Monthly Archives: March 2010

On the lamb

I’ve been trying to figure out why I associate coconut with Easter. Is it because people use it for grass when making Easter baskets out of cupcakes? And I do so love the chocolate covered eggs that have coconut inside. Maybe it’s because the seasonal lamb cakes are coated with coconut.

I never won the lamb cake when I was a kid. At our church, they would have an Easter egg hunt for the Sunday school. They would hide a bunch of regular eggs and then one huge goose egg that would be gold. If you found the gold egg, you got the lamb cake. I came really close one year. I looked under the doll bed in the nursery but didn’t see the egg. My friend then came up with the big egg and guess where she found it? Under the doll bed in the nursery. I felt so robbed. How could I have missed an egg of that size? Even in my seven year old mind, I knew there was something very wrong with that picture.

Even back then, I was so competitive. 🙂

I’m sure that my mother was thrilled that we never found the gold egg. The way it worked was that if you found the gold egg and, therefore, won the lamb cake, your mother would have to provide the lamb cake for the following year’s winner. I was a kid back in the dark ages when you couldn’t just go to Wal-Mart and buy a lamb cake or go to Hobby Lobby and get a mold to make one. It would have been a real chore and mom wasn’t much on baking. Yes, I know she was secretly cheering my loss of the prize and her own big win of missing out on the joy of baking a lamb cake.

I have still never had a lamb cake and I’d certainly love to win one but maybe I’ll try and make one myself. And I’ll make sure that there is lots of coconut on the lamb.

And then there is Geoff

Geoff is such a great guy. So very supportive. What other 25 year old guy would help his mother with her Mrs. pageant? Willingly, for a plate of French Toast?

Geoff has actually been helping me with pageants since he was 12. When I directed my first pageant, he ran the music. I don’t think he ever wants to hear “Man I Feel Like a Woman” ever again because of that experience. After that, we had him and Brandon serve as security, guarding the judging panel with SECURITY printed large on the back of their custom t-shirts.

Since his return to Oklahoma he has helped with the Mrs. Oklahoma International pageant. Last year, flu ran through the pageant. Although he looked fine during rehearsal, Mr. El Reno began to turn green and had to leave before the pageant started. Geoff willingly filled in to escort Mrs. El Reno. It was funny that I didn’t even remember that he had done it until I was going through the photos and saw him. Oh look, there’s Geoff! 🙂

This year, Mrs. Kiowa County’s husband was in the hospital during the pageant. Geoff was more than happy to escort her during the evening gown portion. We had a snafu. He went back to the hotel to get dressed and called me telling me that I had brought the wrong suit jacket. Umm, no I didn’t. He had been working out so much that he grew right out of it!

I made a crazed call to our tuxedo sponsor, Costumes Balloons and Stuff, to see if she could fit him at the last minute. Maxine had already closed the shop but went back to make sure that Geoff was appropriately attired for the pageant. And then, she didn’t even charge me for the suit! Thanks, Maxine!

David’s schedule is never solid and, while I hope that he is able to be at the pageant there is never a guarantee. I am so thankful that Geoff is there to support and help me. It’s just how he is. Loyal, supportive, funny, and NICE. Thanks, Geoff!

So let me tell you about Saturday

Nutshell time (because you know I can go on). Saturday, March 6, began early, early. We asked the girls to be at the Stillwater Community Center at 8:00 a.m. and once we were all moved in, we began rehearsal.

We’re pretty good at the one day pageant. It’s what we’ve done every year since we started. With 12 contestants, it can be accomplished in a day if everyone works hard. We started out with opening number and then went through all the other phases of competition until the husbands arrived to rehearse their portion at noon.

Rachel, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009, is a phenomenal dancer and she is now our choreographer. She created an opening number to U Got the Look by Prince. Upbeat, fun, HARD from the looks of it. Oh no. I told the girls we walk, maybe move hands/arms, sway, but no dancing. This looks like dancing to me. But they got it! After a while, it all just came together and they looked fabulous up there.

We had technical difficulties. None of the music CDs I had burned would play. Sean, the technical guy at the SCC, should receive a medal or something. Infinitely patient, smart, helpful, he is a joy to work with and we got it all up and running with time to spare.

My day is spent running around taking care of so many things. I had left the rehearsal in the very capable hands of my former Mrs. Oklahomas, Shelly (field general), Rachel (choreographer), and Brookie (encourager in chief) and was free to move about, make that run about, the building.

There comes a point in the day where I see it all come together. That happened when we finally got the fitness wear music to work for rehearsal. I stood back in the control booth and I just “saw” it all gel. I cried. I’m such a sap and I do a lot of crying throughout the pageant. I work on it all year and that point is just monumental and sets me up for the rest of the event.

The ladies had their one-on-one interviews with the judges beginning at 3. I had just enough time to change into something more presentable to greet our amazing judging panel. I was so honored to have Laine and Kevin Berry, Yvonne Stevens, Monique Terrell and Jon Conneely judge for us this year. They were well prepared, friendly and focused. Brookie served as our judge’s chair this year and I loved her in that role. She is so friendly, fun and helpful that I knew she was the one who should fill that spot. Oh, and I trust her with my life. 🙂

The day just speeds up after the interviews are over. Time for another costume change to get ready for the pageant to start. I was able to meet and talk to several people whom I hadn’t met before or seen in a while before the pageant started which was great.

The pageant was flawless. Gets me all choked up to think about it, again. The ladies were beautiful and did a great job. Shelly runs a tight ship and we moved through the program at a nice pace. Sherri, managed the stage for us and did a great job. It was sad to say goodbye to our three younger 2009 titleholders. But they will always be the queens of my heart.

Then it was time to say farewell to Rachel. She still doesn’t know how much she means to me, I’m sure. She was an amazing Mrs. Oklahoma and is an amazing friend. It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to the reigning Mrs. Oklahoma. I want her to know how much she means to me but I don’t want the new Mrs. Oklahoma to think there isn’t room in my heart for her because there is.

Our new Mrs. Oklahoma, Stephanie was crowned. She will be a wonderful Mrs. Oklahoma and I’m excited to spend the year with her. I look forward to our 12 hour car ride to Nationals, the experience of the national pageant, and then the remaining portion of the year we have left when we get back to Oklahoma. Growing her platform, growing the pageant, spreading the International word.

I don’t have my own girls and these girls, ladies, of the Oklahoma International Pageant are my girls. I love them all, could not do it without them. My life is so much better for being able to be a part of their lives. What we share is priceless and amazing. I am truly blessed.

Pedestrians have the right of way

Really. Although if you are a pedestrian in Bartlesville, you may find this hard to believe.

We were almost run over again by a van entering the First Baptist Church Family Life Center. Again, I say, again.

Two of the places we are likely to be run over while walking through downtown Bartlesville are the sidewalk by the First Baptist Church Family Life Center and the sidewalks surrounding the First Assembly of God Church, particularly around 8:30 on Wednesday nights.

As those cars exit the parking lot, they see this sign as they are about to run you over on the sidewalk:

What are they teaching them at that church?

The Oklahoma Driver’s Manual says:

Yield to pedestrians using the sidewalk when you’re entering or leaving a driveway or alley.

This is, of course, in addition to all the information about pedestrians in actual crosswalks where they also have the right of way.

Walking in Bartlesville is a dangerous pursuit. We walk a lot and I think I have a pretty good understanding of just how dangerous it is. Something that bothers me a lot is the program that the City of Bartlesville is trying to institute to get more kids to walk to school: Safe Routes to School. They got a grant to have more sidewalks installed by elementary schools. The problem is, drivers don’t really care where they are when the fail to yield to pedestrians. We have been almost creamed right by Central Middle School and St. John’s Catholic School, too. It concerns me that a child, who doesn’t have as much understanding, who believes their teacher when she tells them that drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians, will be hurt or killed by the drivers in this town who in their hurry to fulfill their personal agenda will run them down because they aren’t going to follow the rules that are set forth by the city and state.

From the City of Bartlesville website:

In just one generation, the number of children that walk to school has dropped from 70% to less than 15%. Children are less physically active than they used to be, their health is declining, and traffic congestion is increasing around schools leading to unsafe conditions and poorer air quality. In an effort to address these troubling statistics, the Federal Highway Administration has created the Safe Routes to School Program. The program provides funding for activities that improve safety and encourage kids to walk or bike to school. The City of Bartlesville received a $200,000 grant through this program to construct over 5800 linear feet of sidewalk that will fill in gaps and extend sidewalks at area elementary schools. The City will also conduct safety programs, train crossing guards, organize a Walk to School Day event, conduct bicycle rodeos, and promote walking school buses.

An admirable idea. However, this does not address what I see will be the real problem that will occur when this program is instituted. The problem lies with the drivers who are in too much of a hurry.

Rant off.

Walk safe on the mean streets of Bartlesville, folks.

I’ve got The Power

We almost just got creamed. It was pretty scary to see that 18-wheeler slide through a red light at the corner of Johnstone and Adams. Especially when the little walky guy was showing in the crossing light and Rabi and I could have been in the crosswalk.

We walk a lot, as you know. Crossing at Johnstone and Adams is at least a twice daily maneuver and oftentimes we cross more than that. During the day, the light stays red forever. I’ve even seen people in cars get out and press the walk button thinking that it might prompt the light to change faster. You could grow old waiting for that light to change.

But between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.? You only need to press the button (or drive up to the light) and it will change immediately. You have The Power.

I’m not going to lie. I like having this power. Some days, I stop no one. Some days I stop a slew of cars and other days, I thank God that I chose to look both ways before crossing the street, even if I do have the walky guy, so we don’t get creamed.

The posted speed limit on Adams beginning at Cherokee and going until just past the railroad tracks is 30 mph. Now, I’ve never driven an 18-wheeler but I’m going to make a guess that if I were driving my big truck through Bartlesville at a max of 30 mph, I’d be able to stop at any of the lights safely, without having to slide through the red. But this isn’t limited only to the big trucks. Little trucks, big cars, small cars, all speed through and many have to slam on their brakes when faced with The Power. Some don’t make it.

We will continue to walk safely so that they don’t cream us and be thankful for The Power so we can play our tiny part in the traffic control of Bartlesville. 🙂

There are really no words

I am beyond blessed. This past weekend’s Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant was, in a word, AMAZING! But even that great word can’t come close to expressing just what I feel about the experience.

We arrived on Friday and our first mission was to set up the stage at the Stillwater Community Center. Mrs. Oklahoma ’07 and Mrs. Oklahoma ’09 were there to help me. Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and pretty soon, we were moving these large and heavy platforms onto the stage. I joked around that one of the new requirements for Mrs. Oklahoma is that she should be able to lift 70 pounds like UPS. We are the purple! And we are a platform based pageant after all so we should probably add a platform lifting competition. 😉

Orientation began at 6. This was the first time that all of the ladies had been together in one place. Because of our Go Red for Women affiliation, there are opportunities during the year for us to get together now before the pageant and that has been fun and rewarding.

I am such a sap. To see these beautiful committed women all in one room, knowing their hearts and their passions, well, it choked me up. We truly do have the most amazing women enter our pageant.

Amy Dunn, a survivor of heart disease, was first on the agenda. She is a young mother who has heart disease. I think we were all really impacted by her message given her young age. This could be any of us. I loved her completely Go Red attitude that included her hair and outfit! She told use she had never spoken in public before but you would have never been able to guess that. She had a powerful message for us.

We were then blessed with inspirational and encouraging messages from Mrs. Oklahoma 2000, Sandy Haesloop, Mrs. Oklahoma 2007, Brooke Good, and Mrs. Oklahoma 2009, Rachel Roberts. I sat there in awe, choked up again, at their composure, message and beauty. I have met many of the national Mrs. Internationals and these three women share the same wonderful qualities – approachable, friendly, well spoken, beautiful. Inside and out beautiful, cliche’ though it may be. It’s so very true.

My favorite part of the evening was when I asked each local titleholder to stand up, introduce themselves and tell us the coolest thing they had done with their platform. Wow. I have goosebumps as I type this. Again, I was choked up. Proud, proud, proud of each and every one of them.

I then had to add to the list, the coolest thing that I do with my “platform” which is “Encouraging Titleholders in the Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant“. Watching them travel the road from when they enter until when they compete is so awesome for me. I love watching their growth, sharing their excitement. This, my friends, is a priceless position that I fill and there really are no words to describe how serving as the director of the Mrs. Oklahoma International pageant completes and fulfills me.

Check back. When I get a second, I’ll tell you about the pageant itself. 🙂

PS – about the crying? You should probably see my previous post “We’ve got to carry each other” for an explanation about that. I cry. A lot. 🙂

She packs like a woman

Last month on it’s way back from the Bahamas, the bag that David took with him was horribly mangled. When they finally got it back to him, Delta sent a new bag and a check for $200 along with it.

For the record: this was MY red bag that was destroyed.

Delta sent a really nice black bag that must have been close to the same size but deeper because David was able to pack a whole lot more clothes into it than he had into my red bag.

I asked David if he knew where my small red bag was, the one I use for overnight visits. He informed me that that bag was the one that had been ruined by Delta.

MY red bag. The one I use for overnight visits.

Dilemma: The Mrs. Oklahoma Pageant starts tomorrow. I need enough clothes for the weekend and now I have one option. The LARGE red bag.

What to do? Pack like a woman and fill that large red bag or go luggage shopping for a new smaller bag?

What do you think? 🙂

We’ve got to carry each other

Okay. True confession time. I cry in the car. A lot. And not only at this time of the year when the pageant is right around the corner but all the time. Music has always been a big part of my life and the songs along the way help me mark the events in my path. The songs make me cry. Happy tears, sappy tears, sometimes (but not often) sad tears.

On my drive to Stillwater this a.m. it was no different. Flipping through the Sirius I came upon “One” by U2.

One life but we’re not the same we’ve got to
carry each other, carry each other

Bono sang.

It was dark back there. And early. Around 4:30 a.m. on Highway 60 headed towards Stillwater and I was all alone. Did I mention it was dark?

The words blasted me right back to last October when I was staying with my mom before she went to be with the Lord. At her request and my aunt’s urging, I had wrapped things up here at home as best as I could so that I could go stay with mom for a few months. I figured that I could do that since, if I have my computer and my phone, my business is pretty portable.

What I learned when I got there is that any little noise that my phone made disturbed my mom so I eventually put it on quiet. I would try and return calls while she was sleeping but often I couldn’t connect with the people and then would miss their calls when they called back. Finally, in desperation, I asked my current Mrs. Oklahoma, Rachel, if she could call the potential contestants back, make my apologies and answer their questions. Rachel assured me that she would be more than happy to do that. She carried me.

Mom and I had a lot of fun for the first two weeks I was there. We laughed, we sang, we talked. But the second two weeks were really tough. Mom’s disease progressed faster than anyone thought that it would. Even the doctor seemed surprised.

My brother, Jon (I call him Jonny, I can’t help myself) spent almost as much time as I did when it started being really hard. By this time, mom needed pain meds every two hours. Jonny would come so that I could go to bed at nine. He’d do the meds at eleven and one and then I’d get up at three and kick him into the bed so he could get some more, better sleep. Jonny and I had some of the most amazing experiences with mom as she was going through the death process and I could not have gotten through that without him. He carried me.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other