Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prison Break, aka Spring Break

We are quickly discovering that Duval County is a "go big or go home" sort of place. It is made up of one city, Jacksonville. Did you know that Jacksonville is the biggest city by area in the contiguous United States? 'Tis true!! There are about a million trillion kids at June's elementary school, and I think the only way they can convince people to work there is by offering generous breaks. June had 11 days off for Spring Break.

The first day, I let the girls chill, which is right up June's alley. She will make a great senior citizen traveling through Europe someday.

On day 2, we went to Tampa for a couple of days so I could retrieve the infamous package I sent to my neighbor when we first moved here. It was so fun to see our favorite Tampons. I dreaded coming back because I knew what I had to do with the remaining several days of Spring Break.



Oof. Two seemingly innocent words that cut me to the very core. June is quite the Stubborn Sally and has shown 00000 interest in using the potty. She has done it a few times, but just doesn't want to. Before you leave your comment with your suggestions of a sticker chart, toy bribe, skittles-every-time-you-sit-down method, please know that all theories have been attempted. It doesn't matter much when your child does not care one bit about any of those things.

Anyway, at my last IEP meeting with her teacher, Mrs. Spann said it was time. You know, since June turned 4 on Saturday, and all of her friends were potty trained when they were 2.

So I let June run around nekked and free as a jail bird, bribing her with the ipad every time she would sit on the potty. And on the potty she sat. And held it.

She held it all day until Dan came home and I went to mutual. When I got home, I found out that his night had been horrendous, with June both peeing and throwing up everywhere. Poor girl. But really, poor Dan.

The next day started out great. June went on the potty twice. That was around 10:30 a.m. Then she proceeded to hold it until after lunch the next day. It pained me to watch her. I begged her to use the potty. I was shocked when her bed wasn't wet when she woke up. She cried. I cried. She put a piece of tape "down there" as a band-aid because "i hurt". She threw up again.

Finally she went. In the potty. Sweet victory.

She has made it through the night dry ever since. But has pretty much stopped caring about being wet and gross. I have her sit on the potty first thing every morning and she refuses to go. Then I put on her panties, and one minute later she is wet. Luckily, I've been super patient and loving during this whole process. Notttttttt.

Honestly, Gwen shows more interest in using the potty than June.

We stayed at home a ton over Spring Break, which is not my favorite. But we needed to be close to the potty so that June could choose not to use it. I was going a bit stir crazy, but one day we had fun painting.

June paints two things: 1. blobs of color until they turn brown and 2. the sun.

"Brown: A Color Study."

2. "The Sun. I Once Put A Band-Aid Where The Sun Don't Shine."

June's 4th birthday was also over Spring Break, and it was a nice reprieve from the potty training. I had not left the house in three days and decided to brave it by taking June out to brunch with my visiting teachers. Let's just say that June really left her mark at Panera. Later that day, she went to see her first movie in a theater, "Zootopia."

The endless sugary baked goods for her birthday proved all too much just before dinnertime.

Have you read the Berenstain Bears book, Too Much Birthday? There was a bit of that going on around here. Turns out you can still be put in time out on your birthday.

By the time we were ready to serve June's birthday dinner of choice, hamburgers, I found her like this.

Happy Birthday, June. You are my match in stubbornness and also the funnest girl in the room at any given moment (except for maybe this one).

Easter was the next day, and I wanted to celebrate it with our closest friends here in Jacksonville, the Spragues. They have a large family (9 of the coolest kids you'll meet) and so we decided to take dinner to our neighborhood park.

About an hour before, I was warming the ham and making the glaze, when June had an accident and needed help. I changed her pants when the smoke alarms went off, and smoke filled the entire house. The glaze was burned to where it was just ashes. The whole house stank so badly. The commotion freaked Gwen out, who ran into the garage and slipped and fell on some oil and hit her head. After which, June had another accident in her pants. Needless to say, I was feeling very relaxed when it was meal time. Dan left a few minutes before I did with all of the eggs for the hunt. He had them hidden just in time when the Spragues and the girls and I showed up. We set out all of the food and the kids started their hunt, just as it started to POUR rain. We collected as many eggs as we could, plus the food, plus 11 kids and headed to my smoke-smelling house and ate on the floor like the drowned rats that we were. And my ham was really dry.

You know you have found the right kind of friends when they don't blink an eye at something like that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

More Tires.

The day we picked up our moving truck to move to Jacksonville, another one of the tires blew out on Daniel's car. It was actually on the way to pick up the moving truck, and we ended up driving the last mile of the journey with a car that was shaking like crazy. We are nothing if not adventurous. Or perhaps just unprepared.

At any rate, we replaced all of the tires on Dan's car. We originally just wanted to replace three since we had recently replaced one of the set, But the Tire Kingdom worker informed us that he had looked up the barcode on the tire we had recently just purchased, and it was actually nine years old. Yikes Bikes. So we replaced all of them.

It wasn't long before I started worrying about the tires on my own car. I had an oil change when we first moved here, and the mechanic told me that I needed new tires and fast. So I called around and found that Sam's Club had the best deal. The guy on the phone told me I could come down as early as 7 am the next day. I dropped June off at school at 8 and then headed over to Sam's Club, where I was then informed that since I was just a regular card member, they couldn't take my car until 10. So I drove back home.

After school, I drove my crew down there, and the girls had a blast in the tire department. 

And then the SC employee told me that he had been misinformed and that they actually did not have my tires in stock. Drat. We shopped around for other things and then as we were heading out, I realized that the SC employee had never given me back my keys. So I went to go get them. That's when June became unglued about the fact that we were leaving her favorite store.

She lay on the floor for a good 20 minutes, bawling her face off. I know how June operates, and I know to just wait until she's done. I do not coax her out of her fits because then she thinks it's okay to keep doing it. So I was waiting for her when an older lady walked up to her and told her, "If you do not get up off the floor and listen your mom right now, I'm going to paddle your butt!" The lady then proceeded to tell me what I was doing wrong with my child.

June started bawling harder, and I was shocked at this stranger's interference. I am not good at confrontation AT ALL, but I finally got the nerve to just say to the lady, "THANK YOU! HAVE A NICE DAY!" and she finally left.

June finished up her tantrum, and we headed out the door when I couldn't find my receipt that I had to show upon exiting the store. June and Gwen both started wailing, and I began to search for the receipt. Some angel lady ran up to me, saying that she had found a receipt and was it mine? It was, and I was reminded that there are always great people out there along with the ones that drive you nuts.

The next day, Gwen and I headed to Wal-Mart to get the tires there. While they were working on my car, we did a little shopping (because I seem to need something from the store every single day).

Suddenly, a Wal-Mart employee's voice announced over the intercom that everyone was to evacuate the building due to an emergency. All of the employees booked it out of there, and we customers just looked at each other in confusion. The lady on the intercom came back on and said, "EVERYONE, AND I MEAN EVERYONE, MUST EVACUATE NOW!!!" So we ran out of the store.

(I almost want to apologize for my bad photos, but really . . . you know me by now.)

All of the other customers got into their cars and left. But I couldn't. My car was being worked on, and they said it would be a long time before we could go back in.

So Gwen and I walked across the street to Marshall's where I actually found some knee-length shorts that fit me.

So the day wasn't a total loss.

After about an hour, the lady from the auto center called me and said that they had actually not started on my car when the evacuation started, so I could come to the side of the building and pick it up. 

We found out later that a Wal-Mart employee had been trying to get one of those huge pallets in the back down and had hit a gas line. Yikes.

I finally did get tires on my car a couple of days later. Fourth time is a charm!!! The Jolley cars both have brand new tires on--let's see how long they last with our good luck.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What We Do.

We've been in Jacksonville for 6 weeks now and have established some sort of routine. But just when you think you've got a hang of things, things change. For example. I enjoyed 2 beautiful weeks as primary pianist (my dream calling) before being called as YW 2nd counselor once again. This is my third time in that calling!! Even though the time commitment is way more than primary pianist, I am actually glad because I always miss working with the youth after a few months away from them.

But here are a few things we do routinely in Jacksonville:

1. We Take Insanely Bad Sunday Photos.

Move aside all you perfect Instagrammers with your perfect family Sunday photos! There's a new sheriff in town and her name is Heather Jolley. Her weapon of choice? A really bad phone camera. Her subjects? Two children who are allergic to the words, "Stay Still!"

"I have an owie on my finger! I need a band-aid!" Whoever invented band-aids must make a fortune, but mostly from sucker parents who buy them for their children who don't need them.

2. We Play Outside.

"I'm Sailing!!!!!" Name the movie.

Literally the only tire that has treated us well in the past 6 years. Except that right after this shot, Gwen ran in front of June's path and hit the ground. Hard. And then we went home! Fun!

You're probably thinking, "But how do Heather's children ever get hurt when she's so careful and never lets them do anything scary?"

Gwen's constant sidekick: A stick. All day, every day.

 "I was runninnggggggg!!" (Again, name the movie. Huge prize at the end of this post.)

3. We Make Food That Looks Bad and Tastes Good. It's how we fool people into letting us eat their share.

We call this one the Jabba the Hut crust. "It's not a tumah!" (Yet a THIRD chance to win the "Name that Movie" game!)

These are definitely supposed to look like cute little birds' nest for Easter and definitely resemble an oil spill in a swamp instead. (But were seriously good. So good.)

4. We Celebrate Miscellany!

June still goes to school and is loving it!!! I just had a meeting with her teacher, and Mrs. Spann said that June is right on track with her progress.

This is down the street from me. It's spooky fun running by it at 5 a.m.

My wedding ring broke. But our love still remains strong.

We fed these elders a kind of horrible meal, only to find out that it was Elder Bore's birthday AFTER we had finished eating. So we gave him some terrible gifts from our pantry.

Usually quiet in this house equals trouble. But sometimes it means that June is "reading" her books. Which makes this mama very happy because I'm banking on our kids for our retirement plan.

Oh yeah. And we still fight. This pic was originally taken to show Gwen's cute little backpack she wears everywhere. But right before the shot, June knocked her over. So cute.

And now I'm concluding one of my most obnoxious posts so far.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Many of you (all three of you) may know that Dan and I met over a flat tire he was fixing for me. I have blogged about this before (here and here), but that sweet beginning was also a sort of an ominous one in the way of our general bad luck with tires. My mom has told me several times that I need to write a book about my family adventures with the common thread of each of our tire mishaps, and I'm even working on some sort of horribly punny name for the book. Perhaps Our Tireless Love or Eternal Love Never Loses Traction or 'Tire'd But Still Hanging On By a Thread, which would probably be the most accurate. Please feel free to post your own submission in the comments section. We have never kept count, but I would say most years, we've had at least 3 flat tires if not more. And I really should learn to change one now.

We celebrated Christmas in Atlanta with Heidi's fam, and on our drive up, we felt our car start to shaaaaaaaake like crazy. On the freeway. It was exhilarating! All of you people with your newer and safer cars (each of ours is 15 years old) just don't know what you are missing. Live on the edge with us! Specifically the edge of the freeway where you must frequently stop to check on your car.

Anyway, it was Christmas Eve and we were in the middle of Nowhere, Georgia and were barely successful in pulling into a gas station just off the freeway exit. The door to the gas station was made out of poster board. Out of probably 15 shelves inside the gas station, only one had items for sale. Dan told the cashier about our mishap, and he told us that we were in luck because his friends had just opened a garage a few weeks before and would be happy to come down to the gas station to look at our car.

The men showed up, looking a bit rough. (I realize this makes me judgmental. You got me,) The first thing one of them said to us was, pointing to our girls, "Hey! I've got kids too!" This common ground gave us the bond we were hoping for. The men couldn't find anything wrong with our car and said that we needed to take it to their garage so that they could put it on the jack.

We followed them (shaaaaaaaking like crazy the whole way) into a neighborhood of abandoned houses. I joked with Dan, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if they pulled into one of these houses and said it was their shop?" And then they did. At which point, I sent this picture to my sister with the message, "In case I die, send police here."

I'm sure she didn't find that alarming at all.

We pulled into this abandoned house, which sure enough had also been a garage in a previous life, and the men explained how, even though it didn't look like much, they were trying to revive this garage. They they asked Dan if he had any tools, because they didn't have any. And luckily we did.

They jacked up the car, and sure enough, one of our tires was shredding on the inside. With how fast we were going on the freeway, we were lucky our car didn't flip over.

The girls and I spent the time the men worked on the car at another gas station which was next door to the garage. The gas station owner was VERY nice and gave the girls free treats, which I appreciated.

Poor things were still in their pajamas because we had left at 5 that morning. June was wearing her plastic Elsa heels, a practical choice while traveling.

This sign was in the window of the gas station, and I may embroider it on a pillow because I found it so wise.

At the conclusion of the new tire being put on, Dan asked the men how much we owed them. They said, "Let's see. That will be $70 for the tire and $50 for the labor. So $175." Dan started to argue, but I wanted to GET OUT OF THERE. Yes, we were overcharged big time. Yes, you can call me a chump. But I was a chump ready to get on with Christmas.

The rest of Christmas was perfect. I love the South. I love the weather here, the people here, and I love having Heidi's family close by. Apparently the coveted job of the week was taking care of Herschel.

And don't worry. I have two more tire stories to post since that last incident.