as the water was poured on Mylee's head I saw a glimpse of my dad in her crooked smile. Later, we feasted and enjoyed dad's venison sticks and he was there with us again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Trimming the Tree

We spent this evening trimming the tree. This is one of my favorite parts of Christmas because each of the ornaments brings back a flood of memories. The pipe cleaner star that Anna made at Meadow Park reminds me of her as a preschooler. The sun catcher that Ellie made brings back memories of her kindergarten year and how shy she was. Erik just plain reminds me to put everything on a high branch. Growing up trimming the tree was one of our favorite traditions. My dad would always pick out a tall, beautiful tree...and it had to be real! No artificial trees in our house. He'd put it up and then have us come in and take a look and give it our approval. Mom would cover it with our favorite bubble lights and we'd begin to decorate. No matter how ugly the ornament that we'd made mom and dad made sure to keep them. I distinctly remember one styrofoam ball with toothpicks that was kept over 20 years. I hope that my kids will have the same great memories of decorating the Christmas tree as I had from my childhood.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today we celebrated Thanksgiving at our house. It was a wonderful time with lots of delicious foods and no shortage of butter. My mom's mantra is "There's nothing that can't be improved with a stick of butter." As we prepared last night we got to thinking about Thanksgivings in the past and we both started to miss dad so much. We read my cousin Dayna's facebook post about making lefse and thought back to all of the times mom and dad made lefse together. I also remembered making flat bread with dad...he could always get his flatbread to be the thinnest and most even. Our usual tradition was to have Thanksgiving at the cabin and then attend the tree lighting in Park Rapids. Last year grandpa and Stella were stars in the local newspaper. Although today was a bittersweet celebration with joy ( you can't help but giggle when you see Mylee in her turkey hat) and sadness I am grateful for all of the Thanksgiving memories I am blessed with.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blue Moon Moments

It's not often that I'm inspired by the Smurfs but this happened tonight. I was riding in the back of the van on the way back from the Hubbel House and the kids were watching the Smurfs movie. In one part of the movie they talk about "blue moon" moments....those moments that are so special and magical that they change everything. I was lucky enough to have many blue moon moments in my life with my dad. These are a few of the best: 1. Fishing on Elk Lake on a beautiful early summer day. It was sunny and peaceful and we both felt like swimming so we just jumped in. 2. Falling asleep after snuggling and hearing yet another great Speerno story. 3. Coming home after calling off my wedding and knowing that my dad would understand and help me sort things out. 4. Giving birth to my first daughter and sharing the diaper changing duty with my dad. 5. Learning how to appreciate the beauty of a lake at 5 am

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kwik Trip deals

Dear, Dad I thought of you today when we stopped at Kwik Trip. We all remembered how you loved the great deals you could get on bannanas, onions, and other fresh veggies. We stocked up on butter too because you know how those Thanksgiving recipes call for the good stuff! No homemade lefse this year. Mom couldn't bear to make it without her roller.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Shampooing the Carpets

You'd be proud of me, dad. I scheduled an appointment to have the carpets shampooed. They'll come on Wednesday and hopefully we'll have one day of clean and shiny carpets before the Thanksgiving visitors descend upon us. I know if you were here you'd have rented the shampooer from Hyvee and you'd have had the whole house completed by now.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Water Softener Salt

Dear Dad, Steve made an emergency run to get softener salt today since you know how mom is about having that full to the brim! Grandma is now enjoying a rousing game of Headbandz with the girls and has been supervising homework completion all night. Tomorrow will be a day of.....yup, you guessed it, shopping. And maybe we'll fit in some decorating for Christmas too. We miss you more than we can say but it helps us all when we are together.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fix it List

As we prepare for grandma Susie's visit my inclination is to make a fix it list. We always used to do this because if there was no list dad would just start fixing and you never knew what he'd begin as a project. On most visits he would get more done before 9 am than the rest of us could get done in a day. As we always say, "It takes a village to do all the things dad did on his own."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Anna's Antics

Grandpa Myles always got a good chuckle out of Miss Anna and the funny things she says. Well today we have a new one that dad would have enjoyed. Mrs. Jordan emailed us that Anna has been talking about dancing to the "Silent Horse Dance" and that this causes Steve's head to go all sweaty. For your information this is "Gangnam Style" and I dare you to listen to it without dancing. PS....Mrs. Jordan your video is on the way!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad, We are gearing up for Thanksgiving around here. Mom is flying down on Sunday and we'll pick her up from the airport. I still can't convince her to drive down here but I'm working on it. Erik is thrilled and wakes up each morning saying, "Grandma Susie?" Mom's task will be to help me make my first Thanksgiving turkey. We'll celebrate Mylee's baptism on Saturday and through it all I know we will all be wishing you were right beside us. Missing you, Heather

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shopping at the Man Mall

Tonight Steve and I took Erik shopping at the man mall otherwise known as Fleet Farm. Our little Fred Flinstone needs a pair of boots and with his chubby, short feet this was a difficult task. We tried on Kamik's, Sorels and Columbias. Everything was too hard to pull on, too tight or just plain too ugly. Finally, Erik brought us his choice....a pair of Rockies. Grandpa Myles would have been proud. Unfortunately these were not in his size and he ended up with a pair of Khombu's. ( They look supsiciously like moon boots. Anyone remember those?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Poetry and Punch

Every year the first graders do a show called "Poetry and Punch". Last night Anna read me her poem that she'll be performing about grandpa. Here it is: If I could Choose by Kimberly Rinehart If I could choose from all the grandpas in the world, there's no doubt, I would still choose you. Your eyes that shine with a touch of mischief, your laugh that always makes me smile... your hands that are ready to reach out to me, your heart that's always big enough to welcome me... the time you spend with me, the stories you share with me... If I could choose from all the grandpas in the world, there's no doubt, I would still choose you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

First Call of the Season

If you've been reading the blog you know that we just enjoyed deer hunting weekend up north. Steve bagged a deer and promptly called Eddie Walseth to see if he could process the deer meat. His smoked venison was always highly prized by everyone in the family. Eddie said dad was always his first call of the season and this year it was his son-in-law, Steve.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


This morning when I went to wake Erik up his fourwheeler was clenched in his little hands. As I was changing him I asked, "Who takes you fourwheeling?" "Grandpa Myles",he said. Then he shrugged his shoulders and asked, "Where is Grandpa Myles?" I told him that he was in heaven with Jesus. When we got to church he went over to the big mural of Jesus and said, "Jesus, how is grandpa Myles?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dryer Lint

So here's the thing about those who are no longer with us. It seems we don't get to pick when their voices come through loud and clear. Today while I was taking the clothes out of the dryer I heard dad's voice saying, "Check the lint trap! What are you trying to do, make a sweater?" Sure enough...I had gone a few loads without cleaning out the lint trap and dad was there to give me a gentle reminder.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Country Music Hall of Fame

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the country music hall of fame in Nashville. From the moment I stepped in the building I kept thinking about how much dad would have loved it. The Patsy Cline exhibit was fantastic and hearing her recordings made me think of dad's favorite song of hers....Crazy. He also liked Walking after Midnight. Seeing Tammy Wynette and George Jones' costumes took me back to the days when mom and dad would play their records and we'd all sing along. The Heehaw exhibit reminded me of fun family nights spent watching Heehaw and eating buttered popcorn. I know you were with me,dad, as I listened to all of those old tunes and thought about how country music was always a consistent thread in our lives. PS...I looked for Bobby Bare but I don't think he is a member of the Hall of Fame yet.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Top reasons reasons I am missing dad in Nashville: 1. This is music city and he loved country music. When I heard George Jones and Tammy Wynette piped in at the hotel last night I knew dad would have loved it here. 2. Today I am going to try to get to the Patsy Cline exhibit. She was one of dad's favorites. 3. This is a work trip and I used to always call dad from the road and tell him what I was learning. He always wanted to know about the latest theories of school reform.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Returns

As I am nervously watching election returns come in tonight I am missing dad. I know he would have been on the phone with me offering commentary and predictions. So far I think he'd be pretty excited about the night's results.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faulty Umbrella

Today's story was another that I heard from Uncle Stan this weekend: When dad was about five years old he and Stan had gone out berry picking. My suspicion is that Grandma Vi wanted some berries to make a pie. As they picked the clouds got darker and darker and it started to rain. Dad started to get scared and began crying. Each boy had a bucket so Stan had the brilliant idea of letting dad use his bucket as an umbrella. They emptied all the berries into Stan's bucket and dad put the bucket over his head. The problem was the the bucket was made of tin and only exaggerated the sound of the raindrops. Dad cried even harder and Stan had the difficult job of explaining himself when he got home.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Deer Hunting Weekend

Dear Dad, Well we survived deer hunting weekend without you. I think everyone was a little lost without your guidance and oversight. Steve managed to bag a decent sized buck and Shawn got two huge bucks. Even Mike shot something that wasn't out of the nursery. You'd have been proud! Mom kept everyone fed with her homemade buns, wild rice hotdish, sweet potato pie and caramel rolls. We attended church today and Stella decided we needed to sit in the front pew. In retrospect this was probably not a good decision since we each went in and out at least twice with the little ones. The kids loved seeing your bench at the cemetary and we told them they could sit on it if they had something they wanted to tell you. Stella kept asking where grandpa Myles was. We love you dad and we miss you more than we can say. I think it hit us all at different times this weekend but we are plugging away and trying to make you proud.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Potatoes from the garden

We enjoyed a great day in Thief River Falls today while Jason and Steve hunted. The highlight was mom's mashed potatoes made from potatoes we planted on the day of dad's memorial service. It was Katy's idea to do something that dad would have loved so we got all the kids into the act and planted those potatoes. Today we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. They were delicious!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fast Money

We are up north in Thief River Falls for the whitetail opener. As we drove further and further north today I was struck by how much I love the prarie. I know many people don't find these vast stretches of open land beautiful but something about all this open space speaks to me. It's probably because it's home! We enjoyed a delicious pre-hunting meal made by my favorite wild rice hotdish. As we visited about the past few months and shared stories Uncle Stan told me a great story about dad for tonight's blog. The Olson's spent a lot of time as young boys trapping gophers. Back then Kratka township paid 5 cents for a gopher tail and so both Stan and Myles had a jar of gopher tails filled with salt to turn in to the county for their compensation. About this time the family took a trip out to California. When they were in Nevada they stopped at a gas station and Grandpa Rufus let each boy spend one of their hard-earned nickels on a slot machine. Dad struck it rich and came back with a handful of coins. "This is way better than trapping gophers", he remarked. Now we know where his love for the casino came from.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Junior Mints

As many of you know Junior Mints were one of my dad's favorite candies. Tonight we had a Myles Moment with little Erik as he handed out the Halloween candy. First he'd say, " Hi guys?" to the trick or treaters. Then he'd look them up and down. If he liked their costume they got two boxes of junior mints. If he was lukewarm about the costume one piece of another kind of candy and if he thought they looked scary he'd shake his head and say," No mom. Too scary!" He was also the first to dig into his Halloween stash tonight and I found three empy Junior Mint boxes around the house and a chocolately handprint on the wall.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easy Bake Mouse?

We are gearing up for the big trip up north to go deer hunting. Last night Myndy and I visited about what to bring and how we plan to help mom with cleaning out some things from the basement. Myndy has plans for the Barbie doll furniture that grandpa Rufus made for the new dollhouse she picked up for Stella. As we laughed about all the "hidden treasures" in the basement we remembered one very memorable day. I had gone downstairs to play with my easy bake oven and noticed something moving inside it. A field mouse had been feasting on the leftover crumbs. Dad got a great laugh as I sped upstairs and swore never to play with that oven again! Growing up on Rural Route 4 was a treat.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Treat

I am spending a few quiet minutes tonight planning the Halloween party that we always have for our playgroup friends on Halloween night. As I was perusing the recipes for bloody eyeballs and spooky snack mixes I thought back to my own Halloween nights as a kid. Because we lived out in the country our trick or treaters were few and far between. There was no walking from house to house for us either. Instead we drove around the neighborhood stopping at Tiemans, Sanders, and Korpatnicki's. Our favorite stop was always Alice Lendobeja's house. She'd scold her old dog Pepper to be quiet and she'd always have giant cups filled with candy for us. Other memorable stops were Mabel and Adam's. Mabel would always try and scare us by saying,"Hello, little Spooks." Mom and dad would patiently wait for us to get back to the car at each stop. I bet we were the only ones who burned up an entire tank of gas trick or treating!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Roadside Treasure

Today Myndy and Katy traveled to Rochester to celebrate Anna's birthday at Bounce World. As they drove into Rochester they spotted a huge wooden doll house on the side of the road marked free. In true "Myles" fashion they scoped it out and agreed it was a great bargain. They shifted a few items and Katy rode with the double stroller on her lap for the next few miles until they could get it to our house. They'll pick it up on Thanksgiving. As we talked about the great find Myndy said, " I just kept thinking what would dad do?" Well, there's no question, he would have come home with the dollhouse and probably a few other items. He always loved a good deal!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What's the Score?

We attended the football playoff game and JM lost to Mayo. As we were getting into the van the girls asked, "Who won anyway?" This reminded me of my middle school football watching years. We'd walk around the football field and we never had any idea who was winning or losing. I always glanced at the scoreboard before I went home because I knew dad would ask about the score of the game. It looks like this might run in the family. Don't tell Steve!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Today is a day when I just plain miss dad. I'm not sure what brings these days on but it started when I woke up. I think part of it is because I have not ever gone this long without talking to my dad. Most days I'd get to check in at least once a day and get dad's wisdom on the day's events. Missing your words and your moral compass dad. Life is harder without you. =

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Tonight's bedtime snack is delicious apple cinnamon bread from Daube's. The trick is to slice the bread thin enough to get it in the toaster. This brings back memories of dad trying to toast his apple cinnamon bread. Somehow he also got pieces and parts of the bread stuck in the toaster. This did not deter him from his midnight snack, however.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Emergency Room

Tomorrow I have an appointment to get my hair cut. As I glanced in my rearview mirror today I thought of what dad would have said,"Do they have an emergency room?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bunk Beds

Anna has graduated to the top bunk. As she climbed up into her nest, complete with dozens of stuffed animals I was reminded of the day these bunk beds arrived. As I recall we had the charge of keeping the girls busy and out of the house for a few hours while Steve and dad set up the bunks. When the girls arrived home they saw their present from Santa. Dad was so excited to see them crawl into their beds and snuggle in.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Birthday Boy

Dear Dad, Today we celebrated Erik's second birthday. It's hard to believe he is already two. Remember the day I had him? You and mom got there a little later because you promised you'd help people get their docks in and you didn't want to leave them in the lurch. Mom bought him a Mickey Mouse farm set and tractor and trailer. He loves it and carries Mickey and Minnie around with him. His favorite phrases are,"Sit here" and "Oh my gosh". We missed you as we sat around the table tonight and sang the birthday song and watched Erik blow out his candles. I know your presence was there, though, and all of my memories of happy birthdays paved the way for these celebrations. In so many ways you taught me what being a good parent looks like.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grandkids Know Best

We are home from the whirlwind cabin work weekend and mom is staying here to help us celebrate Erik's birthday tomorrow. She is going to make Beattie's famous barbeque and we'll don the Mickey Mouse hats again to celebrate with the Willmans. As we were reflecting on the weekend we were all amazed by a couple of things that the littlest grandkids said. When we got to the cabin on Thursday Erik looked up at grandpa Myles' fishing vest and hat and said, "Grandpa Myles?" It was sort of like...well where is he. Then this morning as we were getting ready to go Stella said,"Grandpa Myles will be here soon. Don't cry grandma." These little ones are pretty smart. Grandpa Myles was a part of everything we did this weekend from the raking and winterizing the boats to draining the water in the pipes. We all said, " Now, how did dad do this?"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Birthday Celebration

Today we celebrated Erik and Anna's October birthdays with dinner at the Hilltop Cafe in Hubbard. We all wore Mickey Mouse hats and sang to the birthday kids. Then we came home and had a dance party at the cabin. Mr. Erik was really showing off his moves and using the hallway by the washing machine as a runway. We missed you tonight, dad. I am thinking you would have ordered the prime rib and hashbrowns. I bet you would have also had fun pheasant hunting with Jason and Steve. You may have even come home with some birds. Everything is put away now for winter and Gary and Lorine came to help us close up the cabin. Thank goodness for good friends.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dessert anyone?

The Olson crew is at the cabin enjoying a work weekend together. Since today was a rainy day everyone got a little stir crazy. Following in dad's footsteps Katy cooked up a practical joke to liven up the day. She and the girls made pretend truffles with mashed potatoes and stuffed with cotton balls. Steve was the first victim. He sampled one and the girls said, "Dad, don't you like it?" "I do but it doesn't really go with my squash", replied the polite dad. Once we told him what it was made of he was not quite as polite. We have two more in line for the special dessert tonight! Dad, your spirit of fun and silliness is alive in all of us.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Progress Report

* Leaves raked and ready to be dumped * Gutters removed * Lawn furniture stored in the garage Tomorrow's tasks * Take out the boat, docks and boat lift * Dance to the juke box * Tell our favorite stories about dad

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MEA weekend

It's MEA weekend and I am enjoying a flex day spoiling Mr. Erik. We'll head to the cabin tomorrow to help mom take in the dock, boats and winterize everything. Erik keeps saying "cabin" and trying to get in the van to head out. It's our first fall without dad and a part of me keeps thinking he's going to show up. One of my favorite memories of visiting the cabin was seeing dad come out as we drove in the yard. He'd grab Erik and the girls and get everyone thoroughly riled up and then he'd head to bed. Even if it was midnight he'd be up waiting to see us get there safely. We'll do our best to get everything put away right, dad. I'll remind Steve to put in his waders.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presidential Debate

I'd love to call dad up right now and get his take on the debate. I think he would have loved the line, "Romney said he has a five point plan. He has a one point plan." I think Obama looked sharp...any guesses what my dad would have said?

Monday, October 15, 2012


Tonight our little buddy Erik is sick. He got sent home at about 9 this morning and is finally sleeping. This reminds me of sick days as a kid. My favorite thing was to lay on the coach, watch TV with dad, and have him put a cold cloth on my head. Somehow those things made everything better.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lutefisk Supper

It's almost time for the annual Lutefisk Supper in the Goodridge Lutheran parish. After dad passed away, Pastor Bob sent us a letter thanking dad for his service to the congregation. Bob wrote about how he had an image in his mind of dad smoking a cigarette and washing out the lutefisk kettles each year. Today mom said they sang "You have come down to the lakeshore" one of the songs from dad's funeral to prepare for the lutefisk supper. I know some other stoic Lutheran will take dad's place washing out those kettles but his spirit of service will remain. Here's the last stanza of that hymn that makes me think of dad: Sweet Lord, you have looked into my eyes, Kindly smiling, you've called out my name. On the sand I've abandoned my small boat; Now with you, I will seek other seas.


Last night we spent a fun evening with some friends at a neighborhood Halloween party. At the end of the evening we started talking about accents and I demonstrated my good Northern Minnesota brogue. Somehow the topic of the pronuncation of Bemidi came up. Turns out dad wasn't the only one who called Bemidji Bermidji. Some of my other favorite Mylesisms are Italian ( pronounced eyetalian) and beautiful ( pronounced beeyouteeful).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Locker Makeover

Today when I dropped the girls off at school I took a closer look at Ellie's locker. Sometime in the last week she had brought some items from home to decorate her locker. Right in the middle was a great picture of her and Grandpa Myles. "I like having him here with me at school", she said. "Is that Ok?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Shoes

It's time for Steve to get a new pair of shoes. He's pretty much worn his last pair down but he doesn't know what to do because dad always bought his shoes for him. Mom is going to try to fill in and get the shoes ordered so we'll see if she is able to get as good a deal as dad would have. What's your prediction?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad, I can't believe it's been six months since I have heard your voice. Myndy and I talked on the phone tonight and both said we are just aching to talk with you. So much can happen in six short months. Mylee was born, little Landon was born and passed away and we have learned to live without easy task. Every day is filled with moments that I want to share with you. Today they were....Erik's crazy curls and his gusto for eating the Halloween cupcake. You should have seen his orange hands. Anna's dramatic and fluent reading of a Mo Willem's book... that kid is going to be an entertainer. Ellie's brilliant math mind and her work ethic. Steve's preoccupation with everything hunting now that hunting season is only a few short weeks away. I believe you are with me in all of these moments,dad. Love you,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Ellie had an assignment for one of her writing classes to write a haiku so she spent the evening outside with her clipboard in hand recording her observations. She has inspired me to try writing a haiku about dad. In case it has been a while since you have been in fourth grade a haiku has to have 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and then 5 syllables again. My Dad Walleye fisherman happiest on the water World's greatest father

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's in a Name?

For some reason tonight the kids wanted to know all about how they got their names. We told Erik that we wanted a strong name for him and he posed with his big muscles. For both Ellie and Anna we agreed that we wanted traditional names and Anna was named after Grandpa Rufus' mother. This reminded me of what dad always told Myndy, Katy and I about our names. He told us that if we were boys we would have been named Delbert Todd. Thank goodness for the girls in our family.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Raking Leaves

Today we spent a bit of time raking leaves in the yard. I'm using the term "we" loosely here since it was really Ellie and Steve that did the work. Dad, you would have been proud of Ellie. She started raking but then asked, "Can't we just use the leaf blower?" I know you always thought a job was more fun with some kind of a power tool and it looks like your grand-daughter feels the same way.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Family Work Project

We spent a bit of today doing our annual ditch pick up for 4-H. As we were walking the ditches in Salem township looking for bright bits of paper and trash I thought of how happy dad would have been. He always loved a family project that engaged all of us. He was never happier than when he had the son in laws working on one thing, the grandkids working on another, and his daughters working on something else. Although it was a bit chilly today we had fun accomplishing something together as a family and I am grateful for the memory of dad that it brought me.

Friday, October 5, 2012


It is Homecoming weekend at John Marshall where Steve is the assistant principal. This means dress up days, the parade, the pepfest, and the dance. Today Steve was able to address the students and staff. His speech was about making the most of their high school years and moments. It struck me that my dad did this. He made friends in high school that remained close to him throughout his life. When we cleaned out his drawers we found a box of pictures of all of his high school classmates. When my dad made a friend, they were friends for life.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Casino Winnings

If you are one of my loyal readers you may have noticed that I missed posting the blog last night. This is because I spent the evening at the Grand Casino in Hinckley with my friend Michelle. I decided that I would only play machines that reminded me of dad. I started with Duck Stamps and won $15 on that one. Then I moved on to Big Buck Hunter. I was a little nervous about this one because I actually had to pick up the gun and shoot if I got the bonus. At one point a crowd was gathered around watching me shoot. Again, I won. By the end of the night I went home with an extra $50 in my pocket. I know dad would have been proud.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On the road

Tonight I am in North Branch preparing to work with some teachers in the area tomorrow and Thursday. Last year when I was here I called dad in between schools and gave him the "low down" on each place that I visited and what I shared with the teachers. He was always interested to hear how I was recieved and especially loved hearing about any difficult situations that I encountered. I will miss having my sounding board tomorrow as I drive from school to school but I know I will stil hear dad's voice and feel his presence guiding me.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Buck Fever

It's almost hunting season and time for buck fever. Steve has got orange clothes all over the house and he's gearing up for our trip up north. One of the best parts of deer hunting was looking at the great photos that dad's friend Mike would "doctor up" with photo shop. Last year he made cards that said, "Olson's Guide Service" and there was a picture of a tiny fawn with dad and Mike's big smiles.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Christmas Surprise

Today I enjoyed spending the day power shopping with Myndy, Katy, Ellie and Grandma Susie. We went to the Olive Garden for lunch and we all ordered dad's favorite...the soup, salad and breadsticks special. Our conversation turned to dad as it always does and we had a good laugh thinking about last Christmas. Myndy and Jason had just recently moved into their new house in Woodbury and dad thought it would be funny to play a few tricks on them. First, he and Katy purchased some Christmas soldiers and put them in Myndy and Jason's bed. Then he decided to short sheet their bed. I think one of us is going to have to pick up the slack where the pranks are concerned...I wonder who it will be?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Horse Fever

Dear, Dad We took the kids to Forestville today to enjoy the fall colors. It was a beautiful day and one of the highlights was that each of the kids got to ride a horse. Erik got a little scared when his horse stopped and shook but he dared to get back on. Now we have two girls that have horse fever. "Can't we get a horse of our own? We could learn about how to take care of it in 4-H?" I thought about how we borrowed Alfred Olson's horse and gave rides during Katy's baptism. We may have to "borrow" a neighbor or friend's horse to try and combat this horse fever.

Friday, September 28, 2012

TV Time

I spent tonight catching up on old episodes of Criminal Minds. This reminded me of great nights that dad and I spent together watching crime shows. Some of our favorites were Quincy, Law and Order, and Columbo. He'd pop some popcorn on the stove, add extra butter and salt and we were set to go. I think it's the ordinary moments that make me miss my dad the most.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Myles A. Olson Fishing Award

One of the things we are doing to help keep dad's memory alive is giving a fishing award for 4-Hers who are enrolled in the fishing sports project. Here are some of the things we plan to share as we give the award. The Myles A. Olson fishing award is given in honor of our dad, Myles. He was a model of good sportsmanship. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed nothing more than sharing his love of fishing with others. Having a spot in Myles’ boat was a coveted position and he helped many an angler pull in a trophy walleye. No northerns allowed in his boat. If you fished with our dad you often heard the phrase, “How about one last pass?” To him that big fish was only a moment away as long as he was out on the water. I treasure all the time I spent fishing with my dad and only wish I had a few more 4 am toe tugs to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What is grandpa eating tonight?

Tonight Ellie and Anna and I went for a walk. It must have been something about the lack of wind but we could distinctly smell everyone's dinner. Ellie asked, "I wonder what grandpa is eating in heaven tonight?" We all tried to guess and the girls decided it was either walleye or steak. Then Ellie said, " I bet in heaven you never have a bad fishing day. It's just like when Peter, James and John were out fishing and they told them to cast their nets on the other side. I bet he just tells grandpa to fish on the other side." I hope you are having a good fishing day today, dad, and that you are enjoying some walleye. We sure do miss you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beauty Queen?

Tonight's memory has to do with my mom's title as Miss Barnesville 1967. Whenever anyone would bring this up my dad would call her Miss Barn Smell. He loved to tease her about her title as a beauty queen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pig Dance

Yesterday was Myndy's birthday and I had the urge to drive up to Woodbury and celebrate by doing a "pig dance" with her. This dance is a time-honored tradition made famous by the Olson girls. We join hands, dance awkwardly in a circle and snort. The "pig dance" would also get a laugh out of my dad. The next time you see us you may have to ask to see a demonstration.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Perfect Blueberry Pie

We bought a blueberry pie on Friday night to go along with our fish. In my opinion it was the perfect pie. The crust was flaky and delicious and I'm sure had my dad's secret ingredient "lard". The blueberries were a perfect combination of sweet and tart...a little too tart for the kids which means more for Steve and I. I thought of how much dad would have enjoyed that pie. He was a dessert kind of guy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kitchen Appliances

My dad was a big fan of kitchen and cooking appliances. He loved to be able to have a tool to complete a job. I remember having a fry daddy, a deep fat frying griller, a pancake griddle, a meat smoker, and more! As I tried out my new kitchen appliance today ( my rice cooker) I thought of dad and how proud he would be to see me following in his footsteps. Now the question is...where do I store all of these great appliances?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fish Fry

Tonight we enjoyed a fish try with our friends Sara and Nathan. As I pulled out that package of walleye I noticed dad's writing. "4 walleye fillets" it said in his neatest printing. I am not much of a fish eater but tonight standing around the deep fryer I knew dad would have been happy. All of the Willmans ( even me) ate some of dad's walleye.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I've inherited a bunch of my dad's socks. We both have small feet and so these naturally got passed down to me. It's funny how comforting it is to put those socks on and think of dad wearing them. When I have a really tough day ahead or I have one of those mornings where I wake up and want to just stay in bed I slide on those socks and I feel a sense of peace and comfort.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hunting Season

We are coming up on hunting season in Thief River Falls but mom has started a little early. So far she's bagged two chipmunks, four mice and today there was a skunk in the trap. Dad, I guess she's trying to keep up with your hunting prowess. You can imagine how happy she's been finding all these little critters. Thank goodness for cousin Krist and Uncle Lyle who've been emptying the traps each day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I've got the moves like.....Myles?

So we've got a little dancer on our hands. Erik loves to bust a move and his new favorite singer is "Baby Gaga". Tonight as he was wolfing down chicken McNuggets and fries he was standing on his chair dancing with joy. Both Steve and I looked at each other and said, "Grandpa Myles". He had both the fist pump and the off-beat clapping. Grandpa, your moves are alive in Erik! Let's just hope he refines them some before Prom.

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Milk Moustache Here!

We are at the stage in our life where we buy a gallon of milk at the store every other day. The kids' favorite drink is milk and both Steve and I love milk too. Dad, on the other hand, hated milk. He said it was from years of growing up on a dairy farm. I just remember setting the table, getting milk for everyone and running downstairs for a coke for dad. He made a couple of exceptions...chocolate milk and milkshakes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


It's that time of year when Anna is counting the days to her birthday and we are decorating for fall and Halloween. At this time of year Grandpa Myles always brought us pumpkins. The kids would get so excited to see him open the trunk of his car and they always had fun choosing who would get which one. Today grandma Susie brought us pumpkins and they are adding color to our front step. Although these pumpkins weren't grown in grandpa's garden they were given with love just the same.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spritz Cookies

Today I was cleaning out some drawers in the kitchen and found the spritz gun. It used to be Granpa Rufus and Grandma Vi's and now I am the proud owner. Dad and I both loved spritz cookies and each year he and mom would make them. They loved to put food coloring in the batter so they had green wreaths and Christmas trees. They were small cookies so you could eat a half dozen without even realizing it. It will be hard to make those spritz cookies this year but I think they'll taste even better. They may have a few tears in the batter but they'll make us feel closer to you dad.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Football Report

Tonight we attended the JM football game. Erik and I left a little early so that I could get him into bed. As I drove out of the parking lot I picked up the phone out of habit. I'd always call dad on my way home from the game and give him the report. So,dad, here's the football report. The Rockets played a good game against the Owatonna Huskies but lost. They've got some great strengths but had a few fumbles and need to work on their tackeling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


One my dad's wishes was that we'd blacktop the driveway at the lake. He felt that the road was washing away and he wanted to be able to easily get his truck up and down to the lake. Mom followed up and the driveway was tarred on Tuesday. I know dad would be proud of the way she is keeping everything up. It's a full time job, right mom?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Let's Talk Politics

Today was one of those days where I kept wanting to pick up the phone and talk with dad. When I heard about the attack on the United States' ambassador to Libya my first instinct was to call my dad and get his reaction. Next, I heard a story about Chris Kluwe of the Vikings defending the right to marry and I thought dad and I would have had a great discussion about that issue. Finally, driving home and hearing Mitt Romney's comments about Obama's reaction to the crisis would have sparked some great passion from my dad.

Dad, I miss your voice, your passion and your ideas! But have no doubt I am having those discussions with you whether you are here in person or just in spirit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Snuggle Bear

Today's story happened when Myndy was a little girl. She was about three or four and at this time the Snuggle Bear was on a commercial. You could dial a number talk to Snuggle the bear. Myndy loved to hear that bear's voice so she called multiple times throughout the day. By the time dad got home she had racked up a large bill listening to, "Hi, I'm Snuggles" over and over again. Dad was not too thrilled about the charges and that was the last we heard of Snuggle the bear.

Monday, September 10, 2012


It was one of those busy back to school nights tonight. I had a meeting until 5:30 and Steve had to pick up the kids. When I got home I was struck by how much fun the kids were having. Steve is great at just playing! I am usually worried about the dishes, the laundry, the dinner, packing the kids bags etc but what the kids really want is to play.

I think back to when I was a kid and my dad was the same way. He was the one who we snuggled with before we went to bed. He was the one who told us ghost stories and bedtime stories. He was also the one who would wrestle with us and give us a Japanese toe hold or a Chinese haircut...not politically correct I know! My dad knew the value of play. These are some of the memories I hold most dear.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Driver's Test

This weekend we spent some time with a friend who is a driver's training instructor. This reminded me of my own driver's test. Dad picked me up from phy ed class and everyone knew where I was going. To begin with I had to put a large pillow underneath me so that I could see over the dash and reach the brake and the gas. The first thing I had to do was paralell park and I hit the cone...automatic failure. When we returned to the courthouse in just five minutes time dad knew it was a bad sign. He tried not to laugh but we both burst out laughing when I got into the car. He said,"Same time, same place next week?"

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Silver Wings"

Tonight's memory is one of my dad's favorite songs "Silver Wings". His high school friend Eddie Walseth sang it at his retirement party. The last line is "Silver Wings...slowly fading out of sight." I'm singing it for you tonight, dad.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dear Grandpa

For today's blog the girls felt like they wanted to write a letter to grandpa telling him about their school year so far. These are their words.

Dear Grandpa Myles,
I am really lucky because I get the year-long job of reading the school lunch menu. My teacher is Mrs. Jordan and she is really funny. I like SACC because I get to color and do crafts. We are getting ready to do a play. I love you!

Love, Anna

Dear Grandpa Myles,
I like fourth grade because there are two new girls that I have made friends with. My friend Sophia is in my class again too. I am going to be in K-Club, Girl Scouts, and 4-H. I have been reading a lot. I miss you.
Love, Ellie
PS I don't have a crush on Peter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trees Down

We had hurricane-like winds last night in Rochester and when we woke up trees were down everywhere. As I dropped the girls off at school we all stopped to watch a worker go up in a bucket truck and take a tree limb down. Ellie said, "Grandma Myles could really help with these trees today." Many people have noted that my dad could shimmy up a tree faster than anyone and he was pretty quick with a chainsaw as well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Old Friends

Tonight I spent an evening with my old friends Kim, Amy and Susan. There's nothing better than old friends. This made me think of my dad and the value he placed on friendships in his life. As we went through his drawers we found pictures of all of his old classmates saved in a box. Some of these folks were still friends of his many years after high school. These are some of the folks who blessed my dad with the gift of their friendship; Gary Aandal, Mike Mongoven, Mike Looker, Billy Poole, Bob Peters, LeRoy Vigen, Jim Fulton and Bob Homme. I know my dad would have done anything to help each of them out. That's the kind of friend he was.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Luther League

This weekend we had some time to share some great Myles stories. One of my favorites was shared by Patti and Lorine. They said that dad was often up to no good at church gatherings. He and his buddies agreed to stay in the entryway at one of their overnights ( presumably so they could go outside and smoke). I guess Pastor Heltne had dad's number and greeted him at the door as they attempted to sneak out. It's a good thing none of his daughters got his rebellious gene!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

40 Years Ago today

Today would have been my mom
and dad's 40th anniversary. As we
sat at the breakfast table this morning
she told the grand kids all about the day.
Her bridesmaids wore purple dresses and
white hats. The men were handsome in
black velvet tuxedos. They served
hamburgers, banana bread and chocolate
and white marble cake. Mom wanted purple
potato chips but Grandma Eleanor said no.
The newlyweds outsmarted those who wanted
to decorate the car and parked it at Louie Waibel's
meat market. The spent their first married
night at Lake of the Woods in single beds pushed

As mom recounted all these memories her eyes
shone. Today I am grateful for the stories mom
told us and the love my mom and dad shared.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The big question

After a particularly fragrant ride home yesterday
we all thought of one of dad's big questions,
"Do farts have lumps?"

Friday, August 31, 2012

Memory Quilt

Tonight as we all gathered at the cabin for Labor Day
mom called Myndy and I into the bedroom. She had struggled
to decide what to do with dad's shirts and
jeans and had finally decided to have them
made into a quilt. As I looked at the beautiful
pieces of fabric so many memories of my dad
came flooding back. The burgundy chamois piece
reminded me of crisp mornings on Blue Lake, the gray
flannel brought me back to fall mornings raking leaves, and all the pieces of
denim made me think of dad's size 32/30. He stayed
that same size even when he had to wear his jeans
a little below the belly! I think we'll all need some time wrapped
up in this beautiful quilt surrounded by memories of
our loving dad.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dad Advice

Today my sister Katy interviewed for a new position. She is currently working at Lino Lakes and loves her job but there was a great position in a neighboring district so she decided to go for it. She was offered the position and as we talked through the pros and cons tonight we both felt the need to talk to dad. Whenever one of us had a big life-changing decision on the line our first call was to our dad. I tried to think of what my dad would have asked: Salary, benefits, stability, and most importantly what do the people who work there have to say about the place?

I hope I asked the right questions, dad! I know you'd be proud of Katy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Apple

If you've been following the blog you know that dad helped us pick out our apple tree last year. We were doubtful but he promised that we'd have apples this summer. Today we enjoyed our first apple from the tree. We split that beautiful, red orb into five even pieces for each of us in the family and thought of grandpa as we bit into the sour fruit. Erik licked his lips and asked for more.

We love you,dad! The apples will forever remind me of the care you took in raising each of us to be good people. Your spirit is alive in each of us.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Big Buck

Every night when I talk to mom she tells about this big buck that hangs around the yard. We've decided that it's dad just checking to see if things are Ok at home. When mom wakes up in the morning she often sees him and he also noses around at sundown.

Lucky Shoes

I had a presentation today with the Dover/Eyota teachers and I wore my lucky shoes. They are black slingbacks that my dad bought me. Nope, you did not read that wrong. My dad was a shoe hound and was always looking for good deals. They did the trick...the teachers loved the presentation and I was invited back. Love those lucky shoes dad!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Are you coming for dinner?

One of my dad's favorite things to do was to tell me when they were having one of my favorite meals. It might be chicken and dumplings, potato klub, pork roast and homemade mashed potatoes and gravy or maybe dad's chicken dumpling soup. Then he'd say, "Are you coming for dinner then? Should we set an extra place?" I always wished we'd lived close enough so I could just hop in the car and head over.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
It's that time of year...back to school. The kids' closets are full of new clothes (you can guess who bought most of them) and their backpacks are filled with school supplies. Erik's been back to daycare for a week and is slowly adjusting. If you were alive I know we'd be talking on the phone about my next week's schedule. You'd say, "What's your next week looking like?" and we'd chat about the superintendent's welcome, my workshop in Dover/Eyota on Tuesday, and the meet the teacher day on Wednesday. Then you'd say, "Let me talk to Steve-o" and you'd want to hear about Steve's big plans for the first week.

It's hard to believe life keeps going on without you, dad. It's definitely not the same and we all go through our days with a hole in our hearts thinking of you and the fun you'd be having getting ready for deer hunting and your favorite season, autumn. I'm keeping you close in my thoughts. Missing you today and every day,

Love, Heather

Friday, August 24, 2012

Culinary Genius

My dad was a culinary genius. Many people know of my mom's great cooking but here's a little known fact: my dad was always the man behind the scenes. Dad was mom's lefse roller. We all tried to perfect this art but dad definitely had the best touch. He also rolled out the pie crusts and used the spritz gun for my favorite...the spritz cookies. In a a week or so mom will be making lefse for Everybody's Market in Thief River Falls. I know it will be hard to do this without her #1 roller.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweet Tooth

My dad had an incredible sweet tooth as evidenced by the bags of candy left around the house. His favorites were hot tamales, jelly beans, mint patties, and spice drops. Whenever one of the grandkids was around we'd find them with chocolate or candy streaming down their face and dad with a guilty grin.

Dad's smile

My dad's smile is something I am missing today. It was sort of a crooked smile with one side up a little higher than the other. It was warm and wonderful and sometimes mischievious. Often it meant he was up to something!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Union Brotherhood

Tonight we had a discussion with friends about unions. I was reminded of my dad's pride in being a Teamsters member. One memory I have is of our great seats at the Twins game courtesy of the Teamsters when dad retired. My dad felt honored to be a union steward and believed in the value of hard work and standing together to support labor. I am proud of my blue collar roots!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Mugs

One of the things many people noticed about my dad was that he was seldom without his coffee. We have a table downstairs in the cabin as a testament to his coffee drinking prowess. He had a travel mug for every occasion! The night before fishing trips he would get the coffee ready to go and in the morning just minutes after you got the toe tug he would greet you with a steaming cup of joe. I think he was always a little disgusted that mom, Katy and I did not enjoy his favorite drink as much as he did.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One More Pass

Today I am reminded of my dad's penchant for taking "just one more pass" when we were fishing. As kids we knew that fishing with dad meant that we were out there until he was ready to go matter what! We had a bucket in the boat that was there for emergencies, I can't remember if anyone ever used it but it was there just case. Often we'd get tired about an hour or so into the fishing trip. If the fish were biting he'd say, "How about one more pass?" Usually an hour or more would come and go and we'd still be out on the lake. We learned that if we were in dad's boat we were on his time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Old Indian Trick

Tonight we had a little trouble lighting our bonfire. It was misting a bit and we all laughed and remembered dad's old Indian trick...tons of lighter fluid on the fire. It never failed and he always had a raging fire going just moments after he started working on it. We all had to back up a little and deal with the residual smell of lighter fluid but we got used to it.

California Memories

Today's memories are from Patti in California. She remembers dad being out in California for training and how he loved to bring friends from the navy to meet her so they could be with "family". She also recalls that he loved to go to Disneyland because he had a military discount. He always did love to have a good time!

Thanks for the memories, Patti.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Wanna Drive a Zamboni

As a kid I thought it was so cool that my dad drove the zamboni at the arena. I loved to attend the hockey games and watch him clear the ice. I think he was the fastest zamboni driver and the ice always looked the best after he was done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am From

Today I went to a workshop where we wrote I am from poems. Here is my first attempt:

I am from 4 am fishing trips, tire swing rides, and corn-picking adventures.
I am from farm country, Prowler Pride, and Scholastic book orders on Fridays.

I am from walks to the mailbox to meet dad at quitting time, afternoons spent in the playhouse, and summer trips to Winnipeg.

I am from Myles....walleye-slaying, practical-joking, and loving dad. Lover of trees, nature, and good deeds.

I am from Susie, curly haired, hamburger loving kindergarten teacher.
Fun-loving, super shopping, and kind.

I am from "Education is the key", "hard work is a way of life" ,and "check the oil".

I am from family phone calls at 8, shoe shopping, and mickey mouse pancakes.

I am from giant birthday parties, 4-H trips to the state fair,pontoon rides and lazy days at the cabin.

I am from lefse, mashed potatoes, and date filled cookies. Sandbaakles, potato klub, and flat bread.

I am from a long line of teachers...Grandma Eleanor, mom, and uncles and aunts too.
I am from a love of family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quarter on the First Fish

One of my favorite memories of fishing with my dad was his bets on the water. About five or ten minutes into our fishing trip he'd say, " $1.00 on the first fish?" Usually this was because he already had one on the line. A few minutes later he'd be landing a beautiful walleye and we'd all be paying up.

Monday, August 13, 2012


As I pull out of my driveway each morning I catch a glimpse of the apples on our apple tree. Dad helped us pick out that tree last year and he was certain we'd get apples this summer. Neither Steve or I believed him. We thought it would take at least a couple of years but here they are. Beautiful honey crisp apples...a sign that my dad is watching out for us and all of the seeds that he planted while he was alive are blossoming. The other sign is that his grandson Erik has picked up his dance moves complete with his one armed fist pump. Dad is alive in each of us in a different way and I am grateful for that today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Myles A. Olson

No matter what the occasion my dad always signed his name Myles A. Olson. It could have been a check, an anniversary card, or a credit card receipt. I think this strikes me funny mostly because he was such an informal guy in so many ways and made people feel so comfortable.

We miss you Myles A. Olson. Every day and every hour.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coming for a visit

Mom is coming to stay next week and watch the kids for Steve and I. I hadn't realized it until today but this will be the first time that she's come to our house since dad passed away. It seems strange to be preparing for his visit without dad. I almost sent Steve to the store for Folger's since that was dad's favorite coffee. He also enjoyed cashews so we tried to have those on hand. Another staple you had to have when dad was visiting was popcorn. Oh...and the garage had to be clean or you'd be cleaning it together as soon as he arrived.

Friday, August 10, 2012

When are you going to go full time?

It's that time of year...back to school. My first official day back will be Monday and so I'm reminded of what my dad always used to say to me. We'd be chatting and he'd say, "What does your next week look like?" I'd tell him about my schedule and what I had coming up and then he'd tease me and say, "When are you going to go full time?" I feel certain he'd be asking Myndy and Katy this as well. In truth he knew we had the "Myles work ethic" deeply ingrained in our personalities.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

venison sticks

It's almost deer hunting season again and our supply of venison sticks is dwindling. One of my dad's favorite things to do was to call and see if we'd eaten any venison from last year's hunt. He loved to hear that Erik was a big fan of the venison sticks as well as Ellie and Anna. The love for venison was not always strong in our family. I remember many dinners where dad would make beef steaks and venision steaks and then try to trick mom and I into eating the venison. We could always tell which one was beef and which one was venison but he made many valiant efforts to disguise the meat...marinades, rubs, sauces but we always turned our nose up at the venison. Freezer update dad...we only have one pack of polish sausages left and one bag of sticks. We may need some intervention on your part to help Steve replenish our freezer come hunting time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I just talked with my sister Katy and we were laughing about all of our WWDD ( What would Dad Do) moments lately. Yesterday Katy was driving up to the cabin with Myndy and Jason's Yukon. The oil light came on and she started thinking, "Ok, what would dad do?" Now, of course my dad would have known how to fix it but Katy didn't know what kind of oil it took or what to do. Since she couldn't fix it like dad she figured she better make friends quickly. She befriended a couple of farmers from Wisconsin who were on a motorcyle trip. They helped her find the right oil and made sure everything was running perfectly. In true Myles fashion she wanted to thank them for their help so she left a $20 at the truckstop for their meal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Off Like a Herd of Turtles

One of dad's favorite sayings was "Off like a herd of turtles." This was usually saved for those times when it took us forty-five minutes to pack into the car with backpacks, bags, musical instruments and more. I can definitely relate to this now as I try to get the Willmans packed up and ready to go anywhere.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Like Family

Today was one of those days that sneak up on you when you are not expecting it. I just missed my dad terribly and felt a deep emptiness. I decided to read a few of the cards that people sent. One read, " Myles always showed a warm-hearted nature that made everyone feel as though he was a member of their own family." I think that's really true. My dad would just meet the lake, fishing, at the dump...and it would take just minutes for them to be old friends. Dad had an incredible way of connecting with people and I think folks could tell he was a genuine good guy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

China King

I talked with mom today and she, Myndy, and the girls were at China King, one of dad's favorite restaurants. He loved their vegetable soup and Shirley would always give him an extra bowl of white rice to put in his soup. Myndy was enjoying this today in honor of dad. Dad was always proud that he got the almond cookies too and felt that Shirley gave these to her favorite customers. I would give anything to be able to sit down next to dad and enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup and some good conversation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Tonight we were reminiscing about our honeymoons with our friends, the Andersons. This reminded me of my parents "romantic" honeymoon. Dad had planned for them to fish on Lake of the Woods.( I'm sure you can guess who was in charge of the honeymoon plans) When they arrived, they found two twin beds. Their next move was to move these together and commence their honeymooning. My dad always was a romantic!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Hubbell House

Tonight we had dinner with our dear friends The Ungers at the Hubbell House in Mantorville. This brought back memories of my last dinner with my dad there. He loved their food and service! I think he ordered Kabobs, au gratin potatoes and an Arnold Palmer the last time we visited. We were seated in the back room (probably due to all the small children) and we enjoyed an awesome dinner and great conversation with my mom and dad. I remember the kids fought about who got to sit by grandpa Myles and grandma Susie and Anna showed grandpa the shoe collection.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Safety Camp Hero

Today's recollection takes me back to Safety Camp when my dad was a crash test dummy. Dad was always on the quieter side but stepping into a costume always transformed him into someone completely different. I remember being a counselor at safety camp and watching my dad dance in shaking hands with all the kids attending. He was picked to wear the costume because they needed a small guy and dad was one of the only people who could fit into the suit. No one could guess who was the crash test dummy dancing crazily and high-fiving the kids and dad never said a word. Only a few of us knew and we kept his secret.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Three Bears

I just finished storytime with little Erik and I was reminded of storytime with grandpa Myles. He always liked the kids to crawl in bed with him and then he'd tell them a story...his favorite was The Three Bears. He'd knock on the nightstand to mimic the knocking on the door and the kids would squeal. He'd do voices and the kids always said, " One more story, grandpa." When I went to tell them a story the next night they'd say, " Tell it like grandpa Myles" but I could never get it quite right.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Schwann's English toffee bars...enough said.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Perfect Wedding Gift

Some people get crystal, china, or silverware for their wedding. Instead we got a lawn mower from my dad. Always practical, dad knew we'd need a good mower. He combed the ads and actually got it on a radio program for a great deal. He wanted to be sure it had a Honda Engine and eleven years later we're still using it! The mower kind of reminds me of dad...not flashy but a workhorse. There when you need him and quietly and gently doing the work of being a good man and a good dad. A friend at his funeral said, "He made being a good man look easy."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
We just arrived back home from a weekend at the lake. It was filled with moments both happy and sad. The happy:
*dancing with Erik to the jukebox song "Locomotion"
*taking a pontoon cruise
*swimming and watching Ellie and Anna perfect the backwards somersault
*shopping with mom ( seven pairs of shoes from Fresh Catch)

The sad:
* Getting in your truck to back it up and noticing your canister of spice drops, your country music and the scent of engine grease and fish guts.
* Watching Erik catch a fish and kiss it and thinking of how much you would have loved this.
* Snuggling baby Mylee and thinking of how much you would have enjoyed her.
* Singing " I went to the animal fair" to Mylee and thinking of you.

We miss you dad.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

College House Makeover

Today's story takes us back to my days at Concordia. Like many upperclassmen I wanted to experience the freedom of living off campus so my friends Gretchen, Amy, a Tracy and I decided to rent a house off campus. We thought it was great....just a few blocks from Concordia, three bedrooms, running water. We were set! My family was not so thrilled. When my mom saw the house she went to the car and cried. Dad, however, decided we needed a fix-up day. He brought my grandma Vi, grandpa Rufus, and I and we painted, replaced floorboards, and got rid of the old moldy carpet.
When we were finished it was at least livable and mom was able to come in and visit every once in a while.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Log Beds

It's another weekend at the cabin! One of my favorite things about being here is that my dad is a part of almost everything here. One of the most special items are the log beds that dad made for Stella and Erik. He and my cousin Shawn worked on these special beds so that the grandkids would have somewhere fun to sleep when they visited the cabin. Once they were finished dad was anxious to get them in the cabin so he and Steve brought them in during our spring break weekend. After a few minutes trying to get them in from every angle they realized that they were 10 inches too long! Cousin Shawn adjusted them and now they are perfect....a lasting memory of a loving grandpa.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Panic Prevented

A few days ago I recieved a facebook message from a high school classmate. I hadn't heard from her in many years but she had heard about dad passing away. She shared a story with me from when she was a little girl. She wrote, " I think you know that I was at the rink a lot when I was younger. Your dad was always so kind to me. Early one morning I got there before all of the other girls and I went into the locker room to get ready... well, the door locked and I was stuck. I cried and screamed to no avail. I actually started freaking out and throwing my body against the wall. And after a while (I'm sure it was just a few minutes) but I was really scared... your dad came and opened the door, comforted me and sent me on the ice. He was a great, very kind man."

It amazes me all of the small things dad did to help other people out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A True Sportsman

One of the things I admired most about my dad was that he was a true sportsman. One of his friends wrote about how he always made sure you were in the best spot to get a deer. It was the same way with fishing. If he was your guide you were sure to catch some fish and if you weren't catching fish with Myles no one was catching fish.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hot, Buttered, Popcorn

Last night Miss Anna asked for a snack. We had some microwave popcorn so I popped it up. As I gave it to her she said, "Mom, I am not eating that until I get some extra butter!" I think she got this from Grandpa Myles. He could not eat popcorn without at least a stick of butter on it so when you ate popcorn that he made you had to have a wet wipe or a washcloth for your hands. He also liked to put a little parmesan cheese on top.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby Snuggler

I am going to see my new niece Mylee tomorrow and I can't wait. Getting ready makes me think of how much dad would have enjoyed snuggling with her. He was the expert baby snuggler in the house! He'd snuggle in for a nap, put the baby on his chest, and they'd both be out for a couple of hours. I'll have to see if I can perfect the baby snuggle.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hello, Statue

It's that time of night...time for my dad's nightly call. For the first few weeks after dad passed away I couldn't figure out why I'd always get so sad around 8 at night. Then I finally realized I was missing dad's nightly call. No matter what he'd say, "Hello, statue" and if we didn't answer he'd leave us a message. " Hey Willies, are you screening your calls?" We usually didn't talk about anything earthshattering. Dad would ask about work or the kids but it was a nightly ritual that I miss terribly.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vacation with Kids!

We returned home today from our eleven day trek to Maine and Boston. It was an awesome eleven days but it is great to be home! As we schlepped our kids from place to place I had a few moments where I thought, "This would be so much easier if we'd left our kids at home" but I was struck by all of the great memories I have as a kid on family vacations. It might have been Mount Rushmore, camping at Itasca or watersliding at the Windsor Park Inn in Winnipeg but wherever we went we all went as a family. I hope my kids have some of the same memories of great trips together. We may have missed out on the romantic candlelit dinner in Bar Harbor ( we were actually taking shifts chasing Erik around the restaurant) but our kids will remember playing in the tide pools, climbing bubble rock, and eating at Duncan Donuts. I have both my parents to thank for the great tradition of the family vacation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mylee Sue

Yesterday my new niece arrived on the scene! We had all been waiting for her to make her appearance and it seemed like perfect timing that she arrived on the day that grandpa Myles was supposed to leave on his big Canadian fishing trip. Myndy and Jason debated on her name but finally settled on Mylee Sue to honor Grandpa Myles. I hope this girl knows she has a lifetime of fishing and hunting ahead of her.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Summer Trip

It's vaction time around here and our house is in an uproar with preparations for our trip out east. We've got IPADS and IPODS charging, camera batteries being replaced and stuffed animals being shoved into carry-on bags. This all makes me think about preparations for our summer vacations as a kid. Most of our vacations were taken via either the gold or red toyota corolla. ( Mom and dad liked the car so much we got two of them in various colors). I remember one particular trip, I think we may have been going to South Dakota, my sister Myndy and I drew a chalk line down the backseat to keep the peace before we even made it out of the driveway. In case you're wondering this was not successful. I don't remember us bringing much besides a few barbies and a book or two. Dad was always the best at the car games... he always beat us at horses and graveyards and was also the first one to spot any wildlife along the way. Dad taught me that the journey was sometimes more fun than the destination. I need to remember this tomorrow while flying cross-country with a 20 month old.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fair Time

We finished up the final touches on Ellie and Anna's 4-H projects today! This reminded me of our own fair days as kids. We loved the county fair for a couple of reasons:
1. Dad always got MEGARIDE bracelets from the carnival workers. Dad was kind to them and helped them set up so he always came home with three or four extra MEGARIDE bracelets. We thought we were the luckiest kids in the county because we got to have two days of unlimited rides instead of just one. Think of all those turns on the Zipper.
2. Dad loved to play the "Gold Digger". He'd scope out all of the games all day long and then come back to see what he could win. We loved to watch him regardless of whether he ever went home with anything.

I think the Willman kids will have to make do with one MEGARIDE bracelet this year...but maybe we'll try our hand at the "Gold Digger" in honor of dad. We need some more large stuffed animals around our house.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Homemade Chicken Dumpling Soup

I was rummaging through my recipes today and found a recipe for dad's chicken dumpling soup. This was one of his favorite things to make for us! His version had yummy homemade dumplings ( grandma Eleanor's recipe), lots of carrots, celery, potatoes and lots of pepper. He'd also put a ton of saltine crackers in his bowl. I don't know if any of us will be able to get this recipe just the way dad did it. I think the best part was knowing that he'd put all of that love and hard work into making it for us. It would make him so happy to see us dish up a second bowl.

Friday, July 6, 2012


The word of the day is hot. It was in the nineties all day in Rochester and this got me thinking about another very hot day nearly eleven years wedding day. Steve and I got married in Thief River Falls and had our dance at the Eagle's club. I remember it being in the nineties on that day as well. One of my best memories of the day was dancing with my dad during the dad/daughter dance and both of us laughing as we wiped the sweat off of our faces.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tackling the Tackle Table

Last night we spent a bit of the night trying to sort and organize dad's fishing tackle. I know most people keep this contained to a box but my dad had an entire table dedicated to things that would help him slay the biggest walleye. As I tried to differentiate between the twenty kinds of line and dozens of sinkers I felt like dad was right there beside me saying, "Don't mess this up now, Heather, there is an art to this." One of my dad's favorite things to do on a night when he couldn't fish was make his own tackle. He put these creations on playing cards, making a slot in each corner so that everything stayed in it's place and untangled. Last night I found dozens of these cards with his homemade tackle just ready to be used. It will be our mission to use this tackle and do some fishing that dad would be proud of! Maybe we'll even catch a fish that is worthy of joining his two on the wall.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It takes a Village!

Today was our first fourth of July without dad and it was a tough one. This morning we realized that it takes a village to do what dad would do before breakfast. We woke up and decided we needed to use the weed whacker and clean things up a bit. It took Kevin( Katy's boyfriend) and Steve to figure out how to get that up and running. Then we packed up our bags, got gas for the boats and got ready to take the pontoon out to watch the boat parade. We got on the boat and then found that the fuel line was disintegrated and the starter didn't work. Yikes! Dad would have been able to fix all of this in a jiffy and in fact we probably would not have even known there were any issues. Every day brings new challenges and reminders of how much dad did each day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

Last night we spent the evening reminiscing about our favorite memories of my dad. My sister, Katy, shared a story about my dad and the Sentence to Serve workers he supervised when he worked for the city. After dad picked up his crew he'd stop and pick up deli meat and cigarettes because those were two things the workers couldn't have in jail. Dad firmly believed that all people needed a second chance and should be treated with dignity and respect. Mom also recalled that he really wanted to help many of these workers make a new start in life. One year there were two ladies on his crew and he came home and looked for winter coats to bring them because they did not have warm enough coats. Another guy moved into a new apartment and dad bought him an alarm clock and pots and pans for his new kitchen. The workers would fight to work on dad's crew and many of these people talked about what an influence my dad was on their life.

Monday, July 2, 2012


It's a rainy night at the lake and we enjoyed one of dad's favorite games, Yahtzee! Dad loved to rustle up a good game of Yahtzee on a rainy night. Tonight we used his custom-made dice cup made by our friend Marty Lieberg. I won one round and cousin Mike won the other. We also listened to some of dad's favorite tunes on the jukebox "Lucille", "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden", and "Two Story House". It was the pefect rainy night...the only thing that would have made it better was having dad there with us at the table.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Progress Report

Mom and Katy went home to Thief River Falls last night so that mom could usher for church today. All went as usual until the last song of the service " Down to the Lakeshore". Both mom and Katy knew dad was there with them on that song...checking to make sure all was going well. Here's the progress report, dad:
* Pontoon, running smoothly with new battery connections thanks to Steve and Dustin
* 4-wheeler, leak is fixed thanks to Cousin Mike
* Shower on main floor fixed courtesy of Cousin Shawn and Uncle Lyle
* Fishing has been slow. Only four walleye caught on *Potato* Lake.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Father of Three Daughters

This week my sisters and I were reminiscing about all of the things dad did for us that were probably out of his comfort zone. One of my favorite memories involves our barbie fashion shows. In the summer we'd set out across country to some United States landmark and it only took about fifteen miles and the barbies came out. (This was before the age of the DVD player so we had to make our own fun.) We'd doll our barbies up with dresses, purses and shoes and then we'd ask dad which one was the prettiest. He was very diplomatic and would often say something like, " I think Myndy's has the nicest shoes but Heather's has the best dress." These diplomatic skills also proved useful when we were teenagers...but that's another blog post.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Strength of a Family

Last spring our extended family traveled to Washington D.C. Our original plan was to attend an event for Katy's husband but plans change. Katy and Nate had been having some difficulties in their marriage but we all decided that it was important to keep our plans and be there to support Katy,no matter what. Dad went with Katy to the event and waited while she attended and said goodbye to her husband. When Katy got in the car, dad was there to drive her back to Washington D.C. and was the rock that got her through this tough time. The only words that dad said in the car were, " Moving on. Onto life's next adventure." This could have been a horrible trip with all of the sadness that comes from a marriage ending but we pulled together as a family and found the strength to keep going.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I think I can fix it

We are enjoying time up at the lake this week to celebrate the fourth of July. As I watched Steve ride around on dad's old mower today, a puff of blue smoke trailing him, I thought of the pride my dad took in fixing things around the house. In some families I'm sure it's a point of pride to have a new mower, or a new vehicle....but my dad got the most satisfaction out of fixing something that others would have
junked. This is evidenced by many things around the cabin and home: the mower, the fridge he rescued from the junkyard, my vaccum cleaner, and his boat with the new floor he and Katy put in. The list could go on and on but the lesson he taught me was that sometimes new is not better and it's often worth a little time and elbow grease to get something working again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waterskiing Dad

Tonight we went to the waterski show at Fisherman's Inn in Oronoco. As I watched the flashy costumes and the one legged skiers I thought of my dad. He did not look like a waterskier at all...skinny white legs, farmer tan, and old swim trunks circa 1980 but when he got behind a boat he could ski! In the old days I remember him wearing a pair of cut-offs and taking just "one spin around the lake".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Depot Depression

I really missed you a lot today, dad. Ellie and I went to Home Depot to get supplies for her 4-H project, a babysitting kit. Our plan is to make a cushion for a crate and then store all her babysitting supplies underneath. When we first got there we didn't know where to go to find the plywood. Ellie said, "Too bad grandpa Myles isn't here. He'd just go make friends with one of those guys and find out." When we found the guy and got him to cut the plywood we realized we will still need a hand saw to cut the corners and then we'll have to sand them down. Again, Ellie said, "I bet Grandpa Myles could have done that for us in a minute."

Monday, June 25, 2012

ER Visits

Tonight my husband Steve landed in the emergency room. We had been working on repainting the bathroom and he was working on hanging the mirror back up. It slipped out of his hands and shattered and consquently cut his arm. This got me thinking about one of my dad's trips to the ER. This particular time he'd been working on the park that is now known as "Chief Red Robe". He had injured his hand working on the shoreline at the park putting up rip rap and we all waited to hear that he'd be ok. My first question was, "Will he still be able to hold me?"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fish Fry

Today we had a great visit with our friends, the Youngs. Our conversation turned to fishing and we were sharing some of our favorite recipes for fixing walleye. This reminded me of dad's famous fish batter. I'll share it here:
1st Bowl: 2/3 c. flour and 1/2 tsp. salt
2nd Bowl: 1/2 tsp. soda and 1 Tbsp. vinegar

Mix the first two bowls together and then add 2/3 cup water. Add lemon pepper to mixture.

If you've ever attended a fish try at the Olson's cabin you know how great this batter is! I know each time we enjoy walleye this summer we'll be thinking of you, dad.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2 Meat Wedding

Tonight we attended a neighborhood block party. As I sampled the assorted fare assembled for the party I was reminded of our wedding and my dad's 2 meat rule: If you put together a wedding, you had to have two meats served to the guests. This rule was without exception. My dad would say, "We're not going to have people driving five and six hours without getting a good meal." Consequently we served both chicken breasts and roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn and dinner rolls as well as wedding cake and other desserts. My dad liked to put on a good spread and let people know we appreciated their effort to attend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roof Rack

My dad loved a project! If there was even a hint dropped of something one of us needed he was all over it. Today's story is about the roof rack on our Honda. Steve had made an off-hand comment that he wanted a roof rack sometime to help us haul our kayaks around. We were gone for a day and the van was parked at the lake cabin. Dad took that as a green light to find a roof rack and retrofit it on the roof of the van. You should know that Steve specifically said it the roof rack needed to be from a 2010 Honda. Well, dad found something close at the junk yard and then figured he could make it work. After about five hours of hard labor (enlisting Jason as hard labor in the ninety degree heat) the roof rack was complete. If you see me driving around town, check out my fabulous roof rack and think of the great dad that put it there. I know I will!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cards anyone?

I just read a facebook post about my friend playing lots of games of cards up at the lake cabin and it reminded me of one of my fondest childhood memories, playing whist. My grandpa Kenny and grandma Eleanor were big fans of whist and so when they came to visit we all got to play. When I got old enough I was allowed to play too. My dad was a pretty conservative card player so you knew when he granded he was going to clean house. My grandma Eleanor, on the other hand, hated to play low so would grand with just one face card in her hand. The best part about these card games was the teasing that went back and forth across the table. Grandpa Kenny would say he had a "hand like a foot" and then he'd chide grandma for what he called "laying in the weeds" and saving all her face cards. We'd spend all evening, playing cards, listening to jokes, and enjoying one another's company. Sometimes it's the small things you miss the most.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My dad was a nickname kind of guy. Here is a list of what he called each of us:

Me: Gopher Girl ( as a baby) and H0-de-Ho ( as an adult)
Steve: Steve-0
Ellie: Elle-belle
Anna: Annan
Erik: Baby Erik
Stella: Stelly
Mom: Susan ( pronounced Su sahn)
Myndy: Myndy Pooper ( there's a story behind this one)
Jason: J
Katy: Kateso butso

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My kids were watching one of their favorite movies today in the van...."Little Rascals". I was enduring listening to the sound because we only have two sets of headphones and they wanted Erik to hear. At one point one of the kids called someone a doink. This reminded me of one of my dad's favorite questions, " What do you call someone who farts in the bathtub and bites the bubbles?" I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Today was Ellie's first day of basketball camp. Seeing hundreds of kids dribbling, shooting, and running around in the gym got me thinking about my own non-existent basketball skills and all the games of HORSE we played on our own basketball hoop. My dad's sport wasn't really basketball....he was a wrestler at heart but he always had time to play a game of HORSE while mom cooked dinner. If he was in a hurry we played PIG. He was an expert at the granny shot! I see a mean game of HORSE in my future tonight. I'll have to perfect that granny shot.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Myles Jr.

We spent this weekend at the cabin doing what my dad would have loved...enjoying the lake and each other. There were many moments this weekend that I was struck by how similar my sister Katy is to my dad. First, when we arrived she and mom and undertaken a number of projects. They washed windows, planted flowers, and pulled some weeds. As you've read in other blog posts my dad had one speed and it was lightening fast! Katy is the same way. If she thinks of a project it will be done start to finish in a matter of hours. Katy and my dad are also always helping someone out. Mom told me a story about an incident that happened at the Chinese restaurant in Park Rapids on Friday. Katy and mom wanted to eat there because it was one of dad's favorite places. They sat down and couldn't help but hear this young man at a neighboring table talking to his friend about how excited he was that he had a job that was going to pay $8 dollars an hour. The best part,he said, was that they needed him for three whole hours. When he went up to pay he was short two dollars. Katy noticed and gave him the money he was short. My dad would have totally done the same thing...and would have probably tried to round him up to do a little work at the cabin so he could help him out a bit more.

I am so proud to think that my dad's characteristics are alive in all of us. We miss you more than we can express, dad, but we know you are alive in all of us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What the.....?

Today's story could only happen at Rural Route 4 in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Katy and dad were out running some errands and drove into the yard to find a strange looking bird roaming the yard. Katy said, " Dad, what the heck is that?" Dad replied, "We'd better get that out of here before mom comes home."
Upon further inspection they figured out that it was an emu. Dad had heard an ad on the radio and knew that there was one missing from a neighboring farm. His first plan was to have Katy walk ahead of the emu with an ice cream pail full of dog food to lure it into the garage. They got it into the garage with this plan but when dad hit the button to close the garage door the emu bolted. Now they needed plan #2. Dad got close enough to put a rope around the emu's neck and also around its legs. When it got close to the garage this time dad was able to pull on the rope, take the emu's legs out from under him, and ride it into the garage. The farmer was very surprised when dad called and said that he had the emu and he could come and pick him up. "How did you ever get him in the garage?" he asked. "Oh, we tried a few things," dad replied. When mom returned home the yard was emu-free and the incident was only a story.