Thursday, February 28, 2013

Carmody Sagers

Dave's niece passed away on February 17, 2013. She was the girl of every parent's dream. We will miss her physical presence with us, but we know she has her place sealed in heaven. 

Her funeral felt like a warm blanket to me, and I simply knew that all was as it should be, as hard as it is for those who are left behind. It is they for whom I mourn.

Back cover of the funeral program

Carmody Sagers
(January 23, 1991 - February 17, 2013) 

Carmody Sagers, age 22, passed away in a Salt Lake City hospital on February 17, 2013 of complications following an acute liver illness of only a week's duration.
She was born January 23, 1991, in Ft. Worth, TX, the fourth child of Richard Cameron and Ruth Marlene Swindler Sagers. In 2009 Carmody graduated from Fossil Ridge High School in Ft. Worth. She was a scholarship recipient at Brigham Young University, enrolled in her senior year as a major in Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics. She was also a resident assistant in her housing complex at BYU.
Carmody is survived by her parents of Ft. Worth, and by her married siblings: Chantelle Sagers Clawson and Larry Clawson of Reno, NV; Orrin Sagers and Caroline Rodgers Sagers of Haslett, TX; Jason Sagers and Alicia Poulsen Sagers of Austin, TX; many nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles on both the Swindler and Sagers lines; paternal grandparents, Richard D. and Pauline S. Sagers of Provo; and many friends and classmates at BYU.

Funeral services will be on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. in the BYU multi-ward chapel located at 1915 North Canyon Road, Provo UT. She will be buried in the East Lawn Memorial Gardens in Provo, Utah, near her maternal grandparents, Calvin and Gertrude Swindler.

Like any true Texan, she loved and embraced her Southern roots and had fond likings of Texas icons such as boots, wildflowers, rodeos, severe thunderstorms, and Blue Bell ice cream.
At the age of 12 she earned her Amateur Radio license and was granted the FCC call sign KD5ZON. Her dad, who is also an Amateur Radio operator, got her interested in learning Morse code at a young age solely for the purpose of sending secret messages to each other at the dinner table.

If an animal existed on this earth that was cute and fluffy, Carmody loved it. Throughout her growing up years she exercised this by bringing home and caring for a number of hamsters that she adored and loved. She enjoyed nature and surrounded herself with its beauty: flowers, butterflies, squirrels, ducks, bluebonnets, the sunlight, and rainbows.
At age 14, Carmody was diagnosed with celiac disease. Instead of focusing on the limitations that accompanied the diagnosis, she began to educate herself about cooking and food, fast becoming an excellent gluten-free cook. In high school, she even wrote her own gluten-free cookbook and sent a copy to her older sister. Her love of cooking motivated her to major in dietetics and nutrition, specifically for the purpose of educating others who might also have dietary challenges.

Despite numerous health challenges that presented her with many day-to-day obstacles to overcome, Carmody always did her best in school. Because of her valiant efforts, Carmody graduated in the top ten in her high school class and attended Brigham Young University on scholarship for four years.

She loved to help other people and never had a problem living up to her high standards, even encouraging others around her to do the same. Despite the challenges that her own health presented her with, she found immense happiness in offering service to others, a gift that she was able to utilize often during her appointment as an RA. She loved her family and friends with equal enthusiasm, always wanting to get another laugh out of her siblings. She served others by happily contributing delicious meals to family and friends. Carmody’s last eight months were spent in wonderful relationship with her boyfriend, Mike Watson, who made her very happy.

Carmody was a beautiful spirit and Heavenly Father saw fit to give her significant hurdles to overcome and to grow from. During life on earth, Carmody successfully endured her challenges while simultaneously lifting other people. We will miss Carmody dearly, but have been so blessed with the assurance that she is happy and anxiously engaged in fulfilling assignments on the other side of the veil.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day . . . a Year Later

A year ago today, we were in the throes of Dave's nine-day stay in the hospital, worried beyond belief about the touch-and-go status of his very life, and deeply in shock at my mom's passing in the middle of it all. 

This really doesn't need to be said but I will anyway: I am so grateful beyond anything you can imagine that Dave is a healthy, slim, and trim Valentine for me to cherish, love, and take for granted (but not like I did before I learned that little lesson that life is fleeting . . . ), and I simply want to let the world know of my commitment, dedication, and love for this guy. So sappy, I know, but it is the 14th, after all so I think I get a pass.

Dave indulged me with an early Valentine's night at the theater in the round on Monday night. I was over the moon with the fact that he didn't fall asleep once!

Nothing like being on the front row--plenty of opportunities to stick out my foot to, you know, whoops! So sorry! One of the actors asked us about that afterward. In all honesty, I really didn't do it, but the actor really did ask.

Dave knows that nothing floats my boat like fresh flowers. Well played, Dave! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY (sans that lovely hospital gown)!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Top Reasons to Spend Winter In Sweden

Christian is loving his service as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  Sweden seems to suit him.  I don't think he will be lucky enough to do No. 2 on the list below, but he will be able to do No. 11 (which isn't actually on the official list but, as suggested by a fellow mish mom, should be):  Enthusiastically share the gospel of Jesus Christ with these lovely folks!

Ten reasons to spend winter in Sweden

While Sweden seems to be at its most captivating during the warm summer months of June to August, here’s an insider tip — the country is just as beautiful during the height of winter. Here are 10 reasons to visit Sweden during winter.

When silky white snow coats Sweden’s vast landscapes — from its mountains and wilderness in the north to its southern region dotted with lakes — you get to experience a whole new rugged side of the country.

Traditionally, traveling to Scandinavia during winter usually brings less crowds, deeper hotel discounts, and cheaper airfares except during Christmas, New Year, and 'sportlov' - a one-week break in February, designed for schoolkids to enjoy winter sports.

So this makes winter a particularly good season to explore Sweden. In addition to avoiding larger crowds and enjoying more affordable deals on lodging and transportation between November and April, you also get to enjoy unique outdoor activities that are native to the subarctic and Arctic regions of Scandinavia such as dog sledding, moose and reindeer safaris, searching for the Northern Lights, and learning about indigenous Sámi history.

While winter provides opportunities to try a slew of adventure activities, for the less outdoorsy travelers, there are also many events — from Christmas markets and winter festivals to relaxing saunas — to enjoy all over the country.

Here are 10 reasons to consider spending your winter in Sweden, with links to additional resources to help you start planning your trip.

1. Ski in one of 200 resorts
(Photo: Henrik Trygg/
Did you know that there are about 200 ski resorts in Sweden? From resorts around the popular ski village of Åre in central Sweden to ski facilities in Dalarna, Jämtland, Härjedalen as well as Swedish Lapland, there are hundreds of places where you can hit the slopes. The most popular downhill skiing slopes can be found around Åre, which is 1.5 hours by plane from Stockholm (660 km). Åre hosted the Alpine World Championships in 2007, and provides a myriad of courses from off-piste slopes to easier downhill slopes and family-oriented bunny runs.

2. Track wild reindeer and moose on safari
(Photo: Fredrik Broman/
Safaris aren’t limited to tracking the “Big Five” in Africa. During winter, you can enjoy several safaris that take you through Lapland’s wilderness, forests, and tundra regions to find Sweden’s own “Big Six” — moose, wolverines, wolves, brown bears, lynxes, and musk oxen. Companies such as Kiruna i Norr offer safaris around Laukkuluspa, close to Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost city. On tour, you get to travel along the frozen Kalix River, keeping your eyes open for hoof prints and animal droppings while in search of various Arctic wildlife.

3. Sleep in hotels and igloos made of ice
(Photo: Peter Grant/
For a long weekend, you can head up to Jukkasjärvi, close to Kiruna, to bed down in the world’s first ice hotel. Opened in 1990, the ICEHOTEL is rebuilt every year based on designs from various artists, using ice blocks made from water collected from the Torne River.

Sip chilled vodka (or fruit juice if you prefer) from frozen ice glasses served in the Absolut Ice Bar, take in elaborate sculptures carved from ice, or even get married in the Ice Chapel. The hotel also offers winter activities you can enjoy in the surrounding area.

If you want to sleep closer to nature, try the natural igloo carved by the frozen waters of Sweden’s strongest waterfall, Tännforsen. When the waterfall freezes, it forms a natural labyrinth of caves and ice formations, and the igloo is built from this. Located along the edge of Lake Skabram just outside of Jokkmokk, you could also learn to build as well as sleep in your own igloo at the Arctic Igloo Village (Illua).

4. See the Northern Lights
(Photo: Fredrik Broman/
For those willing to brave the cold on clear crisp winter nights, you may be rewarded with one of nature’s most spectacular displays — the Aurora Borealis (also known as the Northern Lights). These light curtains of green, red, and purple often dance across the sky during from October to March and, depending on weather conditions, can be viewed from anywhere in northern Sweden.

But the best location for viewing the Northern Lights is Abisko National Park north of Kiruna. This is due to the presence of a famous "blue hole", which is a patch of sky over a lake in Abisko that usually remains clear despite overcast weather in surrounding areas.

5. Experience Sámi culture
(Photo: Peter Grant/
With roughly 20,000 indigenous Sámi living in Sweden, enjoy one-on-one cultural experiences by learning about one of the oldest cultures (at least 10,000 years) on Earth.

Spend a few days in the village of Jokkmokk during early February when the 400+ year old Jokkmokk Sami market is in full swing; from reindeer races and traditional fashion shows to sampling reindeer, moose, and other dishes as well as watching the reindeer caravan procession led by Sámi elder Per Kuhmunen.

In addition to the market, you’ll find the Ájtte Sámi museum, Sámi Duodji, which is a cooperation of local artists and exhibition of various Sámi artisan works, the Sami Education Center, and Restaurang Samernas where you can sample and learn to cook traditional recipes like dried reindeer soup.

6. Drive your own dog sled
(Photo: Staffan Widstrand/
Dog sledding is one of the high energy and exciting winter activities around Swedish Lapland and the Arctic Circle as well as the spectacular mountain regions of Padjelanta and Sarek National Parks in Laponia.
Many companies run several dog sledding tours from daytrips to multi-day expeditions with Siberian Huskies. Dog sledding through the wilderness gets you closer to Sweden’s natural beauty and you may just spot wildlife as well as the elusive Northern Lights while on an expedition.

7. Try backcountry snowshoeing
Photo: Fredrik Broman/
Snowshoeing is like hiking, except you have to wear special shoes for trudging through several feet of compact snow. You can go snowshoeing along the Kebnekaise mountain range and foothills of Mount Kebne in Swedish Lapland, or along Kungsleden ("King’s Trail") located 200 kilometers inside the Arctic Circle. There are several mountain cabins to stay between treks which can be as long as 10-20 kilometers from cabin to cabin.

For the more adventurous travelers, you can go hiking in Sarek National Park where trails are more demanding and you’ll need to put your igloo-building and winter camping skills to the test.

8. Catch fish from frozen lakes

If you’ve never gone fishing before, now might be the time to drill a hole through a frozen lake to catch fish such as Arctic char, trout, salmon, pike, perch, grayling, and whitefish.

There are thousands of lakes as well as rivers all over the country — from Skåne and Gothenburg to Dalarna, Västerbotten, and Lapland — where you can try your hand at ice-fishing.

Traditionally, once you drill a hole in the ice large enough for your bait, you then lie on reindeer skin placed on the ice and look through the hole at often crystal clear waters to see your bait and unsuspecting fish swimming by.
Tour operators such as Nordic Footprints run winter fishing trips to lakes around Northern Dalarna.

9. Go snowmobiling across frozen rivers
(Photo: Peter Grant/
Get off the well-worn road and try an invigorating ride across the frozen Kalix River, Lule River, or Torneträsk in Swedish Lapland.

Snowmobiles are quite easy to navigate and don’t require the level of endurance that skiing or backcountry snowshoeing demand, making them ideal for families who want to explore the wilderness and tundra of Lapland. You can fly into Luleå and spend a few days on a snowmobile expedition that takes you through forests, across frozen lakes and rivers, and up mountains.

10. Shop at traditional markets
Photo: Ola Ericson/
If you’d rather stick to bustling city life, be sure to check out some of Sweden’s classic Christmas markets in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö.

Stockholm’s Gamla Stan(Old Town) comes alive during winter with the sweet smell of warm glögg (mulled wine) and pepperkakor (gingerbread cookies) wafting through the air, and rows of stalls filled with handicrafts, toys, Christmas decorations, and seasonal food items like smoked meats, jams, and candy. You can also try your hand at traditional candle making as well as peruse the market at Skansen — the world’s oldest open air museum.

In Gothenburg, you can enjoy the largest Christmas party lit up by 5,000,000 (yes, five million!) lights at Liseberg Amusement Park.

And in the far south of Sweden, starting the last Sunday in November, over 800 shops in Malmö put out window displays in what is known as "Shop Window Sunday". It's a visually impressive mix of sparkling lights, decorations, vibrant bursts of color, and everything else that creates that special Christmas holiday feeling.