Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Snow Day today!

We've been busy working on workbooks and coloring and doing June's speech homework and cleaning, and I have just waived the white flag of surrender and the girls are watching tv while I blog.

Love that tongue hanging out while she concentrates.

And Gwen waiting for June to finish yoga last night. Being the younger sibling stinks sometimes.

Here's my tip to have greater success at keeping goals--try them out before you officially set them. If I am trying to start a new habit, it never goals well for me to dive into it, full speed ahead starting on such-a-such date. No, sir.

What works for me is to test the waters here and there a bit. For example, I tried a new way of eating last year. So I cooked a few meals within my new guidelines over a few weeks before I completely forged ahead. It was helpful to get my feet wet.

So here are some goals for this year--goals I've already tested out a bit and they seem to be doable and positive.

1. No Yelling. Even as I type this, I chuckle a bit to myself because it seems ridiculous. Absolutely no yelling? I am the world's best yeller! What I don't mean by this is that I will stop using a firm voice. Because I won't ever stop using a firm voice. And if my kid is about to get hit by a car, then yes I will yell. But there's being firm, stern, intentional--and then there's absolutely losing it. And I have lost it too many times.

I was at the YMCA with June last Saturday and overheard a man totally losing it with his tiny kid. The kid might have been 3. And that age really is tough. The kid was hitting his dad over and over, and the dad LOST IT. But there's such a difference between a 3 year old losing it and a 33 year old losing it. Though I am not one to talk, I wanted to go over to the dad and tell him to shake it off, to put himself in timeout for a minute. Because the way he was acting toward his totally unruly son was making me absolutely sick to my stomach. And I've been there before, and I cannot continue to go there.

The thing is--I know I'm going to mess up on this one. But even an improvement would be huge.

2. Preschool Gwen. Preschool in NJ is just too expensive, and Gwen needs some attention from me, both emotionally and academically. I bought workbooks and letter/number magnets, and we have been plowing through the alphabet and numbers and shapes and a bunch of other things a few days a week. It doesn't happen everyday, and I don't care. I have seen great progress from her, but more importantly, she loves it and it's something we do together--just us.

3. No Zillow. This one smarts a bit. I am a zillow fiend. I love that app. The big problem is that we know our time in NJ is limited, and we know a few possibilities of where we could move, so I have spent copious amounts of time looking for houses in places we may or may not ever live in. It has become such a distraction that I am banning myself from the app until we really have to make some serious decisions (which isn't for at least 9 months, probably longer). I miss my friend, Zillow, but this has already been a really good thing for me. My goal here is to live in the present.

4. Pay Half of our Student Debt. We took out a loan for Dan to complete his MBA, and it's time to pay the piper. It has become ridiculously easy to justify making minimum payments on this thing, but no more. Let's get it done. Going along with my own zillow ban, I am also not shopping unless I really need something. We are renting so I don't need to constantly browse furniture or decor for a house we won't be in for much longer. We have clothes. We have food. I love buying books for my kids, telling myself we are building up a our own library. But we have a library down the street, so that will have to do for now. Time to cut back on the extras.

5. Read aloud. I have been reading articles and listening to podcasts on the benefits of reading aloud to children. So I have been trying to read an hour every night. This can be hard, but we're doing it most days.

6. Blog. Blog once a week. I may blog even more this month. I was thinking that since the winter is so long and boring, maybe I'll dig up some old high school photos and blog embarrassing moments or something.

7. Podcasts. Listen to podcasts while I drive. Not everyday, because sometimes you just want music. But podcasts are helpful too. What I'm listening to right now--Guardians of the Family (a great podcast about the role of women), Presidential (one podcast for each U.S. president) and Read-Aloud Revival (about reading aloud to kids). I also like to throw BYU devotionals in there.

8. Scriptures before anything else. Best way to start the day.

That's enough for now. Let me know if you have any good podcasts I should be listening to!

Monday, January 15, 2018


Driving home from church yesterday, I asked my girls, "What did you learn in primary today?" June quickly responded, "Mom, I don't want to be a log." Whatever that means. I asked Gwen a second time what she had learned, and she screamed "I DON'T LEARN NOTHIN'!"

Then June began to sing "Choose the Right Way" but her lyrics were as follows:

Choose the Right Way
Or You'll Be Killed.

As you can imagine, Gwen didn't appreciate that song very much. And repeatedly screamed for June to stop. Finally, I yelled back to June, "June, maybe we could sing this later." To which she replied, "But I'm singing to Gwen to help her feel better!" I told her Gwen didn't like it. So June said, "Okay mom I'll just sing a song to you instead," and the singing and screaming continued all of the way home.

I think our efforts to teach our children the Gospel are really beginning to bear fruit.

Here's a picture of the girls before church when they were (a little) more intact. Though with church starting later for us this year, we are already losing it before get there.

Gwen is joining the primary ranks as a Sunbeam this year, and she hasn't mourned the loss of nursery like I feared she would.

I'm still working on forming my New Year's resolutions. I have ideas of what I want to do but am trying to make them measurable and actually maintainable. I think it's actually a hit to my self-esteem when I don't keep goals so I'm really interested in setting keepable yet challenging goals this this year.

Our New Year's Eve was exactly what you would picture for me. We actually had plans to see friends who were visiting from Tampa, but they had to cancel last minute. So I fell asleep at 8. And then woke up at 10:00. This little nap gave me confidence that I would actually see the ball drop this year. Until I fell back asleep at 10:30. It's just as well. I want to start out my 2018 well-rested.

Ready for New Year's Eve church service:

Besides, the only thing I really care about for NYE is being able to sing "Ring Out Wild Bells" at church. It's the best. A spooky church hymn? YES PLEASE!

Here's a picture I caught of Dan closing our van doors in the freezing cold last Sunday. We looked at our living room windows to realize that we had left all of the doors to the van open after coming in from church. Three hours previously.

Because of that weather you can see in the above photo, we've been pretty cooped up lately. The excitement over the snow and snow days and sledding and hot chocolate have been replaced by irritation over windshield scraping, crying from children when the wind hits their faces and a general cursing of Daylight Savings. What are we saving the daylight for anyway? I'd rather it be light at 5:00 p.m., thankyouverymuch.

But we have managed to spice things up by doing lots of indoor art projects and also hosting some game nights.

Does anyone else remember drawing on these black scratch papers growing up? This is June's favorite snow day activity.

Another art project: Pig on a plate.

We left the kids with a babysitter and went out to eat last weekend, and we came home to find that the girls and the babysitters had decorated our paper plates. Which is great by me. But Dan and I do find it a bit disheartening when we finish off our slices of pizza to find a pig face staring back at us. We agreed that this could be a helpful weight loss product, if you're into shaming tactics.

June also recently wrote this note to a boy she likes in her class:

Valentine's Day just might be spicy around here.

Look at these awesome giant Uno cards our friends brought over. Playing with the regular deck just isn't as great now.

And Dan had a bunch of people over to play Risk, including some people who had never played before. Dan LOVES playing Risk. I love Dan playing Risk with other people. It's a win for me, but every time I walked through the room, there was definite tension. Hopefully we still have friends after this one.

June isn't the only one expressing herself lately. Here is an outfit Gwen pieced together. I like to call it "Hit Me Baby One More Time."

And here is June's outfit for Decades Day at school. Some moms sew poodle skirts. Other moms affix a poodle onto a skirt with velcro. I won't tell you which mom I am.

And for the lightening round: MISCELLANY!

Harris and I are ready for church:

June and Gwen wearing bunny pajamas with bows in their bunny ears to help others know they are GIRL bunnies and also aprons because we are cooking for our game night.

I don't know what is happening here.

Gwen is tired so she'll hug me.

June doing her best Jim Carrey "the claw" impersonation.

Harris puts up with another family outing. This one was a pancake breakfast fundraiser at Applebee's for June's school.

 The rest of the fundraiser participants:

June fell (again). The nurse at school called me (again) to tell me that June tripped over her own feet in the bathroom and her poor head slammed against the tile wall. This is not the first time we have had this conversation.

I really don't know what is happening in this picture.

 Hearts/stars tights.

The End.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

 We had the best Christmas ever. What makes a "best Christmas", you ask? Chillness. Stayingathomeness. Gettingalongness. Camaradieness. Also known as just camaraderie.

We finished up our Christmas caroling Christmas Eve Eve. We visited 19 homes in total this year, and it was awesome. Our favorite night was Christmas Eve Eve because we caroled to our neighbors. It was so easy walking up and down the street instead of driving really far in between each house. Plus, we love our neighbors and somehow--even though we live so close--we don't get to see them often enough. And nobody carols anymore, so they really thought it was something. Even if we are the worst singers ever. And I mean EVER. Everything sounds like it's in a minor key. Halloween Christmas carols!

Harris the Reindeer!

Dan also took the girls to a movie that morning so I could wrap the presents. I know most adults stay up laaaaaaaaaate Christmas Eve night to wrap, but I can't do that. I don't know if we've met but a well-known fact about me is that I canNOT stay up late. To save my life.

Then Christmas Eve, we went to church. Christmas Eve on Sunday is the best, right?

We came home, talked with extended family and then had dinner at a friend's house. It was so fun.

Then, the BIG night came. Christmas Eve night. As I mentioned before, I cannot stay up late. But I was still determined to stay up a little to "assist" Dan in his big project for the night--building a gigantic dollhouse.

We started at 9:30. So I was already doomed. To illustrate the desperate state I'm in after it's dark outside, let me tell you a true story of what happened Christmas Eve night.

Dan started putting together a monster dollhouse. It took him an hour just to unwrap all of the parts.

I "assisted" by watching White Christmas on the couch while making unhelpful, yet witty, comments.

It was about this time I heard a strange noise. Like a waterfall from the ceiling. I looked over to see the basement ceiling leaking all over the floor next to me.

True to character, I freaked out and started screaming. Dan ran upstairs to see what was leaking.

He came down to tell me that I had left the bathroom sink on upstairs.

All I ask is that you choose a room with a view for me, people. That's all I ask. Because I'm clearly not okay upstairs.

He turned off the sink and we mopped up the floors and were back at our stations--Dan building and me couching--when the next thing I knew, Dan was poking me awake.

"Heather, why don't you just go to bed?" he asked. "Because I want to help youuuuuuuu" I moaned underneath 5 blankets. He shooed me off to bed. That was around 11:30.

Dan crawled in bed a little after that. "Did you finish?" I asked.

"Yeah, I finished," he said.

"What time is it?" I asked. I figured it was about 1:00.

"4:15," came his tired reply.

4:15!!! That man worked all night to finish that house. Just to review--Dan stayed up all night making a dollhouse for his children. Heather almost flooded the basement and fell asleep watching a movie. You might say we are equally yolked.

The finished product:

Harris woke up at 5:00, and I managed not to be a total curmudgeon and fetched him and fed him. The girls slept until 7:30.

We found a little frost outside. Perfect for Christmas. And now that Christmas is over, it can stop snowing and Spring can come. Right? Right?

We started the day with a Christmas devotional in our room and finished our 25 Days of Christ.

Then the girls found the dollhouse. And there was much rejoicing in the land.

And then we did something my mom always wanted to do growing up but we terrible ingrates would never allow--we stopped and took a break from opening presents and had breakfast.

We had biscuits and gravy and orange julius and just sat around.

Then we opened presents under the tree and took more breaks throughout. Whenever someone wanted to stop and play with something they had opened, we just stopped. It was SO nice and made Christmas morning last. My poor mother--I should have listened to you!

We tried to keep it pretty simple this year (okay, besides a ginormous dollhouse), and it was really nice.

Surprise hit among the other presents? Bunny pajamas.

June has worn them non-stop this week.

We also opened this gift called "Battle of the UFO's" handmade by a couple in Rexburg, Idaho. Our neighbors came over and played.

Things got competitive and children kept sabotaging everything. Our neighbor Phil came up with the great idea that the kids had to pat their heads in order to give their adult partner more power to win the game. That kept June busy. Our neighbor Sarah finally just pinned Gwen down with her leg to keep her from knocking over the pieces of the game.

Getting everyone in the picture:

That night, we had chicken cordon bleu. This is what Dan's family did every year growing up, but I've always been too intimidated to try it myself. It. Was. Awesome.

What a fantastic Christmas. Now we are just soaking up the rest of the break together before life hits us hard again next week.

The End.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Card and Newsletter 2017

Dear Friends:

Well our Christmas cards are ready to be mailed, so I can check another thing off my list! Of course, I’m looking at my list from 2010, when I first made the goal to mail Christmas cards. Seven years later, and nothing is stopping me now! Welcome to the First Annual Jolley Christmas Letter!
We moved to Morristown, New Jersey in January of this year. The day we boarded a plane in Jacksonville, Florida, it was 75 degrees. We deplaned in Newark, and it snowed the next day. It was quite a shock, but has turned out to be a great move.

Dan graduated with his MBA from University of Florida in April. He works in category development for Reckitt Benckiser and travels back to Florida regularly. He is an active participant in the Sunday School lessons at church where, even if it’s not his turn to teach, he still makes the most comments. He enjoys playing golf, or at least he thinks he still would if he ever had a minute to play. Playing golf was so two kids ago.

June started kindergarten this year. She’s in a great class at school where she receives occupational, physical and speech therapy. She loves to draw, bake and swim! She recently fractured her arm again and is now winning the world record for hairline fractures (3 before the age of 6). She was one of the first kids to have her part memorized for the primary program, and she was the only kid to stick a tic tac up her nose and swallow it during the primary program.

Gwen is 3 and is a force of nature. She both falls asleep later and yet wakes up earlier than the other kids. She keeps everyone around her moving so that we don’t miss a thing. Though she and June are opposites, they are also best friends. Gwen loves to play outside, ride a tricycle and has a knack for getting herself into precarious situations. This year, we have found her on top of a ladder resting against the roof of our house, leaning out of an open window in her bedroom at midnight and leading a revolution at her YMCA swim class.

Harris came to us on April 14th in a record-breaking 40 minute delivery. We almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time, and I may have screamed at everyone within earshot. I’m determined to never show my face at Morristown Hospital again. Despite his violent entrance, he has been an extremely calming presence in our home. He’s sweet and smiley and drool-y. He has been wearing a cranial helmet since September, but he doesn’t mind.

And then there’s me. I am busy with raising and hiding from three little kids. I play the organ at church, work part-time from home and find writing our family blog to be a good outlet for me. New Jersey was the hardest adjustment for me, but now I love it here.

Our family photo was taken by a dear friend, and I couldn’t believe it turned out. That morning, there was much screaming, fighting and gnashing of teeth. The kids were bad too. I’m grateful for this time of year to remember that a Savior was born so that families like ours can try and try again.

Much love to you and yours,
The Jolleys

Friday, December 22, 2017

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

 'Twas the Week before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Because they all ate too much.

What can I say? Poetry is my thang.

I've been reflecting a lot about Christmas traditions this year for two reasons: (1) our kids are finally at the age where they understand Christmas traditions and (2)for the first time since June was a baby, we are celebrating alone. It's been sad because they past several years we were able to drive up to Atlanta from Florida to be with Heidi's crew. But this year we are too far away and are doing our own stuff.

So there are tons of ideas for Christmas traditions, but traditions are something that have to fit with your individual family. We have tried a couple of new things this year but have also kept a few older ones.

So here's what we have come up with:

1. 25 Days of Christ

We painted these sets as part of our Super Saturday at church. It's a kit of 25 ornaments and a booklet that has a devotional for each day. The devotional highlights a story for Christ's life and the ornament goes along with the story.

For example the "10" ornament is from the day we read about the 10 lepers. The donkey is from the day we read about Christ's triumphal entry (Palm Sunday).

The pitcher and the bowl are from the Last Supper.

And there are many others. This tradition has definitely been a keeper. The girls don't quite grasp the stories from the scriptures yet, but it starts a family discussion. And they get excited to take turns putting ornaments on the tree. And because we are always missing nights and playing catch-up, it usually works out that they each get to put up an ornament every night.

What is sweeter is that I helped run Super Saturday this year, so I didn't have time to paint my kit. One of the sisters noticed this and took my kit home and painted it for me. She told me that she knew that I would never have the time to do it because of the energy levels of my three little kids. I was beyond touched by this act of service.

May I never forget what it's like to have little kids. I hope I will watch out for those young mothers when I'm past this stage.

2. Christmas Caroling

This one is an oldie but a goodie. I used to do this with my own family growing up. My brothers had a tradition of wearing shorts, no matter the weather.

Each year, we make Dan's mom's doctored up hot cocoa mix and deliver it to neighbors and friends while singing. We are truly terrible singers. Truly. So hopefully the mix makes up for a lot.

This trash can is our special hot cocoa mix container, saved for this one purpose all year.

This year, we actually took the time to write out the recipe for future years. Because for the past 5 years, we just guess at what we are doing while grumbling that we didn't take the time to write down the "perfect" mix from the year before.

Then we get everyone dresssed up! Dan always wear his famous "Grinch pajama pants", and the girls are usually reindeer. Begrudgingly.

We have 20 houses to hit up this year, and we have about 8 left. We have gone out two separate nights so far. The pattern we follow is that we are strong for about 3 houses, after which we are prompting the girls every third word. By the end, one or two (or three) kids are asleep  and whoever is remaining gives the saddest solo or duet known to man while everyone else waits in the car.

A major highlight this year was when everyone else was sleeping in the car, so Dan and Gwen went to sing to a guy from church by themselves. Just as the guy came to the front door, Gwen's hand got caught in his front door and she started screaming. Dan decided to carry on singing "Jingle Bells" by himself whilst she screamed, only to forget what he was singing halfway through and say "Sorry, we're done. Merry Christmas!", all while carting a still-screaming Gwen back to our car.

Also this year, June fell asleep one of the nights and then came home and threw up.

You know that song--"Grown up Christmas List"? I do not like that song. One bit. If I were writing the lyrics, they would go:

No more barfing in my car/
I'd like to stay up late enough to see the stars/
And my Wal-Mart is just too far.

The other verse would definitely have something to do with no more kids (cough cough Harris) twisting around during a poopy diaper change.

3. Advent Calendars

We did advent calendars for the first time this year. I have mixed feelings about this.

First off, these were a buck each at Aldi, and you know I feel like I've achieved something when I get a good deal.

But it definitely promotes the "gimme gimme" attitude of Christmas that is a pain. I think I'll go to Trader Joe's next year and get one of theirs because they have an act of service under each tab. Or maybe I'll write up my own service ideas because I need very simple things if I want to accomplish them around here.

4. Letters to Santa.

We wrote Santa letters this year. It seems like everyone is pretty passionate and divided on their opinions on Santa these days. My thoughts are--it's fun but I don't kill myself to keep the tradition alive. I think it's fun for small kids and then it's over.

5. Christmas Cards.

I actually did a Christmas card this year, complete with a newsletter that everyone could throw away without reading. It's something I have wanted to do for years but was always overwhelmed. And then I had so much fun doing it that I would like to do it every year. I ended up accidentally sending two cards to one of my friends (sooo shocking and doesn't sound like me at all!!), and she made one into this ornament and gave it to me. And so a new tradition is born. I love it.

And now the miscellany:

June's musical program at school.

It was very snowy so she changed her shoes there.

And I bawled through this thing like a fool.

 And I still have "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel" and a song about snowflakes stuck in my head. But just the cutest concert ever hallelujah and amen.

Dressing festively for church:

Just like all of my cute clothes, my sister gave me this dress. And then I took a nap after church and lost my brooch and I'm still sad about it.

 Grinch Snacks:

Let's play my favorite game of "Review what's in this photo".

That would be a plate of snacks, about to fall off of a crowded table, sandwiched between vegetable shortening, mittens and dryer sheets. My picture-perfect life!

And! Cutest baby of the year.