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!