Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Memorial Day was Three Weeks Ago.

We have been in New Jersey for two Memorial Days now, and I feel like the fact that we did some things two years in a row means that we have some traditions. Dan and I have talked a lot lately about how we have no hometown. We are a family without really strong roots in any certain place because we've moved so much. So doing something two years in a row feels good. My "fresh start heart", used to lots of change, will probably feel stifled if we do the same thing three years in a row, but two years felt good.

So we again went to our little town's little parade. I love living in a little town next to a bunch of bigger towns. There are a few things I don't like about it. Namely, we always incur 293847 dollars in Red Box fees because the nearest Red Box is 10 minutes away. 10 minutes. I know. We are pathetic. But that seems like quite the distance to us. We're just regular pioneers out here.

But I love that we have a little parade that we walk to every Memorial Day, and it only lasts about 20ish minutes, and everyone in the town seems to know everyone else.

We got dressed in our reds, whites and blues and sat in our usual spot in front of the old post office that is no longer a post office because it flooded several years back, and they never reopened.

We cheered on our neighbors who were marching in the marching band, and as per usual I cried when the veterans came by, as I also did when the firefighters and police walked by. And the scouts. And the local dance studio.

I cry a lot. I love America.

Also, this was the cutest mini-photo shoot of all time.

After the parade and a quick lunch, we headed to West Point Military Academy for a bus tour.

The stars aligned and even though the tours are typically jam packed, especially on holiday weekends, there was only one other family in our tour. So Dan and I asked the tour guide 239847239874 questions. It was dreamy.

Gwen made a friend on the tour, and these darlings held hands the whole time.

The "million dollar view" at West Point. Sigh. It was SO beautiful. Also, they had graduation the weekend before, so there were tons of cadets getting married in the chapel. So we also saw a bunch of wedding parties. Fun!

I think West Point is cool. I love hearing about all of the strict rules the students must follow and how they are required to be mentally and physically sharp at all times. Then I start to think about how I can prepare my own kids to go there. And then I walk into the girls' bedroom where June and Gwen are supposed to be getting dressed for the day, and I find Gwen wearing three skirts and June completely naked except for tennis shoes and socks, and I think maybe we just need to make the goal to survive today.

I love Memorial Day, and I love the men and women who have served our country, often sacrificing their own lives for the freedoms we enjoy every. single. day.

The End.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dan is 31.

As you can see, I'm terribly behind on blogging. I won't do a catch up posts, but rather have a goal to do several short posts over the next few weeks. And if that doesn't happen, I'm just going to give up on writing things in the past and just start fresh with what's happening right now.

Dan turned the big 3-1 this year, and as I usually do, I planned way way way ahead of time and got 90% of the preparation done and then totally forgot about the last 10% until it was too late, and the whole thing looked like a failure.

We should all worn shirts like June's for Dan's big day. Though I guess mine would say "I Heart Dan" not "I Heart Dad".

As you may recall, we celebrated Dan's birthday early. We Taco Bell-ed, we Avenger-ed, and I felt really good about myself. Wife Numero Uno over here. Meaning the best, not the first of many.

I had great intentions to plan a fantastic dinner and dessert and outing for his actual birthday, but there was one big problem.

I forgot.

Yep, I kind of forgot about Dan's actual birthday. In fact, he had to go out of town for work a few days before his birthday, and I told him that when he got back, I'd really like to attend a neighbor's band concert. He asked which day, and I said, "Wednesday evening at 7." And he said, "Oh okay, no problem. I thought we might do something for my birthday then, but that's fine."

To which I replied, "What birthday?"

How many bad brain moments can I blame on my kids before that gets old? Am I already there? Have I already exceeded my quota?

When I realized it was HIS birthday that Wednesday, I kinda inwardly freaked out while trying to act outwardly calm. I don't think he bought it.

Nevertheless, he came home late on his birthday eve to a sign the girls made for the wall, which was held up with some old velcro I found because we were out of tape. This is not pictured here, both because my phone has been eating my pictures, and because the sign is just another reminder of my many failures and my posterity doesn't need one more failure staring them in the face from this blog.

We did go to breakfast on his birthday at our little town's little local diner.

New Jersey is known for their diners, but I say--Diners are NOT good! Do you agree or disagree?

And then that night, instead of celebrating, he shooed me off to the concert and watched the kids. He's a stud and makes 31 look super young and hip. And not "replacement hip" either.

Feeling quite remorseful, the next day I ran to the store and grabbed the ingredients for his favorite dinner and dessert and also this lobster-stuffed pretzel that was calling my name.

It was delish and may have totally redeemed me from "Forgotten Birthday 2018".

Happy Birthday, Dan! May we celebrate many, many more forgotten birthdays together.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


We went to Palmyra last weekend, and it was awesome. It was made doubly awesome that our great friends, the Wilkes were our tour guides. They went to school at Cornell and know the area extremely well. That rhymed. I think I'll ring a bell. Oops, I fell.

First of all, anyone who travels with me deserves an award. I get carsick going to the grocery store. My ill-faring tummy plus my allergy problems this year meant I was even less fun than usual (and I go to bed at 9 when I'm feeling fun), but everyone put up with me. We have great friends.

We drove Friday until late, checking into the Palmyra Inn. We watched the Royal Wedding as we lazed about Saturday morning.

June was glued to it. She loves weddings and also provided great commentary.

June: Mom, I hope you come to my wedding, so you can see which boy I get.

And then, upon seeing the duke and duchess join hands as the ceremony began, June asked, "Who are THEY?" I told her, and she said, "Oh, I thought we were watching this because it was Jesus's wedding."

In a very fitting turn of events, Dan and I left the royal wedding to attend the Palmyra temple.

We were able to do some initiatories and some sealings, and it was a very sweet to watch a wedding and then remember the covenants we have made to each other and to Heavenly Father.

And we witnessed a miracle.

Dan has had the same white pants for the temple since he was 19. But he hasn't worn them the past few years because . . .  well we aren't 19. Luckily, I have a flowy dress that has been flexible through 3 pregnancies and everything in between but Dan doesn't have that option. So he usually rents pants from the temple.

But Palmyra doesn't have a clothing rental.

We discovered this too late, and I was worried he wouldn't be able to participate with me. But lo and behold, his pants fit for one day. We termed it the Miracle of the Waistline.

After the temple, we met up with everyone else and went to the Grandin Printing Press.

We went to Chill 'N Grill for lunch and hit up a bunch of other sites.

Martin Harris farm:

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center:

Hill Cumorah Statue:

I don't have pictures of the Smith farm and Sacred Grove, which is a shame because they were the best part.

Dan had a crucial testimony-building moment at the Sacred Grove when he was still in high school. It means a lot to him. Unfortunately, he didn't have a second to himself in the grove, but he was able to have a teaching moment with June.

You see, June was extremely disappointed when we walked through the grove and the Savior was nowhere to be found. Try as we might, we explained to her repeatedly that He wouldn't be there, and yet she was disappointed. I was ready to brush it off, and keep moving but Dan decided to take the opportunity to talk with her. So they sat and talked a long time, and Dan told her about what the Holy Ghost feels like and how we receive answers to our prayers. And then that sweet 6 year old girl asked if she could go pray by herself. And she did. Dan said she was gone for about 5 minutes, and he could hear her talking but not what she was saying. Upon her reappearance, Dan asked her how it went. She said that she asked Heavenly Father if the Church was the right one to go to and that she felt okay about it. She also told Dan that she prayed to know who she should marry (????) but that she didn't know yet.

No more royal weddings for her! I can't handle that conversation happening for a loooooooooooong time.

Sunday, we went to the Whitmer farm, and I wept through a short video they had about small things bringing great things to pass. I cried because motherhood is made up of soooo many small things. And it was a sweet reminder that I'm working toward something great for these kids.

And then the Wilkes went on to Harmony, and the Jolleys pooped out and went home. Our kids were in rare form by this time, and we took them home and put them to bed.

It was the best weekend, and I can't wait to go back.

The End.

Friday, May 18, 2018

April Shower Bring May Flowers. And Sneezes.

Quite some time ago, Dan told me what he wanted for his birthday. He wanted me to go with him to see the new Avengers movie. And for me to also not make any obnoxious comments. And to keep my mocking giggles to myself.

I asked him if I couldn't just buy him a skyscraper or something easier like that.

And so we went. We wanted to grab dinner first, but were running out of time so we went to our fave fast food place. TACO. BELL. It's the best. 

During dinner, he asked me to sit quietly as he "set up" the movie, so to speak. He tried to educate me on the background of the characters and the various conflicts.

I asked him if Gandalf was in this movie. He wasn't amused.

We then went to a packed theater and sat next to the most dedicated Avengers fans of all time. The kid next to Dan kept shushing everyone, and his shushing was really loud. So Dan shushed his shushing. It was quite entertaining to me, which is good because I didn't find the movie that entertaining. I know, I know. I'm the worst.

Overall, I was a very good participant and refrained from calling Thanos "Thermos" (except in my mind). But it was all for nothing because Dan didn't like the movie very much either because if there's something Dan Jolley won't stand for, it's a sad ending. He. Can't. Stand. It.

For Mother's Day, Dan asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted flowers, but not flowers for the table (though I do love that). I wanted flowers for the front of our house. We have a huge space in front of our house where we really need bushes or something. But I'm not going to put bushes in this rental house. So we tried to fill up the space with flowers.

Dan sent me to the store, and I picked up all the flowers I wanted. But the space was still too big, so he sent me back to the store a second time, and I picked up more flowers.

The truth is I know nothing about most outdoorsy things. It's really embarrassing. Even at the gardening store, I was barely pushing my cart because I was afraid all of the plants would fall out and then I would have to die. Everyone there knew I didn't know what they knew. If you know what I mean.

So I'm trying to strengthen my weaknesses and getting outdoors a lot more is one I'm really working on.

I wish I had taken a before picture but I didn't. But just picture in your mind a mess of dirt and weeds.

And then Dan planted these flowers around an old bush our landlord had put in.

And then just a couple of days ago, the bush bloomed too!

It's pretty. Our neighbor saw what we were doing and asked if we wanted some of his grasses too? So Dan put those at the ends.

My favorite part of springtime in New Jersey is going on walks with the girls and making them go past my favorite tree of all time.

It blooms pink AND white! I suspect from the odd angle of that lower right trunk part that those are actually two different trees but I love how they are together. They remind me of Gwen Stefani's wedding dress.

Image result for gwen stefani wedding dress
Source: Someone's pinterest? Sorry, don't know. But be rest assured, this is not MY picture. She and I were on the outs that year, and I wasn't invited.

Which brings me to the rest of my Mother's Day. I slept in, and everyone brought me breakfast in bed. I have a hard time with that concept but decided that this year I was going to let them do it and just enjoy it. And you know what? I did.


Dan made a delicious egg scramble (with cream cheese and potatoes and regular cheese yummmmmmmm) and served it with sliced strawberries and some Allegra because he knows my allergies are so bad this time of year.

June made me this clipboard at school. Darling.

And we tried to take a picture together, but they all looked like this.

Poor Harris. And POOR ME!

After church, I took a nap. And was sick when I woke up. And I've been sick all week. My allergies are soooo bad. I finally went to the doc, and he prescribed stronger stuff that makes me a little nauseated and a little sleepy, but I'll live.

And also, we had a huge storm this week, and this branch fell down in our backyard.

And we lost power for 6 hours, and our trampoline started moving, and I screamed, "THIS IS THE END!" and then the trampoline stopped moving, and it wasn't the end. Moving on.

I'll close with some pics of the kids.

Gwen finally let me do something with her hair besides a ponytail.

The best hair day of June's life. I wanted to make her get married at age 6 because her hair looked so pretty and I knew I would never be able to emulate it.

Sometimes we put flowers in our hair while we wait for the bus in the morning.

Our pretty pink bush on the other side of the house.
 More Harris crying in church photos.

And last, but not least! I finally learned how to do a fishtail braid. Check one more off my list. I'm convinced I will never be able to do a dutch braid though. Send me your tips!

And now we're getting ready to leave town for the weekend! Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Take Your Sister to the City Day

My sister and I talk on the phone a lot. We text, we send vids via Marco Polo on the daily. We also send each other the most insane news articles, discuss Met gala dresses and reminisce about our childhood constantly. We discuss every topic known to man. We get deep and sad sometimes, but it's always interrupted by a joke because Becks cannot be serious for more than 5 minutes. It's a fact.

But we don't see each other very often anymore. 

Living in Florida was a dream for us because hello Florida! but also because my sister was a measly 6 hours from us, and we did holidays together.

So Heidi coming to see me for a weekend was the best present I could ever ask for.

Partly because she's one of the only people who understand what it was like to grow up so beautiful and so fashionable that all of the other girls hated you.

I'm lying.

So what do two thirtysomething Beck sisters who are moms of a combined seven kids, 3 of which have special needs, do in the city for a whole two days?

Fall asleep on the Staten Island Ferry.

Wear unplanned coordinating outfits. 

See the musical Beautiful about the life of Carole King and know all of the words to the songs while also being a good thirty years younger than any other audience member. 

Which also explains our pure excitement at finding this at a vintage shop:

Long live the Neil!

We walked something like 12 or 14 miles the first day, made a couple of Subway mistakes and giggled through the whole thing. We kept making the same comment over and over about how much we love walking, we both really love walking! 

We wept at the 9/11 memorial. We touched the names and had an especially tough time upon seeing that one of the names said "and her unborn child" at the end of it.

We were pleasantly surprised--nay, ecstatic--about the hotel upgrade we received because they had an extra suite available at the Warwick.

Two rooms! We discussed how lovely the rooms were and how we should use up all of the space, but in the end, we neatly kept our clothes and suitcases all together and left the rooms pretty much as clean as we found them. Because we're thirtysomething moms.

We talked up big how fun it would be to watch tv together and make fun of everything, but the joke was on us because we fell asleep about 3 minutes after getting into bed, Heidi with the remote still in her hand.

We did a lot of shopping, and it was the highlight for me, because nothing is as good as shopping with my sister. She has a sixth sense for it, and I always make my best purchases with her.

We went to Central Park and Little Italy and a bunch of other things. 

We kept commenting on how easy everything was--yes, we got lost on the subway, yes we walked and walked the first day and could barely hobble the second day. But easy! No diaper bag, no potty accidents, no strollers. I mean, we love our kids but this was LIVING!

And then we went home where I discovered that Dan had had an exhausting weekend too.

The next sisters reunion probably won't happen for another ten years. But I might start planning it now.