Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Welcome to the 90s, Mr. Bahhhnks

Growing up in the Beck household meant jumping on the trend bandwagon pretty late. My parents raised five kids on a tight budget and getting the latest gadgets or electronics never happened. I actually love this about my childhood because I didn't even anticipate getting a lot of the things other kids were expecting, and I think that has served me well as an adult.

So when we finally did get the "latest" thing--10 years after everyone else (and much cheaper)--it was pretty exciting.

This has continued in my life even now and is definitely not limited to technology. I jumped on the Instagram wagon pretty late (and continue to jump right back off of it from time to time). We didn't have the internet the first year of our marriage. Let me repeat that. We didn't have the internet the first year of our marriage. I don't know how we managed that, but we were really poor so we figured it out. Daniel lived at UNLV's library so that he could complete assignments. I went through my boy band stage in college. That's when I listened to NSYNC, a full 8 years after my friends had their obsession.

All this to say that I am just now using Pinterest. Honestly, I didn't need it before, and I know a lot of people who still don't need it. And I think that's great. But a few months ago, I started doing a special eating plan for a couple of months. I needed a place to store recipes. That turned into discovering easy crafts the girls could do with stuff I already had on hand. I also found the most ridiculous craft ideas on earth that are the equivalent of carving Fabio's face out of ice. I stay away from those.

I don't need more to do, but I do want to do some things differently, and Pinterest has been great for that.

We made these pumpkins with an apple "stamp" and some paint for FHE this week.

Also, we had jack-o-lantern quesadillas last night when Dan was out of town. This was especially special for me because my go-to when Dan is out of town is cereal or junk food. No joke. 

Gwen is extremely hard to impress.

 But June was thrilled.

 Harris--one week with the helmet and me--2.5 months with Smile Direct Club retainers.

She's Killing Me . . . with Kindness

June's primary program is a couple of weeks away. We've been working on her part every night, and she has memorized it fairly quickly. But I realized that she had no idea what she was saying.

Her part is: When people hurt Jesus, he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.

It's a pretty powerful part actually. So for Family Home Evening on Monday, we showed the kids a great video about forgiveness. We talked about being patient and kind and loving to those who hurt our feelings. 

I felt pretty good about this because my girls are constantly fighting and require lots of forgiveness from each other.

This plan has backfired enormously.

Later that Monday night, June was dawdling and wouldn't get in the tub. The tub was full, the water was warm, the bubbles were bubbling, the toys were still floating, and June was wandering standing outside the tub, looking at the ceiling.

"June," I said. "Get in the tub."

I said this several times, until it became:


To which June replied:

"Mom, I forgive you for yelling at me."

Another morning, I yelled again. I'm good at yelling.

June said, "Mom, when you yell at me, it makes me cry. But I'll be patient with you."

She's also getting smarter in our power struggles.

This morning, I did June's hair in two cute buns.

Of course, she hated it and begged me to take them out and put "just one ponytail" in. 

So, I offered her a deal.

"June, if you leave your hair in these two buns, I'll give you a special treat when you get home from school."

"Mom, I will leave two buns in my hair if I get a special Halloween treat when I get home and you promise never to bug me ever again."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pumpkin Patch and the Urgent Care

Oh fall. Autumn. If we had moved to New Jersey in the fall, I would have been sold right away. Fall here is beautiful. One of the best things about living here is that you have one of the biggest cities and all that offers about an hour away. Or you also can feel like you're as far away from that as possible, which is my desire about 80% of the time. We have been to several farms since moving here where you can pick your own fruit or take a hayride or practice being a "goater" (June's word for someone who takes care of goats).

So on Saturday, we headed to a pumpkin patch. To look at pumpkins. Because I buy our pumpkins at Aldi for $2.50 a piece.

We went with our friends, the Wilkes. 

Did you sense a feeling of foreboding in this last photo? There is a tale to tell about these two later in the post.

We went through a corn maze, and the kids enjoyed trying to get just far enough away to be out of sight and earshot. The maze was great interval training for the adults--walk at a steady pace for 2 minutes, sprint ahead for 30 seconds to find lost kids, walk again, sprint again, etc.

We played on the hay, fed animals and discussed how we would run the place if it were our business. Well, the kids didn't discuss that but Dan and I did. It's something we do every single place we go. We're great at parties.

After a couple of hours, everyone was tired. Actually, only I was tired. But everyone was nice to me and agreed to leave. The whole group came over to our house for pizza and a failed pinterest ice cream dessert. Par for the course around here.

At about this point of the evening, Gwen and Ruby were fighting over a toy and Gwen pushed Ruby off the trampoline. We even have an enclosed trampoline, but she fell just through the crack that was left open so the kids could climb on and off. Ruby cried and cried and cried. That's the only way I can ever tell when it's a serious injury--the crying just never subsides. The sweet Wilkes kept reassuring us that they were sure she was fine, but eventually they did decide to take her to the urgent care . . .

where it was discovered that Ruby had broken her collarbone.

Now the only thing that could have made this situation worse would have been if the adults didn't remain calm.

Which is why I bawled my eyes out for only thirty minutes instead of my standard ninety.

I don't think I'm a person who has a lot of drama in my life, but I am extremely emotional. So the evening ended up with Ruby's parents comforting me as I went through the five stages of grief about the injury that had taken place on my trampoline.

Kendra gave me a call, and I sobbed and sobbed. She kept telling me that it was fine and that Ruby was laughing and playing.

After I got off the phone with her, I ran to Dan and cried some more. He finally turned to me and said, "Why don't you do us all a favor and just go to bed?"

And he was right. The next morning was much better, and I only teared up once that day.

Poor sweet Ruby.

And poor Gwen. It's hard being the perpetrator.

But mostly--poor me.

Just kidding.

Thank goodness for great friends who love us anyway.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Jolleys Go Out

Update: I felt pretty yucky after I posted this and made it sound like we had the best weekend ever. Meanwhile, there was the sickest, most senseless tragedy in Las Vegas Sunday night.

We lived in Vegas when we were first married. We were married there. We know lots of people there. But even if we hadn't, we all have a connection to this event.

Monday morning, I started getting texts from Vegas peeps. A lady from our Vegas ward was texting me to try to get a hold of her son who is serving his mission here in New Jersey. He had emailed her in the middle of the night to see if his family was okay.

Anyway, we have been sick over it. And the stuff from this post was from before that. Just wanted to clarify so that it didn't appear insensitive to what is going on right now.

Here's the original post:

Dan's job requires that he occasionally attend nice dinners at nice restaurants with nicely dressed and nice smelling people. This is a bit of a contrast to what he comes home to. A bit. Honestly, I think there's nothing better that a businessman or woman can do for their career besides have kids because kids keep you humble. Dan can attend an expensive multi-course meal on the Hudson River overlooking the NYC skyline, but then he comes home to an overly excited child, awaiting his arrival so that she can show him what she just did in the potty.

Not that Dan would ever be anything different than well-grounded anyway; it's one of his best qualities.

That being said, I think Dan recently noticed that he and I were having extremely different cuisine experiences as of late. I guess I was too busily buried beneath corn dogs and mac and cheese to notice, but a few weeks ago, Dan announced that we were going to dinner Friday night, and we were going somewhere nice.

And not even somewhere nice like Red Robin or Chipotle or Olive Garden or "not fast food" nice. Like actually nice. He took me to Il Cappricio, an Italian place near us. We got dressed up and ordered appetizers and entrees and listened to the piano player and basked in the cloth napkin-ess and multiple forks-ness of it all.  A man had the sole job of brushing away our crumbs from time to time, and I almost reached over and touched his wrist to give him a knowing look. Because I know that job.

It was a little too nice to take a picture of without looking a little ridiculous, but I did take a picture beforehand to show my sister my jewelry, so please excuse the awkward selfie (which I don't really believe in).

We ate a perfectly wonderful meal. Dan had the lamb and I had fettuccine, and it was delightful. It came time for dessert, but we decided that we had had enough pretending and scooted out of there to hit up our fave ice cream place, Last Licks. If you ever visit, you must eat here.

What a terrible picture. It doesn't even show the ice cream.

Of course, leading up to this meal, I had been on this eating plan called Bright Line Eating, where I didn't eat flour or sugar for like 45 days or something. So this wonderful meal was not a friend to me for long and I was up most of the night sick from it.

We had several hours on Saturday morning before conference started (East Coast!) so we got into the conference mood by spookifying our house for Halloween. Yes, those two things don't go together, but we had lot of fun family time, and that does go with conference!

We have a motion sensor spider on the front porch, and the girls love getting spooked by it. They are Dan's girls and do not scare easily like their mother.
And then we watched conference. Oh conference, I love you! Just the refresher we need every 6 months. Some of my favorite quotes came from the Women's Conference the week before. Sister Joy D. Jones said: 

"The Lord assures us that when we have virtuous thoughts, He will bless us with confidence, even the confidence to know who we really are." 

And there were so many other gems too. 

The kids were all over the place for conference, but I did convince the girls to let me paint their nails and that kept things quiet for a bit.

This picture was taken by none other than my budding photographer, June Jolley. I taught her everything I know. Clearly.

The next morning we hosted a bunch of ward friends at the park by our house for a conference brunch. Dan the Man made four types of quiche (plain, ham, bacon and sausage--clearly we love pork), and I made two kinds of monkey bread.


 and pumpkin spice (with cream cheese filling):

The kids were able to play with their friends, and the adults ate themselves silly and it was a lovely morning.

Lastly, Harris finally obtained his helmet to correct his wonky head issues. Honestly, is there anything cuter than a baby in glasses or a helmet? I die.

The End.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What's Working and What's Not

I've learned a lot of lessons in my short tenure as a parent, and I often think about what the topics of each chapter would be if I were ever to author a parenting book. I would probably call one chapter "Sleep is more important than anything else." I'd have an entire section dedicated to things I never thought I would hear myself say, such as "I love that you want to be Mommy's helper! Now go watch tv." or "Please don't kiss your bus driver. He doesn't like it."

This type of book would never work out for me, however, because my target audience would be people like me, and people like me don't read parenting books. I personally despise or get bored with almost all parenting books. There are a couple that I appreciate (Baby Wise, I'm looking at you), but mostly I only read reviews of parenting books, just enough to get the gist. I'm really dedicated, as you can tell.

But even though I don't enjoy reading parenting books, I do love writing and I am a parent and so I'm going to write some stuff about that today. If that's not your jam, we have more in common than you think and you can be excused to read about something more interesting, like a "Where Are They Now?" article. I find those delightful.

My amateurish approach to parenting could probably be best described as Process of Elimination. Figuring out what works and what doesn't. Stop the bad, continue the good, rinse and repeat. Here are some things that are working lately. (Notice use of the word "lately", as in I fully do not expect these things to work forever because they probably won't.)

1. M&M's for potty training.

Potty training Gwen has been a gift from heaven. June took monnnnnnnnnnthssssssssssss to potty train. And many failed attempts prior to the months of potty training. She was 4 years and 9 months old when she really started to grasp it, and even then I became one of "those" parents I had previously made fun of because I packed her potty and took it with us on trips. I had to time all outings based on when she had last used the restroom.

People gave me tons of advice. "Have you tried a sticker chart?" "Give her m&ms every time she goes." "Buy her a really awesome toy, put it on top of the fridge and tell her she can have it after she goes without accidents for a week." We stickered, we rewarded, we bought the magic toy. That Cowgirl Jessie doll lived on our fridge for nine whole months. June would wave to it as she walked by the kitchen. "Hi, Jessie! Have a good day!" She was unmoved.

I hate to be a jerk and compare, but I'm trying to point out a blessing here. Potty training Gwen was better than any Christmas of my childhood. Even the one where I received the "That Thing You Do" soundtrack. It was a miserable day or two. And then she got it. Every once in awhile she slips up. And we handle it. And I don't give her an m&m every time she goes. I give her a hundred m&ms. Because I'm so happy.

June's failures were really mine. Because she just wasn't ready. And they have to be ready. Lots of people had told me this, but they would always back it up with "By the time she is 3, she will be ready." June was honestly not ready until she was almost 5. I wish I had just accepted that and not tortured everyone.

2. Job Charts vs. Plain Old Pressure

At the start of the school year, you can hear moms across the country mapping out the perfect job chart for their kids. This job chart will be the one that works, they think. Well, our job chart has already kind of failed, but we've also found a good replacement.

This is what I came up with for each of the girls. Morning and evening routines on a laminated sheet of paper that they could check off before school and before bed and then wipe clean for the next day. It kind of worked.

But what has worked better has been using Alexa.

Such kitchen organization you have never seen. Lest you can't believe your eyes--yes, that is a beautiful corner of our counter dedicated to an Airwick plug-in, Echo dot, dish scraper and a random peach. Don't act like you don't have this corner in your house because I know you do. Every morning, we tell Alexa to set a timer. First one is 15 minutes for the girls to eat their breakfast. 10 minutes to go potty. And so on and so forth. Is this terrible? Maybe. But it works really well. Except for the time the timer went off and June hadn't finished her muffin so she stuffed the remaining half in her mouth and couldn't swallow it and gagged it back up. But she made it to the trash! Win.

3. Reading Lessons

Part of the morning routine is a quick reading lesson. We read bedtime stories each night, but June and I (and Gwen often sits in to observe) spend a few minutes each morning working on her reading skills. I love this book:

And it sits on the end table next to the couch where we read together each morning. You may notice that the title references "100 easy lessons" and goes on to mention "20 minutes a day." Well, that's just not how we roll. We have been doing these reading lessons about 4-5 days a week since February. We do about 5-6 minutes a day, because that's our threshold. June has learned a lot. I have learned more. It turns out that getting frustrated at your child does not help them read. So we stopped trying for 20 minutes a day. We definitely don't do a full lesson a day. We do a few lines a day. We start with a prayer. This is for me. And we're enjoying it a lot more.

I had to mention it because this week we finished Lesson 50! And June read several words by herself. Win!

Okay, that's about as much parenting talk as I can handle. I'll have to stay up extra late tonight watching something frivolous in order to get that out of my system.

And some miscellany:

Trying curlers on the girls.

Final product:

Nope, not so much. They definitely have my hair, poor things.

Did pigtails on the girls this week. Afterward, June exclaimed, "We're fancy pigs, Gwen!"

Back in swim lessons after way too long away. Loving it.

Still the best. And he potty trained himself last week.

Not really.

June's solution to the sun being in her eyes but still wanting to look at the camera.

Halloween ice cream at Friendly's. A ghost and a bat. This is right before I escorted a screaming Gwen out, and I adopted my new mom-phrase everyone around here hates: "Ice cream is a privilege!"

We were able to have the Wilkes over one day while their parents went to the temple. We've been trading off with them, and it is such a huge blessing. Both for the kids and for the parents. A little sanity has been added back into my life because I can go to the temple with my hubs!

The End.