Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas

We just took down all of the Christmas stuff, and I'm so glad. I love putting up the decorations every year and always let my mind wander to all of the things we still "need" to decorate for a proper Christmas. A Christmas village! A train to go around the tree! Or should I say treeS, because we should have two or three fully decorated trees! And more lights for the outside!

And then, by Dec. 31st, I'm ready to burn it all down and never decorate again. I call it Christmas Claustrophobia, and it's a real thing. As much as my house is cluttered, I am not a clutter person. I can't stand it, but live with lots of people who seem to love it. It's the constant battle we fight over here, and on Dec. 31st, I feel a tiny victory as we shove all of the containers of Christmas decorations into the attic once again. It's not the Christmas bonfire I hope for at the end of every year, but a tiny battle won is a big deal to me.

It's been a good Christmas. I'm still not quite over morning sickness, but doing significantly better. I'm at about 70%. I was happy about that progress though because we still participated in many Christmas traditions, and then I was happy to let the rest fall by the wayside in favor of early bedtimes for myself.

The Sunday before Christmas, everyone got gussied up for church.

I debated back and forth on Christmas dresses and garb for the kids this year, and then a lady in my ward whose kids are grown surprised me with new Christmas clothes for the kids! She said she misses buying her own kids Christmas clothes. My kids looked so nice and fancy, almost like they were a part of a different family!



Dan wore his new suit for the service, and I felt fine about that being his only Christmas present this year. Because suits are pricey. But then I felt bad when he really didn't have anything else to open Christmas day. I probably should have done better.


Navy suits are my favorite.

Christmas Eve, we went to a ward member's house and had dinner with lots of fun folks and participated in several Swedish traditions. I found the almond in the rice pudding, thankyouverymuch!!

Christmas morning, everyone followed the old Beck family rule that we do NOT wake on Christmas until at least 7 AM! And then they all piled into our room for Dan's annual Christmas devotional. He bore his sweet testimony about the Savior and then invited us all to do the same. Which we did, except Gwen. I'm sure she would have if we had not asked her to do so. There are a lot of power struggle dynamics at play with that one.


I didn't take a lot of pictures of the gifts, but everyone was very happy. New toys, clothes, books and games.


And Grandma Kristi sent this very special art kit everyone loved.


And June loves her new winter coat from Grandma Sandy.

We took several breaks throughout the morning to play with toys and eat our traditional Christmas breakfast, which is biscuits and gravy and orange julius.


And it's been a very chill break since. Lots of reading (I've read two books!), movie watching and eating.

And I finally got my hair done.


And, not to be outdone, Gwen massacred her own hair. I'm in mourning.

WHY DO THEY ALL DO THAT?

And Harris fell off the stage at church and has a black eye. I tell ya, one week the Jolleys show up looking so nice in Christmas clothes, and the next week they show up like a bunch of ragamuffin hooligans.

Luckily, Gwen's hair can be covered up. But there are no ponytails or other updos in her future.


Lest you think we had any sort of calm, rational reaction to Gwen's happy scissor time, we didn't. We acted like buffoons. I screamed and cried, and Dan yelled at her "YOU ARE GOING TO LOOK SO WEIRD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU" on repeat.

And now, I have two more days of this Christmas break, and I'm hoping to read a bit more.

The End.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Happy Sweatsgiving.

It's been awhile. And on this blog, that usually means one thing . . . 


I'm pregnant. And sick. From being pregnant.

We are really excited and grateful. Due date not for a million years. I'll keep you posted.


So, in true Heather Pregnant Form (HPF), we have cut down on about half of our daily activity. We have participated in holidays, but in a muted format.

We did that Halloween thing. Cats are easy. Harris was a mouse. Dan was a piece of cheese. With a Shredder-from-Ninja-Turtles mask we had. Shredded cheese; get it? No one else did either so he ditched the mask halfway through the ward Trunk or Treat and just stuck to the cheese to accompany Harris' mouse costume. I didn't take any pictures of Dan.


Or of myself. I was a flying squirrel. It didn't fit the family theme but it was a huge onesie that was very comfortable so I bought it.

June had pink eye a few weeks ago and made herself this box in order to quarantine her head and infected eye from the rest of the family. It was a real pain to get her to do normal things with this abnormal box on her head.

Trying to grow out June's bangs. But then I miss them. I can't decide. What say ye?


Cute boy whose breath smells so bad every morning that this pregnant lady has to push him away a lot more than she used to. Poor little bear.

It snowed. Before Thanksgiving. It's going to be a loooooooooooong winter. But the kids loved it.


Gwen recently rediscovered the Raggedy Ann that Grandma Kristi made for her a long time ago, and now RA accompanies us everywhere.

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday by picking up food from Cracker Barrel. Dan heated everything up, and it was actually really good! We all wore sweats and said what we were thankful for. I actually enjoy a more dressy Thanksgiving, but it wasn't in the cards for this year.

What the Jolleys are thankful for:

Me: I'm so grateful for Dan. Whenever I'm pregnant, he takes over everything. He cooks, cleans, works full time, raises the kids, and constantly sees to my every need. He has been especially quick on his feet with the barf bowl this go around, and I haven't missed yet!
Gwen: is grateful for playing with friends. She's my social butterfly and cannot wait to move out of the house.
June: is grateful for a plethora of things. They made a list at school, and we read them together. My favorite was that she's especially grateful for the Venn Diagram.
Harris: is grateful that we haven't left him anyplace and that he seems to get dressed and fed most days. Poor third child.
Dan: is grateful for this ungrateful family he gets to support and that his new job seems to be going well.

We are the most thankful for Jesus Christ, without which, we would be lost. We love the Gospel and are grateful for its presence in our home. It is the calm throughout the storm.

The End.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Croupity Croup Croup and Homework with June

I love writing. Why do I struggle so much to actually do it?

First of all, I feel limited in time and doing a sloppy job feels painful. Hence why I have adopted my "done is better than perfect" motto.

Second, according to Gretchen Rubin and her book The Four Tendencies, I'm an obliger, which means that I won't keep personal goals unless I have outside accountability. I'll keep external goals at the cost of my own health because I get great satisfaction from making others happy. But I am not good at seeing my personal expectations as important as those expectations I receive from others.

I don't like this about myself but I'm trying to accept it. I'm telling myself to see blog writing as an outside expectation, because my family is going to love having these records one day. (Really, I just enjoy the process.) We'll see if that works.

Harris has croup. When I think about croup, I think about Anne Shirley saving Minnie May's life when all of the adults (besides Matthew) have left Avonlea to meet the prime minister of Canada at some speech he is giving. I'm trying to remember what Anne treated Minnie May with--ipecac and some hot mustard paste cloths on Minnie May's chest.

Luckily for Harris, he (1) is not nearly as severe as Minnie May and (2) was born in 2017. So the doc prescribed him a couple of doses of steroids. It seems to be working--fever is down (it was 103 yesterday), and he doesn't have the same seal-barking sounds when he coughs and breathes. But man alive, he is sooooo cranky and clingy and needy and everything I'm not good at handling as a mom.

Quick question to the moms of older kids--at what age do they leave you alone and do everything for themselves? Asking for a friend.

These pictures are from a few weeks ago but show exactly how Harris is at all times this week:



 And a couple of pictures of how I am feeling as caretaker:



As I type this Harris is alternating between screaming in my lap and sliding down to the floor where he can scream louder until I return him to the screaming-in-my-lap position.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about June's first year of homework. She's in first grade now, and apparently that means homework. Who made up that rule? Someone who has never met first graders apparently.

Everyday, we open her homework folder and start on the math and handwriting worksheets she has been assigned.

Now, I'm not really the type of mom to sit with a kid and go through each homework problem together. That's not how my mom did it, and that's not really how I operate. But June needs some pretty heavy monitoring to prevent her from waxing poetic about Valentine's Day (even in October) or unicorns or how we need to collect a bunch of sticks to make a nest for "Brownie" the bird that likes to sit near our front porch in the morning. Brownie is the same name applied to the many different birds that come by, in honor of the first bird June observed who was, in fact, brown. However, this same name applies whether the bird is brown, black, red, or rainbow.

She also has a name for every ant she sees on the ground--"Look! My friend, Dagio!"

But I digress.

So if I don't sit with June and remind her that we are doing homework, she will play out the various vignettes of her mind. They are much more interesting than homework, but alas, are not the homework she has been assigned to do.

So we sit, and I say, "Okay, what's the next problem? How many circles are there? Which way does the "3" go? Nope, that's backwards. Try again."

And to each of these questions or statements, June replies, giddily, "Okay, now close your eyes!!!!!"

At which point, I have to turn my head and close my eyes while she writes down a number or erases the old number and writes down a new number. Because she is a magician and these are her magic tricks--making numbers appear and disappear.

At which point, I get irritated and say, "I'M NOT CLOSING MY EYES! JUST DO IT!"

At which point, she reminds me that she's a magician. And at which point I surrender and close my eyes.

Down the worksheet we go, pausing at each problem at least three times so that I can close my eyes while she performs her magic tricks.

She's sweet; it's endearing. She has the best personality.

It's difficult and exhausting. I often want to scream. And sometimes do.

But every day we keep doing it.

I went to her Back to School Night a couple of weeks ago and found this puzzle waiting for me at her desk. I put it together and found our family.


Harris is in my arms right now and in the picture! And June and Gwen are holding hands. And Dan is apparently wearing purple ear muffs.

I love her. But wish we didn't have homework to do tonight.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Rocktober

We've moved a lot in our short 8 years of marriage, so it feels kinda weird to be doing the same things we were doing last year this year. We have traditions here--two years strong!

Just like last year, we decorated the house with spiders for Halloween.

We added a web this year. A really wimpy web. Dan mentioned wanting one, and I set out to surprise him with an awesome one. And then allowed myself to be sucked in by a good deal--$5--and came home with this skinny, hard-to-see-from-any-distance, web wonder.


It was at about this moment of putting the web up that Dan knocked over a REAL spider web and a REAL spider came flying at him, and we both screamed and cried like little girls.


We are Halloween pretenders. We want to have a decked out house and are probably both the most freakoutable people on the block.


The web of wonder! The web of mystery! Or more accurately, the web of total disappointment.


Beware of the spider on the transparent web!

Other decor:


I tell my piano students that here lies the skeleton of my last student who didn't practice.


And then they roll their eyes at me. It's a weird, almost-instant reaction to all my jokes.

There are several well-decorated houses in our hood. Gwen, Harris and I went on a Halloween house walking tour before June came home last Friday, and there were a lot of cutesy Halloween houses and some downright scary ones. This was a scary one. Gwen was freaked. And like the good mother I am, I made her go up to the thing she was scared of and touch it to see that it wasn't real.


Is that good or bad? I don't know. I'll let you know how it turns out in 20 years.

It was on this very walk that my keys fell out of my pocket, and we haven't been able to find them since. We have re-walked and re-driven the route many times, and nothing. Nothing!

Just add it to my long list of recently lost items--sanity, dignity, and my large whisk. I only have a kid-sized whisk right now. Is there no balm in Gilead?

Actually yes, yes there is. We had General Conference this past weekend, and it was just what the doctor ordered.

There were so many good talks, and I hope to highlight some favorite lines from each one in future blog posts.

We had a good plan of attack for General Conference this go around. So often we try to make our kids be quiet and listen, and it's kinda terrible and doesn't work at all.

So on Saturday we struggled with that. Saturday night, I listened to the amazing Women's Session while baking, to keep myself awake. Not that it's boring. But it starts at 8 and goes until 9:30ish here on the East Coast, and if you know me AT ALL, that's like midnight-thirty in Heather Land.



So I baked a quiche for Sunday morning and two loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread for Sunday morning, afternoon and night (or more likely just Sunday morning) and listened and was uplifted.

But on Sunday, we switched things up and drove to Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, during the first session of conference and listened in the car. Gwen and Harris slept. June asked us a lot of questions about Valentine's Day, Easter and when she gets to start driving cars. Which is all very typical June. And Dan and I mostly listened to conference, in between promising June all sorts of things we are going to do for Valentine's Day and Easter, while also tremoring (made-up word) at the thought of teaching June to drive.

But mostly we got to listen more than we have since we had kids, and it was awesome.

Then during the break in between sessions, we visited the Priesthood Restoration Site in Susquehanna.






It was so beautiful there and so great to learn more about Church History. I love Church History, and I love learning about the Priesthood. I truly believe that the authority to act in God's name has been restored to the earth.

Emma Hales' parents' graves:

And the first child of Joseph and Emma, who died the day he was born.


Seriously one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The missionary who took us on a tour was WONDERFUL. Because, in case you were wondering, you don't want to take the Jolleys on a tour. Or to any place on the earth.

Harris started out okay. He was excited to be outside in the open and ran around, but we could kinda keep an eye on him while Sister Hill talked. He pushed our stroller around a lot, which was fine even though he couldn't see where he was going.


But once we got inside the reconstructed homes of the Hales and Joseph and Emma, Harris was bonkers. I could almost see his mind working--"There is a rope barring entrance to this room. How odd. I will just climb underneath to see what is in here."

Dan kept picking him out to keep him out of trouble, which made Harris scream his brains out, which made Dan take him outside and miss the rest of the tour.

"I'm the lucky one this time," I thought to myself as I stayed on the tour with the girls. Lucky, that is, until June grabbed her bottom with both hands and started shrieking, "POOPY! POOPY! POOPY!", at which point I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder and ran to the nearest bathroom, all the while calling over my shoulder, "THANKS SISTER HILL! IT WAS GREAT!"

And that was the end of our tour.

The place was full of critters. The kids loved it. Upon said bathroom break, I went into a stall to check on Gwen. "Look, Mom!" she exclaimed showing me a spider IN her very hands.


Of course, I freaked out and told her to drop it, and then she wouldn't, and she started screaming because the spider "pinched" her, aka bit her.

I know that spider was more freaked out than Gwen was because Gwen is scary.

We also saw two caterpillars (one pictured here)


And a walking stick!


I thought this was the most exciting discovery.

We ate a quick dinner in the form of sandwiches, carrots, apples, sour patch kids and choc chip pumpkin bread and then headed home while listening to the second session.

I think it was one of our best conference weekends yet.

And yesterday for Family Home Evening, we had jack-o-lantern quesadillas and banana ghost pops.



And that's all of the creativity energy I have for the entire year, so I'm going to bed until December.

The End.

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.