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!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mothers, Sisters and a Miracle Open Heart Surgery

Last week was incredible! On Sunday we had a memorable Mother’s Day with the Looslis! It was an extra treat because Saren had been asked to speak in church (by her husband, the bishop). She gave an inspiring talk which included some family history about my mother that I hadn’t thought of for many years. She has such a bright mind with a great sense of what is important and powerful!  How I love that woman who also happens to be an extraordinary Mother!

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For the last hour of our three hour block of church services, the bishop (guess who) and his counselors decided to have the men take over the Primary and Young Women classes and let the women just relax and chat in the cultural hal with no responsibilty for almost an hour! the “retreat” was complete with cake and ice cream. It was a delight to have time to meet some of their ward members and just “visit” which is such a rare commodity in our hustle-bustle world! 

Jared made sure the Mothers with little babies (there are no classes for babies under 18 months) had a break too. Before he was done, he found one more baby to add to this group in his arms and all four were as pleased as punch!

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After spending some time helping others after church, Jared then rushed home to prepare a fabulous lunch for all of us! What a guy! 

I had taken the cute Chatbook that Shawni had sent to me for Mother’s Day packed with pictures from the kids’ childhoods on….and the book that Charity had created with pictures collected from all the participants of our fabulous MFME (Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm) trip to Europe last fall. It was so fun to enjoy both trips through memory lane with the kids! What a grand memory! I had first seen this book (bleow) in London with Charity who also has a copy!

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Calls and singing and Facetimeing and special messages always makes Mother’s Day such a treat!

The celebration went right on through Tuesday since it was my best sister-in-the-world’s birthday. This wonderful woman, Lenna, is also my best friend (well maybe next to Rick) in the world. She lost her husband ten years ago to cancer. He was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer at 9 a.m. one morning just after Christmas and he passed away at 1 p.m. that afternoon.  She has been nothing less than heroic as she has gone through myriads of trials along with tremendous joys in the past ten years.

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Our mom was married for the first time at age 38 to our dad, a widower who had lost his first wife to cancer. After two years of trying to get pregnant, they adopted a five year old and then immediately got pregnant with me and then, three months after my birth, mom was pregnant with Lenna. We are 12 1/2 months apart. Think of our valiant mom with two babies at age 42 1/2! My dad who already had two grown children, was 55!

One of the reasons she has done so well since Bruce’s death is that her seven children and their spouses have rallied around her with incredible support! Most of her kids and one of their spouses joined us for a birthday breakfast. These tremendous kids have rallied around her and have made her life full and exciting. She in turn has used her resources for family trips and has created incredible family togetherness. This family is packed with hard journeys and marvelous success stories and is full of light and love!

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As we parted I solicited prayers from everyone for Noah and Krisit’s little two-year-old Mila who was due to have open heart surgery on Thursday morning.

Rick and I departed for Los Angeles at 5 a.m. that morning with great apprehension and worry about this little girl who was born with a heart defect and had surgery immediately at birth but was still having serious issues. To spare you all the details, the decision to go with the surgery now rather than later was heart wrenching, but they did it and they are so happy about the outcome which was even better than expected! Actually it was a miracle! 

Mila went from being in awe of the “fishies” at the aquarium at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital….

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….to playing happily in the waiting room for almost 90 minutes before they called her in for surgery. It was 1:30 p.m. before they took her up, after not one request for food or drink (she had been fasting since the night before at 9 pm). 

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Her Grandfather did a great job of keeping her distracted!

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This is one worried daddy along with a marvelous mother. Although they had been through the wringer on making this decison, Kristi actually wanted to go into the room to watch the surgery! The answer was “NO!” 

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Even though we were ready for a three hour surgery, the Dr. took our breath away when he walked in the waiting room door after an hour and 15 minutes. A world reknowned doctor, who was also a man of few words came in and announced with conviction: “I’ve closed the hole, I’ve carved out a lot of tissue to create space for a two ventricle heart. The valve looks good. This should be the last surgery she will have to have.”

It took our breath away!  Kristi and Noah jumped up to give him a hug which he accepted, but barely, and he was gone!  We were dumbfounded. Suddenly the plethora of our worries about about her little heart ever since the day she was born were fixed…along with that little heart… and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the miracles of modern medicine and people who gave their lives figuring out how to make bodies, especially small bodies, work!

Still it was heart-wrenching to see this, this this one strong, brave little girl!

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But as the hours went by, they pulled one tube away and then another and another. By the next day, they had her standing, walking a little the next. Five days later….she went home! It was truly a miracle for which we will always be grateful!  There is six week road of recovery ahead but with these astonishing parents, but she is on her way!

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We are grateful to some many family members, friends and neighbors who fasted and prayed for this miracle! Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Next project…protecting her from her adoring siblings…namely: Bennett! Smile