Saturday, December 3, 2016

Basking in Art and A Baptism in Boston

We adore Boston and our Boston Family is about to move to Northern California for at least six month, which makes us glad for them and sad for us! We have had kids studying or working or living in Boston for about 30 years. In fact Richard and I started our marriage there 47 years ago when he attended the Harvard Business School and I taught music in nearby Junior High School.

Saydi is an outstanding cook and we were treated to homemade pizza before the children entertained us with their renditions of the songs from the broadway play Hamilton. Most of the songs, which are largely rap, came out of their mouths effortlessly right down to little five-year old Peter!

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Pretty amazing!

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We’ve found that the richness of history and education never stops in Boston and this visit was no exception! The next morning Saydi let 12 year-old-Hazel stay home from school (she has been routinely doing with her children one at a time to take them to one of the fabulous art museums in Boston (usually the MFA). We have a saying in our family which everyone memorized and it goes like this: “Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education,” and education is certainly what happens on those mommy dates with those lucky kids. Not only do they get a great art education, they also get precious mommy time which is priceless!

Thus, Hazel with her inherent love of art knows more about art than most art history majors! On this day we were lucky enough to go to the Fogg Museum on the Harvard campus. Creative Hazel couldn’t resist making something beautiful out of the fallen brilliant yellow leaves that had fallen on the ground as we walked in.

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The museum was stunning! The scope and breadth of famous artists in this relatively small museum was really astounding! I resisted taking pictures of the most famous ones and went for the unique ones that we had never seen!

I love this picture of Baby Moses in his little basket:

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Let’s take a look at that little cherub (since we have a Moses ourselves).

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I was dazzled by this one and you will see why when you read the description below:

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Sorry we can’t see those bubbles but a tear popped out when I thought of the significance os this one! What a beautiful idea! Let’s take a closer look at the Triumph ( and those sweet round bottoms) of those Innocents!

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This one took our breath away!

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I would go on but I must go on!  We were lucky enough to hear a few Harvard students with their mentors presenting a concert showcasing ancient instruments!  It was a delight!  I wish I knew how to post video on a blog (have I said that before?). 

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And we were off. Having gotten salads at Sweet Greens we drove to the fabulous Mt. Auburn Cemetery, one of our favorite places in Cambridge! It was a gorgeous fall day with a spectacular view of Boston….

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These three climbed this great old tower while I saved my knee and studied grave markers, which I think is always fascinating!

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Interestingly we ran onto a flock of turkeys, checking out the graves markers too!

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That night Jeff’s parents flew in from California and we were delighted to be able to go together to an art show at a beautiful home in Belmont with was literally plastered with paintings by Brian Kirschisnick!  Many of you will recognize this most (probably) famous of his paintings below:

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I think the majority of his paintings have these angels who are watching over someone or something. Having never met him, we just happened to be standing right next to him in the kitchen before he began his remarks about the works he had brought which included several that were six foot panels and many larger than that. We chatted with him for a few minutes and in our conversation we asked him about the angels!  He said, “You know, I prefer to call them “witnesses”.  We like that because so often they seem to be witnesses to someone who needs help or guidance. It was a fascinating evening and we were lucky enough to buy a small painting that we love!

The next morning Jeff picked the Shumways up at their hotel and we enjoyed a gourmet breakfast together before we started on our “ help projects” for this family who are moving to California on January 1st.  They are renting their house and going to be caretakers on a huge ranch for six months while Jeff sets up an office for his company near Palo Alto. More on that later.

Jeff and his dad took off for Home Depot to get necessary items for repairs around the house, Nedra and I retired to the basement to help Saydi sort out a lot of stuff that need to be packed and stored and Grandfather got the really hard job Smile. which was to get the kids out of the house so we could work. They went on an action-packed adventure called “The Duck Tour”!  They came home with a “boatload” of historical facts about Boston and some shining faces because a couple of them got to drive that crazy World War II amphibious vehicle when it morphed into a boat. 

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By five o”clock Saydi (and I went along for the ride) had successfully shopped for food at Costco for refreshments for after the Baptism service the next day, taken Charlie to a birthday party and picked up  Hazel at a pre-EFY (youth activity) at the Cambridge Chapel.  We also had stuffed, stamped and sealed about 300 of their annual Thanksgiving Cards and dropped them in at the Post Office and made four brownie cakes for tomorrow’s festivities.

After that Saydi somehow pulled together an easy meal for everyone and we were off to the movies: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!  To say the least, it was an action packed day (and I must add an action packed movie too)!

Sunday morning we enjoyed one of the last five church services that will occur with Jeff as the Bishop of the Ward. It was a bitter sweet day, realizing that wil may never see some of those dear people in that ward that we have grown to love. Once again Saydi pulled together an astounding meal of roast pork, fabulous roasted potatoes and cauliflower, just to mention a few things on the menu! 

The baptism that evening, which was the main reason for our visit was a stellar spiritual experience with Emmeline being baptized by her dad in the same little outfit that her Grandfather had been baptized in when he was eight years old (as were many of our children and grandchildren have done).
What a joy to see about 60-70 people there who love Emmeline and adore the Shumway family!

Emmeline adores her dad:

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And her family (sorry about those eyes Jeff)!
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And her grandparents:

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And the Shumways dear friend and her “surrogate grandmother” when we’re not there…Joyce:

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And all of us who love her:

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It was an occasion forever emblazoned in our memories!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From the Goo Goo Dolls to the Oakland Temple!

When it comes to seeing the inside the sublime new Eccles Theatre in walking distance from our downtown condo in SLC, we decided to go to whatever was playing there on a night we happened to be in town. It turned out to be The Goo Goo Dolls! I don’t have anything against hard rock but man, did I have a headache by the time we left. Still it was worth it!  We loved the new spectacular theatre in downtown SLC!

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The Giant screen in the lobby is pretty amazing!

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Taking advantage of every day that we were home, we talked the Looslis into coming to a Jazz Game with us.  The cheap seats in the nosebleed section and the free hot dogs that went along with them made a really fun evening!

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Soon after that, Grandfather traveled to Ogden to get Ashton’s input on a new book he is writing for teenagers and they talked about it over a burger. Since Ashton is the Burger King, he managed to
down this whole crazy thing!

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That actually doesn’t do this burger justice.Let’s take a closer look:  Oooow!


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After a beautiful Sunday morning at the Tab Choir….

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….we headed for Oakland to do a fireside (that's a funny Mormon name for a speech) at the Oakland Temple auditorium. Our dear friends Brent and Esther Jane Ward are the directors of the Visitor’s Center there and are doing a magnificent job of getting people there to view that amazing Visitor’s Center!

About 800 wonderful people joined us for a fun discussion there about Raising Responsible Children and Saving Them  from the Entitlement Trap. So many old friends, Sister Missionaries working at the Center, Joy School moms past and present and in-law relatives joined us afterward at the Visitor’s Center!

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It was such a thrill to be able to play in a violin trio with friends that I used to play with when we were young mothers which included Esther Jane and darling Cherlyn Hart with a dear friend, Cecile Linford accompanying us. It was a pay day evening filled with such a sweet spirit!

Esther Jane had arranged for a splendid collection of gorgeous art pieces for an art show at the center which included paper cut masterpieces from Emily Snow. To see more of her amazing and unique work go to emilykingart.com. So many accomplished Mormon artists were represented!

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This one of Mary and Elizabeth is by the incredible Brian Kershisnik.

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And this delightful piece done by Cherlyn called, A letter from Grandma is a treasure!

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And more incredible paper cuts and a gorgeous rendition of the Oakland Temple:

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Thanks to Brent and Eddy and lots of great helpers, it was a night we'll never forget! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

October was about Tennis and Getting Older

Every year we take a journey to Southern Utah with two horses in tow so that they can enjoy the beautiful fall weather in New Harmony at the base of the five fingers of the Kolob in Zion National Park. This also happens to coincide with the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George and a big birthday!

The Senior Games have become a very important part of Richard’s life, mostly because he likes medals!  He has a plethora of them….gold, silver and bronze! He has a lot of “heavy metal” for basketball, track and tennis.

This year he won the gold in doubles for his age group. Even though I have to say that those guys on the left look a little older, they aren’t. As you can see he was pretty happy about that win!

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He really enjoys his terrific partner (below) because he’s an excellent player with a terrific dry sense of humor!

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He also won the silver in singles. He claimed that he had a kinked neck and that was why he lost in the final, but the guy who beat him also has 14 gold balls for tennis and pickleball, which you would only appreciate if you are a tennis player, but it’s BIG!

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While we were there we had a chance to enjoy the beauties of fall in Southern Utah!

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We got home just in time to see our grandson Ashton’s last football game at Ogden High. See that handsome blonde, standing in the middle of the pack at the after game meeting? Sadly, they lost!

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I had a grand opportunity to go to a Utah Symphony Concert at the Browning Center at Weber State University with the twins, who are always entertaining themselves!

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Just before we left for a speech in St. George our two great sons living on opposite sides of the country came for a work meeting in Provo and went to breatkfast with us to help celebrate their Dad’s birthday which was especially nice because we were due to give a speech back down in St. George on his actual birthday.

Eli came from Manhattan and Noah came from Orange county to kick off the birthday fun!

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They brought gifts from the grandkids too! These fun gifts below are from Zara and Dean because Zabar’s is our new favoirte place right around the corner from where they live in NYC.

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Noah’s kids messages were sitting home on the counter, but luckily Noah had a picture of every precious word and drawing on his phone. It was a fun morning!

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And we were off to our little lofthouse where we could view the Five Fingers of the Kolob Canyon from our balcony for the big birthday. I was so excited to give Rick his best birthday present in a long time….glasses for the color blind!  He can’t tell the difference between red and green and blue and purple and many other weird color configurations.

It was fun to see him see the world through new eyes (although it takes some time for your eyes to adjust to the new reality).

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It was quite a birthday! They even gave him a little birthday cupcake with a candle before we started our speech at the Roots Family Expo. We spoke about the importance of teaching children and grandchildren about their family narrative. Researchers have proven that kids who know stories about the good as well as the hard times from the lives of their parents, grandparents and ancestors have more resilience, more grit and more self confidence when they are faced with hard times themselves.

We had so much fun with a very fun group. We shared our “Ancestor Journal” that has stories of our ancestors written by us when our children were young in children’s language. Then we had the kids illustrate the stories which made a lasting impression on them.

Below is one of your children’s idea of what the ship Franklin must have looked like as their ancestors from Denmark embarked on their long journey across the sea for America.

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Here’s another one drawn by one of the kids telling the story in art of their great

great Grandfather who saw our great great grandmother singing in the choir when he was a missionary in Sweden and felt very strongly that she would someday be his wife. He finished his mission, went home and then came back for her. Note the chandelier, the halos over each of their heads and the scriptures under Grandpa Swenson’s chair. So cute!

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We finished October in Las Vegas at a National Tennis Tournament and enjoyed our favorite Cirque show called KA!  We had seen it many years ago but were amazing with so many creative new things. It just happened to be Halloween that night and we saw some pretty wild costumes that night! It was a night to remember.

And so went another October with another fun birthday, lots of tennis and the splendor of in autumn enjoyed in many places. That last week of October we slept in six different beds!  We keep saying we’re going to slow down but we haven’t noticed that yet!