Sunday, June 5, 2016

Memorial Day and a Swenson Reunion

I LOVE Memorial Day! First it’s good to spend time aopreciating those who gave their lives for the sake of freedom. The televison and radio coverage did a great job of commemorating this day. Actually they probably do that every year but this is the first year I remember having time to see and hear it. War is so tragiic! And we lose sight of some of the courageous and terrible things that happened there if we are not reminded!

At a Memorial Museum in Vietnam several years ago, as we were watching a documentary about the evacuation of Americans and the sadness they felt of leaving their friends to an uncertain fate, an old Vietnamese grandmother told me that her grandchildren don’t believe that the war there really happened. It’s too far from their every day life! Which is a blessing and a curse. We should always remember the brave souls who died there on both sides!

Because we’ve had a flood at our main home at Bear Lake, we went there on Memorial Day weekend to check on things. A water heater pipe had burst and filled the downstairs with water. Since no one lives there except in the summer, we discovered it after probably two or three weeks of that house filling up with water. To spare you the details, luckily our good friend LaMont who built the house is over there working with a friend to put it back together again before our first guests arrive on June 15!

BUT it was a great chance to get to the Bloomington Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend where my parents and so many of our relatives are burued, My terrific Mother loves fake flowers (to be kind I should say silk flowers) so I thought she might like these at her simple grave in a beautiful spot overlooking the lake. Wish I’d have had something to wisk that dead grass away:

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And my dad, a died-in-the-wool farmer would probably think that flowers were frivilous since he’s not there, but we went ahead and “decorated” his grave anyway because we sure love this wonderful guy!

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I also have a dear half brother who was 25 years older than I and who never lived with us but he is buried there too! He was such a sweet soul who got caught up in alcohol addition before anybody knew what to do about it!

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This year I found my great great grandmother’s grave in Bloomington. We had done lots of research on her this year because Charity lives only about an hour and half away from where she was born in Batheaston, Wiltshire, England.  I posted about our delightful journey to her homeland earlier, so it was exciting to actually find her grave this year! 

Ellen Sarah Harding Aland was my Father’s Mother’s grandmother. To make a life-story short…she gave birth to 13 children, 8 of whom died in childhood. She immigrated to America and settled in Bloomington where more children were lost. What a life! I yearn to know the details but no journal was kept so we will never know the depth of her sorrows or joys. The record of her age on her gravestone is fascinating!

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Another favorite great Grandmother was Elizabeth Petersen, my father’s father’s mother who immigrated from Demark after losing the oldest of their six children. Four other little children died of the measles while crossing the ocean. With only one child remaining, Elizabeth corssed the plains, walking most of the thousand miles from St. Lous to Utah, pregnant. After arriving in Utah she gave birth to three more children in very meager circumstances. Her youngest child was my Grandrather Frederick. I’m so glad she kept growing! What a woman!

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Across from her lie my grandparents and other family memebers

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The next morning we were off to Logan, about 90 minutes away where we took part in a grand celebrations of Rick’s mother, Grandma Ruthie’s family. Her parents, Margaret and Dan Swenson built a beautiful home and family of ten chidlren just below Utah State University. About 40 years ago, the University bought the home from the family and destroyed all that beautiful woodwork and craftsmanship. Her father was the head of the woodworking department at USU and built the house himself.  The thing about it is that their oldest daughter May became a world famous poet. Through the urgings of Rick’s brother Chris and people in the English department at USU who are avid fans of May’s work, they are now hoping to rebuild the house as a place for visiting professors, especially visiting poets.

Through a lot of hard work by the organizers, 130 descendants of Dan and Margaret Swenson were gethered together at the beautiuf new Jon M. Huntsman School of Business for a celebration and reunion.

Here is the President of the University welcoming us in the L. Tom Perry Board Room. 

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The views were gorgeous!

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And below are the two living children of the original 10 Swenson children each pledging $5000 each for the cause. They are adorable and pack a big punch in that family, even though they are barely 5 feet tall!

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I wish I had taken more pictures for our children who couldn’t come to see. Some of these relatives we hadn’t seen for twenty years!  But luckily a dear family friend (Josh’s buddy from high shcool) who love and helped care for Grandma Ruthie stood in for Josh and took some great pictures of our darling cousins, aunts and uncles!

Thanks to Dave (on the right below) for sending these pictures.

We had never met these two babies!

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Dont’ you think Uncle Adam makes a perfect pediatrician?

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Look at those fun bouncy houses in the background there. The kids had a ball with those, as well as a climbing wall and all the Aggie Ice Cream they could eat! 

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The kids had a blast on this climbing wall too!

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Afterward, we gathered at the May Swenson ‘bench’ (if you look hard you can see the engraving under Eliza’s feet) the graves of Rick’s parents and grandparents including the Matriarch and Patriach of the Swenson family, Dan and Margaret Swenson. The huge pine trees overhead make it hard to get a good picture but we love being there!

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It was a Memorial Day to remember!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Graduations Galore!

‘Tis graduation season and this year we are saturated with them!  Last week I found a cheap flight to AZ to see our darling Claire graduate from “Flips” her amazing gymnastics class. What this cutie can do with her body, which is actually comes from controlling her mind (and a lot of practice) is astonishing! She was fabulous!

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Does she just shine line a star or what?  I don’t think I’m a bit prejudiced on this girl!

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Glad for this guardian angel behind her…

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To give you an idea of the scope of this program, this was the third show with mostly all different kids in each program. Gymnastics is enormous in AZ!

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Not only did she shine, she sparkled!

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The great supporter Josh is always there! That was such a fun family event!

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The next night was Elle’s Baccalaureate which was pretty incredible! This school specializes in the arts and I was blown away by the qualtiy of their high school orchestra and choir. It would rival a professional symphony orchestra and university choir!

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They actually had a concert before the graduates arrived. It was just incredible!  With 770 graduates we had to wondering how they could possibly get the crowd in the high school auditorium that holds about 1700. The answer was, they didn’t. There were at least 300 people standing in the back. I think even they would agree that it was worth it though. The program was outstanding with superb music and terrific speeches. The teacher the kids elected to be their faculty speaker kept everyone laughting pretty much the whole time!  

The choir and orchestra performed our family favorite, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Mac Wilberg’s arrangemtn and really did it justice, which is saying a LOT! The guys are on the other side of the room so it was kind of surround sound!

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Elle (second blond from the right) just happened to be seated right across the aisle from us!

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To say this girl has a lot of friends is kind of an understatement. Here’s just a glimpse of a few!She’s the beautiful blonde in the back on the far right.

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Could there be two more beautiful girls….inside as well as out?

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Here’s a bunch with their terrific parents!

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And here is one deeply dedicated, deliberate mom who is dreading the departure of her darling daughter!

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A few hours later was Seminary Graduation which is always a highlight of the senior season. About 150 great kids from their stake (there are many stakes represented in the high school) had completed four years of religious education. There are so many Mormons in their High School that they get released time during the school day to attend Seminary which is such a great preparation for life!

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Love this one!  It was a lovely night!

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The following morning we were off to yet another graduation. This time….Clarie was graduating from the 6th grade. She has been attending that terrific little school since she was in kindergarten. We had fun watching the final school assembly when the 3rd graders (Lucy’s age), who have been sitting cross-legged on the floor for school assemblies for four years, get to move to the bleachers. Those little kids were over the moon! We surprised Lucy and she was thrilled to see Grandfather in her face!

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That room was packed to the hildt, wall to wall with excited kids!

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After the assembly the sixth graders run up and down the school halls and give high fives to each little hand being held out to say goodbye and wish them luck as they leave elementary school and prepare to enter Junior High. Such a cute sight!

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Such a cute bunch of darling kids ready to move on!

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On to High School graduation night!

To please her mother, Elle donned her mom’s high school graduation dress! Although Shawni often made her own prom dresses, this one was made by our dear Grandma Ruthie (Rick’s mom) all those years ago. How cute does she look in her mom’s dress? She didn’t go as far as actually wearing it to graduation but she looked so much like her mom (except for the hair color).

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Model material:

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Since Elle will be attending BYU Hawaii, Shawni helped me to find a lady who made abeautiful Hawaiian Lei which we showed her before she left (too hot to wear during the cememony).

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Graduatuion was da ja vu! We were sitting in that very stadium last year at this same time watching Max sitting on that football field and walking through that line to get his diploma. And now there was Elle along with 770 other graduates as we cheered her on!

Shawni and her friends went down and saved some seats for us at 2 p.m. for a 7 pm. start Smile

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As you can see, Lucy was completely enthralled with the whole thing!

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What a night to remember!

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After all the hoopla Elle came home before she left for the graduation parties and Shawni and Dave gave her their graduation gift….this fun blanket made out of all her old T shirts. Each one evoked a great memory from the past!

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I think she loved it!

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It will be a comfort and a great memory jerker her for the rest of her life!

So for us, it’s two High School graduations down and twnety six to go! Life is good!