Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Harris Keith Jolley

I was scheduled to be induced Saturday morning, April 15th. It didn't sit well with me because it's Tax Day, and I felt like every year we attempted to celebrate Harris's birth, I would also be thinking about how much I owe the government. And then give Harris a really cheap and sad party where I was sitting in the corner trying to calculate how many purchases made for the party were tax deductible and wondering if I could claim any of his party attendants as a dependent.

Well, apparently Harris also hated the idea of his party being hijacked by the IRS because he decided to make an early appearance. On Friday the 14th, I was lying on the bed in the late afternoon trying to get comfortable. Dan came home from work a little early that day and was setting up the trampoline in the backyard. All of a sudden, I felt horrible pain all through my body. "This must be a contraction," I thought. Even though this is my third kid, I've never experienced contractions before. Just a side note--contractions are horrible.

I yelled out to Dan through the window that I was in a lot of pain and that I needed him to time my contractions. I expected 10 minutes to go by. Nope.

Two minutes later, another horrible contraction. I was screaming. Two minutes later, another one.

I felt so confused. This was like the movies, and everyone knows birth isn't really like the movies. Dan insisted I called my doctor, but I felt stupid doing so because I had only had 3 contractions and I know you're supposed to contract for an hour or so consistently before you call. But I called and then screamed into the phone. As you can imagine, this was not very helpful to anyone, but I couldn't speak.

Dan took the phone from me and just shouted, "HEATHER JOLLEY IS ON HER WAY TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW."

He called our babysitter who said she could be at our house in 15 minutes. We didn't have 15 minutes. So Dan told her to come and then knocked on our neighbor's house so that she could sit with the girls while the babysitter was driving over.

Our neighbor came over and found me screaming in the kitchen. I never said good-bye to the girls. I think they were watching tv the whole time and didn't even realize that we were leaving.

Dan helped me out to the car. I put on my seat belt and then quickly took it off again because it hurt really bad. By this point, the pain was so intense and I was hitting things. Like Dan's poor sun visor in his car that will probably never function the same.

We drove up to the hospital (luckily only 11 minutes away), and Dan ran get to a wheelchair while I was in the car. But then I had the thought--what if I deliver in this car?!?!? So in between contractions (I only had about a 30 second break in between by this time), I waddled out of the car and attempted to walk into the hospital. And then I started screaming in the parking lot. And I saw some young girl heading to her car, and I yelled out to her, "WILL YOU TAKE ME TO LABOR AND DELIVERY?!?!?" She helped me into her car just as Dan was pulling up with the wheelchair, so I got in the wheelchair instead.

Dan ran as fast as he could, pushing my pregnant bod into the hospital. He almost passed out.

I was screaming the whole way into the hospital and they took me right into a room where a nurse checked me.

"She's at least a 6," she said. "But I can't tell because she won't stop moving."

"DRUGS!" I yelled out. "I WANT DRUGS!!"

Everyone reassured me that drugs were on the way, but I knew they were lying. There was no way I could even sit still long enough for an epidural by this time.

I was a screaming witch banshee by this point. I hope I never see any of those people ever again. I kicked a nurse off of me who was trying to get the baby's heartbeat and in so doing was pressing down on my crotch in a most painful way. I realized my face was numb, and I called out, "I can't feel my face!!" And the nurse next to me told me it was because I was hyperventilating and that I needed to slow my breathing. "I CAN'T!" I screamed back at her.

About 3 minutes later, a resident OBGYN came in and told me to push if I felt like I needed to. I needed to. I dug my nails into another nurse's arm while I pushed, and everyone said, "You're doing great! Look there's his head!!" I didn't want to look. I wanted to die.

So I called out, "I WANT TO DIE!" And the nurse whose arm I was clawing to death said, "Oh honey, you're not going to die." And I said, "YOU AREN'T LISTENING. I WANT TO DIE."

Two more pushes, and Harris was OUT. Weighing in at NINE pounds, one ounce. Ouchhhhh. And they put him on my chest, and I have to admit that at that point I didn't want him anywhere near me. That baby tried to kill me!! I still had to deliver the placenta and get stitched up and I had this baby on my chest, and I called out, "I CAN'T BE A MOTHER RIGHT NOW."

I'm sure I'm one of those patients they talk about for years after.

Anyway, after the placenta came out, I felt ONE MILLION TIMES BETTER. I took a deep breath, smiled and said calmly to everyone, "I would just like to apologize for my behavior just now." And everyone laughed.

The whole thing was about 40 or 50 minutes from first contraction to delivery.

Then my mom came into town, and everything was great. We went for Frostys. (I just looked up the plural of Frosty, and it's quite a debate. Some people claim the plural is the same as the singular, some say it's Frostys. Some say Frosties. Some say Frosty's. What say ye?)

 We took June to get her ears pierced and she hardly even cried.

Our whole family missed Easter Sunday, so we observed one week later. The girls wore matching dresses, and I thought it was adorable (even though I said I would never do that). And we had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard.

 My mom is such a babe. She detests when I use that word to describe her, but really, there is no other word that fits. Babe.

The girls didn't want to wear shoes and we have a gravel driveway, so the egg hunt was interesting.

And that's a wrap. I'm healing, and I'm tired. Harris gets up every 3 hours to eat. My hormones are all over the place. I laugh and I cry in the same sentence. Especially when people ask me if I would do natural childbirth again. Just do yourself a favor and don't ask.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


June turned 5 on Sunday. We haven't done a ton for her birthdays (or anyone's birthday) in the past, but we decided that turning 5 in our family could constitute a party with friends. But we are pretty new here and didn't know where to do it. We just moved into our new house and aren't entirely unpacked. Plus, our place is pretty small. We have a decent-sized backyard, but were warned by many not to count on the weather in New Jersey in March. Which took me awhile to wrap my head around since March is when we start hitting the beach in Florida. (One of these days I'm going to get over the fact that we don't live near Florida beaches anymore. Today is not that day.)

We finally settled on a Mickey Mouse gymnastics party at a place down the road. They told me that all we had to do is provide kids and food and that they would set up, clean up, and lead the kids in activities. We invited June's primary class, and there were about 7 kids total. A pretty decent party! June was thrilled and loved it and then cried the next day when she realized it wasn't going to be a part of the daily routine.

June specifically wanted Mickey Mouse balloons and red balloons. She also requested a Mickey Mouse cake--not Minnie, but Mickey. I went to the grocery store three weeks in advance to order it (I'm so neurotic!), and there was only one cake available with Mickey on it. Several with Minnie, but only one Mickey cake and Minnie even makes an appearance on that cake too. I figured June would have to be happy with it because at least Mickey was on it.

I showed up the day of the party to pick up her cake, and the lady at the bakery told me, "Hey, remember how you couldn't find a cake with just Minnie on it? We have several! So I changed your order so that you didn't have to have Mickey on your cake." My heart sank. June doesn't really like Minnie that much. But I didn't have the heart to tell the sweet bakery lady that it was Mickey we wanted, not Minnie. And then a miracle--June didn't notice. Phew.

(I realize that these aren't real problems. It's just that in the autism world, you get a bit tired of having to constantly calm your child down when things don't go according to plan, and I was hoping to avoid that battle for just. one. day.)

Having a party where I don't have to do anything but sit around and talk to the other parents was the best idea ever. It almost felt like it was MY birthday, not June's.

Gwen couldn't decide if she loved or hated the party. LOVED playing and eating. HATED that it wasn't for her.

And then on Sunday, the actual birthday:

A tea set from Grandma Sandy:

And on Tuesday, her 5-year old check-up. This was such a crazy day for me. June's class was headed on a field trip that afternoon, and it was to one of those cool kid's museums that I will never actually pay for my kids to attend because it's like $25 a kid. And her class was going for Free Ninety-Nine! So I raced her across town to make it, and a cop followed us for a bit. I was SHAKING IN MY BOOTS. And then he turned his lights on. And then I pulled over. And then he passed me and pulled over the guy in front of me. And then I almost cried.

The doc's visit wasn't especially great either. New Jersey doesn't accept June's ASD diagnosis, so we are going through the process again. So I needed her pediatrician to sign off so that the specialist will do the test. June is super high functioning and super social, so she can throw a lot of people off if they are only with her a short period of time. So of course on the day of her check-up, she's SUPER excited to be at the doc's office. She thinks doctors are AWESOME and doesn't even care that they give her shots. So the doctor walks in, and June looks him right in the eye and exclaims, "Hello, Doctor! I'm Junebug!!!!"

So of course, the doctor turns to me and says, "Autism doesn't seem to be the right diagnosis for this child." So then I had to explain a lot of things to him, and of course it sounded so hollow and weird. I hate justifying June's diagnosis. It's not like I want her to have autism! Anyway, I handed him a million reports from other doctors, and he finally signed off. But it all kind of felt yucky.

In other news, this animal crossed the street in front of my house the other day. And I almost ralphed everywhere. It's like the hugest rat ever.

I sent this picture to my sister, my BFF Linz, and my husband, and they each immediately answered, "Beaver." Apparently, I don't have even the most basic knowledge of animals because I didn't know that was a beaver. Still gross.

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?