Friday, April 25, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Snippets of Life

Last week, I mentioned that I was spending my first anniversary in Grove shooting pictures of some snazzy kidlets attending prom.

Let's just say, our high school juniors and seniors "clean up" well.

From glittery gowns to snazzy tuxes, Grove High School students shined as they walked across the red carpet into the evening world of "Paris After Dark."

Kudos to the team of volunteers who worked hours to turn the gymnasium into a glittery wonderland of lights - complete with a giant Eiffel Tower. It looked simply amazing.

We've started uploading images from the "Red Carpet" to our website gallery ( As of last count more than 80 have been loaded - with more than 300 still needing to be edited. We'll try to get the rest up this weekend for your viewing enjoyment.

We are also in the process of uploading a variety of cute kidlet pictures from the various Easter Egg Hunts. By Friday we should have the complete collection uploaded online in the gallery.

Looking ahead

This weekend the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence or GEFFE for short, will hold its annual fundraising gala.

I've heard it's a ritzy affair, filled with lots of glitz and glamor for adults (hum is this the parents' prom?).

I've also heard it's an amazing tool, that helps Grove teachers fund a variety of projects each year. A preview of the event, along with a listing of the spring grant recipients, can be found inside today's issue of Grove Sun.

Har-Ber Village

This weekend, the press will roll once again at Har-Ber Village, during the opening of the newly remodeled "print shop."

If you've never seen an "old press" (aka the line-o-type press of our ancestors) run, it's a sight to behold. It's one of the many renovations visitors will see this year, as the 2014 season kicks off.

Kudos to Har-Ber Village for finding ways to make history come alive for visitors. I remember visiting the village as a middle school/high school student with my parents. I love watching the new things - especially the living history events - take shape because it truly does give us a window into the past.

Har-Ber Village is a gem that is starting to shine again on Grand Lake. If you haven't been in a while, take some time in the near future to check it out. The upcoming Agricultural Days in May would be an excellent time to visit.

Flip Flops and more

I know the weather has been crazy - one minute it's sweater weather, the next we're dodging hail and rain.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for summer sun, flip flops and maybe finding a piece of Grand Lake I can pull up next to, to soak up some piece and quiet.

Here's to the start of flip flop weather. You know it's coming, next weekend marks Harbor View Marina's annual "Burning of the Socks." I'm looking forward to "officially" starting my annual "farmers tan" on my feet.

So here's to the bits and pieces of life that make up Grand Lake. Have a bright and shiny weekend.

Editor's Note: This column appeared in the April 25, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bits & Pieces: 525,600 Minutes

525,600 minutes ago, give or take a few minutes depending upon when you are reading this, I landed in Grove.

Can you believe it? One year ago on April 19, I loaded up the truck in Little Rock, Ark., and found myself arriving in Grove to start a new life. The next night, in the midst of unpacking, I covered my first event: Grove High School's prom.

Tomorrow night, I'll celebrate my first anniversary doing the same thing - snapping pics at Grove's Prom at the high school.

Not a bad way to celebrate a one-year anniversary, taking pics of high school kidlets all dressed up in their finest attire.

All in all it's been a pretty amazing first year sitting in the "editor's seat" at The Grove Sun, and I know in a large part, it's because of everyone within the community.

We've laughed together. Trust me, there have been some moments where much laughter ensued - oh Tracy Bloss and Dan Hinman, thank you for hunting a pig behind Lowe's. That call on the radio still tops the opossum in the kitchen or the tractor parked randomly in someone's back yard. (Although Mark Londagin's "Red Man" outfit at the Christmas 5K in December could earn a close tie for something memorably funny!)

We've also cried together. Especially in the moments when someone in the community was taken too soon, or lost their battle to cancer. I still expect to see the late Ben Hynum walk into the office to update me about the Third of July event for the city of Grove.

You've probably even laughed with me, as I've learned about sports in the last few weeks after our sports editor moved on to another paper. My hashtag #NotASportsGirl is slowly changing a bit thanks to everyone who helps explain things to me.

I'll be honest though, I'll be just as excited as the rest of you, when we officially fill the position. Thank you for your patience, and enjoy my oops - yes, I now know that baseball players don't "huddle" with the coach, they "conference."

Thank you for giving me a new place to call home. Dorothy may have said "there's no place like home" and referred to Kansas. For me, I'll just say "there's no place like Grove" and I'm grateful to call it home.

Running for a cause

Saturday I'll lace up my tennis shoes, and put on a pretty silly costume and take part in the anti-bullying 5K hosted by the Wyandotte Nation. (Pst. Thank you to Sam and Suesan in my office for the tutu assistance and Lorri from Dar-Lynn Embroidery for the amazing "bat girl" t-shirt.)

The Superhero 5K kicks off bright and early in the morning. I'm sure I'll Instagram pictures of the event (and I have a feeling a few "friends" are plotting to make sure you see me in my full costumed regalia.).

Kudos to the Wyandotte Nation for having a 5K and fun run that helps bring awareness to the every growing curse of bullying.

So if you see me at an Easter Egg hunt (or another event Saturday morning) dressed a bit "colorfully" just know it was for a good cause.

Speaking of egg hunts

If you capture a fun image of your kidlet(s) hunting eggs during a weekend outing, or snap a shot of them in their Easter best outfit, feel free to send it my way. You can email your favorite pics to Who knows, if we get enough, we might just include a selection of "fan favorites" in Tuesday's issue.

Well that's the bits and pieces for this week. Thank you again for an amazing first year. I'm looking forward to what's ahead in Grove 2.0. I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April 2

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Events with a twist

Maybe it's because I'm "looking" for things, or maybe its because the three things I'm about to mention are raising funds and awareness for three causes I've been partial about in the past.

It seems like local organizations are stepping up and raising awareness for bullying, human trafficking and domestic violence. Here's a few ways you can get involved:

Superhero 5K in Wyandotte

In Wyandotte, the tribe is in it's fifth year of conducting a Methamphetamine Suicide Prevention Initiative funded through Indian Health Service.

According to Kelly Walker, director of health services for Wyandotte Nation, the program is designed to address the dual crises of methamphetamine abuse and suicide in Indian Country.

On Saturday, April 19, the tribe will host a Superhero 5K with an anti-bullying theme. The goal is to raise awareness in the community that bullying can, and often does, lead to suicidal thoughts, inclinations and actions. Walker said the theme for the event comes from a Superhero's daily life.

"The average Superhero fights crime and bad guys," she said. "We want to stop bullying and have encouraged community cooperation by making it a fun theme for the whole family to relate to."

Folks will even have a costume contest and villains to chase during the one mile fun walk. There's also a timed 5K event. Registration will continue until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 14. The event is free. Participants are encouraged to bring a bag of dog or cat food, or make a donation toward the walk's charitable sponsor, the Humane Society of Grove and Grand Lake.

For more information, or to sign up visit: Who knows, you might see me there, dressed up in a costume (details to come - but Lorri at Dar-Lyn Embroidery and I are working on the project literally as I type this up!)

Human Trafficking in Nepal

Another 5K, designed to help girls emerging from human trafficking, will take place at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, in Grove.

Packet pickup and race day registration will begin at 7 a.m., with the 5K starting at 8:15 a.m. at the INTEGRIS Grove Hospital parking lot, off of 13th Street. The one-mile fun run will begin at 8 a.m.

Sponsored by the young adults at Grove Christian Center, the event is designed to raise fund for the Gan-Nepal organization. It is in need of a facility to help the more than 12,000 to 15,000 Nepali girls trafficked into India each year.

Ann Davis, one of the organizers, said 100 percent of the proceeds raised will go to Gen-Nepal, a registered non-government organization) to buy land and build a facility that will house and educate those who have been saved from human trafficking.

It's the first 5K of it's kind. Davis hopes they will offer it again on an annual basis. Pre-Registration ends on April 25. Early registration is $20 per person for the 5K and $10 per person for the one mile fun run. After April 25, the fees increase to $25 and $15, respectively. T-shirts will be available for the first 150 registrants.

For more information, persons interested may visit or follow the group on twitter at stopthetraffic@stopslavery2014 or visit then by clicking “Stop The Traffic” tab.

Shooting for a cause

One last event takes place rain or shine on Saturday, April 13, at the Fort Crowder Wildlife Conservation Area in Neosho, Mo.

The Lafayette House, the domestic violence shelter, with locations in both Joplin and Neosho, will host a 3-D Archery Shoot, in conjunction with the New Justice Network and the Cherokee Bowhunters Club.

The books open at 9 a.m., and the cost is $12 per person, plus a novelty shoot, 50/50 drawing and more. Amy Lane, my friend who works for the Lafayette House said the event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, persons interested may visit or

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April 11, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bits & Pieces: To Bully or Not To Bully

I'll admit it. Sometimes when I have writer's block, or I'm just looking for a question of the day, I surf Facebook posts.

Earlier this week, a post by a friend struck a nerve. (Ok, honestly, it not only struck a nerve, but it tap danced on my last one.)

She talked about witnessing a young man working on his skateboarding skills. That in itself is not really noteworthy, except this young man kept working over and over and over to master a skill. Determination seemed to be the key to his success.

What was noteworthy, is that my friend witnessed numerous people making fun of, ridiculing and even being quite bullying towards this young man.

Unfortunately, to my friend's dismay, it wasn't just teens being rude to a peer. Some of the harshest comments came from the mouths of adults.

Let's face it, whatever you call it, bullying is here. It's like an insidious creature from the black lagoon which creeps in and covers everything in its path.

It has no age or gender limitations. It can come from the mouths of the very young to the very old. It can creep into every nook, cranny and well, aspect of life.

Let's face it, bullying is well, pure evil masquerading as just something that is part of everyday life.

After reading my friend's post, I posted a #QofD (Question of the Day) on the Grove Sun's Facebook page asking about bullying. The responses I got were a bit mixed.

Some blamed the lack of parenting at home. Others said rather than try to stop bullying, we need to teach children to face the attacks of bullies - and disappointment in life - to prepare them for the real world.

It's a lot to ponder. What do we do? Do we tell kids (and adults) to "suck it up buttercup" and to ignore the bullies, or do we tell the bullies to grow up and act like human beings?

Unfortunately, I think it becomes a mixture of both. We have to teach our children (and ourselves) to have a thicker skin. That's a given. I also think people in this world need to stop and think about what comes out of their mouths (and fingers) both in person and via social media.

Social media has given adults and students alike, a platform to spread hate, anger, lies and well, verbal venom with the click of a mouse and the stroke of a keyboard.

Anyone can start a Facebook page or group, or use their own profile to spread rumor, gossip and hate, all while dancing around the First Amendment / Free Speech laws.

I'll be honest, the "suck it up buttercup" lesson is hard for many reasons. The saying may be "sticks and stones may break bones, but words will never hurt me" but let's face it, words can wound deeper than the biggest stick or rock. This especially true as people post things to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter without thought.

The worry about how certain cyber bullies may or may not attack things stays in the back of my head on a daily basis. Let's face it, for an adult in their 40s, it becomes an extra layer of stress. For a teen without the coping skills, it not only impacts life and school, but also begins to hurt their health and wellbeing.

Frankly I'm tired of teens and adults who hide behind their computer monitors and chose to spread hate and more with a stroke of the keyboard.

Maybe we do need to learn how to grow thicker skins. But maybe too, its time for people to stand up, and to speak out - and say enough is simply enough.

Maybe then, we won't have adults spewing hate and venom out car windows as a young man practices skateboarding tricks in a parking lot; and instead have adults (and students alike) finding ways to encourage each other and build each other up.

Frankly I'm ready to live in a world with a little less venom and a lot more encouragement.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April
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