Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Back In the Swing

We're getting back into the swing of things here. But we are not fully swinged. Swung.

School started on a Thursday, and the following Monday we were off for Rosh Hashanah. And then today we are off for Yom Kippur. So we have had enough breaks where things still have a summer feel but I suspect that will be ending soon. Especially as the homework is starting to come now. Boo.

I hate homework. And we already did a bunch of homework this morning, and I can tell you right now that it has zapped my creative juices for the day. This will not be a funny post.

A couple of Saturdays ago we went to Palisades Interstate Park with the our friends, the Whitings. It's a park that is underneath the George Washington Bridge (the bridge we most often take into the city). It was such a cool park.

Driving under the bridge.

View of the city from the park. And also Gwen riding bikes with Pearl. My kids are not good at bike riding yet, and it's obvious I need to spend a lot more time on it with them. And maybe buy bikes that are the right size. And maybe buy them helmets.

Clearly, bike riding has not been a priority around here.

We walked on a trail that had all of these cool places to climb down on the rocks next to the water. The water was realllllllllllly stinky. But stinky is kind of our family scent, so it was fine.

And then when we were all parked out, we drove back to the bridge and walked a good chunk of it before turning around and heading home.

Gwen and Pearl are best frenemies. Gwen bosses Pearl to no end and then bawls her eyes out whenever it is time to say good-bye. It's the beginning of a beautifully toxic friendship.

View from the bridge.

And now for miscellany:

June struggles in the smiling-normal-for-photos category. She's a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile but when she is told to smile, she panics. So she asked me if we could practice on the morning of school picture day.

A little tense:

 A little forced:

Just right.

And Gwen, who goes to school in her mind.

Also in her mind, she's a great fashion designer.

I took Harris and Gwen to the doc for check-ups. I think we are going to have to get Harris' tongue clipped.

Gwen's ears had a major reaction to some cheap earrings from Claire's so I took the earrings out. I was sure that was the end of earrings for her for awhile. But the reaction went away and the holes didn't close up (even after 6 weeks) so we are trying again with some better quality earrings.

Little kitties for my Gwen Kitty (as she prefers to be called).

Storytime at the library (with Pearl!!):

With her new favorite friend "Punkin" we picked up at Aldi this week. She likes for Punkin to wear that necklace.

I guess you could say that Gwen has a wardrobe capsule. There are three shirts and three skirts she wears all of the time. Except none of them go together at all. But we don't care. This is not the battle I pick (except Sunday for church. Then it's war.).

Speaking of, here's the crew before church last Sunday.

Waiting for the bus. With Punkin.

Our favorite bus-waiting activity: soccer in the front yard.

The End.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Summer Ends and School Begins

August was Amazingly Awesome in All Ways.

But first, I forgot to post about one of the most fun things we did all summer. Besides Hawaii. But Hawaii is a given.

Earlier in the year, we toured West Point. I love West Point. I love imagining one of many of my kids attending there and living these strict lifestyles and being in amazing shape and knowing all of the things. But if I'm honest, I wouldn't last one day at West Point.

It reminds me of a lady I knew in Vegas who literally met her husband in the sewer. No, I'm not comparing the sewer to West Point. West Point is beautiful and amazing and full of achievement, and the sewer is the sewer. But I'm comparing hard things that require some amount of physical chutzpah. Anyway, before this awesome lady started coming to our church in Vegas, she and her husband had met while they were both homeless and living in the sewer. I asked to describe what a day in the sewer looked like.

With every detail she shared with me, my eyes widened and I gasped and grew fearful. I told her, "I don't think I would last one day in the sewer."

My friend laughed and said, "Oh friend, you wouldn't last one hour."

She's right. I wouldn't.

And I wouldn't survive a day at West Point either. I can't handle being yelled at.

Our middle school jazz band teacher was the meanest teacher in all of the land. He yelled at everyone. He never yelled at me. Because he didn't want to deal with the crying.

Twenty years from now, my kids will read this blog and wonder how their mother became such a yeller if she isn't a yellee.

ANYWAAAAAAAYYY, that was a really long-winded way to tell you that we went back to West Point for a summer concert, and it was awesome.

Live music, tons of dancing, good (humid but not the worst amount) weather and our favorite friends.

June and Gwen both had their first dances with a boy not named Dan Jolley.

Gwen LOVED dancing with Duncan Wilkes so much that she refused to dance with her dad afterward. We must never tell her that he was promised a sword from Amazon if he danced with her.

This is all according to plan for Gwen and Duncan have been secretly betrothed via their parents for some time now. They will either be a power couple serving in the church together, or they will rob banks together. There is no in between with those two.

As a side note, Gwen kissed a boy on the lips at the mall today. They were playing on the soft play together, and she was being mean to him, and I said, "Gwen, be nice!!" and she turned and planted one on him.

It was awesome.

August was full of activities as we tried to squeeze as much in before DUN DUN DUN school started.

Pool parties:

Lake parties:

Beach parties:

My bro Mark and the ever-beautiful Shayla came for a visit, and we went to a Yankees game. Side note: the Becks do NOT like the Yankees. But Shayla does. So Mark, Dan and I cheered on the Tigers, while Shayla cheered on the Yankees. Confession: sometimes I cheered for the Yankees too because I just get excited when other people are clapping. It was an accident!!

Dan has become a pro at driving in the city.  Here we are about to get on the GW Bridge.

I feel like my style in the summer is: Sweaty Skirts.

That old man is the perfect addition to this shot.

Very cool stadium. Good for you, stinky Yankees.

Also in August, I read a book. This has sadly become a rare event in my life, especially the reading of a classic so I have to document. I have always wanted/not wanted to read Jane Eyre. Or I should say I've always felt like I should but have never wanted to. I have a degree in Literature and have never read it. I know the basic plot so there's no element of surprise. It's big and thick and old and requires use of the ol' noggin, and there ain't much of that these days. Then it was on a cart of discarded books at my library for 25 cents, and I felt like that was my sign.

So I read it. And enjoyed it. A lot.

And then I watched this BBC version. Which I thoroughly enjoyed and then made Dan rewatch with me. He complained that it was too long through the whole thing, but at the exact moment I KNEW he would, he teared up. I love you, Dan.

It wasn't this moment. I just took this picture because they are talking so close to each other's faces and look SO uncomfortable. Why does being in love in movies mean that you have to sit on each other's laps and talk one inch from each other's faces? No one enjoys that. PERSONAL SPACE!
Harris got a hold of my phone and took this picture, but it also shows something new I've been doing. I'm teaching the Gospel Principles class at church, and here are some of my notes. It's the BEST class, and I love being a part of it.

We also spent a lot of time at home in August making things and when not making things, being kinda bored. Which I think was good. It meant it was time to get back into the swing of school. (I kinda hate school. I'd rather be bored.)

We made this pop-up card for Grandma Kristi's birthday.

Some bored kids:

Finding something to do:

And then yesterday was the first day of school. The night before was crazy. I always make plans to get to bed early the night before school starts, but we never do. Last minute preparations always take over. Dan gave each of us a priesthood blessing. It was really helpful.

When we finally got everyone to bed, my next door neighbor, a sophomore in high school, texted me to see if she could come over and do June's hair for the first day of school. She knows I love when she does June's hair, so she offered. What a gem, right? We are truly blessed with friends here.

She did such a good job. So pretty.

Dan helped the girls recreate this photo from his youth. Here is cute little Dan hugging his brother and best friend good-bye when Jacob left for first grade and Dan was so sad to have to stay home. 

It's on our fridge. I love this picture.

And here's our sad Gwen saying good-bye to June, who left her for first grade.

\Dan didn't tell her to look like that. She just did.

Gwen and I drove June to school and went to meet her new teacher on the blacktop. Though I had explained it to Gwen many times that she wasn't going to school too, she still packed a backpack AND a lunch and carried them around. 

She cried the whole way home.

The End.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I Was Wrong.

Somehow I saw you as a weakness
I thought I had to be strong
Oh but I was just young
I was scared, I was wrong

10,000 Heather Points for whomever can name those lyrics WITHOUT looking them up!!

As I have well-documented on this here bloggy thingy, I set out this summer with a lot of ambitious academic goals. I attended a school meeting in May that described the horrors of the on-average 2 months of school work memory loss that happens each summer and the good solid month or so it takes teachers to get their students back on track every fall. 

I was determined not to let that happen because we have our own academic struggles anyway, and I don't need anything else making us fall behind.

So I pushed my children through school work for the first half of the summer. It wasn't all bad. My girls generally like a lot of school subjects, and I think they like the attention I give them when they do school work. It's Mom-time when there can be a scarcity of that in a three-kid household.

But I have a tendency to push too hard, and I became militant in our studies. I was stressed about falling behind, and I let that fear fuel some meanness. I didn't like who I was becoming.

And then I talked to a friend who was SO SAD summer was ending because she had been having so much fun with her kids and didn't want it to end.

And then I realized that I'm an idiot.

And then we started to have a lot of fun.

We went to the beach, or as Jerseyians say "down the shore."

Last weekend, we went into the city

and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.

Almost everyone else was a runner, and Gwen was feeling inspired so she ran too.

This freaks me out.

Then we headed to the 9/11 memorial.

There is a man from our little town here in Jersey that died in 9/11. There's a plaque dedicated to him at the park down the street from us. Next time we go, I'm going to find his name on the memorial.

Dan loves his job. And right now, he's working with Staples a lot, so he had to stop for a picture. Too bad they were closed so he couldn't go in and see how they were displaying his beautiful products. Too. Bad.

We stopped by a park to let the kids play for a minute.

and ate pizza before boarding . . .

the Staten Island Ferry.

This also freaks me out.

Then everyone either looked or felt like this. So we went home.

Dan drove, and I only minorly freaked out compared to what I usually do when we drive in the city, and it was a good trip.

Later that night after everyone was in bed, Dan found June like this on our couch.


The girls have been listening to TSwift's "Welcome to New York" on repeat ever since.

The End.