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Monday, June 27, 2016

Fun-o-rama!


As our first year as official Springville residents, we tried a little bit of everything when Springville Art Days rolled around. The first agenda item on our list was the Fun-o-rama, a smallish carnival set up for just a couple hours designed specifically for younger kids. A $5 wristband let them ride and bounce on everything, plus a magic show, hair dye, and temporary tattoos to boot. What a great way to kick off the summer!


This ride encompassed a dream I have had for many years now: all my children in a single cage!





The colored hair spray was a lot of fun, but weeks later I am still finding pink spots on Savannah's scalp!





Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sunday at Cascade Springs


One Sunday a few weeks back we thought we'd take a nice leisurely drive and stroll through the mountains after church. I suggested Cascade Springs, a quiet spot past Sundance that I had been to in college. Well, our drive was quite a bit bumpier and dustier than expected (although with incredible views of Soldier's Hollow), and the stroll had lots of hills that we weren't entire equipped for in our Sunday finery (luckily we'd at least changed shoes), but we still had a nice time in the heat walking around the springs. Our plans for an intimate family testimony meeting were thwarted by the crowds, so we saved that for later that night around the dinner table.



We cooled off by walking through the spring on our way back. That water felt amazing!


It was fun to see Timpanogos from the backside. These mountains have a unique, rugged beauty to them and they seem to change from each new angle.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer!!

School is out, summer is here, and I am officially CAUGHT UP on the blog! I haven't pulled out my camera once since summer started, but my phone has been busy documenting all the nothingness we've been up to. It's been a blissful week so far, especially since it started with Memorial Day weekend and we got Dad to ourselves for three straight days! The weather finally decided to actually warm up and we've spent every day out in our yard sandbox trying to get started on something resembling landscaping. Here's a little bit of proof...

A yardwork tan/burn.



It may not look like much, but the weeds are gone! Hallelujah!


Putting the kids to work. Those blocks weigh 22 pounds each!



Progress.



Summer hair, how I've missed you! 2 minutes from shower to done.


Three boys under 3 on .3 acres of dirt = very, very happy but very, very messy.


Dirt parties in the backyard lead to swimsuit baths on the driveway.


All that fun makes us sleeeeeeepy.


But the next morning we'll start it all over again with PJ dance parties! We have an awesome summer playlist going that you should check out if you need something to brighten your day. 

Dance Festival

Dance Festival (n): a school tradition in which each grade learns a dance and performs it during a school wide event, typically towards the end of the school year.

For years I've seen our Utah friends post pictures of their kids' school dance festivals and thought it looked like such a fun thing to do. I don't know if it is limited to (or entirely adopted by) Utah, but I've heard of several within the state and never experienced one outside of it. I was really looking forward to having one of my own to attend, and it did not disappoint! We were also fortunate to have Aunts Amy and Ashley come watch with us. It's such a treat to have family attend our little celebrations!

Fourth grade performed to a medley that started with some good old fashioned hoedown, followed by Fight Song and Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). Logan got pretty into his dance and was incredibly entertaining to watch. I loaned him my sunglasses for the dance and they weren't really too big at all. Say what?




Second grade did some sort of Scandinavian traditional dance. It was very cute, but relatively simple and I think Savannah was a little bored.


At the end, the whole school came onto the field to do a dance together. Savannah was really in her element with this one and stole a spot right smack in front just a few feet away from their cute principal, who was also a treat to watch dance.



Here's a little montage of the three dances. Such a fun tradition! I will be looking forward to this in future years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sam the Grad

This year marked the end of an era. The last of our siblings graduated from high school! Samantha worked extremely hard this year and was insanely busy with lots of extracurriculars. We are so glad we got to see a couple of her performances this year and are so impressed by all she has achieved.


I hope Sam will forgive me if I share a little bit of her story here. She has been a part of the Pendleton family longer than I have, but in a less conventional way. I never met Sam's mother--she passed away when Sam was just a baby--but have heard only the most wonderful things about her. Sam and her dad, Mike, were peas in a pod. It was just the two of them for most of Sam's life. Jeff's parents lived next door to Sam and Mike during those early years, and Susan played an active roll in raising Samantha, especially those first few years before she started school. By the time I met her at 6 years old, she and Mike were already honorary family members.


Fast forward 11 years, and Sam gets thrown a massive curveball by losing her dad suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a blow to all of us, but I can't even fathom what it must have felt like to have lost both parents by 17. Mike's will left custody of Samantha to Bryan and Susan, and what had always felt natural became official: Sam was part of the family.


I don't think I could have gone through what Sam has and have emerged the butterfly that she is. What a challenging year this has been, but what a brilliant finish we got to witness! I have watched in the wings this year as she has struggled with her loss but then pulled herself up and stretched her limits. She spoke in church the Sunday before graduation, and I could hardly believe this confident, composed, beautiful and inspiring young woman is the same shy little girl I met over a decade ago!


Congratulations, Sam! You are all we could hope for in a sister and more!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Marvelous Minds Preschool


Isabelle graduated from preschool! As she described it to Grandma Pendleton later, it was a very trying experience and she worked SO hard to finish this year and couldn't understand why people didn't give her candy and presents like they did for Samantha (who graduated from high school). This kid is a riot, I tell you!

Isabelle started the year in Arkansas at a Spanish immersion preschool. Although she picked up a fair amount of Spanish, she had a hard time learning much else since the language was a barrier. When we moved and she started at a traditional English preschool, she was on cloud nine. We lucked out and landed a spot at the same preschool our good friends send their son to, and I have been grateful every day for the recommendation.



Isabelle's teacher, Miss Jana, was incredible. To describe her in a nutshell, she's Pinterest with a purpose. Every single project, activity, field trip, and assignment was over the top adorable and fun, but always with a learning objective in mind and generally very effective. I can't even imagine the work that went into graduation. Let me just give you a sample:

1. There were huge blown up pictures of each kid on the wall with a sample of their artwork, an all about me poster, and a quote about what they want to be when they grow up.



2. Each child received an individual award (Isabelle got the "Awesome Artist Award") which was hung on a cellophane candy-filled necklace. After they received their award, they got to do a victory jump off the table.



3. They also received a binder portfolio full of neatly organized and page protector-ed work that they had done all year. At the back was an assessment to show growth and alphabet and sight word charts to practice over the summer.
4. She helped the kids put together "All about me" books, "Bruno the Bear" books (remember him?), a photo album with pictures of them from the year, and an Alphabet book.



5. She put together a video presentation with preschool pictures to show at graduation, then included that video as well as all the pictures on a CD for all the students (with a cute label in a cute bag sealed with cute washi tape, and the CD had multiple folders -- one for the whole group and one with just pictures of Isabelle).
6. The graduation ceremony was awesome. Tons of songs and poems they had learned all year (again, all with a purpose, whether it was months of the year, days of the week, coin values, but always adorable).



I could go on, but you get the idea. Miss Jana was amazing. Of course, I am a sucker for Pinterest perfect presentation so I ate it all up, but the real proof of her teaching came on our rides home from preschool every day, when Izzy would tell me what they had learned that day.

"Did you know an Octopus has eight legs, three hearts, and no bones?"
"Do you want to see me sign the alphabet?"
"I know how much a dime is worth!"
"Guess what? A zebra baby has brown and black stripes, not white and black!"

And so on and on and on and on.

The graduation itself is something really appreciated better through video, and I will include some clips at the end, but here are some photos of my silly kid. Most of the kids got stage fright and were pretty stoic up there, but not Izzy. Animated is her middle name.

 
 

Here's the video. Do yourself a favor and watch the "guitar" part (1:09).


Hooray for summer!

Spring Choir Concert

Savannah loves to sing. Really, really loves to sing. She has been begging since she could talk to be on a stage, singing. It's been challenging to find musical performance opportunities for very young children, so her singing experience thus far has been limited to mostly church opportunities and talent shows. Luckily, we belong to a church that recognizes "the song of the righteous is a prayer unto [God]," and music has always been a big part of our home and our religion.

Moving to Utah opened up a wealth of opportunities we have never known in the musical arena. Within our first week, Savannah had joined the Utah Valley Children's Choir, the same choir Jeff sang in as a kid, and his sister sang in all the way through high school. She loved being able to sing with a group, learn challenging songs, and have fun while doing it! She was part of the Hi-Lo Choir, but all four choirs that make up UVCC came together for a spring concert in the beautiful Alpine Tabernacle. Savannah is third to the right of the podium in the front row.



Their concert was beautiful and inspiring. It felt a bit like a primary program on steroids. The oldest and most elite choir, the concert choir, was really impressive, but Savannah's little group held their own! Poor Nana had fallen on the blacktop at school that afternoon and was sporting a nice steristrip across her forehead, but still sang her heart out.

These three (including Sawyer in the back) were totally rotten audience members. Sometimes I am conflicted between bring the siblings to support one another, or leaving them home so I can enjoy these events in peace. I just hope one day they learn to appreciate each other's talents.



I took some very poor video clips of some of their songs. The first is a combined choir number, but Savannah's group doesn't join in until 1:33. She's standing near a mic and I'm pretty sure I can make our her voice. (Which isn't really a good thing in a choir performance!)


This was their grand finale.


This song is just the concert choir, but I had to include it because it was the star of the show. Since then, Savannah has committed to learning this song by heart and sings it around the clock. There are lots of little voices in the background, but you get the idea.


Savannah did a great job at her concert and I am really proud of her for persevering through this semester of choir. As much as she loves to sing, there were a few weeks where she really didn't want to go to rehearsal. My best mom analysis is that (a) she was overtired from school and didn't want to go straight to another activity, (b) she was learning that choirs are hard work and not all just fun and games, or (c) (this one she has admitted to me many times) she didn't like that they sang all spiritual songs and wished they would sing more "fun" music. I question that last claim, since she sang her choir songs ALL the time, but that's what she said. She loved their concert and had a great time in the end. We are exploring several choir options for next year, but returning to this one is definitely still in the running!


The mountains were stunning as we left the concert. There was a ridge of clouds sitting right on top of the mountains like a fluffy cap. What a beautiful encore to a beautiful evening.