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 ago...my 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.