Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pennsylvania, Another Injury and a Helmet Update.

Dan travels for work fairly often, but it's not a bad deal because he's usually only gone one night each time he goes. He goes the same three places--Tampa, Jacksonville, and Carlisle, PA. Carlisle is about 3 hours from us, and though it is a quiet little town, there is a ton to do between here and there. So this last time he went, we all tagged along.

I should tell you that Dan has been practically begging us to tag along, but upon our return he didn't seem to think we needed to accompany him again soon in the near future. Interesting.

 We had a beautiful drive down and a great hotel set up. Because I've turned into somewhat of a social hermit in more recent years and my kids are terrible in restaurants (and non-restaurants), we opted to order Red Robin and take it to the hotel with us.

The hotel itself was enough reason to go. Two bathrooms (we only have one), better television, continental breakfast, AND an indoor pool and jacuzzi. Basically a resort by our standards.

 Dan went to meetings, and we swam and ate and swam and ate. Mostly I just sat in the jacuzzi and watched the girls splash each other. It was great.

When it was time to leave, we checked out and walked to the car outside. Dan was helping Gwen and pulling a suitcase, I was carrying Harris and pulling a suitcase, and June was walking by herself. She tripped over totally nothing and landed on her arm and cried and cried. It was a familiar cry. The sort of shrieky cry that tells me an orthopedist visit is in my future.


It wasn't like it was visibly broken. And we had already paid for tickets to go to the Turkey Hill ice cream museum COMPLETE with the ice cream making class, and we weren't going to miss that. So I told June to wait and see if it would be okay in a bit, and she agreed. She held it close to her and wouldn't use it but mostly forgot about it while we drove to Turkey Hill.

We had a great time at Turkey Hill, aside from my usual complaint that I am Doug Beck's daughter and want to start at the beginning of the museum and move from exhibit to exhibit in an orderly fashion, reading every word and not missing anything and my children are wild banshees who flit and dart from place to place and ruin my wonderful plans. I actually DO want to know how many cows are milked each day for the ice cream. I DO want read about how the company started and who runs it now and whatever else the heck my $9.99 ticket gets me.

But I brought these people. And they are most excited about the slide.

I'm just going to blame the fact that I thought this picture next to a random garbage can was a good idea on how crazy it is chasing little kids around.

June wanted the full dairy cow experience.

Which brings me to this picture. I am the biggest ice cream fan alive. And it kills me (KILLS ME) when Dan and I go out for ice cream at some place that sells their own amazing flavor of Chocolate Crunch Caramel Moose Tracks Swirly Lovers' Delight or whatever, and this guy always order BUTTER PECAN. It's his favorite. So I always tease him about being an old man. I took him to the Creamery on 9th for his first time a few years ago, and he tried to order butter pecan and the girl behind the counter wouldn't even give it to him because she was dismayed that that would be his choice for his first experience at that wonderful place.

We go to our favorite place here, Last Licks, and he does the same thing, and the girls behind the counter tease him. They call him Butter Pecan instead of Dan. We asked them what the average age is for the people that order butter pecan there, and they said it's easily 83.

So Dan was able to take his picture with his fave flavor ever, and imagine my surprise when we found out it's their best selling flavor of all time. What is happening!?!?! Say it isn't so.

Then we went into a cute room where they give you whatever flavor you want to try, and we all picked winners. I think I had graham slam, which I love.

Then we went for more ice cream eating in the Ice Cream class.

We each started with our own tub of vanilla and were able to add extracts, mix-ins and sauces to our hearts' content. 

June made something terrible with whole pretzels in it that she refused to mash up. Yum.

 Gwen wanted "something red" and then didn't eat it.

And then we left. It was a lot of fun. I should mention that we ate Taco Bell for lunch before eating several servings of ice cream at Turkey Hill, and I'm rather surprised we didn't all end up in the ER getting our stomachs pumped. No one had a lot of energy on the way home for some reason.

The next day, I took June to the doc, and sure enough, she had a hairline fracture and needed a cast. For those keeping score, this is her third cast, and she's only five. To be fair, they were all for hairline fractures which can heal without a cast, but they recommend a cast in case they fall again and do more serious damage. Upon departure from the doc, June fell on her newly-casted arm, so I think it's fair to say we made the right choice.

I'll admit I fought the cast. June LOVES having a cast, and she was begging for one, but I think they are such a pain. Oh well.

On the bright side, this was one of those rare days when I could actually manage a french braid!

I should mention another June moment here. It was about this time that my friend Jen sent me a text asking me if I had seen June's pic on the school district's website. I hadn't, so I went to look and what did I find?

You may recall that I posted recently about dressing June up for Mismatch Day at school. When she came home, she told me she was the only kid who dressed up. I asked her teacher about it later, and she said it was true. It was poorly advertised and June was basically the only kid who mismatched in her entire school.

 Well that day she was also selected to be in a photo showing the rock garden for her school. Each kid had painted a rock to represent themselves, and a few kids were pulled for a photo. So here is June flying solo rocking her Mismatch Day clothes among a bunch of kids in normal outfits.

 I don't know why they would pick her when she was looking like that, but whatever. I'm still cracking up so hard. I'm sure everyone thinks we are totally crazy.

And lastly--a helmet update.

Harris is making excellent progress, as shown by these two scans.

We already took family photos but now I kind of wish we would have done them with Harris' helmet, June's cast and mismatched clothes and Gwen just running past as a blur. That would have been more accurate.

Friday, November 10, 2017


I started writing this post last Sunday after church, but the day got away from me. So I'm finally finished it and posting it now.

We had a great Sunday at the Jolley house. We've been making a concerted effort to have people--neighbors, fellow members of our church or Dan's co-workers--over for dinner on Sundays, but today all of our plans fell through. We love having friends over, but it was a nice change to have a quiet Sunday. I read a book. An entire book that I started just yesterday. It was cold and rainy outside and I planted myself on my bed with my old lady sweater on and fuzzy socks and 126 blankets and a heating pad and sat comfortably at my favorite temp of 80 degrees (Flllllllllooooorrrrrriiiiiiiiiddddddddaaaaaaaaaa, are you still there?)

I had friends join me on the bed for awhile, at which point no reading was accomplished at all, but silliness sure was.

I want to be one of those people who always has a book she is reading, but I'm not. Instead, I go months without reading anything and then for my birthday or Mother's Day or something, Dan watches the kids and I read a book in a day. Nothing too deep either. I don't have the brain power for that anymore.

I should back up and say that the morning was a little crazy. Daylight Savings reared her ugly head, and though this is supposed to be "the good one" where we all get sleep, anyone with kids under age 10 knows that's not happening.

So we got ready for church really early and had time to spare and so the girls colored.

And my writing activity with June for the day consisted of my helping her spell out "No Gwen" so that Gwen wouldn't take her stuff anymore.

At some point during church, I was looking through my purse for something and found a page of the hymn book. In my purse.

I hope we don't sing that one soon. Whoops.

I felt prompted to share my testimony, and I fought it. I play the organ and I teach Relief Society, and I'm an obnoxious over-commenter during most any class, so everyone hears from me a lot. Too much.

Actually, that's only half the reason I didn't want to. The main problem was that I felt like I should share a hard experience from my mission. 

You know how some experiences are really hard but a little while later you can laugh about them? Or at least smile about it? The burden from it has been lifted.

This experience still haunts me to this day, eleven years later. I still feel terrible about it, but I also recognize that it was a necessary teaching moment for me.

On my 22nd birthday, I had just finished up my fourth transfer in Romania. I had been serving with Sora Brandstetter for two transfers, and it was the best experience. I felt like we could run from place to place without getting weary. We were on the same page with regards to obedience. We taught a lot. We were also really good friends and laughed constantly. It was the best.

The day I turned 22, we went to a transfer meeting to get our new companions. It was there I found out that I would be receiving a "mini missionary". We had an odd number of sisters in the mission at that time and rather than having one companionship be made up of 3 missionaries, my mission president would often ask local members if they could serve as a missionary for six weeks. This was good for us because companionships of three can be really awkward on a doorstep, and it's good for the mini missionary to see what missionary life is like. Win win.

So I was asked to be a senior companion and I was assigned a mini missionary. This sweet sister that came to me wasn't particularly active in the church. She only came with casual clothes. She didn't know the lessons or even a lot of the doctrine. She was of both Romanian and Romani descent (Gypsy is the non-PC term), and our cultural differences and the language barrier were significant. But she was kind and loveable and wanted to do right.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get over how hard it was to serve with her--both to be in charge of everything as senior companion and also to figure out how to get her missionary clothing, teach her the doctrine and the lessons and find and teach people. I. Was. Stressed.

My 33-year-old self would have had the wisdom to slow down and do what was important. This was a great opportunity to help this girl become strong in the Gospel!

But 22-year-old Heather couldn't stop going the pace she was used to. I forged ahead, becoming almost robotic in my missionary work. I taught everything and at the end of each lesson, my sweet companion would bear a simple testimony about the Church. 

It was during such a lesson that a great investigator we had stopped me and said, "Sora Beck, you are a great teacher. You are so clear, and I understand you perfectly. But I feel love from your companion, not from you."

I was simply sick. Still am a little. But it made me think and made me change some habits.

The truth is--I still struggle with this. I would rather check things off my list than almost anything else. And I know that's wrong.

Anyway--my testimony was a shortened version of that story but the point of it was that I was so grateful that the Lord loves us enough to chasten us. The bad news is that we mess up. But the good news is--we get to change!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Week-1, Heather-0

Well this week got me. I never feel completely caught up on my life but there is usually a vague sense of order and routine. I can usually fool myself into thinking that I'm one step ahead of the meal planning, grocery shopping and budgeting.

I usually shower.

I don't ever claim that we are fancy or accomplished or overachieving, but we usually have matching socks. Or very similar-looking socks.

But not this week. I lost the battle this week. It doesn't help that I have been fighting a never-ending insurance claim for a year now and was on the phone with the insurance company, the medical lab and my doctor for a billion hours this week. The insurance company complains that the lab is incompetent; the lab says that the insurance company's systems aren't synchronized and the doctor's office has actually been quite helpful but it's still a slow, painful process of submitting and re-submitting information. And after a year, I'm still receiving the same $2,000 bill, and I'm still hoping I don't have to pay it.

It was the kind of week where people had to move stacks of stuff in order to sit down and where we ate desserts and called it a meal. I was sick for a couple of days and Dan is in Florida for work, and it shows.

I'm sitting here toward the end of the week--unwashed and holding an unwashed baby who never wants to be put down--and I'm realizing that even though I didn't do well this week, this week was still good.

First off, it was my birthday! 33 never looked so fine!!

June made me this beautiful chocolate cake and sang to me, and I decided to forgive her not making a real one. A paper cake just doesn't taste as good.

My friend Kendra surprised me with a gift card and babysitting so that Dan and I could go to lunch at a sooooooper fancy spot where we ate dishes that contained high-falutin' things like fennel. Each course was fantastic and delicious and quiet--because no kids! While we ate four beautiful courses, we made plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and talked about the house we want to buy one day on a lake in Florida. It was nice to get out for a bit and pretend like we belonged somewhere fancy when we really probably only belong at the clearance aisle of Big Lots.

Also good this week was that Gwen was able to go to her Kindermusik class at our community center. She's had to miss a couple of weeks, and she just LOVES it so it's tough when we can't go. She loves banging on a drum or ringing the bells, but mostly she just loves finding herself in yet another situation where she can play the contrarian. Each week, Ms. Cindy asks, "Does this song have a beat or no beat?" And each week, Gwen screams, "NO BEAT NO BEAT!" whether that song has a beat or not. When Ms. Cindy offers Gwen a chance to beat two drum sticks together, Gwen refuses unless one of the sticks is red and the other is orange. She almost started a revolution once. Ms. Cindy always gives me a wink and says, "I had one like this too." And then after all that, Gwen gives her hugs and won't let go. I think Gwen likes having someone understand her.

While Dan was out of town, we went for ice cream at our favorite, Last Licks, with our favorites, the Wilkes. I always say--take 6 kids under age 6 with you for a good time.

And no one even broke anything!

And it was the perfect week for June's school to have Mismatch Day. Because honestly this outfit probably would have been on the docket for today anyway. Because this stuff was near the top of the aforementioned piles.

Now my goal is to get the house cleaned before Dan comes home.

The End.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

'Twas the night of All Hallow's Eve
Before the day of the dead and bereaved
When all throughout the house of Jolley
Existed not a single citizen of Bali.

And I'm done with that. That's clearly not going anywhere.

The morning of Halloween, I decided to dig deeeeeeeeeeeep into my heart--past the girl who doesn't want to do anything out of the routine, even steering around the girl who doesn't want a mess in the kitchen--and tried to be a fun mom. 

I made orange-colored pancakes and was going to make jack-o-lantern faces with chocolate chips, but discovered we are out of chocolate chips. Which, at the Jolley house, is equivalent of being out of water. How did I let that happen?

So I decided to use m&m's instead, which meant that they didn't resemble faces at all, but just blobby messes. That no one even wanted to eat.

I took a sharpie to the toilet paper and made a ghost face. This was also only fun to a point because a certain older and more rigid child of mine grew very upset anytime anyone actually used said toilet paper because the ghost would disappear. So I kept re-drawing the ghost until I got smart and announced to everyone that the toilet paper roll on the dispenser was just for looking at and to use another roll I had put on top of the toilet for any practical needs.

Upon reflection, I didn't need to do a single thing to set a Halloween-worthy spooky tone at our house because I woke up to a crime scene.

I should back up and explain that I went to bed on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. because I felt totally and utterly ill. It's either allergies or something else sinus-related, but at the very least it's what I term a "toilet paper roll cold." You know the kind--where you have to actually carry an entire roll of toilet paper in your purse (or even to traverse the various rooms of your home) just to be able to keep up with the constant flow from your nose. Sorry, gross.

To add insult to injury, Dan accidentally bought one ply the last time he was out. One. Ply. I think he's dancing dangerously close to breaking marriage vows, but I'm trying to be understanding since every time I go out to get milk, I come back with a family size pack of peanut butter m&m's and no milk.

So I went to bed as the girls played and Dan worked downstairs late into the night. He was a dear and put the girls to bed and then just kept working. Which means that I woke up to find what appeared to be a murder/homicide scenario of our all our toys and possessions strewn across the floor and upon every open surface in the house. Way scarier than any slasher film.

This picture doesn't even come close to communicating what the rest of the house looked like, but it's a good photo for a game of "Spot the Harris."

So we spent the morning not eating our ugly, orange pancakes and not using our ghost toilet paper but did try to clean up the house while listening to Halloween music on Pandora.

And then June turned into a vampire and bit Gwen really hard right before the bus came.

That afternoon, Gwen and Harris and I headed over to June's school for her Halloween parade. You can see her pink wig poking through here.

There's my girl! Princess Poppy from Trolls. The wig bothered her a ton so it was often that she would wear it sideways to keep the pink bangs out of her eyes.

Gwen was also dressed like Princess Poppy, and was dying to participate in the parade. Luckily, June's teacher's aide saw this and took pity on her and took her around with June.

 Later that night, we went trick or treating with some neighbors.

One of the houses we stopped by.

My neighbor and her daughter love going trick or treating but don't have any little kids left in their house. So they asked to tag along with us, and they ended up doing most of the work. I followed behind and took pictures.

And that's a wrap. Happy Halloween!