playing at home

We played at home today. The girls didn't get out of their pajamas at all. I had sewing class tonight and Jeff put them to bed, so I don't even know if they got out of those pajamas and into clean ones for bed.

I am working on children's pants and two shirts in my sewing class. I really enjoy it and I wish I could devote more time to sewing on my own. But I feel guilty when I indulge in my hobbies. It's my Puritan work ethic.

There is a woman in my sewing class who photographs nature. Her work is very soothing, so please check it out. My favorite gallery is the Maritimes gallery, because it reminds me of my favorite place in the whole world, the New England coastline. I'm at home anywhere from Eastern Connecticut to Maine. Love it.


We've been catching up on Lost. It's addictive.

take a look at this

Finally, we're getting some rain.

Thank you, Mother Nature, thank you.


purple plum tree

We planted this purple plum tree last year.

Jeff is out tonight and I had planned to be super-productive, but my pine pollen allergies are getting in the way. I did, however, manage to make the veggie burgers I've been dreaming about. We made a decision to take another step away from eating animal products. Our diet is mostly egg- and dairy-free because of 'A's allergies. We eat a fair amount of poultry for dinner and we're starting to switch to more of a legume-based diet. It's just better for everyone that way. Better for our health, better for the animals, better for the environment.

My veggie burger recipes come from a heavenly cookbook: Vegetarian Burgers by Bharti Kirchner. The burgers are hearty, fresh and tasty. Not to mention oh-so healthy. I'm going to post our favorite recipe from the book with the hope that you will make it, love it, and buy the book so you can make many more. Actually, this recipe is all over the internet, so I'm copying and pasting to save myself some time :)

Pecan Mushroom Burgers

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coarsley chopped green onions/scallions
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb swiss chard leaves, stems removed, coarsley chopped (about 2 packed cups)
2 teaspoons tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 cup prepared Bulgur (soak 1/2 cup bulgur in 1 cup water for 30-40 minutes or until soft.
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and ground in a spice/coffee grinder
1 3/4 cups bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Heat oil in skillet; cook garlic until golden.

Add onions, mushrooms, chard, tamari and rice vinegar. Cook, covered, until vegetables are softened.

Place vegetable mixture and the bulgur in food processor or blender; pulse several times until well blended.

Scrape into large bowl and add ground pecans and bread crumbs. Mix with spoon or hands until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Form into patties 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Preheat broiler. Place patties on cookie sheet and broil 3-5 inches from heat, 7 to 9 minutes per side or until lightly browned. When one side is done, turn patties carefully with spatula. Serving suggestions: on whole wheat bun, or focaccia bread, with shredded lettuce or cabbage, sweet onion rings, or a gravy.

Huck Finn

Oh my, talk about a dichotomy. My photos from today and the energy from today do not match up.

In short, it looks like we played Huck Finn today, ambling along, looking at the trees, the ants and the dirt, breaking up all that looking with some time on the swing or a lay in the hammock.

Not quite. 'A' had preschool this morning and 'H' and I went for a walk in the park. She hates being confined to the stroller, so the walk wasn't really enjoyable for either of us. When we all got home at lunchtime, I was so excited to put them both to bed, or at least in their rooms for quiet time, so that I could break out my sewing machine (or "masewing sheen" as 'A' used to call it) and work on the shirt and pants I am making for 'A'.

I didn't have the chance. 'H' woke up screaming after a few minutes in her crib. This is the 4th day that she hasn't been able to sleep through a nap or the night. I brought her to the doctor. Sinus infection. Antibiotics. Hopefully she'll sleep tonight, although that is not likely since she has been screaming out in pain on the hour since she went to bed.

So, enjoy these photos that paint an idyllic portrait of our life, and know that reality doesn't resemble that at all.

Love, Jillian

PS: the hammock beckons. Maybe tomorrow.

the old is new again

here's a neat website that will turn your regular-looking photos into ones that look like they were just pulled from your grandma's dusty cellar. The directions are in Japanese, but I trust that you can figure out how it works.

See the original photos here and here.

i've been absent

Sorry folks, I've been absent. I'm blaming it on general busy-ness combined with Spring Fever. It's really hard to stick to my usual routines when it's so nice outside. During 'H's afternoon nap, 'A' and I like to sit outside and eat popsicles and watch the plants grow. It's a delicious indulgence. I'm enjoying it because I know that all too soon it'll be too hot to sit in the afternoon sun.

Good thing 'H' is driving this car because 'A' is almost ready to fall asleep!

after dinner

after dinner.
way after dinner.


had the windows w-i-d-e open today!


This is Erma.

She turns 15 years old soon. Erma is the best cat in the world. She's steady. I can count on her to always be the same, no matter what is going on around her. She's predictable. She sleeps in the same spot day in, day out, until suddenly she changes her spot, and then sleeps in that same spot for a few weeks.

One of the neat things about Erma is that she is a polydactyl cat. She has many, many toes on each foot. I think there are 6 on each. The extra toes have always managed to get caught on the carpeting where ever we have lived. When she walks on wood or ceramic floors, her extra toes go clickety-clack, as if she is wearing high heels.

Somewhere along the way, she got fat. I think it was when I started apartment living and she couldn't go outside anymore. She stayed fat for a long time. Then last year, she lost a lot of weight really fast. 6 pounds in a few months. All of the tests came back normal. Not only normal, but, "wow, for her age, she is so healthy!" normal.

She continues to lose weight, but at a slower pace now. She's losing interest in the world around her. Her eyes have a different look in them. She's putting distance between us. I don't know what the future holds for her. I hope that life continues to be kind to her.

No distance in these eyes.

Soaking up Spring

After a very cold night (I pulled out an extra down blanket for myself and another one for 'A' after she woke up feeling cold), we were pleasantly surprised to find that today's weather is delightfully warm.

We met some other mothers and children at the State Park today for a brisk stroller walk. 'A' rode in the stroller for a while before deciding it was time to get out and run around with the boys. They were really cute, running around carrying their drinks tucked under their arms.

I brought these daffodils inside from the garden yesterday and they seem to be happy in a vase on our kitchen table.


Today we went outside to look at some of this...

so that I didn't have to stay inside and look at this:

Funny how life keeps chugging along and piles of paper seem to grow on their own while you are out soaking up the sunshine. Well, my piles of paper seem to keep growing while I am out in the sun. Your piles of paper are probably under a bit more control.

no photo today

No photo today. I'm at the point in my picture-taking experiment where I need to get focused on what I want to learn. I'm spending a little time reading photography tutorials and not a lot of time taking photos today.

Today is my birthday. It hasn't been a terrible day, but it's been less than ideal, certainly worse than a normal day. 'A' was really upset about her visit to the doctor today for her 3 year check-up, and she continued to let me know about it throughout the day. I'm 35 now. My life is pretty much what I thought it would be at this point.

Update on the preschool saga: I went in to observe last week and found that the class was pretty quiet for the first hour. The second hour wasn't all that bad, and when the communication did break down between the children and the teacher, it was pretty clear to me that it was because the teacher has set up some unrealistic expectations for the class. Some of the children are able to follow the instructions and don't need to be reminded about the rules more than once or twice, but some cannot, and it seemed to be more a matter of their age (2 and 3 year olds) combined with the fact that they really aren't held accountable for their behavior, than anything else.

Since I enjoy watching group dynamics unfold, it was entertaining for me to see how the snack routine played out. The teacher has class rules that she would like the children to follow, including a rule about throwing away their garbage after they are done with their snack. Some of the children get up after snack and don't throw their garbage away - they go straight to playing, running around, or whatever it is that they feel like doing. The teacher then repeats the rule about throwing away their trash, but aside from that gentle reminder, no one holds them accountable for actually throwing it away. No one leads them back to their seat and puts the trash in their hands and leads them over to the trash can. So, when they ignore the teacher and continue to spin around in circles, the teacher gets frustrated and then throws the trash away herself. It seems to me that part of the issue is with the teacher herself.

I am very happy with the situation overall - I would much rather have 'A' go to preschool and play and coexist with students who receive gentle reminders than have her attend a school where the students are disciplined or criticized for not being able to follow an unrealistic set of rules. That was my big fear.

Hopefully a photo of the day will appear tomorrow!

more weekend getaway

OK, we didn't actually go to Paris or hang out with the First Couple. We did, however, go to the Mystic Aquarium and have our photo taken in front of the blue screen. Their photographer takes it and then they put our bodies on this stock photo of the front of the aquarium and they try to sell it to us for $20.50. Instead of purchasing their photo, I asked the photographer to take a picture with my camera, and when we got back to my dad's house we had fun switching out the background.

We also had fun seeing some Beluga Whales.

'A' adopted my dad as her special person for the weekend. Grandpa Roy had to do everything with her and for her. It was really sweet. Probably really exhausting for my dad, but really sweet.

weekend getaway

That's us, with my dad (Grandpa Roy) and Marilyn (Mimi). We're having a good time with them. If only it would stop raining.

Those are my new glasses! I had picked out a pair of DKNY tortoiseshell glasses at Lenscrafters. Sharon's mom took one look at me and told me that I couldn't wear them anymore because they didn't look good. So off we went to Lenscrafters to exchange them for a better pair. Thank goodness I was within my 30-day guarantee timeframe! Remind me to never be on What Not To Wear, it is just too painful to have someone tell you the truth about yourself.

new haircut

I woke up last night and realized that 'A' needs short hair and bangs. I've been resisting for a while. Every time I put hair clips or elastics in her hair, it breaks. If I don't put anything in it, it is so fine that it sticks to her head and gets in her eyes. So, I cut it all off.

Remember when 'A' lined up her shoes by the door? Today she was playing with her new doll and her new dollhouse and she asked me to help her get the doll ready to go out. I looked and looked for the shoes but couldn't find them... until 'A' pointed out that they were lined up by the front door. How sweet!

She likes to put the end table on the kitchen chair because she says it looks like a booster seat.

new pillow!

Here is the pillow I made last night at my sewing class. I didn't pick the fabric combo - the teacher did. I haven't decided if it will live at my house. It might look better at Jennifer's house (my sister). Her decorating style is a little more floral and ornate than mine.

Tomorrow I am going to 'A's preschool class to observe. I'm going in part because her 3 year check-up is next week and I want to see her interact with her teachers and the other children so I can talk to her doctor about it. I'm also going because all of the parents received an interesting letter from the teachers. The teachers outlined some of the new things they are doing in class, and some of those things include reviewing specific behavioral rules that need to be followed in the classroom.

Anyone who has met me knows that I am a big fan of behavioral rules. I love that there are classroom rules and that the parents are expected to support those rules by reviewing them at home. What I am concerned about are the mixed messages the teachers are giving. When I pick 'A' up at preschool and ask how she is doing, her teachers say she's doing great, and that I don't need to improve on anything in particular. Then I get a letter telling me that all of the children need to be reminded of several rules because they are not able to follow them well. If my child needs to be reminded to listen to the teacher and follow the rules in school, I wish they would tell me that instead of saying she's doing fine. Likewise, if she is following the rules, I don't like being confused by receiving a letter like this.

One of my main objectives as a mother of girls is to guard and nurture their self-esteem. Nothing is more important than that. I don't care where my girls fall on the academic food chain as they get older or where they find themselves on the social ladder. As long as they have high self-esteem, they will be okay, they will make it to adulthood with a good perspective on life, taking healthy memories and messages with them, and they will have the grounding to be productive members of society.

One of the best ways to erode self-esteem in small children is to send them mixed messages. And if those mixed messages come from two of the most important authority figures in their young life, their mother and their teacher, even better. How does 'A' feel when I bring her home from preschool and tell her that her teacher just told me she thinks she's doing a good job, and then she shows up for school and is told by her teacher that she needs to work on a few issues?

I suspect that they sent the letter home to show that they are being clear about classroom expectations by sending the message to every parent, when perhaps it applies to only a few. That kind of approach can work well in situations where the people in the group have a peer-pressure relationship and they can push each other to follow the rules if it means that the whole group wins. It can also work well if it's employed at the beginning of the school year, before they have given parents any other feedback about each child's behavior, as a way to establish rules and boundaries and make their expectations clear. But neither of those is the case.

Something wasn't right about the letter they sent home. I'm going in to observe, and I want to get on the same page as the teacher. Otherwise, we undermine each other's authority and that's the last thing 'A' needs. My main goal is to make sure the messages are coming across to the children clearly and fairly.

Happy Birthday, Little Girl

I love her.

Today I am saying goodbye to my two year old and Happy Birthday to my three year old.

Tomorrow I will tell you about my new glasses and my new pillow!

all that is good in life

We ate dinner outside tonight. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to get out the tray, the outside dishes and the grill tools. We made a north African mahi mahi recipe and served it with grilled asparagus and crusty rolls. Yum.

popsicles: a story of childhood

it is nice enough to eat popsicles outside today. also nice enough to drop them!

Sometimes I am the paparazzi...

Sometimes she is the one behind the camera.

"Don't drop it," I remind her. After each shot, she checks the screen at the back of the camera to see how it came out. I'm not certain she knows what she's looking for.

birthday extravaganza

here we go folks, we officially kicked off our "April Birthday Extravaganza" on Saturday. 'A's birthday party on Saturday, followed by her family celebration this week, followed by a special birthday snack baked by yours truly on Friday morning at preschool, followed by... no, we're not done yet... my birthday next week, then finally Jeff's birthday 6 days after mine. Whew! After that, we are done for a while... no celebrations for at least another few weeks, until of course our anniversary rolls around in mid-May and then it starts all over again.

The party yesterday was great. We were so happy to see everyone who came. The weather cooperated quite well and we played outside for a bit, then worked on a painted handprint craft, and played some more before settling down for cupcakes. We had a great time. 'A' had been looking forward to it all week, and she really enjoyed it.

Today Jeff, 'A' and I got outside to do some yard clean up while 'H' napped. It felt good to be outside, and we didn't even mind that there is still snow on the ground and some of the leaves are still frozen in place. I discovered a very neat thing about our Viburnums -- did you know that if you accidentally bury a low branch, it will grow roots, and you can cut the branch off the shrub and replant it somewhere else in your yard? I just learned that today. I suppose you could bury the low branch on purpose, too.

After 'H' awoke, we headed to a playground and park for some fun time.

They don't allow snowmobiles at the park, which is a good thing when you consider that it's all grassy there.

We saw Chris coming into the park on our way out.

'H's favorite part? The swings!

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!