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


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.