Monday, September 18, 2017

Much a Post about Nothing

So I've been wanting to post a house tour ever since we moved here several months ago, but I've been rearranging some stuff so that will be my next post. Hold me to it!

We've been up to...the same daily stuff as you. School is still happening, church is still happening, kids are still being kids.

Gwen has been potty training. Potty training is the worst, though Gwen has been way easier than June. Still, I can't imagine feeling prouder while watching my child at her high school graduation or even watching her receive the Nobel Prize. Potty training is a big deal in my book. Because it's such a huge pain.

Check out that vintage bathroom!

 Harris is still the best baby ever.

And looks nothing like me. Sigh.

I've been on a healthy eating plan and have been taking lots of pictures of my meals to keep myself accountable for my Instagram community. Posting pictures of food feels weird.

So I usually try to put some kids in the background so I don't feel so trivial.

I'm still trying to get better at little girl hair. My parts are still always crooked.

And I'm still terrible at french braiding. Simply awful.

After I take a photo of June, she insists of taking some of me. My morning look is considerably less cute than hers.

This is my floral nightgown I sport ALL of the time at home. Dan says he feels like he's married to him mom.

It's sad that June's photography skills aren't that much worse than mine.

And she always wants to take a picture of my hair too. So here it is, The Unwashed Ponytail Look.

Gwen continues to dress herself every day because little kids can have crazy outfits and still be cute.

After a long summer without a strict nap schedule, Gwen has been fighting me on getting back to the routine. So I often find her like this at about 2:00 p.m.

 That was just the most boring post ever. I'm going to work on a scandal so there's something to write about next week.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I like this Fall Thing.

Is this what fall is like? If so, sign me up. We didn't have a very hot summer, but even still the temperatures in the 60s and 70s have been fantastic. 

I think I won the Worst Attitude in History Award when we moved to New Jersey. Just a refresher--we moved from 70-degree temps in Jacksonville to freezing cold winter temps in New Jersey this past January. I was six months pregnant and really unhappy about the move. Unfortunately, I let too many people around me know as well. I really regret that.

New Jersey has really grown on me since then. I would live here forever if it weren't such an expensive place to live. But it's beautiful, and there is so much to do. New Jersey gets a bad rap, but once you're here, it can really win you over.

But ask me again in winter. I might be singing a different tune. Heather + Winter = Heather in footie pajamas and 6,000 blankets while scared to drive, wondering if I'll ever be able to see people again. Not my best look.

Anyway, last week we went raspberry picking at a local farm. We also went on a hayride and will be returning for a corn maze.

School has started, and June is happppppppppy about that. We're all happy. I have this part inside of me that wants to be a homeschooling mom. I know that seems out of character for me, but it's there. So when June was home the last four weeks, I was excited to all be together all of the time. And we enjoyed together. And then it became apparent that I'm not a homeschooling mom. And that June is not a homeschooling child. And that school is a good place. Especially since she begged to go everyday and started regressing on her potty training.

I've been trying to work on doing June's hair better this school year because I'm terrible at hair. I cannot make a straight part. Truly. And I can almost french braid. Like maybe 1 out of 5 times I attempt it. I think I just need one more finger on each hand, and then I would have it. So I've been working on some styles that don't require braiding. 

June started kindergarten this year, but she will be in the same self-contained special ed class as last year. It only has a few kids in it and includes kids from Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade. 

I guess you could say she's growing up! Shooting up like a weed. Not really, she has the Jolley girl genes and is not growing very fast. But this is a weed in our front yard that I made her take a picture next to in order to show how big the weed is, not how big June is.

And Day 2 of school:

Then this past weekend, we drove 2.5 hours to go to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in order to see Amish Country.

Side note: When did I become my parents? It doesn't seem too long ago that my dad would call a family council, where he would hand each of us five kids a perforated piece of paper on which he had typed our vacation itinerary using WordPerfect software (of which he was a huge fan). And I would enjoy tearing off the perforated edges while he discussed the seemingly endless details of our family trip for what seemed like years. And we stuck to that itinerary. I have to hand it to my parents. They set goals for us to leave early in the morning, and we left on time. We did not take breaks to stretch our legs or get fresh air or even eat sometimes. There was lots of in-the-car eating that took place. We might stop at a park for a picnic lunch the first day and would maybe get to stay in a Motel 6 with a pool, in which we could only swim if we had taken a 30-minute nap in the car so my mom could have 30 minutes of quiet. 30 minutes was the rule, and my parents did not care one iota if you really slept or not, as long as they did not have to hear words coming out of your face for that half-hour. It's a great rule I want to use with my own children.

Since I've already digressed--I remember a long family road trip where my dad stuck to the itinerary to the point where my little 8-year-old self thought I would perish of starvation. And when I say long family road trip, I mean that we often drove from Missouri to Utah (like every summer) or other faraway places, like Canada. We did all of the church history sites in upstate New York, and another time we went to Washington, D.C., where we all pooped out before my dad could realize his one dream of seeing the Supreme Court (besides his other unfulfilled dream of seeing Four Corners). Anyway, on one of these particular trips, my dad had scheduled that we could stop driving at noon for lunch, and since it was the second day of driving and the cooler was empty, we were going to get fast food! Glorious!

We were all counting down the minutes until noon and thinking of the amazing hamburgers and nuggets we were about to ingest when my dad crossed a time zone. And we were back at 11:00 instead of noon. And my dad said, "Only one more hour until lunch!" And he meant it.

I thought that was cruel then. Now, I think it is parenting genius.

All this to say that I used to be the world's biggest procrastinator but I'm slowly becoming a planner. I planned an itinerary for our Amish County trip and sent it to our friends who were going with us, and it was like Doug Beck lived on through me.

This is just page one, for a one-day trip.

Honestly, the planning went way better than I could have thought, and now I have to apologize to my dad for being such a turd sandwich as a kid.

We rolled into Lancaster at 10:30 and went to Amish Village where the kids fed goats, horses, mules and pigs and played on an Amish playground. In fact, almost every location we stopped at had animals and playgrounds, so the kids played all day. We took a tour given by a formerly Amish-turned Mennonite woman, who gave what was probably a lovely tour in which I would have asked the most questions, but instead had to quickly exit and take care of a crying baby. 

Next, we picked up sandwiches and salads at Isaac's Restaurant which is located next to one of the only remaining steam trains in the country. There was also a fudge shoppe where Amish candy was sold, and you know we got in on that action.

Next, we took a horse and buggy ride. If you go, I totally recommend this place:

True to form, there was an Amish-built playground here too, as well as several animals to pet.

In the end, Dan decided to make the huge sacrifice of sitting out on the buggy ride full of loud, little children so that he could watch Harris.

Here we are leaving him behind. Doesn't he look so sad?

Here's the row of across from the row where June and I were sitting, filled with Gwen and our friends, the Wilkes. We also had Sophie Wilkes sitting up front with the driver.

There's June's arm in the pink hoodie. I kept having to grab her hand and pull it down because she kept whispering to the driver, "I like your beard" while attempting to stroke it. And yes, I asked him if I could take this picture, and he said that was fine.

Again, I had a million questions for our sweet driver but between the cars whizzing past us and the kids yelling from excitement, I could hardly hear a thing. I did hear him say that most Amish houses start out as ranch houses, but when their families get too big, they simply tear the roof off and build another level and then put the roof back on.

And here were the cars passing us as we were on the shoulder of the road.

Also, the Amish live among everyone else. I thought they lived in their own communities, and maybe they did a long time ago, but where we were you would see an Amish house next to a non-Amish house all of the time. So interesting!

One day, I'm going to go back all by myself, and I'm going to ask all the questions I want.

Next, we went to Oregon Dairy where the kids could play and eat ice cream. No pictures. My bad.

Then we drove home. I drove, and everyone else slept, and it was really nice.

The end.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


The worst part about not blogging for awhile is that I have to write a "catch up" post. I hate catch up posts. Nothing worse than 2893478237 photos being thrown at your face with incomplete descriptions and disjointed paragraphs with such smooth transitions as "And that's how our dog died. And the next week we went to McDonald's!" Such a mess.

So forgive me for this ridiculous post of odds and ends. I'm going to try to get better about it but I can pretty much guarantee it will not be happening until all of my kids are in school. Or out of the house. And I'm dead.

August has been a lot of fun and a lot of chaos. I feel like I always start the summer with goals and a routine in mind and by the end of it, we have zero structure and lots of crying and tantrums. Sometimes my kids are even throwing them.

Some highlights:

We went peach picking. We've had a really cool summer. Cool meaning cool temperatures. On this particular morning, I think it was in the low 70s. We have had some awesome friends move into the ward this summer, and that cute girl holding Harris LOVES babies, and I have greatly benefited from her desire to hold him and take care of him. And she's 9. I'm always so impressed with 9 year olds who care about babies, because I will tell you that I didn't care one bit about babies when I was 9. And I hated babysitting all through my teenage years. It's surprising how nurturing I am now. HAHAHAHA.

We participated in our summer reading program at the library. I loved the summer reading program growing up. 9 year old Heather didn't like babies, but she loved books. So much so that I actually remember watching my dad leave for work in the early morning as I lay on our living room couch reading and then I remember him coming home and finding me on that same couch when he came home 10 hours later.

So of course I wanted my own girls to excel at our summer reading program, and I would pick up tons of books and read them at night and fill out the form to show how many books we had read and about halfway through the summer, I realized that my girls were just enjoying the reading time and didn't care two straws about handing in their charts and that I was the only one that cared about getting the prize. I guess they are only 5 and 3.

So I gave up on the charts but there was no way in heck we were going to miss the summer reading ice cream social. I mean, there were balloon animals!

We took our kids into the city. We have lived here EIGHT months and hadn't taken our kids into the city. Pathetic. Dan and I had been, but I found many excuses not to take the rascals. When we moved here, it was freezing and I was pregnant. Then we had that new baby come along. 

So it was definitely time. 

The NJ Transit is under construction this summer, so we went the following ridiculous route. Drove our car to the Morristown Train Station. Took a train to Hoboken. Took the ferry to Midtown. Took a bus to Central Park. Played at Central Park. Took a bus back to Midtown. Took a ferry to Hoboken. Took a train to Morristown. Drove our car home. It was just as rejuvenating as it sounds.

Luckily the train will be fixed next week and the whole process will be much easier.

I loved the ferry. 

We had a great time at Central Park where all of the 100 kids played together like they have always known each other. They had a castle-like playground with a splash pad, and the girls got soaked. We ate a hot dog stand and then discussed the margins hot dog stands must have. $3 for a skinny little hot dog and Walmart bun? That's a good profit.

Our "quiet" ride home where everyone started to lose it a little:

Today we went to the beach with some good friends. Unfortunately, the "cool summer" we are having really worked against us today. We knew it would be overcast but figured it would be a great day to just play in the sand. Plus, an overcast beach day is great for a new baby. 

The before pictures:

Six kids in a minivan. Do you see Harris's car seat? These kids are the best of friends and laughed and played and helped each other get into trouble the whole car ride.

So we drove an hour to Monmouth Beach only to find a totally gray, cold, rainy, super windy, choppy, scary beach. The kids were still excited . . .  until a wave swallowed them whole the first minute we were there. I know my kids, and I know they will get wet but I was kind of hoping that it would be the last 5 minutes, not the first. June was still game to play, but Gwen cried and cried until we decided to go to the car and eat lunch. We were probably at the beach a total of 30 minutes and then drove home.

And the after pictures:

That's right. Everyone down to their skivvies and shivering in a van with high heat blasting through the vents.

Oh well. We still had a blast and laughed our way through it all.

And now, the part you have all been waiting for!! Harris!!

Harris is just the sweetest, cutest baby. And you know all of these crazy adventures we have been going on? He just sits there nicely and is happy to be along for the ride. And he is SO SMILEY.

We realized we never did a photo shoot of him in the amazing blessing outfit my MIL made, so we took care of that Sunday.

Look at this! Just happy to be on a filthy floor with his sister's discarded dress and a goblin mask nearby.

Heavenly Father knew I needed this easygoing baby.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Nice Weekend and June Gives a Talk

 The first half of July was so crazy, and I have enjoyed the slower pace of the last half.  June has one week left of summer school, and then we will have a complete month off from school, which starts back up after Labor Day here in NJ. I never knew the East Coast was on such a different schedule, but June's last day was June 23rd and her first day back is after Labor Day.

A quick photo shoot before heading out to the bus. And yes, this is the best shot of that morning. Eek.

Yesterday was positively delightful. The weather was a bit cooler, but we decided to head to the pool anyway and were the sole occupants for a good portion of our time. It was awesome!

Dan was with the girls in the pool. He has a goal of getting June to pass the swim test so that she can go down the slide before the end of the summer. So he's been working with her a lot lot lot. Yesterday, he confirmed the test requirements with one of the lifeguards and found out that we had been misinformed about the test. She is a good swimmer, but the test is much harder than we originally thought. She has to jump into the pool, tread water for 30 seconds and then freestyle across the pool in 20 seconds or less.

I don't know if that's going to happen this summer. Ha. Maybe next year!

I had the easy job of sitting with Harris.

See that major flat dent in his head? I see a helmet in this baby's future.

Our pool also has four square and tetherball courts. We headed over that way next. Dan played with the girls, and then he challenged me to a match. Which was ridiculous. Because I'm terrible at stuff like that, and Dan won by 298347327 points every time.

So I started coming up with ways to beat him. I made him put one hand behind his back. He still beat me. Then I introduced a new version of the game called "Phantom Tether" where he had to keep one hand at the level of his eye for the duration of the game. He still smashed me. Then I quit while I still had some dignity, though what dignity you still have after making up a Phantom of the Opera version of a playground game, I know not. Another mystery for another day.

We went home and bathed the girls. Then, in true Jolley form, we went to check out the new Wegmans that opened in our town. Grocery stores continue to be a hot topic in this house! It was a total zoo, but had great customer service. The manager of the store saw that we looked a little lost and helped us navigate our way around and also went to the bakery and picked up some cookies for the girls.

The girls were excited about the train they had going around the deli, all of the people and all of the food. They were acting like maniacs, so we quickly picked out dinner from the 38924732987 options they have in their food court and made our way back out to the car.

We arrived home around 6. Much to our delight, all of our kids fell asleep in the car. No one had had naps that day, so we put everyone in their beds/cribs and congratulated ourselves on an unexpected "date night" and ate our dinner and watched a movie without the kids.

Until they woke up at 7. Drat.

It was still a fun night.

June was asked to give her first-ever primary talk. If you recall our primary program last year, you never know what this girl is going to say if you give her a mic. Her mother is like that too.

 I have found that a mixture of pictures and words works best for June to memorize things. We practiced and practiced. And it was going just okay. June was so distracted, and she would say something off the wall every single time. Which is pretty funny and cute, but to a point. So I was trying to limit these comments to just a couple per practice, and I didn't feel like we were progressing. So I finally told myself to STOP worrying about it. It's just a primary talk after all, and primary is the place we learn!

After Sacrament meeting, Dan turned to June and asked, "Are you ready to go give your talk?" She was SO excited, without even a trace of fear. She ran up to the podium in the chapel and tried to give her talk as everyone exited for 2nd hour classes. We had to explain to her that her talk was in primary, not Sacrament Meeting. So she ran off to the primary room.

When it came time for her turn, she jumped up and ran to the podium and hit it out of the park. I was shocked. You never know what's going to come out of that girl!

Here is her talk:

That's it. Only 6 sentences. But it was definitely the perfect length for her to learn in just a few days.

After her talk, I exclaimed, "June, you did SUCH a good job on your talk!" To which she replied, "Superwhy! Superbot!"

And we were back to normal again.

After church, we raced home to make dinner for friends. I messed up every dish and burned the main course. I also burned my thumb. I was SO frustrated that I excused myself to the other room to give Harris a bottle. When I returned, Dan has cut off the burnt side of each taquito and announced that we were just going to call them "taquito tacos". He really saved the day. And then our guests had to cancel, and we ate the taquito tacos ourselves.

And they were delish.

The end.