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.