Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Moving.

Last week, our two-month stint in corporate housing came to a close, and we moved into our new rental house. The term "new" is used quite loosely here, as the house is a mid-century home with lots of character. As in any book, there are good characters as well as bad, and this house is like that too. I'm planning a house tour blog post soon, so that you can see it. There are some things about an old house I love (this house is so unique), and there are just some things I love about new houses that I'm missing here (convenience).

While it was fun living in downtown Morristown, I was more than ready to have our own driveway and to not be worried about how much noise our neighbors were hearing from our end of the hallway (not to mention all of the noise I picked up during their late night parties).

The movers dropped off our stuff from storage on Monday, and there was news of a big nor'easter hitting Monday night. Perfect timing! As soon as Dan got off work on Monday, we packed up the suitcases we had been living out of for 8 weeks and headed to the house, which was full of boxes and disorganization. And was pretty dirty. Dan did a quick run out to the grocery store and for some Chinese takeout and was able to make it home just as the snow was starting.

The girls were already asleep by the time he got home (went to bed without dinner they were so tuckered out). We had a good laugh at Dan's fortune from his cookie.

Is it still a fortune if it's something you already know?

The next morning, the girls were delighted (and I of course was dismayed) to find a foot of snow outside.

This is the street in front of our house.

Our large backyard to match my large backyard.

I call this one "Breakfast During a Move." Cereal but no bowls. 

Everything was canceled for the day, which worked out great for me. Dan was able to stay home and help unpack! And of course continue his reign as "Favorite Parent" when he took the girls out to build a snowman.

Amazingly enough, the Verizon guy still came and set up our internet. He was tough as nails and thinks everyone else is just wimpy, though I saw NO ONE else driving all day. I like being wimpy, thankyouverymuch.

The Sunday before all of this was our anniversary. We had been planning to go out Saturday night, but Dan flew in from out of town Saturday morning, and we came to find ourselves trapped in our apartment the whole day due to the Morristown St. Patrick's festivities outside. So we canceled our plans. Dan was disappointed, but he still found a way to give me a gift.

When we moved into our house, we had no ice. My pregnancy cravings are as follows: ice, ice, Cadbury mini-eggs, and ice. We had no ice trays and didn't think to buy any because our fridge appeared to have an ice maker. But it doesn't work. Desperate, Dan began freezing water in paper plates and then breaking it up for me so that I could continue my unhealthy addiction. What a guy!

We finally got around to our yearly tradition of watching "Little Women" during the winter months. We never made it happen in 2016, so we will go for two times in 2017. This is Dan's face during Laurie's proposal to Jo. He. Cannot. Handle. It. It's my favorite part of the movie just because I get to watch Dan writhe in pain.

The snow stopped sometime Tuesday afternoon, and the roads were clear enough to get out on Wednesday. June was in between schools, so the girls and I continued to stay home and unpack.
Friday rolled around, and I started to make St. Patrick's Day pancakes but couldn't find my green food coloring. Never mind, I thought, I'll just make regular pancakes. But added twice the salt and no sugar. I realized this after Gwen brought her pancake back to me and said, "no thanks!" and ran out of the kitchen. That's when I took a bite and realized I had thrown a little April Fool's Day into the celebration.

A quick sneak peak at our favorite feature of the house--a play room with a door that closes. What's that, girls? I can't hear you! Go play!

And of course, June started her new school yesterday. For those keeping a tally, this is June's fifth new school. And she hasn't even started kindergarten yet. We're really good parents that believe in stability and consistency. Which is so important for autistic kids. I'm going to write a book about it.

Another post coming up: What Makes Jersey Unique. And there is a lot. Quick sneak peak at a typical shopping trip.

It is very crowded here.

And lastly--a typical afternoon with our family artist basking in the light with fresh flowers nearby. That is how my household rolls! 

You know that's not true. The true story is that a man at Aldi thought my girls were SO charming that he bought them these roses. Which they proceeded to fight over and hit each other with. That'll show him!

Ahhhhhh, my life is bliss.

Friday, March 3, 2017

We're Jolleys, and That Means We're Unique

We're weird. Our family, I mean. Every personality is a little weird, and the things we do as a family are weird.

Example 1: Dan.

Dan spends his days seizing adventure and fighting crime . . . with grocery store products. The man loves his job of analyzing data and obtaining more shelf space for his company's cough medicine. And I do not exaggerate his love. When we go out as a family or on a date, we often find ourselves inside of a grocery store Dan has been hankering to check out and we walk the cough syrup aisles to see how much shelf space his products have. And then he tells us the dirt of the industry--which stores don't want to give more space to family planning products, the major price increase expected for limes this year and the folklore of his industry, consisting of old urban legends where competitors' employees would covertly enter grocery stores and would mess up displays for the purpose of helping their own products do better. We're all on the edge of seats. I tease him but honestly I love having a husband who loves what he does everyday.

Not everyone is as enthralled as Dan, but alas, he remains undeterred.

Dan reminds me of my dad in a lot of ways. When he's interested in something, there's no stopping the questions. When we go to a museum, we go through more than once "to get our money's worth". Dan asks the most questions in any given tour group. Similarly, my dad exhausted quite a few tour guides in his day. Including me. When I interned on Capitol Hill in DC, I gave my visiting family a tour of the United States Capitol Building. They were my hardest tour I ever gave. My dad would NOT stop asking questions, and they were of the insane variety. "What tools did they use to measure these stones?" "Were there any disagreements over the types of stones used?" And the like. Eventually, I just talked through his questions, and he stopped asking them. It was then that I discovered that my dad had left our family for another tour group with a more knowledgeable tour guide.

I bet my dad would have loved touring grocery stores with Dan.

2. June

June's preschool class recently finished a unit on restaurants, so we decided to put her knowledge of servers vs. hosts vs. chefs to the test by going out as a family. Unfortunately, her silly parents picked a buffet by accident, and the owner of the small Indian restaurant didn't have servers or hosts. So that plan kind of backfired. But June loved the food.

June's imagination is otherworldly. My conversations with her are often incoherent and hilarious. For example, one day last week June was playing with a little horse figurine. I asked her the horse's name.

"Dr. Hockledoff," came the reply.

"Hello, Dr. Hockledoff!" I exclaimed, trying to join in on her fun.

"Welp," June retorted. "He just died."

And that was the end of Dr. Hockledoff.

Also recently, June told me, "Mom, don't be a door." I don't know what that means. Another day, while hurrying down the hallway to catch the bus, June ran past me and simply said, "Potatoes, right Mom?" "And I just said, "Right, June."

You have to say "Right, June" or she'll just keep repeating herself until you do.

Who knows what's going on in her brain most of the time, but it does seem a nice vacation from the world sometimes.

3. Gwen

Gwen is part girl, part wild thang. I didn't know I was the type of person to argue with a 2-year old over non-consequential things, but I guess my maturity isn't quite what I thought it was.

Gwen and I are having two major arguments as of late. They both occur every night at bedtime. Every night, I give the girls a bath and then we do songs and stories. Every night, Gwen requests two stories.

The first is about the caterpillar/butterfly cycle. It starts out with caterpillar and shows him go through the pupa and then the chrysalis phase and then become a butterfly who lays eggs of her own.

The problem is that Gwen HATES the chrysalis phase. I don't know why! Every time we get to that page, she screams over and over again "NO CHRYSALIS!! POOPA!! POOPA!!" (meaning pupa).

The other argument we have is in the Book of Mormon for kids book that we read as a family. Gwen loves the story of the liahona. However, as soon as I say "liahona", she screams over and over "NOT LIAHONA! PUMPKIN! PUMPKIN!"

Apparently, she thinks this looks like a pumpkin:

I don't know what to say except that I let her win most nights. And by "let" I mean, admit defeat readily because she's kind of scary.

Dan has been traveling a lot, and one night when he was out of town, I rolled (33 weeks pregnant, so literally rolled) out of bed to use the restroom for the 234827th time that night. And I stepped on Gwen, who was standing next to my bed. I don't know how long she had been there. But she was just watching me sleep.

She's intimidating.

4. Me

I'm weird too. Because when Dan and I finally do get to go on a date together (it had been about 4 months), we do things like this:

Get our nostrils waxed. Only 10 bucks! We both highly recommend. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Snow Day and a Love Day

A Snow Day.

I have an irrational fear of snow. I grew up in Kansas City where snow is not uncommon. I served an LDS 18-month mission in Romania, where snow is not uncommon. (Side note: I once had to pull two suitcases on wheels full of food storage through a snow storm in Romania. A bunch of men watched and laughed at me as I trudged down the sidewalks, pulling as much snow as I was pulling food. Aw memories.)

After my mission, I returned to Kansas City and began dating a guy long distance. He flew in to see me during a horrific snow storm. My dad called me from his office downtown and offered to pick up said beau so that I wouldn't have to venture out in the storm. I conferred with this boy, who told me that I was being a baby and I needed to come pick him up myself. (Word of advice to my daughters: don't date guys who tell you you are a baby for not driving in a snow storm.) So I drove to pick him up, did a 180 on an icy bridge and was hit by the guy behind me. There were over 300 accidents in Kansas City that night due to weather.

Fast forward a couple of years later, and I met and married my wonderful Dan. We drove from Vegas up to Utah for Thanksgiving with his family. There was a terrible snow storm on the drive home, but we felt like we had to risk it in order to be back for our work and school schedules. About an hour and a half into our drive, things got really scary. We saw a semi truck jack-knifed on the road. We saw many cars swerving around. We knew we needed to stop, so we exited off the freeway and drove into a hotel parking lot. We couldn't see where the parking lot started or ended so we just kind of floated into what we hoped was a space and stayed the night there.

Since then I have lived in Vegas for three years and Florida for five. No snow storms. There was no "get back up on the horse" to follow my scary incidents. And so the snow really scares me. All I can remember is swerving and feeling no control.

Enter New Jersey.

It snowed the first day we came here. And I couldn't talk for a full 45 minutes. Irrational, I know. A few days later I had to head somewhere and as soon as I got into the car, it started snowing. I received a text one second later from Dan. It said simply, "I'm sorry." He knew I would be in the car at that moment, and he knew I was scared.

But it wasn't a bad storm. I got through it.

Last week WAS a bad storm however. June's school was canceled and Dan had to work from home. No one could go anywhere. And I decided I like the snow if I don't have to go anywhere or do anything except be warm inside and watch movies and drink hot chocolate.

My girls had never seen snow until we moved here. They think it's AWESOME. The morning of the bad storm last week, they ran into our rooms and climbed up onto our window sills, and June screamed, "THANK YOU, ELSA!!!"

She consistently cannot remember that we pray to Heavenly Father, yet she can praise the ice queen without prompting. Now that's a sign of good parenting.

Dan, being the fun parent, walked to a CVS four blocks away to buy hot chocolate. He also bundled the girls up to play outside for a few minutes.

Gwen fell on her bottom about 3 minutes into their snow excursion and before I knew it, she was back in the apartment with me, whimpering about her snow woes. She gets me,

June, however, made a snow angel and a snow man and kind of pulled a Lieutenant Dan-on-top-of-the-sail-in-a-storm scenario. She laughed in the face of the cold and couldn't get enough of it.

After a few days, it was okay to go out and about again, and June got a haircut.

She talked to this nice lady (who probably gave her the best haircut she's ever had) about eggs and potions and the lady didn't quite now how to respond. I always enjoy sitting back and watching people try to navigate a conversation with June.

 A Love Day.

Let me start by saying that I am not crafty. I frequently refer to myself as the Anti-Craft. I'm also not one to fuss over parties or minor holidays. However, this V-Day was different. I had the idea to really talk it up to give the girls something to look forward since we are cooped up in this tiny space for awhile. I talked to my mom and Dan's mom and got them on board too. The girls decorated and sent valentines to grandparents and cousins and received many things in return. I bought them V-Day presents. The day before V-Day, as I was setting everything up, I got a little embarrassed. Hello, Overboard Mother. Oh well.

June came home the day before V-Day and announced that she had a card for me. 

"To Mom and Dad. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you. June"

That night, after the girls went to bed, I decorated a trail from their room to the kitchen table. The girls took all of the red paper for their valentines, so black, blue, yellow and white hearts it was.

And some new winter gloves for the D-Man.

Dan's mom sent candy for their mailboxes, and my mom sent them each a couple of books.

Unfortunately, Gwen was dismayed by what she saw on the ground the next morning. "WHAT A MESSY MESS!" she proclaimed over and over and immediately started picking it up and throwing it away.

Dan read the girls the letter Grandma Kristi sent them.

Dan made pink heart-shaped pancakes with a chocolate syrup arrow crossing through them.

And the girls wore matching pink shirts that some dummy pregnant lady with no brain ordered the wrong sizes for so their bellies were showing the whole day. We Jolleys go a little saucy for V-Day.

On the way to the elevator to catch the school bus. Holding hands. So sweet. Why is it that they are either holding hands are hitting each other? There is no in between here.

Our favorite game: Crunching the snow at the bus stop.

So I guess the real question is: Do I have to do this every year now?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Goods and Bads.

It turns out that life is kind of the same wherever you go, aka there are goods and bads.

Here are the bads:

1. June started school.
June's first day of school in New Jersey

Of course, this is normally considered a "good" for my sanity's sake, but June has had a rough time transitioning to her new school. June has been pretty much oblivious to every move we've ever had except this one. She loved going to school in Florida. She's been to school two days here and had rough days both days. Of course, it's only been two days, but I dread the phone calls I receive from the school.

Part of the reason she is struggling is that during her evaluation for the school, her case study team determined we needed to try having her in a general education class for the first time. She has always been in a self-contained classroom, and the structure is much looser in that setting. So this is an experiment as to how she will fit in a mainstream classroom. So far, not so good, but I think we need to give it several weeks at least.

It doesn't help that every day so far has had a glitch. The first day had the "first day" glitch--everything new and everything different. The second day, we got a flat tire (OF COURSE! WE ARE THE JOLLEYS AREN'T WE!?!?) on the way to school and had to turn around and she didn't get to go. So she was extremely traumatized by that and constantly talks about our flat tire even though it has now been fixed for several days.

Today was the third day, and the bus was supposed to come pick her up and never did. So I had to take her, and she was very upset by this change in plans after I had pumped her up to ride the school bus for the first time. Then I received a call from the school that she had a big fit right off the bat. Oh Junebug. 

2. The aforementioned flat tire. I don't know if this a "bad" or just another daily Jolley exercise. Like breathing or eating frosting from the can.

3. Both girls had a case of the barfs. But Dan set up awesome stadium seating for movie-watching.

There's nothing quite so fun as having two-year old Gwen take her maiden voyage down Barfsville. She had no idea what was happening and just kept shaking and shaking out of fear. June is an old Puke-xpert. They each had their own separate night of barfing, and I just kept the sheets flying in and out of the wash every time I could turn around.

4. It's cold.

 We have made many plans to explore, but the fact is it just doesn't sound fun to walk around NYC in 30 degree weather with two small babies who are only used to 75 degree winter weather. (And one big baby who is only used to 75 degree winter weather--me.) I've been the biggest wimp in the family about this. New Jersey is actually experiencing a very mild winter, and I am still shivering my buns off every second of every day. But we have made the most of indoor play places, and the girls have had a blast getting breakfast at McDonald's the past couple of Saturdays so that they can play. Gwen is 100% rough and tumble, and we have to make deals with her to eat a bite in between each turn down the slide.

The Goods:

1. We have been prepping for Valentine's Day in a big way. I'm not normally one to make extra fuss over a holiday, but this has been a really fun project to keep the girls busy inside. We have spent several afternoons making valentines for cousins and decorating little mailboxes for the girls to receive their V-day goodies in. Gwen likes to do this for about 3 minutes, but June can sit and decorate for hours.

2. We found a pupuseria only a 5-minute walk from our house. If you haven't had pupusas, you are missing out!! Dan served his two-year LDS mission speaking Spanish in south Chicago where he was introduced to the Salvadorean goodness. We had a place near us in Vegas that sold them, but we haven't had any since then. We walked to this new place on Saturday, and it did not disappoint. It's very rare for everyone to like the same meal in our family, but even the girls ate their weight in the corn tortilla, pork, bean and cheese goodness.