My favorite

We're back from a too short but very fun trip to California-- and yay, Chris comes home tomorrow!!  It's too late in the evening to write much about our trip, so I'll just post my favorite picture of the last week:  cousins.

Did you know that I don't actually have a single biological cousin?  It's true-- neither of my parents have nieces or nephews and my grandparents' only grandchildren are my siblings and me.  I think this may be a pretty sweet benefit from the spoiled grandchild perspective, but I do kind of wish I had the fun cousin relationships that my kids have.  They love their friends and they love each other (mostly), but they really, really, really love their cousins.  It is always so fun to watch them interact-- they are best friends with the benefit of being related.  Even though I don't have my own cousins, seeing these cute kids together makes up for it.

Edna Helen Brown

Edna Helena Brown left this world for her heavenly home on March 30, 2011. She was born on July 16, 1915 in Oakland, OK to Joseph & Anna Pennington. She was 95 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. Preceding her in death were her parents, her husband of 59 years, Vallie William Brown, & granddaughter, Linda Brown Davis, five sisters, and two brothers.
Surviving are her son Darrell Brown and wife Marie of Poteau, granddaughter Melissa Brown and husband Peter Neff of Grove, OK, Linda’s husband, Damon Davis of Chelsea, OK and four great-grandchildren, Britton Davis of Pembroke Pines, FL, Taylor and Isaac Davis of Chelsea, OK, and Natasha Teeters, her husband, David and their children, Hunter & Jefferson of Leeton, MO. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
For the past 30 years, she has been a member of Double Branch Baptist Church and faithfully attended services until her declining health kept her at home. She was a homemaker and traveled with her husband to various job locations throughout the states during his career as a pipeline mechanic. She was raised in the Conser-Heavener area and moved back to Poteau in 1966.Serving as pallbearers will be Peter Neff, Damon Davis, David Teeters, Taylor Davis, Isaac Davis, and Trey Mixer.Services will be held at 4:30 pm Saturday, April 2nd at Double Branch Baptist Church with interment to follow at Monroe Cemetery.

Edgar Daniel Urchison

Edgar Daniel Urchison, 79, of Poteau passed away Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at St. Edwards Mercy Medical Center, Fort Smith, AR. “Ed” was born June 30, 1931 in Hill, OK to George Urchison & Lucy Richard. His father’s family immigrated from Czechoslovakia when his father was a child. They all later became U.S. citizens. Ed grew up in the communities of Hill, Gilmore, McClure, Midway & Monroe. At 18 he enlisted in the National Guard. In 1951, he was drafted into the US Army and served with the 45th Div. in reconnaissance on the front lines of the Korean War. After his discharge in 1952, he returned home and married Jo Ann Pickle. They first lived in Dallas, TX, then Tulsa, OK where he worked for Douglas Aircraft. They settled in Monroe, OK near Sugar Loaf Mt. where they raised their four children. Ed earned a BA Degree from Poteau Junior College while working and attending night school. He was employed by Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, retiring in 1992 after 37 years. He raised beef cattle for many years which he so enjoyed. After retirement he enjoyed being with his family, gardening and hanging out with his Monroe friends. He never knew a stranger and helped people in any way he could. He will be missed by all.Ed was a Christian and attended Sugar Loaf Baptist Church. He was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Masonic Lodge. Ed was preceded in death by his parents, two brother, John & Edward Urchison and one sister, Dorothy Riggs. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Jo Ann of Monroe, 2 daughters, Alice Johnson and husband Jeff of Cave Springs, AR, Debi Rakes and husband Ron of Georgetown, CO; two sons, Gary Urchison and wife, Freda of El Reno, OK, Ken Urchison of Midwest City, OK; 2 brothers, George Urchison III of Howe, OK, Walter Urchison of Talihina, OK; one sister-in-law, Loretta Urchison of Broken Arrow, OK; 8 grandchildren, Sean Wright, Jennifer Tadlock, Charity Robertson, Summer Anderson, Ryan Walker, Eddie Urchison, Grace Anderson & William Urchison; 2 great grandchildren, Hope Wright & Kendall Robertson; many nieces, nephews and friends.Funeral services will be conducted April 2, at 2:00 pm in Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook & Rev. Les Scroggins officiating. Interment will follow at Monroe Cemetery with military honors. Memorials may be made to Monroe Church of Christ, PO Box 126, Monroe, OK 74947

Nadine Stewart

Nadine Stewart, 86, of Poteau, OK passed away Wednesday, March 30, 2011 in Pocola, OK. She was born in Clarksville, AR on August 11, 1924 to William “Henry” & Irene (Burton) King. She was a homemaker. Nadine was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, William Issac Stewart; twin granddaughters, Melissa & Jerilyn Stewart; brothers, Jr. King and Billy King; sister, Nova Walker.Survivors include two sons, Jerry Wayne Stewart of Poteau, OK; Larry Dale Stewart and fiancé Paula Pannell of Ft. Smith, AR; grandsons, Jay & Megan Stewart of Little Rock, AR, Blake & Rachel Stewart of Bentonville, AR; granddaughter, Michelle & Josh McCoy of Poteau, OK; 6 great grandchildren, Cody & Cadie McCoy, Ava & Kennedy Stewart, Hailey & Taylor Stewart; sisters, Patsy & William Grober of Ft. Smith, AR & Pauline Ray Hood of Pocola, OK; nephew, Bryan & Stacy Grober of Poteau, OK; other relatives & loved ones; many friends.Services will be 10 am, Saturday, April 2, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Clyde Curry officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau. Pallbearers will be Mikel Turnipseed, Randy Schneider, Colton Grober, Blake Stewart, Joshua McCoy, & Jay Stewart. Honorary pallbearers will be Jamie Cotton, Eric Manus, Caelum Grober, James Thames. The family will be at the funeral home on Friday evening from 6-8 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race…Sort Of

Monday night was the final meeting of the local Y’s ‘Resolution Solution’ program. Faithful readers (and long-suffering family members) know I tend to wax ad nauseam on the topic of fat…much more so than family and faith.

Before the final weigh-in and a few rousing games of dodge ball and tug-of-war (it was truly exhilarating channeling my inner 12-year-old), a special guest speaker offered tidbits on longevity and living a good healthy, faith-based life.

The 91-year-old guest’s advice reminded me of my 80-plus father-in-law’s ascetic approach to life, minus the barbell stuff. A good gene pool and prudent living can take one far.

My motto, on the other hand, is everything in moderation, including moderation. I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of gal. It’s only in the last couple years I’ve decided to stop dieting and to start making lifestyle changes.

So when I stepped on the scale after lobbing a small rubber ball at the Y’s pregnant aquatic manager and then apologizing profusely (being in school pre-Title IX was rough!) and didn’t lose as much weight in the 12-week program as I planned to, I took the philosophical path…as thorny as it was.

Since last year at this time (I keep records), I’m down 17 pounds. It was a couple more, but winter is rough. And I’m weak.

Losing just over 10 more will put me at my adult low, last reached on what I call the ‘grief diet,’ a plan never to be repeated. Back then, a good friend died way too young; and my husband fell ill and I thought he was going to die (he wasn’t), etc. I’m a stress eater, but when the stress reaches the nth degree even I can’t eat. Not the way to go.

Needless to say, I gained most of that weight back and am now slowly and steadily getting it off. Ten more pounds, and I’ll call it done. Honest.

Years ago cartoonist Berke Breathed, creator of the strip Bloom County, put his character Opus, a penguin, on a diet. Poor Opus was searching for the magic cure for weight loss.

Imagine his surprise, and mine, when we both discovered the secret is ‘eat less, exercise more.’

It’s not glamorous or quick, but it does work.

Who'da thunk?

B. Dale James

B. Dale James, 82, of Shady Point, OK passed away Monday, March 28, 2011 in Shady Point. Dale was born February 25, 1929 in Calhoun, OK to Cornelius & Ella M. (Priest) James. He worked in the oil field. He was a veteran of the US Army. Dale was preceded in death by his parents; grandson, Travis Reed; great grandson, Jordan Martin; and brother, Hampton James.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Ruth James of the home; Daughters & sons in law, Patricia & Neil Donathan of Shady Point, OK, Mona & Kirk Reed of Mountainburg, AR, Ruth & Steve Burrows of Edmond, OK; one son & daughter in law, Robert & Linda James of Shady Point, OK; 8 grandchildren, David Donathan, Shannon Lee, Ashley Goff, Robbin Stockton, Chris James, Stephanie Martin, Stacy Christopher, Joshua Burrows; 13 Great Grandchildren, Steven Lee, Alyssa Lee, Courtney Lee, Joseph Lee, Nickolas Donathan, Kenedi Ross, Izac Goff, Louden Stockton, Kagan Stockton, Dakota James, Jaxon James, Savannah Martin, Aiden Martin; brother & sister in law, Robert & Sue Kennedy of Roland, OK; sister in law, Betty Jo James of Shady Point, OK; 6 special nieces & nephews, Beverly & Harry Killian, Gary James, Danny James, Debbie & Wayne McDonald, Janie & Kevin Sims, Bryan James; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 1 pm, Friday, April 1, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories – Poteau, OK with Rev. Garry Haskins and Rev. Larry Matthiesen. Pallbearers will be his grandsons. David Donathan, Nickolas Donathan, Steven Lee, Chris James, Dakota James, Joshua Burrows, Gary James, Danny James, Bryan James. Honorary pallbearers will be Louden Stockton, Kagan Stockton, Izac Goff, Jaxon James & Aiden Martin. The family will be at the funeral home on Thursday evening from 6-8 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Gordon Emery Ennis

Gordon Emery Ennis, 53, of Poteau, OK passed away Friday, March 25, 2011 in Poteau. Gordon was born in Amarillo, TX on October 30, 1957 to Willie Arthur “Bill” & Barbara Ann (Willis) Ennis. Gordon graduated from Hale High School, Tulsa, OK in 1977 and also Tulsa Welding School in 1977. He worked in the carpet industry for over 20 years; first as a salesman and then as an installer before moving to Poteau in 1993. He loved the outdoors (hunting & fishing). He loved the animals on the farm – especially close to 2 limousine bulls. He was preceded in death by his father, Bill Ennis; maternal grandparents, Emery & Ruby Willis; and paternal great grandparents, Doc & Caroline Standridge.

Survivors include his mother, Barbara Willis Ennis of Edmond, OK; brother & sister in law, Brian & Dana Ennis of Edmond, OK; 2 daughters, Alisha Eslinger of Texas & Amber Ennis of Oklahoma; 3 grandchildren, Kylie Eslinger, Logan Eslinger, & Chastian Eslinger; 2 nieces, Heather Ennis Driscoll and Kristen Kelly Ennis both of Denver, CO; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 10 am, Thursday, March 31, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories in Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Shady Point Cemetery, Shady Point, OK.

Wanda M. Harrison

Wanda Marie (Ritter) Harrison, 83, of Bokoshe, OK passed away Monday, March 28, 2011. She was born March 22, 1928 to Jim & Mattie (Belt) Ritter. Wanda was a factory worker for many years. She was preceded in death by her parents; son, Lewis Lawson; brothers, Charles, Don, Son & Roy Ritter; sister, Evonna Kelley & great granddaughter, Kristy Thompson.She is survived by her sisters, Betty & husband, Jack Brewer of Bokoshe, OK; Yvonne & husband Marlin Forrester of Spiro; brother, James Ritter of Spiro, OK; her grandchildren, Melissa Harris of Roland, OK, Melinda Thompson of Panama, OK, & Presley Lawson of Spiro, OK; 5 great grandchildren; several nieces, nephews, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.Services will be 2 pm, Thursday, March 31, 2011 at the Old Bokoshe Cemetery Pavilion, Bokoshe, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Old Bokoshe Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Zachary Harris, Robbie Tran, Presley Lawson & Marion Cates.

Dr. Roy H. Raines

Roy H. Raines, 72, of Pace, FL passed away peacefully on March 4, 2011 at Baptist Hospital, Gulf Breeze, FL., with his wife and daughter at his side. Roy was born in Summerfield, OK. on January 24, 1939. He graduated from LeFlore High School, Leflore, OK. He was offered a contract with the New York Yankees right after HS, but he chose to pursue an academic career instead. He received his BS Degree from Northeastern State College, his Master’s in Mathematics from Rutgers University and his PhD from Nova University. He was a Math Professor at Manatee Community College from 1966-1979 and Executive Vice President at Manatee Community College from 1979-1998. He retired in 1998 and moved to Pace in 1999.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Vada and Joseph Lindsey Raines, three sisters: Patsy Parsley, Reba Forehand, Pauline Carmack and one brother, Carl Raines. Roy was the dearly beloved father of Dr. S. Lindsey Raines, the husband of Glenda Stockton Raines, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Roy loved and was loved by many. One of his greatest enjoyments was spending time with his wife and daughter and anything involving golf. He was an Instrument Rated Pilot and loved flying his Cherokee 180 all over the US with his wife, Glenda. Additionally he loved life…people and all of nature’s beauties. Roy’s friends counted themselves lucky for their special relationship with him.

Roy and his wife, Glenda, celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in July 2010. He was a loyal, lovable, ethical, and generous person, who will be greatly missed by his
family and others who loved him.

There will be a Memorial Tribute To Roy at Stonebrook Country Club Saturday, March 19th at 4:00PM.

Grave side service will be at 2:00PM on May 8, 2011at the Oakland Cemetery, Poteau, OK.

Northerners Say It Best

Can one dialect sound more appealing than another? For Norwegians, this seems to be the case. In a recent survey conducted by InFact AS, Norwegians chose nordlendingene—those living in the far north of Norway—as most attractive sounding.

More than ten percent of respondents chose Norway's northernmost dialects as their favorite. It's perhaps a bit surprising, then, that sørlandsk—the dialect spoken in the far south—came in second place. The dialects spoken in Trondelag and Bærum (an community southwest of Oslo) tied for third place.

Why not judge for yourself? You can hear samples of all these dialects and dozens more on this audio database. The instructions are in Norwegian, but you can hear a sample by clicking the map of Norway. When the larger map appears, chose any location. Each dialect is identified by place (sted), municipality (kommune) and county (fylke). Listen to the sample by selecting one of the audio files (.wav or .mp3).

Want to learn more about Norwegian dialects? You can check out my feature story "What Did You Say?" in the March issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.)

Map image by NordNordWest.

Veston E. Woodall

Veston E. Woodall, 76, of Bokoshe, OK passed away Tuesday, March 22, 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. Veston was born October 1, 1934 in Cameron, OK to George H. & Etta (Jones) Woodall. He was an inspector for the Oklahoma Department of Mines. He was preceded in death by his parents; and a son, Gary Swindle. Survivors include his wife, Jessie of the home; 4 sons & daughters in law, Raymond & Katia Woodall of Tulsa, OK, Kim & Shirley Swindle of Bokoshe, OK, George & Gail Swindle of Shady Point, OK, Tommy & Tami Swindle of Bokoshe, OK; 4 daughters & son in law, Angela Woodall of Barling, AR, Cheri & Bobby Mitch of Alma, AR, Krista Jamison of Poteau, OK and Linda Swindle of Poteau, OK; brother, Thurman Woodall of Bakersfield, CA, daughter in law, Karen Swindle of Muskogee, OK; 25 Grandchildren; 36 Great Grandchildren; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends. Services were held 2 pm, Friday, March 25, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories with Rev. Joe Pierce & Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment followed in Old Bokoshe Cemetery, Bokoshe, OK. Pallbearers were his grandsons, Eric Mitch, George Swindle, Kevin Nixon, Kenneth Nixon, Jesse Swindle, Nick Swindle, & Thomas Swindle.

Vernon Wade "Biggin" Butler

Vernon Wade “Biggin” Butler, 96, of Spiro, OK passed away Thursday, March 24, 2011 in Spiro, OK. Wade was born September 4, 1914 in Williams, OK to Eli Madison & Iva (McCullar) Butler. His parents came from Tennessee and Mississippi and settle in Williams, OK to raise a family of eight. Being raised on the family farm he learned skills that served him and his own family throughout his lifetime. Biggin was a master carpenter, gardener & rancher. He was a defense plant worker during WWII and a WPA worker. Biggin was blessed with six children; 3 dying at birth; and 3 surviving Wade was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Betty Lou Butler; and five brothers; and grandchild, Vickie McTaggart. Biggin deeply loved his family. He loved nature, animals & God. He loved the art of story telling and no one was ever a stranger to him.
Survivors include 2 daughters, Cheryl Arnold of Ft. Smith, AR, Verna Fuentenebro of San Jose, CA; 1 son, Louis Butler of Poteau, OK; 4 Grandchildren, Debbie Fuentenebro, Renee Bickle, Gary Arnold & Christy Arnold. 4 Great Grandchildren Katelynne and Sabannah Bickle, Alexander McTaggart, & Eliott Arnold; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.
Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment following in Greenhill Cemetery, Cameron, OK. Evans & Miller Funeral Home, Poteau, OK. The family will be at the funeral home on Monday evening from 5-7 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Presidential Tour 2011

If you’ve been reading the last few issues of Viking magazine, then you’ve probably seen the ads promoting the 2011 Presidential Tour of Norway, which departs this fall and is hosted by International President Dan Rude. This is only the second time we’ve done a tour like this in the decade-plus that I’ve been with Sons of Norway, so it’s obviously a very special trip.

But what makes this trip even more special is that those who go will get to see the very best that Norway has to offer! From 800-year-old stave churches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, to modern cities and upscale accommodations throughout, tour participants are in for a trip of a lifetime. Thos who decide to jump at this amazing opportunity will experience:
  • Local culture and cuisine in a number of Norwegian cities, including Oslo, Bergen Sogndal and more
  • The Oslo Folkemuseum
  • Seven stave churches, including Gol, Heddal, Lom, Urnes
  • The Viking Ship Museum
  • Hadeland Glassverk
  • The famous Flåm railway     
Over the next week or so I’ll be blogging about all the great places the tour will visit. Join me as we begin tomorrow with the first day in Oslo. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the tour, be sure to contact Linda McCormick at Borton Overseas by calling (800) 843-0602 ext. 12.

Developing talents

Thomas has been taking violin lessons this school year. He seems to really enjoy it-- especially when he learns a song and can play it well. His latest favorite is "Go Tell Aunt Rhody". Here's a little 1 minute video for you to enjoy (and don't mind his technique-- I can only say "waterfall" so many times!)

I'm taking an online photography course, mainly so that I can use my camera with some degree of understanding. I did a lot of research when I bought the camera, only to find out that my skills with it are a bit beneath its capabilities. So, it's Digital Photography 101 for me! This is the first of a four-week course, and I've learned quite a bit already. I'm going to post my assignments here just for kicks.

Our first assignment is to control our flash use-- usually, when I'm shooting everything in "automatic", the camera decides when to flash or not. I decided to take pictures of Murray, since he was in a good spot for demonstrating the use of the flash and because I could get him to hold still.

I'm excited to learn more about how to work my camera and hopefully take better pictures.  I think this picture of Murray turned out pretty cool, too.

And, while we're on the subject of Murray (again... I'm really not cat-obsessed!), I took a little video of him uh, protecting our yard. I'm just going to post the link-- it's a little bit gross.
We had a good turn out at the Hiawatha Breakfast yesterday:
Archie McCarrie-- Dean Petrulas
Tom Neilson-- Don Reaveley
Ken Allred-- Glen Davis
John Barnett-- Wally Baldwin
Paul Mecham-- Bob Wilde
Darrell Bearnson-- Gordon Bingham

We got reports on several others. I enjoyed it and I think everyone else did also.

Swimsuit Season and 60 Minutes

Monday night I had every intention of going to my Y ‘Resolution Solution’ class. In addition to a demo of healthy recipes, an aqua zumba workout was scheduled. I even retrieved my olive green tankini from a bin in the storage room.

But life intervened, and I stuffed the swimsuit into a drawer.

Few tasks strike fear in the hearts of women more than swimsuit shopping. Men may shudder at this chore, also. But the only swimsuits purchased by males in this household have been snatched off the rack or ordered from Lands’ End without an ounce of angst involved.

Actually my current suit and the two-piece navy and turquoise number (no exposed midriff, rest assured!) were purchased via Lands’ End.

I have an aversion to swimsuit shopping, and shopping in general. I once went swimsuit shopping with my husband’s younger sister. She needed a suit, not me. She was, and is, five foot eleven and slender. I am five foot two and ¾ on a good day and even at my thinnest, no one would call me slender, slim, or svelte.

Ironically, the time I felt most comfortable in a swimsuit was the summer I was pregnant with my second son. There’s liberation in just not caring about resembling a beached whale. I’m not exaggerating. While waiting at the doctor’s office that summer, someone asked me if I was having triplets.

The time I should have felt most uncomfortable – interviewing Don Hewitt, then-60 Minutes producer, poolside in Vegas, both of us clad in swimsuits, ironically did not faze me that much. Ah, the confidence of 20.

College classmates and I were attending a broadcasting honorary society convention during spring break. I had a story due for my print journalism class while I was gone, and somehow Don Hewitt became my story. I’m sure we both wore cover-ups. The only details that really matter, though, are the ‘A’ I got on the story and in the class (taught by the amazing Jim Wojcik) and the fact an article on Hewitt in TV Guide later that year used all the same quotes I did. It was the legendary producer’s standard spiel, but at least I knew enough to pick up on it.

We both could have been wearing Hefty garbage bags and one truth still would have resonated: I wanted to be a writer.

I returned from spring break to find out my father, a school administrator, had accepted a new job in Iowa. In the downriver Detroit suburb we lived in, school personnel were routinely ‘pink slipped’ due to the poor economy. They may or may not be rehired. With my sister and me in college and two brothers coming up, my dad wasn’t going to wait around to see.

It seemed easier to change my major from broadcast journalism to print journalism by following my family to Iowa and transferring to a different university. Yes, my idea of easy can be skewed.

I got hired at the Iowa State Daily, took a class from another amazing professor, Tom Emmerson, and met my husband.

I’m still afraid to face the 360 degree dressing room mirrors to try on swimsuits, but pulling out that tankini yesterday reminded me of the things I’ve done in my life that should have daunted me…but didn’t.

Not bad for a piece of spandex.

Another Sunday update

Hooray!  Another week down-- only two to go!  Here's another late Sunday night post for our travelin' man.  :)

This week seemed to go by much faster than last-- a good thing, for sure.  We've kept busy with meetings and lessons and birthday parties and a visit to the vet.  Murray caught some kind of rodent in the back yard, an experience that both pleased and disgusted me.  Thomas beat Bowser on Super Mario Galaxy, and Gordon asked if we can go on a ride in a blimp for his birthday in May.  Except for missing Chris, it was a pretty good week.

Last week, I brought a box of clothes labeled "Neil < Gordon" inside and we've been having fun discovering some old/new clothes for Neil.  I'm not really an obsessive name-brand shopper, but I do have to say that getting out these hand-me-downs does put some of those more expensive brands in a good light.  There are a few items that belonged to Thomas and are still in good enough shape for Neil to use.  Putting on all of these three-year-old clothes does make baby Neil look like such a big boy, too!

Our favorite discovery from that box are these little green fuzzy sleepers that Gordon got for Christmas one year.  They zip all the way up the front and have little footies and all three boys think they're hilarious.  Most of Neil's pajamas are those snug-fitting two-piece sets, so this full-body style is something new.  I tried to get some cute pictures of Neil in his new jammies, but he wasn't having any, so instead, I took a bunch of pictures of him whining at me.  I'm a mean mom.  :)

You can see that he finally gave up and just stuck his tongue out at me.

Gord had a fun week and has been running back and forth from friends' houses nearly every day.  He joined the jump-rope club at school and had his first meeting on Monday.  Like everything else, he is very intense about the jump-roping, and he practices in the kitchen every day.

We've been struggling a little bit with the concept of patience lately.  Since most adults I know struggle with that same thing (myself included), I have a feeling that we'll probably battle about just waiting a minute (!) for a while.  I'm still just not sure why my picking up the phone is a signal to start screaming.

Gordon wanted me to take some pictures of his bath toys... funny boy.

We made Tom's favorite dinner tonight-- crispy Ritzy chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls and "Better than Everything" cake-- which earned me a "best mom ever".  Who knew that was all it took?

The boys were patient enough to indulge me for a few pictures this morning before church.  Even though church itself was kind of hectic, looking at these sweet boys in their Sunday best makes those annoying moments of crayon-throwing seem not so bad.

You love my skirt, right?!  I went to a thrift store this week, hoping to find a desk for the family room.  No luck there, but I did pick up this fabulous skirt for $5.00!  Sweet!

This upcoming week should be fun-- four days of school, new tires and an oil change for the van, then packing up and heading out to California to meet Chris for Spring Break!  Hooray!

Karen Sue Warren

Karen Sue Warren, 52, of Poteau, OK passed away Saturday, March 19, 2011 in Poteau. Karen was born in Poteau on June 23, 1958 to Arthur Kimsey & Geneva L. (Drake) Warren. She was a receptionist for the Oklahoma State Employment Office. She attended Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Survivors include her son, Nathaniel Vincent Warren of the home; mother, Geneva Warren of the home; sister, Janis Easttom of Midwest City, OK; and brother, LeRoy Warren of Mulberry, AR; several nieces & nephews, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends. Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau, OK.

You, Too, Can Speak Norwegian!

I came across a blog post this week that highlighted many of the cognates between Norwegian and English. It's a great reminder of how approachable Norwegian is for us speakers of English. (Although my personal favorite cognate was omitted: egg.) You don't speak Norwegian yet? Learning it is easier than you might think!

As a student at St. Olaf, I was required to study three semesters of a foreign language. And while I chose Norwegian out of an interest in the culture and my heritage, there were others who picked it for its reputation of being the easiest language to learn. In addition to its similar vocabulary, the grammar and sentence structure are, indeed, very English-friendly.

Another reason to learn Norwegian: it's really three languages for the price of one! By learning Norwegian, you'll also find Swedish (especially when spoken) and (written) Danish quite understandable, giving you linguistic inroads to 20 million people.

You can learn a new Norwegian word or phrase each month by checking out Spread the Word, a bite-sized language lesson found in each issue of Viking magazine. You'll find language-learning resources on the Sons of Norway website, too.

So why not take a few minutter (minutes) to brew yourself en kopp kaffe (a cup of coffee), find yourself a comfy place å sitte (to sit), and do a little looking through an ord bok (literally "word book," or dictionary) to see just how easy learning Norwegian can be!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Doyle Brannon

Doyle Brannon of Fanshawe, OK reached out and touched the face of God on March 17, 2011. He was born in Fanshawe on September 22, 1937, the fist child of the late Notie and Ellis Brannon. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, John, sisters in law, Helen and Patricia. Doyle always saw the funny side of every situation and prided himself on still being able to make his wife of 53 years, Carole, laugh at his jokes. Doyle and Carole Muse Brannon were devoted to each other and always did everything together. They were best friends. He enjoyed life to its fullest finding joy in everyday living. He though he was the most fortunate of men to have Carole as his wife and be Dad to three wonderful daughters, Grandad to seven grandchildren and one greet granddaughter. He possessed such a kind heart and sought to find everyone's strength. He could make you believe in yourself. His daughters, Lea, Terri and Kim were his pride and joy. Each morning they received an e-mail from their Dad with a thought for the day. He also ket an extensive daily journal and could rely upon it to refer to specific events. In this journal, he would critique the meal prepared by Carole the evening before. Doyle was a member of the United
Brotherhood of Carpenter's Local 329 for 52 years and served in the International Office in Washington DC as Apprenticeship Coordinator. He was an avid Oklahoma Sooner fan. Recently, upon finding a photo of himself when he was 3 or 4 years old dressed in his cowboy gear seated on a worn out Shetland pony, he decided he wanted to include this picture in his obituary with the caption "World Champion Rodeo Rider". If Doyle was writing this today, he would begin with "A wonderful Irishman went to heaven on Saint Patrick's Day". Doyle is survived by his wife Carole, Daughters, Lea Ann Smedley of Purcell, OK, Terri and Craig Hoisington of Herndon, VA and Kim & John Means of Norman, OK. Seven grandchildren, Evan, Taylor and Kellen Smedley, Steven and Lorin Hoisington and Charlotte & Julia Means. One great granddaughter, Joplin. Sisters, Janice & Harold Stephens, Dawna & Lonnie Brannon and Glenda & Pat Turner. One surviving aunt, Hazel Brannon Lane; beloved in laws, Jay & Ruby Muse and Waymeth and Jimmie Stewart. Services will be 2:00pm-Monday, March 21, 2011 at the Community of Christ Church in Fanshawe, OK with Greg and Sally McGowen officiating.

Lena Mae Silva

Lena Mae Silva, 75, of Waco, TX passed away Wednesday, March 16, 2011 in Waco, TX. Lena was born May 25, 1935 in Norris, OK t Tommy & Avo (Shepard) White. She was a member of law enforcement. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Robert Silva; brothers, J.D. White & Tommy "Cotton" White. Survivors include her daughters, Brenda Moran of Waco, TX 7 Opal Abel of Smyrna, TN; 12 Grandchildren; 16 Great Grandchildren; brother, Allen White of Houston, TX; 2 sisters, Reginia Winn of Crosby, TX, Imogene Watts of Wichita, KS; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends. Services will be 10 am, Saturday, March 19, 2011 graveside at Vaughn Cemetery in Gilmore, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Vaughn Cemetery.

Fight, fight, fight...

Thomas just saw me upload this picture and laughed.  He said, "Oh, I love those fighting pictures!"

Really?  Because even though the pictures are funny, I have to say, I'm getting pretty sick of all of the fighting that goes on between these boys.  Someone once joked that the only time their kids got along is when they were asleep, and that joke is starting to feel like my reality.

Does it seem like they fight more when I'm the only referee, or is it just me?

I decided to take some pictures of the fighting, rather than intervene, and if you look at Tom, you'll see a few smiles for the camera.  Afterward, I made them hug while I counted to 100-- I started again twice when they broke their embrace. 

Hopefully someday these two will be the best of friends and laugh about all of the times they spent picking on each other.  Until then, let's just hope they both make it out alive!

Ratha Skinner

Ratha Clista Skinner, 94, of Poteau, OK passed away March 16, 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. Ratha was born January 2, 1917 in Paris, AR. She was a Hospital Dietician. She was a member of the First Free Will Baptist Church –Poteau, OK. She is survived by her 2 daughters & son in law Chris Meikrants of Redwood City, CA, Mary & Dirk Hinson of Calhoun, OK. 1sister, Elouise Jackson of Fort Smith, AR .1 son & daughter in law Joe & Elaine Skinner of Poteau, OK. Step daughters Dawna O’Connell of Oklahoma City, OK
Naomi Collums of Bakersfield, CA. 6 Grandchildren , Joey Skinner ,Chris Skinner , Craig Stanek, William Stanek , Andrew Posekany, Belinda Sears. 7 Great Grand Children
Numerous nieces & nephews,relatives & friends. Ratha was proceded in death by her husband Lloyd Otho Skinner, parents George & Martha Hinson, 1 son William (Billy) Hatfield, 2 step daughters Betty Langford & Audrey Jenkins, Siblings Althea Hinson, Fred Hinson, Guy Hinson, Steve Hinson, Alice Quinn, Dorthea White, Martha Black, Faroma (Faye) Price, Jodie Waits, Orpha Evans. Services will be held 1:00pm Saturday March 19, 2011 at the Firtst Free Will Baptist Church in Poteau, OK. Funeral Arrangements are under the direction of Evans& Miller Funeral Home Poteau, OK
There will be a family visitation Friday from 5-7 at Evans & Miller Funeral Home.

Stella Angel

Stella Arabell (Tags) Angel, 90, of Wister,OK passed away March 15, 2011 at her home. Stella was born on December 27, 1920 in Stover,MO. She was a sales person and housewife. She is survived by her 2 sisters Fay Alvis of Warrensburg,MO, Jane Cooke of Seattle, A. 12 Siblings, Numerous relatives and friends. She was proceded in death by her husband Bill Angel, her parents William Henry & Arahbell (Campbell) Tags. Services will be held 10:00am Saturday March 19, 2011 at Ellis Chapel Interment will follow at the Ellis Chapel Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Evans & Miller Funeral Home- Poteau,OK

Michael Lynn Ridenour

Michael Lynn Ridenour, 55, of Cameron, OK passed away at his home on March 15, 2011. Michael was born on April 24, 1955 in Alamosa, CO. He is survived by his wife Teresa Ridenour of the home, 2 sons Kendall Ridenour of Ft Smith, AR & Jarrod Ridenour of Cameron, OK, 3 sisters & brothers in law Joyce Choate of Spiro, OK, Sue & Paul Rush of Greenwood, AR, Rena& Danny Minks of Ft Smith, AR. 1 brother & sister in law Johnny & Molly Ridenour of Cameron,OK. He was proceded in by his parents John Henry & Millie ( Patricia) Ridenour. 1 brother Timmy Ridenour, half sister Edna Franklin , and half brother Paul Ridenour. He was a factory worker. He loved to hunt & fish. He coached Little League for 25 yrs. He was also in the National Guard. Services will be held Friday March 18,2011 at the Life N Christ, Shady Point,OK.There will be a family visitation Thursday from 6-8pm at Evans & Miller Funeral Home in Pocola,OK. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Evans & Miller Funeral Home Pocola,OK

Pat Pate Sr.

Pat Pate, Sr. passed away March 10, 2011 in Poteau, OK. He was born on August 15, 1931 in Wellington, Texas to Bill & Sue Pate and was raised in Quail Texas as a child then moved to Austin Texas for his teen years. He and His wife Jan moved their family to Poteau, Oklahoma in 1961.
He served 8 years as District Judge for LeFlore, Latimer and Haskell County, Oklahoma, 4 years as Associate District Judge in LeFlore County and served four years in the LeFlore County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He received a Degree in Geology and a L.L.B. at Sol Ross University, in Alpine, Texas. He obtained his Juris Doctor Degree from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He later obtained several graduate certifications from the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. He was a member of the Oklahoma and Arkansas Bar Association for 50 years, and former member of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference.
Pat was an All-State football player for the Austin, Texas Maroons playing on the first National Televised State Championship Game against Wichita Falls. He served his Country as a Paratrooper in the Eighty-Second Airborne Division United States Army. He worked as a rough-neck while obtaining his Geology Degree.
Pat was a charter member and past president of the Poteau Evening Lions Club and served two years as Zone Chairman. He was awarded a Lifetime Membership to the Lions Club in 1996. He was a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows and a 32nd Degree Mason.
Pat was a member of First Baptist Church in Poteau and served 4 years as President and Director of Kiamichi Baptist Assembly. He spent fifteen years helping to sponsor the youth of KBA during their annual summer assembly. He was a former President of the Eastern Oklahoma Gideon Camp and was a frequent speaker for the Gideon’s throughout Eastern Oklahoma.
Pat was preceded in death by three brothers, Whit Pate of Howe, OK, Billy Joe Pate of Poteau, OK and Jim Pate of Prescott, Arizona; and one grandson, Steve Queen.
Pat is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jan Pate; one brother, H.D. & “Pretty” Pat Pate of Bridge City, TX; four sons, Tom & Joleta Pate of Kingwood, Texas, Davy & Charlotte Pate of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Kevin & Cindy Pate of Norman, OK; Pat Pate Jr. of Poteau , OK and Special daughter-in-law, Karen Nolan of Poteau, OK; 13 grandchildren, Amy & Josh Burum, Aaron & Alan Pate, Meredith & Dusty Pate, Kimberly Pate, Jess & Willis Pate, Sharina Martindale, Amy & Kate Patton, Mark Queen; 6 great-grandchildren, Brayden, Dylan, Jordan, Keirsten, Emery & William.
A memorial Service will be held at the First Baptist Church at Poteau, OK, on Friday, March 18, at 11:00 am; Rev. Phillip McGehee Officiating.

Happy Birthday, Mom

This is intended to be my mother’s story, but aren’t we all the product of our own mother’s stories?

My grandmother was a so-so parent… good with her children and grandchildren when they were young but lacking overall in the maternal instincts department. She wasn’t a bad mother by all accounts; she just wasn’t the superlative mother my siblings and I were fortunate to have (still). On my late uncle’s birthday he was always ‘king for a day.’ My mom and Aunt Judy were never ‘queens for a day’ on their birthdays.

Not that my siblings and I were feted like royalty on our birthdays, although we did get out of dishes. It’s just my mom was and is scrupulously fair, treating all her offspring alike.

She’s also generous to a fault, a trait inherited from her father. My mom turned her childhood pastime of collecting picture postcards into a lifelong adult avocation; for 25 years she sponsored a mail postcard sale with all proceeds going to world hunger relief.

One thing my grandmother excelled at was taking her three children (sans my grandfather who never took vacations), her sister, her nephew, and her father on cross-country trips. My grandma loved to drive, a trait neither my mother nor I inherited. Ironically, the only driving that ever did her in was hilly pre-Interstate West Virginia (birthplace of my second son).

Though a voracious reader herself, my grandmother always prodded my mother to ‘put down her’ book and go outside to play. My mom has never been an outside person.

From a very early age, as I’ve recounted before, my late Aunt Judy would make breakfast for my mom and their brother. Grandma

Rock preferred to sleep in. To this day, I tease my mom about her lumpy oatmeal; but I’m also grateful to have a mother who got my three siblings and me up every morning for school and made us breakfast.

My mom used to say all she ever wanted to be was a mother, although her original career plan was to be a lawyer. She was accepted at law school but ended up teaching school while my father finished college.

She didn’t like teaching; she liked being a mother. Decades ago my pregnant mother thought she had indigestion from Christmas dinner, but it was just me… coming a little early.

This is one of our shared stories, a part of the family mythos. In a December eons later, I gave birth to my first son on one of the coldest days on record in Arizona. ‘It was so cold there was snow on the cactuses’ has become part of the thread of our life stories.

In addition to being my mother, she’s also my writing partner. She’s the author of more than 50 novels, and the co-author with me of more than 30 of those.

In addition to being my parent and partner, she’s something else.

My mother is and always has been my best friend. She never hovered but was there when needed. She never belittled and always encouraged and always had my back. She’s continually been there for me and my siblings and now our families, always knowing the right thing to say and do. For more than a dozen years, she’s lived with my husband, sons and me. Sure we have our differences, but we never stay mad for long.

I’m fond of another family story, one where my five-year-old self stood at the top of the stairs and threw a tiny brass vase down at her. She gave it back to me when I was 18. I try to stay on her good side.

Twenty-nine years ago this month, my Grandma Rock died. I was a senior in college, struggling through a physics class to meet a science requirement (because I’d flunked a science class the previous spring). Another class was also giving me fits. I was taking way too many hours, working at the university newspaper and applying for jobs, making sure I’d graduate so I could get a job and get married.

I loved my grandma. She spoiled me rotten (but I knew it so that made it less odious, I think), letting me stay up til all hours of the night watching Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and old Clark Gable movies. She used to fill paper cups with M&Ms, mini-marshmallows, and cashews for my ‘midnight snack.’ No mystery why when my son and his girlfriend were stranded in Denmark in a huge snowstorm a couple years ago, I buried my face in a bag of candy-coated comfort. She was a good grandma when we were young.

Because I loved my grandma and because I was afraid I was going to flunk yet another science class, my mom gave me a wonderful gift. She told me to stay home from the out-of-state funeral and study, absolving me of all guilt for not going.

That’s the kind of mom my mom is.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

One down...

Three to go. This post is mostly for Chris, who is away on a work assignment, to see what we've been up to.

Let's start with the smallest member of our family: Murray, the cat. Chris already knows this, but Murray has earned his keep this week. Murray spends his nights in the basement (the kids are still a little nervous about him prowling around their beds at night, so we make sure he's fed and litter-boxed and shut the door to downstairs) and the other night, I noticed that he was perched on the windowsill, looking out the window. We keep stuffed animals on that windowsill, so I thought he was just getting cozy. When I noticed him there the next day, intently looking into the window well (such a great view), I looked a little closer. To my absolute disgust, there were not one, but TWO mice inside the window well, and Murray was completely captivated.

Side note: apparently mice in window wells are not an uncommon occurrence in cold Idaho winters. The mice climb into the well to get closer to the warm house, then they can't get out and eventually die. Sick.

Our well is covered and pretty deep, so I didn't want to put Murray through the top in the fear that I couldn't get him back out. So, I pushed open the window, punched out the screen, moved back so Murray could leap through the opening, and shut the window. (By the way, this story is great told live because I have hand actions and sound effects for the above sentence.) Anyway, I'm not really into watching the food chain in action, so I went to a friend's house with the boys. When we came back, though... let's just say that our window well no longer houses mice. And Murray was as pleased as punch. Good kitty.

Murray and the boys are also getting used to each other and, aside from a few little jumps and exclamations here and there, seem to have accepted the fact that they share a house. Tonight Gordon and Neil even entertained Murray with his toys, then sat and pet him while he purred and closed his eyes.

The next little family member, Neil, has had quite a week. I think it's harder for Neil to have Chris gone than the other boys, because he doesn't quite grasp where he is or when he is coming back. Today we sat in our usual spot at church and Neil looked around and asked, "Where's Dad?" He was super grumpy today, too, but I think that may have had something to do with the time change as well as his missing Chris.

Can I just say that I LOATHE daylight savings time? I know I'm not alone in this sentiment-- pretty much every other parent feels the same way. So why are we still doing it? Erg.

Anyway, Neilna-- he's been really into taking off his diaper and using the toilet lately. Yesterday I got the "big boy undies" out of storage and let him try them on. The older boys thought that this was hilarious, but I decided to put him back in a diaper because even if he's showing signs of readiness, I'm not. Selfish, huh?

On to Mr. Gord-- this week we had parent/teacher conferences at school and I was reminded, once again, why I love kindergarten so much.  It is just so much fun, and the conference with his fabulous teacher was just a smile-fest.  I love that they aren't graded really, that they are just there to learn as much as they can-- and I can't lie, I love that Gordon is a little smarty-pants.  It makes me feel like I am some kind of a parenting success to go to his class and hear about how wonderful he is.  Never mind that he was calling Tom a stupid-face on the way home afterward. 

I mentioned that we've been watching MegaMind A LOT, and Gordon has been going around saying "Yah, I'm like your Space Dad" all day long.  

Tom's PT conference went well, too-- he has improved in all of the areas he needed to, and only slipped in one subject-- but it wasn't quite as glowing as Gord's.  I don't think that's because Tom isn't a good student, I just think 4th grade is a lot harder.  Especially for the parents.  I miss the days of happy-go-lucky learn-while-playing school where your only homework was reading a fun book before going to bed.  Sigh.

Still, Tom got excellent marks in math and spelling, and his teacher went on and on about his awesome creative writing ability.  She sent home some essays and I'm putting them in the "save forever" box because they really are great.  

One of these days the fact of Tom's perpetual milk mustache will dawn on him and he'll start taking care to wipe it off before a girl notices.  Until then, I like the little token of his innocent oblivion.

As for me, I feel like I've been in constant cleaning mode this week.  I clean, the boys unclean, and I clean again.  Yesterday I did some extra spring cleaning and took our paper snowflakes down from the window-- I decided that they were encouraging winter a little too much.  So, farewell snowflakes, and farewell to the melting snow.  

I went for a walk outside today and it was sunny and melty and almost warm.  Even if the nice weather is just a respite between cold spells, it is just what I need right now.  

So, another week ahead with busy, everyday life.  I'll be here, plugging away with my cute boys, and missing this: 

Glass Act

When Karen Hansen was researching "A Glass Act," the Viking cover feature for March, she came up with more glassblowing resources than we could pack into the available pages. For glassblowing enthusiasts, here are a few more sites to check out.

Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington and Pittsburgh Glass Center offer classes for students at a wide range of experience levels. And if you're really serious about finding a glassblowing program, here's an article that can help you find the right one for you. To see artisans in action, you can watch live streaming video of glassblowers from The Hot Shop at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. The live video is streamed during the museum's normal hours of operation.

Can't get enough of Norwegian glass? Join Sons of Norway International President Dan Rude on a Presidential Tour of Norway in September. The tour includes a tour of the Hadeland Glass Factory. For more information, contact Borton Overseas.

You can read Hansen's article about the history of glassblowing and southern Norway's "glassblowing belt" in the March issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user crankyuser.

Jewell Maggilou Sisco

Jewell Maggilou Sisco 85, passed away Thurday,March 10,2011 in Fort Smith,AR.Jewell was born in McCurtain,OK on November 23,1925.Jewell was a homemaker.She was proceded in death by her parents William Thomas Ragan & Iva Etta (Sanders) Ragan,Brother Charles Ragan & Sister Evevlyn Edens. Survivors include her husband Roy L. Sisco of the home.Her daughter & son in law Linda & Steve Smith of Henryetta,OK. 2 grandaughters Stephanie Smith of Muskogee,OK Melanie & David Cole of Sand Springs,OK. 3 Great Grandchildren Marissa Costello,Madilyn Costello,Matthew Cole. 1 brother & sister in law Rex & Ruth Ragan of Shady Point,OK.Numerous Neices,Nephews,Relatives,& Friends.Services will be held 10:00am Monday-March 14,2011 at the First Free Will Baptist Church in Panama,OK with Rev. David Nolan officiating. Internment will follow at Shady Point Cemetery in Shady Point,OK

Robert J. (Bob) Eskridge

Robert J.(Bob) Eskridge 86, of Poteau passed away Tuesday March 8,2011 in Fort Smith,AR.Bob was born in Williams,OK on May 5,1924 but was raised in Heavener.He was a former Mayor of Poteau.Bob was a Marine Veteran of WWII in the Pacific Theatre.He was on the Election Board and ecouraged everyone to vote.He was a charter and very dedicated member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. He enjoyed fishing was an avid Bridge Player and had strong interest in Civic Affairs.He was proceded in death by his parents Walter and Celeste (Clark) Eskridge and wife Marge Eskridge.Survivors include his 4 Children Mary Lou & Milton McKissock,Laura & Tommy Johnson,Robert & Deanne Eskridge,Lynn & Cheryl Eskridge.His 4 Grandchildren Sydney & Jackson Eskridge Shelly & Garry Long.His 2 Great Grandchildren Samuel & Joseph Long.Other Relatives & Loved Ones;A Host of Beloved Friends.Services will be held,1pm Saturday at Evans Chapel of Memories in Poteau,OK with Rev. Tom Harrington officiating. Internment will follow at Oakland Cemetery in Poteau,OK.In Lieu of flowers contributions can be sent to St.Barnabas Episcopal Church in Poteau(500 College Ave.) or your local food bank.

Earl Edward Fox

Earl Edward Fox, 61, of Panama, OK passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Panama, OK. Earl was born in Fort Smith, AR on June 23, 1949 to Arel Lester Sr. & Margie Eugene (Martin) Fox. He was a truck driver. He was preceded in death by his father and brother, Arel Lester Fox Jr.. He loved to sing and play guitar. He loved southern gospel music and his family and friends. Survivors include 2 daughters & sons in law, Lisa Marie (Fox) & John Zachare of Tulsa, OK, Holly Arleen (Fox) & Douglas Brandt of Tulsa, OK; four grandchildren, Timothy Wayne Brawdy Jr., Brittany Carleen Brawdy, Richard Douglas Brandt, Curtis Edward Brandt; mother, Margie (Martin) Fox of Panama, OK; brother, Roy Lynn Fox of Panama, OK; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends. Services will be 2 pm, Friday, March 11, 2011 at the First Assembly of God Church, Panama, OK with Rev. Brian Smith officiating. Interment will be in Shady Point Cemetery, Shady Point, OK. Pallbearers will be John Zachare, T.J. Brawdy, Johnny Martin, Don Martin, Thiral Martin, Doyle Martin, Bobby Martin, Larry Martin. The family will be at the funeral home on Thursday evening from 5-7 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Free to be…like everyone else?

When my older son was young he had a best friend named Petey. Petey loved the movie Free Willy. He also loved hot dogs.

Erik liked neither to the point of what I feared was rudeness during play dates.

“I don’t like Free Willy, I’m never gonna like Free Willy, and no one can make me like Free Willy,” he pronounced on the way home from Petey’s one day.

My son’s adamant stance against this movie (and hot dogs) didn’t seem to affect his friendship with Petey. But I still apologized to Petey’s mom just in case Erik’s independence bordered on impoliteness. She actually said to me she wished as an African American mother her son was more independent. What the teen years would bring concerned her.

I was on the verge of teendom when Free to Be…You and Me, was released, a record album and book featuring stories and songs performed by celebrities. The original message was both boys and girls could achieve anything.

When this phrase pops into my head, I think of it as meaning more. We should respect each other’s individuality, not disparage it. We can’t all like Free Willy (or hot dogs) and why should we?

Previously I’ve written about what a huge fan I am of our local YMCA and the great classes and instructors. A new type of workout is being offered at multiple times, and it’s extremely popular.

I don’t like it so I’m not doing it. It’s not the exertion that doesn’t appeal to me, it’s the preparation. Putting weights on bars is not my thing. Same with photography, make-up, accessorizing, and crafts.

During those pre-teen years my Grandma Rock, a prolific knitter, tried to teach me the art of twisting yarn on needles. She was far more successful with instructing me on playing Gin Rummy for nickels.

Those who like this new workout are usually quite polite when they ask me what I don’t like about it. Recently, though, someone I don’t know well asked me rather impolitely.

I nearly channeled Erik’s age-old Free Willy litany…but refrained.

But it got me thinking about being free to be…me. I have no problem being a non-conformist. And in some areas I conform to the norm, though what that is I often wonder.

Parents spend so much time worrying about their children “following the crowd.” I actually had a friend once who confessed when she was a teenager she did jump off a bridge when everyone else did!

How can we, as parents, exhort our sons and daughters not to succumb to peer pressure when we send mixed messages our adult selves all have to like the same thing?

And I’m not just talking about a new exercise workout.

We can’t all like Free Willy. Or hot dogs.

Dena Sarah Elizabeth Benson Stacy

Dena Sarah Elizabeth Benson Stacy, 96, of Shady Point, OK went to be with her Lord & Savior on Monday, March 7, 2011. She was born May 16, 1914 in Waldron, AR to Marvin Cameron & DeLanie H. (Jackson) Benson. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Lee Stacy; son, Dale Stacy; brothers, J.C., D.B., Cameron, Clarence & Orville Benson. Dena was a homemaker. She liked to quilt and read. She worked taking care of "old people" until she was in her mid 80's. Survivors include her son & daughter in law, Will & Edna Stacy of Shady Point, OK; daughter & son in law, Alma & Eulice Butler of Shady Point, OK; 10 Grandchildren; 9 Great Grandchildren; 5 Great Great Grandchildren; brothers, Delmer Benson of Heavener, OK, James Ervin of Heavener, OK; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends. Services will be 10 am, Thursday, March 10, 2011 at Calvary Assembly of God Church in Poteau, OK with Rev. Lynn Bullard officiating. Interment following in Howe Cemetery, Howe, OK. The family will be at the funeral home on Wednesday evening from 5-8 pm to visit with relatives & friends.


The boys were out of school today, so we had a pretty relaxed day around the house. One thing I love about school is those few precious hours where the only person actively messing up the house is Neil. It's much easier to pick up after a two-year-old-- or better yet, lay him down for a nap!-- than it is to restore order to a home that has been subject to the day-long imaginations of Tom, Gord and friends. Luckily, I did make brownies for FHE which served as bribery for cleaning up the family room. Whew.

I am not at a point in my self-confidence that I would dare take or post a picture of my messy house, so I'll just leave this funny one of Neil and his fists full of love.