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.