Friday, March 28, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Destination: Arkansas

As you read this on Friday, I'll be neck-deep in a mission experience with 130 of my closest kidlet friends and other crazy adults.

On Tuesday evening, I "headed for the hills" of Fayetteville, Ark., to take part in Destination: Fayetteville, a mission trip experience for third through sixth graders through the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Destination: Mission trips began in 2007, when I was working for First UMC in Siloam Springs, Ark., and I had a brilliant idea. I say brilliant now, because hindsight is well, hindsight.

Destination: Joplin, the first Destination Mission Team prepares to leave for Joplin, Mo, 
in June 2008. The team was comprised of students and adults 
from First United Methodist Church, Siloam Springs, Ark.

In all honesty, looking back on it now, I'm pretty sure the parents were simply humoring the newbie with a crazy idea.

I thought that rather than wait till a student was in high school to expose them to a mission trip experience, we could take older elementary and middle school students on a trip, out of their comfort zones, to experience age-appropriate lessons in life.

So we ventured to Joplin, and volunteered at agencies I connected with during my days at a newspaper in southwest Missouri.

The trip was viewed as a success - aka we didn't lose anyone and everyone came home happy - so we tried it again in 2009 (we called that trip Destination: Joplin 2.0).

In 2010, a second church joined us and we traveled to Little Rock. By 2011, additional churches were coming on board, and a second trip during the year - during the state-wide spring break was born.

Fast forward to this week. Destination: Fayetteville is the 10th trip. A milestone of sorts. Students from across the state are gathering in Fayetteville to become the hands and feet of Jesus.

Destination: Mission, the 10th trip. Spring Break 2014, 
Fayetteville, Ark., with 136 participants representing 16 churches 
from the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The trip that began with three work sites, has grown to include 14 different work sites during the course of two workdays.

While I'm not directly involved (the hands-on aspect has been passed on to my partner in crime and ministry colleague), I am able to sit back and watch the trip expand into a brand-new, and amazing territory - and continue to impact student lives.

Later this year, the trip will experience another milestone: two summer trips. The idea I had in 2007 has grown up. My mission 'baby" has gone to college. When 2014 comes to a close, trips 10, 11 and 12 will be in the books. Pretty amazing stuff when you think about it.

It's amazing to look back at the team pictures for the last 10 trips and see how some of the "regulars" have grown up, experiencing missions in this way.

For the record, I've only missed one trip to date - Summer 2013, because well, I was a little busy adjusting to my new role at The Grove Sun.

If you want to see what has been happening with the Destination: Mission gang, feel free to check out I'm in charge of the photo team and social media posts (go figure) so I'm sure there will be lots of pics posted throughout the four days of our adventures.

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to the guys at Vance Quick Lane for checking my tires before I left town. The "low tire pressure" light came on Sunday, and well, I'll be honest, I figured it was caused by the cold snap (it happened before).

Fortunately, the guys had time to air up my tires, and when they found out I was headed out of town, the tire with the questionable level was immediately pulled off to be checked for a problem. This is where I admit I apparently drove around town with a screw in my tire for three days.

Thanks y'all for taking care of my tires on Tuesday. It let me focus on getting stories for Friday's paper done and ultimately, ensure that I would be on the mission trip. I appreciate it greatly.

A final note.

On a final note, we're saying adios to a colleague at The Grove Sun this week.

Richard Stroud will move on to a new paper next week in Shawnee, Okla. For me, it's bittersweet because Richard has been a joy to work with not only as a sports editor but as a colleague. I will miss his razing on many levels.

Richard, we will miss you. Thank you for your humor, your encouragement and most of all, thank you for your friendship. May God bless you and keep you in this next phase of life. This is adios, but not goodbye. Stay in touch.

That's the bits and pieces for this week. I'm sure, like any good "parent" I'll have photos to share if you see me on the street.

Editor's Note: This column was originally published on Friday, March 28, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Road trip with the GLA

Pvt. Edwards with the Oklahoma State Capital in the background.
Wednesday I had the opportunity to travel to the state capitol with members of the Grand Lake Association.

Organized by Tad Jones, executive director of the GLA, and members of its boards, the trip was designed to provide legislators with the new Grand Lake Visitor's guide and invite them to attend this summer's legislative event hosted by Grand Lake Area legislators.

Because life happens, by the time our group left Grove on Wednesday we had dwindled down to four: Jones, myself, Ray Claggett (from Bank of Grove) and Dave Claggett (local businessman). Mike Williams (from Shangri-La) and Greg Mitchell (with NE Career Tech) met us in OKC.
With the Grand Lake Association members (from left) Greg Mitchell, 
Ray Claggett, Tad Jones, Sen. Wayne Shaw and Dave Claggett. 
Not pictured: Mike Williams.
Before I go any further, I must confess. I'm slightly a political junkie. Blame the minor in political science or a long-ago goal to become the next Woodward and Bernstein (which just officially aged myself to readers). There's something about political journalism that gets your heart going.

So, I knew going in, the trip would be interesting at least from a political standpoint. It was also intriguing to see "the other side" or the "lobbying" side of politics.

Jones is a great asset to have for the GLA. You can tell as he walks the halls that his former colleagues on both sides of the capitol hold him in high regards. If anything, his presence provides Grand Lake (and Grove) with a positive voice amid the chaos of the political climate.

The trip gave me a chance to meet several people I've been in contact with by phone or email. It also gave me a crash course in Oklahoma politics.

The other part of the trip, well, was spent having a bit of fun for the kindergarteners at the Grove Early Childhood Center.

We took along "Pvt. Edwards" created by Jaden Edwards, a member of the Grove Sun family. The little soldier is part of the Flat Stanley project now taking place at the Grove Early Childhood Center.
Pvt. Edwards hanging out in the Oklahoma Senate Chamber. 
Pvt. Edwards visiting the Oklahoma House Chamber.
Throughout the day, "Pvt. Edwards" kept popping up, taking photos with legislators and appearing in both the house and senate chambers. A few photos ended up on the Grove Sun's Facebook page during the trip and were shared in real time with students thanks to ECC Principal Julie Bloss.

Others will appear in a collage that will be given to Jaden's class, documenting the little soldier's adventures.
Pvt. Edwards with (from left) Sen. Charles Wyrick, Sen. Wayne Shaw, 
Rep. Doug Cox and Secretary of State Chris Benge.

Hanging out with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb under the rotunda.

One of the highlights of the trip turned into a slight "bucket list" moment for me. On the way home from OKC, Jones took us to Pops in Arcadia, Okla.

Checking out Pops in Arcadia, Okla. (From left, clockwise) In front of the landmark pop bottle in front of the building, Pvt. Edwards with an assortment of soda bottles and Ray Claggett posing with Edwards.
(A true "bucket list trip" for me would include traveling on Route 66, taking in stops off the beaten track worth discovering.)

Pops - a soda ranch on Route 66 - is an experience all in itself. With more than 600 kinds of soda in glass bottles, it was so much fun to scan the shelves to see what random soda we could find.

We each ended up filling a "souvenir" six-pack with bottles: I found a key lime pie soda, Cheerwine (a cherry drink), ginger beer, a huckleberry soda, white peach drink and a Grape Nehi (think Radar from MASH).

It was a sweet treat and a fun addition to the "Flat Stanley" project. Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Have a happy Spring Break next week. As you capture memories next week, check out - we plan to launch a "Spring Break" photo contest - to give readers a chance to share "tasteful" (lol) photos of their spring break adventures. Stay tuned!

Editor's Note: This was originally published in the March 14, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Confessions of a Fast Food Addict

Hello, my name is Kaylea....and I'm a fast-food addict.

That statement is probably not a "revelation" to people who know me. Let's face it, the journalism diet / pyramid is well, heavily weighted with junk food, pizza, coffee and well, some other beverages.

For someone trying to get healthy, and well, not live the "15 things you must do to call yourself a journalist" lifestyle, food choices can on the run can be a challenge.

So last week, I sat down with Lucinda Wilson, the dietitian at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital, to get some tips on how to be healthy on the go.

Did you know that INTEGRIS not only provides a dietitian to talk with patients at the hospital and through a doctor's referral, but folks like me, who simply want some new information.

(It does work better to have your doctor refer you to Wilson, to get on her official schedule).

Anyway, Wilson and I hashed out a few - we started with five - things I could try to get healthy.

I figured, since I'm not the only one running from event to event, I'd share the tips.

Goal 1) Eat at home more often

Ok, let's face it. This takes planning. Wilson suggests going to the grocery store at least once a week to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and to pick up food items for the coming week.

The other tip, to make this goal a success comes from having at least one "cook day" each week, where you can cook your protein (meat or beans) and prep the fruit and veggies for the coming week.

Cooking the protein once a week lets you make "fast meals" at home, rather than grabbing something through the drive thru.

Goal 2) Eat at least a small meal two or three times per day

Ah. For me, this means eating breakfast, rather than passing on it and then getting too busy to eat lunch.

Wilson suggests planning for a quick breakfast of yogurt or fruit. She also suggests taking prepped veggies/fruit with you as you set out on your day, so they are available when the munchies hit.

Goal 3) Increase Veggies

Yes, your mom was right. Veggies make the world go round. Wilson suggests prepping the veggies on the cooking day, and sorting them into bags that can be taken with me in my camera bag or purse.

She also suggests having several favorite veggies on hand to cook for dinner each night.

Goal 4) More for Fruit

Are you noticing a trend? Eat less junk and more good stuff. That includes fruit. She suggests fruit for breakfast and to keep some on hand for snacks or desserts.

Goal 5) Stay hydrated

The last goal, focuses on water. An easy way to know if you are getting enough water in your diet is to do this simple math calculation: Divide your weight in pounds by two. This tells you the number of ounces you need to drink. To make it "manageable" divide that number by eight. This tells you how many cups of water (or fluids) you need each day.

Wilson suggested setting a goal to at least drink a fourth of the amount if it is much more than you ever would normally drink, and then gradually increase your intake.

So there ya go. The five goals I'm going to start implementing in my life. For my friends on Facebook (and probably eventually my blog) it means I've started having #AdventuresInCooking again.

This week I tried out a recipe for "Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas." Apparently, for the friend I fed them too (to share the left overs), it was a "keeper" recipe.

I said it was "Kaylea proof" because it only called for four ingredients: Salsa Verde, chopped chicken, shredded cheese and tortillas.

Here's the quick low down: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 3 cups chopped chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken), 1 cup cheese and 1 cup salsa verde together. Line the bottom of the baking dish with a cup of salsa verde. Then put 1/3 cup of that mixture on a tortilla, and wrap like a burrito and place fold down in the pan. Repeat until all filling is used. (It made about 8 enchiladas). Then cover with another cup of salsa verde and cheese, and bake for at least 10 minutes. That's it. See "Kaylea Proof."

So if you have a "Kaylea proof" recipe I should try, email it to me at My friends (I share leftovers) will appreciate it too. Feel free to send your "get healthy" tips as well. But be forewarned, you may be written about in this column (hey a girl's got to have some fun!)

This column was originally published in the March 7, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.
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