Tuesday, September 11, 2018

You are my Honolulu Moon

This night I had a dream I was back on the North Shore. I was with my best friend Crystal from high school and we were going surfing. We started out at one end of our small town and made our way all the way up the coast, surfing every break along the way until we were tired out.  Then we went and got our hair done at an outdoor gas station-turned-hair cutting-salon. Weird! The dream was very vivid, but the parts I remember the most was surfing my favorite surf breaks. 
First we paddled out at Freddy-land. Good old Freddy-land! The outside break at Velzyland was breaking 20+ feet bringing the most perfect 4-5 foot (Hawaiian) waves crashing into inside Freddys. I was catching waves going left and right and having the time of my life!  I looked over at Buttons Kaluhiokalani who threw me a shaka and a big smile as he was paddling back out after a set. Good old Freddy-land! The feeling out in the water was absolute freedom and uninhibited happiness as everyone hooted and hollered for each other to catch more waves. 
Next we moved on over to Sunset point where suddenly it was small and glassy, a perfect 2-3 feet break perfect for longboarding. I was catching these super long right-hand waves all the way into the deep blue channel of Sunset beach. It was glorious. I was all smiles everytime I paddled back out. Next we moved onto Kammie-land where it was bowling up for the most epic tube rides. Then onto Monster Mush where all our friends were out playing in the small, hamajang, wishy-washy waves. There was no competition or bad vibes-just fun waves all around, which was pretty typical of the Mush.
And down the line we went-Rocky Point with it's steep drops, Pupukeas with it's big, bubbly, lefts and rights, Ehukais with the shallow sandbar and crystal clear water...we skipped Pipe, Backdoor, and Log Cabbins for obvious reasons and went straight to Rubber Duckies! Oh how I miss Rubber Duckies, my old front-yard surf break! 
In high school I could peak out the front windows of the kitchen and see firsthand if it was good enough to ride that day. Sometimes I would go for an early morning-before-school-refreshing-surf. There was never anyone out because there were far better waves to ride, which made Rubber Duckies mine all mine, most of the time. 
The windows of our old Kam hwy house overlooking
Rubber Duckies. This is the newly re-modeled version
that sold for nearly $1,000,000,000.

There was a large rock under the water that used to mark the beginning of where the waves formed. I loved  how the gurgles of whitewash indicated a wave was coming my way. I'd paddle hard, stand up, and drop into an easy right. I could always see the round, brown rocks below before I pulled out at the end, careful not to hit the jagged, rocky shoreline. 
Next we ended up at mellow Piddleys for fun left-handers, then sharky Chuns for some long rights, then  Laniakeas where it was crowded, but  plenty of waves for everyone. The sea turtles were everywhere, munching on their seaweed and not being bothered by gawking tourists. 
I think the surfing parts of my dream stopped there. I wish we could've kept going down to Mokuleia because those "secret" spots were some of my favorite. Oh how I miss Glass Doors on a perfect, cloudless, sunny morning. 
I woke up feeling nostalgic and "homesick." I try not to miss Hawaii because it's not my home anymore and I'm busy over here raising a family, but the feelings are still there deep inside me whether I want them or not. I suppose that's why they resurface in my dreams. 
The ocean, surfing, beach culture, island life, Hawaii-life was part of my life for so long, it's hard not to recognize those parts of me that miss it terribly, that long for the ocean and the life that I once knew and loved.
But then reality sets in and I know that living on the North Shore is not realistic anymore. Prices are too high, real-estate is extreme, and the culture and vibe has changed drastically over time with more "mainland" values. But I still miss it, nonetheless. Why? Because Freddy-land and Kammi-land and Monster Mush and Pupukeas and Laniakeas and Glass Doors are still there, breaking and forming and breaking again with the endless ebb and flow of mother nature. Those things will never change and for them I shed a tear or two on nights like tonight.

Will that aching, longing feeling inside me for the ocean go away the longer I live in inland Utah? Maybe. Maybe not. 
My kids are growing up here in this beautiful valley. It is small and clean and safe. It feels predictable and sheltered from the rest of the world. There is wilderness all around us to explore. Sometimes I long for the unknown, the wild, the carefree, and the totally  inconsistent, but that's not how raising a family looks to me. Sure they will never look out their windows to see 20 foot waves crashing across the street, rattling the windows and shaking the ground beneath their feet. They will never experience the influx of tourists and surfers from all over the world gathering to their hometown to surf the biggest waves in the world. They will never speak pidgin, be immersed in diverse cultures, or have a best friend of Hawaiian-Filipino descent who pushes them to surf like a beast.
Yet, I know they will have a beautiful life here and that's all that matters. Perhaps in 25 years when they are old like me they won't have to experience the gut-wrenching longing for something far away and foreign because they will have everything that they need all around them. Family, friends, a home to come back to, and an endless environment of peace, love, and nurturing for themselves and their children. Or maybe something will take them far away from here and they will feel that same sort of longing for this place as I feel for my hawaii. Who knows. Life is interesting in that we never know where it might take us.

As for now I KNOW that I love my little family and love that we are all here together. My boys bring me joy and happiness beyond compare. My husband works hard to create a place where his family can grow and flourish. I have everything I need right here, right now, although having an ocean nearby would be handy at times. :)
I got real excited this past summer and started researching a surf trip to Costa Rica for spring break 2019. It's always been my dream to surf Costa Rica and with turning 40 this year I figured this would be a great year to do it. I called a few of my girlfriends who'd go with me, checked airline prices and surfing retreats, made lofty plans in my head of all the places we'd see and breaks we'd surf.......then reality set in because.....raising a family isn't cheap or easy. Medical bills are piling up for Odin's knees, our van needs fixing (or a new car entirely), we went into debt over my ptsd therapy, and the needs of our growing children never stop coming. So, I am putting Costa Rica on the back shelf for now and also remembering this beautiful poem by Anne Cambell that suits my mom-life perfectly:

“You are the trip I did not take, you are the pearls I could not buy,
you are my blue Italian lake, you are my piece of foreign sky.

You are my Honolulu moon, you are the book I did not write,
you are my heart's unuttered tune, you are a candle in my night.

You are the flower beneath the snow, in my dark sky a bit of blue,
answering disappointment's blow with "I am happy! I have you!”

― Anne Campbell

My big boys are getting so big!
Morning snuggles
My penguin asked me to drive him up to the big water tank so I did.
My favorite part of the day

Braces-free since June 4th. I got a permanent retainer put in both the top and bottom.

Jonah's baptism. Such a special day for our little JoJo.

Me and Micah my love, with a photobombing Odin.

Roadtripping this past summer. We got stuck in traffic for 2 hours outside of 106 degree Vegas with no AC.  Good times.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Gratitude brings Joy

Sometimes when life gets hard it's difficult to see the abundance of blessings you already have in your life. I need to remember to write down the many, many things I am grateful for in my life. There's been actual scientific studies done to prove that: people who consistently write down the things they are grateful for in their lives are more optimistic, more joyful, and can more easily get through tough challenges than those who only see the negative. 

So here's my list because I want to be and feel more grateful today and everyday.
I am grateful for:
-Fresh raspberries from our front yard bushes.
-A strong and healthy body.
-A grocery store nearby that always has fresh food to buy.
-My husband's garden for fresh vegetables
-A home to live in that I can paint the walls any color I want.
-Cars to drive, even old ones
-My two lovable, sweet dogs who are my hiking buddies and furry friends.
-A safe neighborhood to live in with kind neighbors
-Great wilderness trails nearby and a creek to swim in on hot days
-Four little boys who are passionate and creative and fun
-My husband who loves me and supports me in so many ways
-Options and resources to educate myself and improve my life in new directions
-Good books! Book Club!
-The internet and all the ways we can learn, grow, and connect through the www.
-The scriptures and the peace they bring me.
-Jesus Christ and His everlasting atonement and His ability to heal the mind and soul.
-The power of prayer.
-A strong, courageous mind.
-Church callings and the way they stretch me.
-Thrift stores and the way they relax me and save pennies.
-The job I got working at the gym daycare in exchange for a free membership.
-The gym! Grateful for weightlifting and where it is taking me/has brought me.
-The smell of Tranquility essential oil by Plant Therapy.. MMMmmmmmm
-Online college to fit into my busy life
-My newfound love for Instagram--I love it!
-EMDR and the life changing effect it's had on my brain/life/soul
-Andrea. Just Andrea.
-Red rock mountains
-The smells of juniper and sage on a hot summer day.
-New friends to enjoy.
-Doctors, dentists, and other professionals who we rely on at times.
-The Family Support Center who babysits my two littles (weekly) when I need my sanity.
-This laptop.
-My husband's passion for creating things like wild turtle habitats in our backyard.
-Ladybugs on asparagus plants.
-Malachi's energy and excitement for everything.
-Grandmas who take time to come visit and spend time with the kids.
-Glass beads, driftwood, and string for making dangly things.
-toilet paper, tooth brushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. 
-Friends who text and call.
-Sautee'd spinach and garlic.
-Painted rocks that your kids find on a trail.
-The ingredients to make playdough.
-The Temple.
-Funny movies to revisit over and over again. 
-Mr. Bean
-Little boys who love to play together.
-The Grand Canyon

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The first week of summer!

The boys had their last day of school this past Wednesday for the 2017-2018 school year! Z completed 6th grade, O completed 4th grade, J completed 2nd grade, and M completed his first year of pre-school. All in all it was a fabulous year! 
Z the fat Nobleman

-Z developed a love for orchestra and jazz through his dedicated and awesome band teacher. He learned to play the flute very well and will play in summer band as well as jazz band next year. He also made a good friend and started a club that meets at our house every Friday night. He's grown out of his shyness completely and feels comfortable speaking his mind-- sharing his thoughts and opinions in public, and being a positive example and  leader to others. He has also become extremely goofy and ridiculous when he's in just the right mood. For "Ancient Civilizations Day" he dressed up as a Nobleman from the medieval period. He had learned in history that Nobelman were fat and that their fatness was a sign of prestige, thus he wore a T-shirt and filled it with stuffing for the day. Oh my.

Soccer O
-O  loved going to school this year! He loved his classes, his projects, his artwork, his reports, his lunches, and his friends. He reminds me of me at that age! He also voluntarily started walking home from school, which took him around 20 minutes. 
He asked to sign him up for 1 week of summer camp (also so me) so that he could further explore different subjects and be in a social environment with other kids from his school. He's also attending a 2 day science camp this summer. He loves creating artwork and he played soccer this past season and kicked butt. He used to be really shy on the field but he really got in there this time and played a strong defense. He is such a loving, sweet, and fun boy who is kind to everyone!
J's Eagle Habitat

-J is such a sweet, sensitive, shy, and tenderhearted child. When he comes home from school we do a lot of analyzing to help him understand all the things that happened there during the day. He learned a lot this year about how to make friends, what to do at recess and lunch, how to react to other's weird behavior, how to assert himself when he has to use the bathroom, and basically  how to navigate the ins and outs of 2nd grade. He learned right away that he likes school and he likes to learn all the cool stuff, but he doesn't necessarily like everything. And that's okay. It's okay not to love everything...because that's life. He also figured out that if he wears his jacket everyday that has the zippered pockets he can bring any toys he wants out to recess weather they are allowed to or now. That's my boy. :) 

-M went to pre-school twice a week this past year. This kid is a social butterfly who loves to keep busy! Pre-school was the perfect choice for him. He was in a class with 10 other 3 year olds where they learned their letters, sang songs, painted pictures using all sorts of cool techniques (have ya heard of painting with legos or marshmallows??) and played outside where everyday he would have his teacher Mrs. Woolsey swing him on the swings. 
Mommy subs pre-school
When I picked him up at the end of the 2 1/2 hours he was never ready to go and made me wait while she pushed him just one.more.time! I got to substitute his class a couple times this year and had a lot of fun playing pre-school teacher. I brought our true-to-life-Jack-rabbit puppet to entertain, which the kids thought was super awesome. 

Next year Mally will be attending pre-school 4 days a week and I think he's gonna love it! 

This was the first year where all 4 of our older boys attended school for an entire year. I am so proud of each of them for the strong, mature, amazing, and kind children they are. I know that sending children out into the world isn't the easiest decision. There are days when I just want to keep them home, wrap them in my arms, and pretend they're all toddlers again. 
But, they are growing up and they are learning to be progressive, able-bodied, functioning people in this world. I feel that they are leaps and bounds ahead of me when I was their ages. They understand people and the world in a different way and are able to make mature and confident decisions. They know who to make friends with and who to stay away from. They know when their teachers are fair and kind when a teacher is unfair or wrong. They know how to make good decisions and how to talk about their problems. They know how to be leaders and how to set an example of goodness.

I don't know what the future will hold as far as homeschooling anyone or not. We're just going to play it year by year and see how we all do.  Right now I am appreciating the moments of quiet I get to catch up on housework, exercise, plan, and recharge my batteries for when they all come rushing through the door. I love my boys so much and I also love my quiet time. (two truths)

Summer is my absolute favorite season! I am so excited to spend the next few months playing with my boys. The last couple nights we've gone to the park to play freeze-tag. I love it when we can do fun things like this outside together.
I thank God everyday that I have a strong, healthy body that can chase these little boys around. They keep me so busy, but like I say, I wouldn't have it any other way...
Happy Summer! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I joined Instagram!

I joined Instagram. I know, I know, I am about 8 years behind, but since I quit facebook 6 months ago I am realizing more and more that I still want and need to stay in touch with distant friends. Instagram seems like the most simplistic and meaningful way to do it, without all the bombardment of the personal soap boxes and politics getting in the way. 

So...come find me on Instagram at Sallyseashell2018 where I'll be sharing awesome photos. And that's all.

Friends often ask me why I up and quit facebook. There are so many reasons why but the most important reason was that I felt a very strong prompting from the Holy Ghost that I needed to step back from social media. The spirit had been prodding me for years trying to tell me that it was not the healthiest distraction for me, that it was taking too much of my time and focus, that I was experiencing more anxiety because of it, and that I was becoming a slave to social media addiction. And because I'm often stubborn and prideful I kept telling myself that I was fine, that I could handle the distractions, that it was important for me to stay in touch, that I needed the distraction to stay sane as a mom, etc, etc.
But I knew in my heart those reasons weren't true. 
And because I have an addictive personality I also knew that I couldn't quit on my own so I enlisted the help of my eldest son. I basically had him change my password so I couldn't get back on until I felt ready to handle it on my own. 
I admit the first month was hard. I was so used to checking facebook everyday for the past seven years that the impulse to click on the app was overwhelming. It was like having a big, delicious bowl of pudding in front of me yet knowing I couldn't touch it. Grrrr! I LOVE pudding!  
Yet, after about a month of not being able to check it, the urges to check it stopped and the desire be on there started to wane completely. Most of all I felt the spirit confirm in my heart that I made the right choice. That was such an amazing feeling that I'll never forget.

After about a month and a half of no facebook I asked my son to give me the password. By that time I was able to clearly see the amazing benefits of quitting facebook and was able to easily deactivate my account. That was 6 months ago and I don't think I will ever return.

The most  positive benefit of quitting is the powerful way that my mind cleared. It was like a loud radio suddenly turned to low volume. Or a rushing waterfall suddenly slowing to a trickling stream. Or a crowded room full of people quieting down to a hush.
That's how my mind feels. Quiet, focused, serene, and clear.
It also feels like a conduit of creative, spiritual, and nurturing energy opened up for me. Because I'm not focusing my day-to-day on the other people's problems that I can't fix, or comparing my life to people I barely knew from college, or receiving abrasive rants and raves about politics and religion, I feel an infinite amount of ability to use my talents, skills, and care for those around me in my nearby vicinity. I have a grater desire to serve those in my community and my family. I see the world in a greater, happier light. I feel the spirit more readily and receive clearer answers to my prayers. 
The amount of revelation I need for raising these little people feels more easily in my grasp. I have a clearer memory and less anxiety about the world around me. I feel more inspired to focus on creative projects for the sake of doing something for myself. I feel more joy and less hustle when I spend quality time with my husband and  children. 

Facebook was such a bittersweet experience for me. There were so many wonderful, positive, sharing moments yet a lot of negative, too. I know it's not the same for everyone. I have friends who don't really think about it that much. They can casually check facebook maybe once or twice a week and move on with their lives. I couldn't. I would absorb every ounce of emotion and feeling and problem there was to consider and never give my brain a break. 
I'm so glad that's over. 

So, I'm going to give Instagram a try (but if it starts to feel like too much you'll know why I've disappeared again.) 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Spring animals

We have some new animal friends around here. Two new baby chicks to add to our flock of hens and a Slider turtle that some friends were getting rid of. Sometimes I can't believe how many animals we have around here to take care of (2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 snakes, 1 Cockatiel, 2 sucker fish, 5 chickens, and a turtle) but I can't imagine life without them! 

These little creatures enrich our lives and make us happy. I hope the feeling is mutual. :) 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Weird Al in S. Utah

Tickets for Weird Al's "The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour" went on sale this past October so we bought 4 of them on opening day! We got excellent seats for myself, Micah, and our two eldest boys 8 months in advance! The concert was this past May 4th! I am so glad we got to go and also that my husband is so in tune with what cool things are coming to town because I had no idea. This concert was AMAZING!! 

Weird Al is one of my favorite musicians...more than because he has written some of the most hilariously funny parody songs of my generation but also because he is a brilliant musician on so many other levels. What many people don't know (who don't know Weird Al) is that he writes many of his own original songs which are brilliant, clever, comical, and shed light on many social and cultural issues but in a really lighthearted way. He also sings, plays instruments like the accordion, and has amazing hair.
 As we've followed his career over the years I've come to appreciate much more than his popular hits and have come to admire him as a talented artist and overall good person. 
By the way he's also a decent family man, his lyrics are clean, and yes, you can bring your kids to the show! Our boys loved it! It was so fun to be able to sit with them in the crowd and laugh and clap together at all the great things that are Weird Al. He is a phenomenal entertainer! And his opening act was a comedian called Emo Phillips who was pretty entertaining as well. he he...

The tour that Weird Al (and Emo) are on right now is not one of his mainstream tours designed to promote his most recent album. This tour was specifically intended for Weird Al to play all his obscure, original, and not as frilly songs purely for the fans who love his music. And it didn't disappoint! His music is awesome whether he performs "Amish Paradise" or "Buy me a Condo."

In lucky addition to getting to attend a Weird Al concert in semi-rural Southern Utah it also coincidentally landed on the unofficial official Star Wars Day, which means that he played 
The Saga Begins as his encore song. Score! It was great! And as a bonus people were waving their LED light-up light-sabers in the audience as he played. 

Overall this concert was so much fun and reminded me of how much I love going to concerts. I mean I REALLY miss going to them and miss having that rich, musical culture in my life. It's hard sometimes living in such a rural place, but I guess in the long run it makes these moments so much sweeter. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

I hiked in Zion and it felt good

Last Saturday I was able to check off a huge goal from my list--hiking Observation Point trail in Zion National Park! It was 8 miles up and back and one of the most gorgeous (amazing, phenomenal, inspiring, incredible, breathtaking) hikes I have ever been on!

My eldest son was going to come with me but got sick last minute. So, although I know that we would have had a lot of fun together I was actually really grateful that I was able to hike by myself because I had a lot to think about and needed some space to clear my head. 
Not only did I get 4 entire hiking hours to think and clear my head, but I also got a whole hour 1/2 on the car drive there and an entire hour 1/2 back to clear my head! There's no better way to clear your head than driving 85 MPH while blasting the soundtrack to Wicked that my Dad sent me years ago. (p.s. that's another goal on my list--to see the Broadway musical Wicked someday!) Oh and don't forget the 20 minutes to clear my head while standing in line for the Zion shuttle plus the 20 minutes it took to ride the shuttle to the drop-off stop for Observation Point trail head. If you're wondering at this point if my head got cleared, indeed it did. (However, it's filling back up again so I'm going to need another recharge-myself-date real soon! Mollie's Nipple next?)

This hike blew me away more than I imagined. For some reason I thought it would be just a bunch of hard switch-backs going up the side of the cliffs, but it was much more than that. This trail took me through some amazing stuff like narrow canyon walls, water pools, forests of trees, sandstone over-hangings, and beautiful view-points along the way. 

Have you ever been somewhere that is so dang beautiful that it makes you want to cry? That's what Zion does for me. And not just because my calves were burning all the way to the top. This place is truly a spectacular gift from God. I am so lucky to live so close by!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Surroundings- a nearby desert wash

Nearly every Sunday after church we go exploring in the beautiful surroundings of our nearby wilderness. I can't think of a better thing to do with our family on the Sabbath day than be surrounded by the natural outdoor gifts God has given us.
We live in a large valley surrounded by the most majestic red rock mountains and sandstone architectures that seem to have been sculpted by God himself. However, we learn as we explore how they were formed and continue to change- from water, wind, and natural erosion-sculpted from the creations of the earth.
Southern Utah has some of the most gorgeous and interesting geology. We are so lucky to be able to drive five minutes and be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and profound learning experiences. I don't take it for granted!

Okay, sometimes I do.
Which is why I feel it is important for me to write down these experiences, even so small as they are, to realize how much I truly love it here.
 There are some real burn-out moments in my week where I long to be surfing on my North Shore or backpacking through some foreign lands but am forced back to my reality-- being that I am a busy mama to four little boys who need me to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present, constantly.
The great thing is that they need me here in this gorgeous red rock country, here among these sandstone cliffs, and here where life is tiring and busy yet amazing and serene all at the same time.

Today Micah took us off a little path up in the red hills to explore a wash that is rarely bothered with hikers. Odin and Micah had been there once before so they knew some really cool things to show us, but otherwise It was the perfect place to set our children free and let them explore and make discoveries of their own.
Micah knows a lot about geology so he is able explain the various whys and whats and hows  of the rock formations around us. Whenever the kids have questions about rocks I direct them to their father. I took geology in college and it was one of my favorite classes but retaining technical information is not one of my strong points. However, when the kids find something pretty they run and show it to me so that makes up for it, right?
Odin found an owl pellet, which we all thought was pretty cool. At first he thought it was a dead mouse but Micah explained to him  that it was the regurgitated parts of a dead mouse! Owls can't digest all the fur bones, teeth, and claws so they absorb the good stuff then spit out the rest.
That regurgitated dead mouse pellet is now soaking in a Tupperware of water on the front porch of our house where Odin is going to try to dissolve and dismantle it and glue all the pieces of the mouse back together. Fun times.....
Owl Pellet
At the end of our 20 minute jaunt up the wash Odin and Micah showed us some super cool discoveries they'd made last time they were up here. My pictures don't do it any justice at all but here it is anyways: There was this area where you climb up a dry waterfall to find walls of thousands of small rock formations that look like tiny mosaics. Odin remarked,"Don't they look like puzzle pieces from a pretty picture?"
 The tiny shards of rock are so fragile and delicate that the slightest touch makes them crumble away. We had to be very careful not to touch the sides of the "walls" and to also keep the dogs away. That type of discovery is something you don't want to see destroyed by human hands. Odin was so proud of it and loved showing it to us. I hope these puzzle-piece-walls stay intact for years to come.

 I always love to see the trees in the wash who's roots have endured years of erosion but are still hanging on for dear life even though they are exposed, vulnerable, and about to fall off a cliff any minute. This tree below looks pretty well-established except that the sandstone beneath it is slowly crumbling away.
All in all we had a fantastic time hiking up this wash! Jonah had fun scrambling over rocks, Malachi had a blast picking up rocks and throwing them, Odin took pride in showing us cool stuff, Zadok enjoyed the scenery, and Micah and I loved being outside with our kids like we do. 
My 12 year old looking 15 with that new haircut.
It was a great day for our Sunday surroundings!