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.