Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Before the Reunion

Since the 1st of July I have been basically disconnected from the Internet and totally connected to our children and grandchildren!  Besides the phone and Internet service being dismal at Bear Lake, I have hardly had a moment to get to email (hundreds await my deletion or reply). I haven’t even been able to read our own kids’ blogs, which is sometimes almost a full-time job! The only exception has been Instagram where we found the daily adventures of our vagabond family of seven who are wandering around Europe and unable to be with us this year. They were entertaining us every day with their adventures on Instagram! 

I just read Shawni’s blog about the reunion and am thrilled to have those fun days documented!  That along with a VLOG created by our talented 15 year old grandson Ashton and several Drone pictures taken from above taken by Josh and Eli, have added so much to our ability to be able to capture different perspectives our days together at Bear Lake. I’ll include those links at the end of the reunion and post-reunion posts. 

I do have a few pictures of things that happened before the reunion which we will want to remember so I’ll post them here before I post a few highlights of the reunion from my little iPhone camera along with some of the pictures from our professional photographers which they so willingly share!

As families came in one by one, we had so much fun. Here we are celebrating Lyla’s 7th birthday!


Three-year-old Bennett really enjoyed his food (he is always hungry)!


We spent some fun times at the zoo with Noah and Krisiti’s kids”


The three youngest Pothier girls were with us too while their parents were with Max at a National Volleyball Tournament. Shawni drove and out and dropped them off to us and then flew out to join Max and Dave at the tournament. Lucy shared the beautiful creations she had made on the long car ride from Arizona to Utah. This is one of many amazing pieces of art:



We had a grand time at the 4th of July breakfast in our old neighborhood where we connected with a lot of old friends and found Josh’s good friend Ben who is on his way to teach for the U of U in Korea!


That afternoon we had so much fun crowding around my computer to watch Max play for the championship in the National Volleyball Tournament. After winning 11 straight matches, they lost by two points in the third game (darn) at the final. But they still won the silver medal which was a grand reward!  Max is the big Number 15. The commentators just couldn’t say enough about Max’s extraordinary skills!  Here is a picture of what we caught on the computer.


Julie and Eli, adorable Zara and Baby Dean arrived in the afternoon and we were on our way to Bear Lake to see the fireworks!

Family after family arrived and cousins were delighted to reunite. Some hadn’t seen each other since the last reunion.


Grandfather had written to all the grandchildren over eight and asked them to send him a report about what happened in 1921 for a special reward. They all did a great job and sending back information. As it turned out, 1921 was the year Richard’s Dad, Dean Eyre was born. Years ago Richard had collected silver dollars from that year and the kids were given a fun lesson on money and the value of investing money.


Each of the dollars was worth from $18-$34 depending on their condition. Each child was allowed to have two silver dollars to start their investment funds. A great discussion followed about the importance of what to do with money they receive or earn: The Eyre tradition is: Give 10%, Save 20% and buy something valuable with the rest. As you can see, they were pretty excited:


The mom’s watched on with approval!


Tal surprised us with a new whiz bang invention from Switzerland, where they have recently moved. One of his products in his new company is a robot vacuum, only available in Europe, which does an amazing job of whisking up dirt while you are out shopping! COOL!


August 8th was the much anticipated day of the beginning of the reunion and it was fast approaching. Charity and Ian, this year’s reunion chairs, had spent countless hours figuring out how to make it a fabulous experience for everyone and the excitement was mounting!

Those days coming next!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Sensational Stanford Graduation

What fun we had at Ian’s graduation from Stanford on June 14th! We celebrated his work for the past six years as he earned his PhD in Economics and Finance. 

Although Charity and Ian’s dating years were tempestuous, we came to know Ian as a great guy adored by everyone who knows him including every grandchild. He is a self-starter who sees needs and fulfills them and who has the dishes done after every meal before anyone realizes what has happened!

We knew he loved his work at Stanford but by the end of that beautiful summer graduation day on the Stanford Campus we knew that there was more to Ian than anyone, except his parents and immediate family, knew.  I requested that he send me his CV/resume and was astonished by what I saw in five pages of accomplishments.

Here are just a few extractions from that document that will give you a glimpse of the quite incredible things Ian has done: It’s worth getting out your glasses to see this!


How blessed are we to have this brilliant guy join our family? Here is the happy couple as they headed out the door from Richard’s brother’s house in Fremont to Palo Alto for graduation.


They had just returned from trip of a lifetime! After they both completed their work in Palo Alto and Ian had accepted a job working in finance in Central London starting on August 1st, they had a little slice of time that they realized would never come again and planned a trip that they named: Around the World in 80 Days!

They arrived in California just a few days before graduation and we had so much fun having them debrief us on their wild adventure.  We smiled when we saw their only souvenirs from each country….magnets for their future little refrigerator in London. Great idea!


We’ve seen lots of University graduations through the years including, Harvard, Colombia, Wellesley, U Penn, USC, BYU, Weber State and USU but we have to say that we’ve never seen anything quite like this! The graduation was held at the Stanford Football Stadium where 7,000 undergraduates and 8,000 graduate students received their honors. At Colombia we saw the graduate students in the Law School walk in with large blow-up sharks under their arms, graduates from the business school had dollar bills attached to their mortar boards and the Social Work graduates (with Saydi among them), had big red hearts atop of their "boards."

It was a raucous morning for undergrads at Stanford as they filed in on that giant field! Each school seemed to have a different theme as they marched in on the field. We saw everything from a “Blue Man Group” to loincloths, to graduates holding enormous posters of themselves as babies. There were “rainbows” and Sesame Street characters. You name it. We saw it! These pictures don’t do it justice (maybe this isn’t intended to have justice). But here is a bit of what we saw unfold as the undergrads walked out!

It started fairly calmly and got more and more crazy as the procession progressed! Wish I knew how to post video because there’s no way you can really get what is happening here without the wild dancing and the Jazz band accompanying the entourage! But this is a glimpse!


Here come the blue men:



The graduate students were a little more sedate and very dignified!


Richard Engel was the Commencement speaker. Since he is an American journalist and foreign correspondent who has covered the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for many years and has been held by terrorists, his advice was to go out into the world and have an adventure….not just sit in a cubicle. He encouraged them to take risks and get out there and experience life to the fullest. I have to say that he may not know that the greatest adventure and also the greatest risk in life is having a family, which also happens to be the most fun! 

The individual college convocation was our favorite part, other than just being there with Ian and his parents and Charity. The convocation speaker gave some spectacular advice in a short speech to the Masters and Ph.D students who gathered under a canopy in front of the famous Hoover Tower where Ian had spent so much time as his office was next door. The distinguished John Pencavel with a wonderful British accent gave just three bits of stellar advice:

1) Don’t be prideful 2), Spread you good luck around and 3) Don’t work all the time. Take at least one day off a week. Perfect!


We were so pleased to be there to see Ian receive the Centennial Teaching Award, which was given to the top four teaching assistants (TAs). We loved basking in the love that everyone who had been associated with Ian at the school expressed for Ian’s great character, hard work and dedication!


Of course his parents were thrilled for Ian’s success!  Ian even arranged for his dad, Gordon, to “hood him” as he came through the line to receive his diploma. Gordon had graduated from the Stanford Law School many years ago but missed his own graduation because he had to go to work. What a thrill that was for all of us!


Gordon and Lynette were so proud of their Ian’s outstanding accomplishments and I think Charity thinks he is pretty awesome too!


Still kissing after all these months!


We were so happy to have our beloved and crazy Uncle Chris and kind Aunt Hedy who generously hosted all of us for the weekend and who have been such terrific supporters for these newlyweds including providing a place for them to store all their stuff while they gallivanted around the world.


It was a day that none of us will ever forget! Congratulations on twenty five years of hard dedicated school work Ian (starting at age five). Here’s to a lovely launch in London!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Teacher Can Make All the Difference

My mother, Hazel Clark Jacobson was born in 1905 to a family of 10 children. There were four boys (two were babies who died the same week as their mother in the flu epidemic in Star Valley, Wyoming in 1920) and six were girls who all (except one who died as a teenager) became teachers. The oldest sister Hilda vividly remembers the response of her mother when, after graduating from the 8th grade she announced that she was planning to stay home and help with their large farm and her nine younger brothers and sisters. The High School was 30 miles away which meant being away from the family for weeks at a time as their only mode of transporation was a horse and carriage. Hilda could see that it would be hard to manage without her help.

Her mother firmly rejected that idea and said, “In twenty years, no one will remember whether our floors got cleaned and the cows were milked but no one will ever forget the lives you will change if you get a good education and become a teacher” 

She was right! Not only did she go on to get a teaching degree, but her younger sisters all followed in her footsteps. No one will ever know the long term positive effects that those sisters, who all became excellent teachers, have had in the lives of literally thousands of elementary school children.

Look at this fun picture of my mom with her school class in 1934 when she was 29 years old in Star Valley Wyoming and the following ones taken throughout her teaching career (she’s the tall girl with the long hair on the back row below).



I can say it now because she and all her sisters have passed on and they would agree anyway, that my mom was the star when it came to teaching! When I return to my little hometown in Montpelier, Idaho where she taught for many years, someone always comes up to me and says that my mom changed his/her life because of her positive encouragement to do their best and be their best. It was part of the fabric of the classroom as well as a genuine love for each of the kids, sometimes especially “the hard ones.” Those positive feelings about education were passed from those kids to their kids and it wet on and on. We figured that Mother taught about a thousand kids in the classroom in her forty-five years of teaching! All those who were taught by her, adored her!

Whether is was genes or an innate desire to change the lives of children for good, our oldest son has followed the path of the Clark girls’ excellence in teaching! Besides being an extraordinary computer guru, Josh worked hare to major in Construction Management at BYU and was on a path of excellence with one of the best construction companies in the country in Washington D.C. when he realized that his destiny was to teach children. He quit his job and went after his dream!

To put many years of teaching in a nutshell, Josh has become an astonishing teacher! He is teaching at a Charter School called American Leadership Academy in Gilbert, Arizona. Every year he goes far beyond the call of duty with so many innovative ideas and ways to help his kids do their very best! He loves the kids and wants them to succeed and they know it! Several times a year he invites his kids and their parents to an astronomy night. He has an excellent telescope and the kids and their parents meet at the school and take turns getting a close-up look at the surface of the moon and some of the planets as well as learning about the universe and beyond as he shares his vast knowledge of the constellations!

Every year he spends countless hours planning a party at the end of the school year. Usually he has the party at Shawni’s house because they have had a nice pool and a fun trampoline. But this year, though they do have an pretty cool indoor trampoline, the pool at new their house, as you can see, is not quite ready yet:


The kind and generous neighbors across the street offered their back yard for the party with a “wonderland” for kids. Because it was the day after Max’s graduation, we were lucky enough to be there this year to celebrate with them! All but two of the his 30 kids and their parents showed up and had such a great time together!

I got lots of great pictures of the kids and their parents but Josh is very careful about not posting pictures of his class members and parents without getting permission and since I didn’t ask for permission, these are the only ones I got without kids. Note that great waterfall on the left and further over to the left at the deep end by the slide is a built-in jumping platform that the parents supervised from which the children were allowed to jump into the pool from. Josh took his turn jumping too, much to the delight of the kids!


The parents provided all the great food and skillfully cooked the hamburgers and hot dogs. Everyone had a wonderful time!


But the best part of the party for Dad/Rick and I was hearing parent after parent literally raving about the difference “Mr. Eyre” has made in the lives of their children:

One dad went on for 10 minutes about how his son would never want to go to school and how he had to drag him out of bed and bribe or force him to go to school every day—until this year when he was lucky enough to be placed in Mr. Eyre’s class.  Now, he says, his son is ready to go early every day, can’t wait to get to school and is always excited to tell him what he learned that day. The mom wanted to take him for a day outing and the boy said “No, I can’t go, I don’t want to miss school because I learn so much every day.”

Another dad said “Mr. Eyre has changed our daughter’s life, and our family’s life!” 

A mom said she had had four of her boys in Josh’s class and that she can’t even calculate how much he has  meant to her sons. She said they all now have what she thinks will be a lifetime love of learning because of “Mr. Eyre.”.

Still another mother mom told us that her daughter now says “I want to be a teacher just like Mr. Eyre so I can help kids like he helps me.”

“We have another daughter whom we hope will get into Mr. Eyres’ class next year,” one mom said. “If she gets Mr. Eyre, we will stay with the school, even though it would be much easier for us to have our children go to the school next to our home in our own neighborhood.  If she doesn’t get into Mr. Eyre’s class, we are changing to our neighborhood school.”

A couple of parents said how great it is that he teaches them how to complement and encourage each other—especially on their birthdays. “Instead of just having the kids eat the cupcakes I brought to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in silence, he had everyone say what they liked best about our daughter. It brought tears to my eyes!”

The compliments flowed like a waterfall all night!

Josh even brought the class ducklings to the party so the parents could see the babies that the kids had watched hatch and had nurtured for the past couple of weeks (no photo permission required on these cute guys)!


After all the fun swim/trampoline/tennis/basketball activities at the neighbors house the group walked across the street to the Pothier’s house where we watched the most delightful 30 minute slide show of their tremendous year of learning painstakingly prepared by Josh. who is an outstanding photographer. The kids cheered and laughed and sang along with some of the songs as they watched. It was so fun to be there and feel the happiness oozing out everywhere!


We had brought one of the first editions of Teaching Your Children Responsibility with Josh’s picture on the cover as well as several times inside. The kids were thrilled to receive a personalized copy and  see their teacher when he was their age!


I love looking back and reminiscing about the teachers who have changed my life. There are several but one very special one, whom I think of him often because he taught me to write (and diagram sentences, and devour the great classics and learn vast numbers of vocabulary words). I can honestly say that he changed my life for the better!

How proud I am to have been raised by a Mother who innately knew how to change lives through education and love and a terrific son who has taken that torch and run ahead with it as he continues to change lives forever! Love you Mr Eyre!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mighty Max Graduates!

When our kids were growing up, there were some years when we had six or more graduations a year….from kindergarten to college but lately things have been rather quiet on the graduation front. Until this year! Suddenly we have three major graduations. After Noah’s graduation two weeks ago, we next had the pleasure of attending the graduation of our oldest grandchild, Max!  How can we have a grandchild graduating from High School? Wasn’t it just a few minutes ago that he was a our first grandbaby?

This boy has been a treasure since the day he was born! Smart and soft spoken but explosive
and a hero on the volleyball court. Max has been such a perfect oldest grandson for our other 26 grandchildren to look up to!

He’s gone from this…..


to this…..in the blink of an eye!


Max is a giant to be reckoned with on the volleyball court (#23)! How he can get that 6’7”, 220 pound body that far off the ground is beyond me!  Their team made it to the semi final in the state tournament. The cherry on the top is being invited to go to the National Volleyball Tournament in July. His heart is as big as his body and we are so proud of this great young man who will be registering at Brigham Young University this fall for a semester before he serves a full time mission for two years for our church.

On the day before graduation, Shawni met me at the airport and zipped me over to a lunch with Max and Dave and a few of Max’s best friends! I love teenagers! Really! They are so fun and funny!  Love those socks!


That night was Max’s Seminary graduation. After completing four years of religious education which for each of the kids who graduated involved a released time period during the school day for religious education, the kids graduate with their class at a special ecclesiastical ceremony. FYI while they were in China Max and Elle attended early morning Seminary which meant being at their teacher’s house at 6 a.m. every morning before their school started! Kids do this literally all over the world if they are not in a heavily Mormon populated community. This not only reeks of heroism but also creates a terrific reserve of what I like to call grit for their future lives which always requires grit. As you can probably guess, the teachers are terrific and this religious education is priceless! 

Max was one of two student speakers at the program and did a stellar job! Both his grandmas were able to be there and Shawni apparently got so excited about that that she missed the most important part:

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Ah…that’s better…that kids it TALL!

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On the day of Max’s graduation, it was also Grace’s graduation from 8th grade and I was lucky to be able to see Grace among the “Golden Scholars” (kids who got all A’s and a maximum of one B) during Junior High. It was fun to see her get her reward for being such an excellent student, which is pretty astonishing considering that included the grades she got from spending her first semester of this year at her school in China.

Such great girls!


Guys too!


That morning Grace had invited a group of friends to breakfast which she made herself!


Shawni and I also made a quick swing around the elementary school where Lucy was graduating from the second grade and from her dearly beloved teacher.


Claire was graduating from the 5th grade and we found her in line of all the other students in the school high five-ing (is that a word?) the sixth graders as they wended their way through the school halls bidding goodbye to everyone.


Claire is the girl with the fancy hair….as always!



It was fun to see these pictures of Max and his two terrific Pothier cousins who are his age. The picture on the left is those three musketeers as pre-schoolers and now as high school graduates!


Max’s graduation from Highland High School along with 800 other seniors was  a sight to behold with parents and friends cheering their graduates on at the Highland High Football stadium!

Approximately 8,000 people flooded the field after the ceremony:


You probably can’t see the tears in Elle’s eyes as she contemplated not seeing her brother in the halls of the high school next year. They are about to part ways after being born fourteen months apart and inseparable since childhood!  She’s next, next year! 


Grace will be there in the halls next year as a cute freshman. Here she is hugging darling Maddie who came back to live with family friends for the last semester to finish high school at Highland after her parents moved to Chicago last year. She just happened to be in the office registering in January at the same moment Max and Elle were checking in after being in China. Long and fun story behind all that but Maddie has become a very good friend to Max, along with the entire Pothier family!




It was great fun to see Max surrounded by all his friends, especially the members of the volleyball team. They have become a big part of his life!


Man I love this boy! We’re glad we get him for the reunion in July before he takes off for the rest of his life…and an occasional Sunday dinners with some roommates at our house since he’ll only be an hour away from us while he’s at BYU!  

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Just one more thing. Shawni has a new piece of art framed in her house. Translation: LOVE MORE in Chinese! Perfect because this house and everybody in it is a perfect personification of that mantra.