Photos from the previous week

I'm starting to wonder about the effects of certain foods on my mind and body. Take eggs, for instance. When 'A' was diagnosed with an egg allergy, I eliminated them from my diet and immediately felt mentally clearer. "Really?" people would say. "I've never heard about eggs causing trouble with thinking." Over time I have found that if I eat an egg one day, I am foggy the next. Weird. I stay away from eggs.

Now I'm starting to wonder about carbs. We all know about the Atkins and South Beach diets and how the typical American diet contains too many carbs. I'm wondering if carbs affect my mental clarity in addition to my weight gain/loss. When I think about the times in my life when I haven't eaten many carbs, I realize that I was not only thinner, but I was much sharper than I am now. I have felt so tired and scattered these past few years, and I realize that a big part of that is where I am in my life (I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old and I spend all day with them...). But I wonder if carbs are muddling up my thoughts.

I'm going to try a little diet experiment and see what happens.

Lazy, lazy, lazy

We've been lazy today and we couldn't be happier about it. Jeff and I are normally very busy on the weekends, and we did have some good intentions when we woke up. We jumped out of bed and went for a family walk around the neighborhood to get a little exercise. We walked and talked. "Do you want to go to the county fair today?" "What a good idea!" ... But somehow the day slipped away, and before we knew it, we were sitting in front of the misting fan with our feet in the kiddie pool, playing with the girls. Then we moved the party inside to the cool air and somehow starting making frozen strawberry margaritas, and after that, the day was DONE.

We needed this down time together. It had been a few days since we had all seen each other.

Some of these photos were taken on our last day at the Cape. 'H' woke up bright and early and we went out to watch the sun come up over the bay.

On the way home from the Cape yesterday, I took a detour off the Mass Pike and went to Amherst to visit the Eric Carle Museum. I recommend going there without children, just because there are some neat things to see and it's hard to concentrate if you're running around after little people who keep popping out of the stroller. Or maybe go with another adult. I was disappointed that they didn't have any frame-worthy posters of his work for sale. They did have signed prints, but they were all priced a little high for my wallet - a few hundred dollars apiece. I have been eyeing the Eric Carle prints at the Saratoga Library and it would be so nice to have some of his work for the girls' bedrooms or the upstairs play area.

It was nice to take a drive through Northampton and Amherst again. It was like I never left. At first I thought, "I really want to move back here, this place is great!" But then I thought about all of the great things about where I live now. The Valley is great, but it is a little too hipped-out for everyday living. At least for me.

Happy Birthday, Cathy! In all of the busy-ness, it slipped my mind!

I get lost here.

I get lost here. When I'm here, nothing else exists. It's amazing that I feel that way, because when I'm here, the bulk of what drives people (including me) to exhaustion is here with me - my mother, my children, and my work. Life. But somehow, none of that reaches my core, and I am able to feel peaceful, and I spend time detaching and reflecting while I'm here.

When I was younger, living on my own, before I met Jeff, I used to come here to escape. I would go out to the beach at night after my mom and Dick went to bed and I would lay down and look up at the stars and ask them what was in store for me. They never talked back, but I always felt a strong sense of comfort when I looked up at them. It was all going to be okay.

It's different now. I don't have that feeling of being lost and wondering what will happen to me. In fact, it's the complete opposite now - I know what I want to happen, and I really don't have any desire to live "like a rolling stone" anymore. Once upon a time, spontaneity and The Unknown were welcomed, because they brought with them change and new things. That's a good thing when you're in your 20's and you're fairly certain that your Boyfriend of the Moment is not the one, and you know for sure that there is a different life out there for you, just waiting for you to come and get it. These days, it's different. I'm happy with where I am and who I am with. I don't want any changes. Not big ones, anyway.

In other news, last night my Uncle Norman and Aunt Marion (they live next door) had an "Around the World" party. No, not the kind you had in college - but boy, would that have been fun! And not the kind where we all act like grown-ups and go to each other's houses for the next course. This was a party for the folks in the neighborhood who came from around the world. Cathy, her husband and children and her parents were there (representing France), I was there to represent New York (which is a different country if you ask the New Englanders), and Germany was represented by the lovely couple staying at The Studio. They are in the US for a multi-week vacation. They took a bus from New York City to Boston and then took the ferry from Boston to Provincetown, rented bikes in P-town and biked to the cottage. They travelled lightly and with high spirits, and we are all amazed with their adventure!

Below you will see my mother holding 'H' and sharing with the German couple all of the wonders of this area.

Below is the Griffin's house. You're seeing it for the first time? So am I. It was a little old cottage that had sunk into the ground and had nearly been covered with wind-swept sand. Over the winter, they raised it up a story. Now it peeks up over the dune and - surprise! - is the same height as my mother's house (right next door). Noise does carry when you're all right at the same altitude.

Enjoy your night.

Cathy and her family are here

I'm back at the Cape. I got a sweet surprise this week. Cathy and her family are here!

Cathy has been coming here every summer since she was a little girl - her family rents my Aunt Nancy's house down the street (actually it's my cousin's house now). We met when we were young. When I did my year abroad in Paris, we were at the same school at the same time. Oh yeah, did I mention that she lives in France? Sorry, I just had some wine. I'll back up. Cathy's grandfather was - I think I have this right - a WWII American soldier and he met his wife in France. They moved to the US and raised their children, including Cathy's mother, in Massachusetts. Cathy's mother went to college in France and met her husband there, and they stayed in France and raised their children outside of Paris. They come to the US every summer to reconnect with family and enjoy some time at the Cape.

So, back to this week - Cathy wasn't supposed to come until next week, when I would have been long gone, but she and her husband and 3 children came early and it is such a delight to see them! It is really neat to step back and remember that we have known each other through different phases of our lives, and now here we both are, running around after young children. Cathy is a great mother and an all-around wonderful role model and she has a really wonderful family.

To change the subject entirely, I don't know if you can see the tents in this next photo - they are lined up on the beach. Nice! These people are living my dream. I would love to camp on the beach. My mother would frown on that, which is why I have never done it. Also, I imagine that the morning dew would be quite heavy, with or without a fly. But think about it - how awesome would it be to fall asleep under the big open sky, listening to the sound of the gentle waves lapping at the shore?

midweek siesta

'H's non-walking status has become a larger problem than I realized. Today I had trouble loosening my espresso maker because my hand was so sore from carrying her. This is an issue that needs to be resolved!

this kid won't walk!

'H' is 16 months, 6 days old and is still not walking. This is a big issue for me now because she weighs 23 pounds and my wrist and thumb are aching because I spend so much time carrying her. Where is my sling? I misplaced it a few weeks ago and I really need to find it.

She doesn't even like walking with help. She doesn't seem to like to have anything touching her feet. It's weird. I called the county and they are sending someone from the early intervention program out to assess her. I just need to make sure she's structurally sound before I start blaming it all on her sour attitude.

Speaking of attitudes, here is a little something that I keep with me and I pull it out every few months and spend some time thinking about it. A woman named Marilyn McPhee photocopied it for me years ago. It is from an interview with a pastor named Charles Swindoll.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.
"We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes"

sunday night

bruschetta for dinner... mmmm.

If you like wine, you might like to hear about this...

The girls are in bed and Jeff is out with college friends, so I am taking some time to go through my Pile Of Stuff. A big part of my pile is magazines. I get a lot of magazines delivered, all free, and somehow I manage to actually read them all. I get computer magazines, parenting magazines, cooking magazines, fashion magazines, home and garden magazines, business magazines and news magazines. Okay, let's get real, I don't actually read the fashion magazines. I like them because I rip out the perfume samples and I use the samples as my Going Out perfume, and that way I don't have to buy any.

Tonight I was reading the Simply Wine magazine that I picked up at the wine store last week (Purdy's Discount Wine & Liquor, it's my favorite wine store!). In it is an article about the serving temperature of wine. I have heard that certain wines should be chilled or served at room temp, but when it comes to pouring myself a nice big glass of cheap white wine, I rarely wonder if I'm serving it at the right temperature.

Turns out, it is important because if it's too cold, you can't taste the flavor (maybe that's a good thing with the cheap wine?). If it's too warm, it doesn't have a lot of flavor either. That's for the whites. The reds will be too "alcoholy" if they are too warm, and too sharp, with little flavor, if they are too cold. It would be neat to have a wine tasting and as one aspect of the tasting, serve the same wine at different temperatures to see how it can change flavor.

Today was a good day for parent/child relationships in our house. 'A' went for her very first professional haircut today and she did a great job. It looks really cute! Both girls displayed excellent behavior this afternoon when we took 'H' to the doctor for our usual Friday afternoon emergency doctor visit. We don't go to the doctor every Friday afternoon, but we do average once a month now. I have learned that my children have the special talent of ONLY getting ill on Friday afternoons and if I take them to the doctor on Friday, they make a miraculous recovery by Saturday morning, but if I try to wait until Monday to have them seen, they become super-sick by the middle of the weekend. Now that I know all of this, we go to our pediatrician when the issue arises on Friday afternoons instead of dealing with weekend emergency visits to the doctors on call that I don't like nearly as much as I like Dr. Miller.

'H' has an infected thumb. There was a big black spot under her nail today (a blood blister, I wondered?) and it was a little red. By the time we got to his office this afternoon, it was really red. Normally I would say, "Soak it for a few days and it will be fine," but if you've ever met a 16-month old, you would know that you can't soak their thumb for a few days.

His diagnosis: "Trauma" to the finger, which caused the infection. My translation: "Her 3 year old sister probably stepped on her thumb." Thanks a lot, 'A'. She is on antibiotics and I am to do my best to get her to soak it, so tonight I stuck her in a very warm bathtub and threw 50 plastic buttons in there and had her try to pick them all up. That kept her fingers in the water for a long time! I might use this game every night, even when her finger is better.

I think I'll give myself a treat tonight and go to bed early. Goodnight! Sleep tight!

What no one tells you about parenthood...

There's something that no one tells you about parenthood. It doesn't have anything to do with handling all of those mysterious bodily functions or never sleeping well again. It's not about how your body changes permanently after bearing children, or about how your mind and body never get a break.

It's about accomplishing tasks, or more precisely, not accomplishing tasks. People talk about being too tired to do anything at all, but no one really talks about how difficult it is to finish anything you start. It takes me forever to do something as simple as put something in the mail to someone. Why does it take so long? How can I be so busy all day, yet get nothing accomplished?

A year ago I submitted a paragraph for a column in the La Leche League magazine and it was about time management for new moms. I'll try to find it on the web and post it. I remember writing that it's good to break larger tasks into 5 minute increments so that they can get done when you have a few minutes. I do that. Probably too well, because I do 5 minutes of this, and 5 minutes of that, and somehow I don't get around the to next 5 minutes of the task until much, much later!

In the middle of not getting anything completed, I am doing computer work for 3 clients right now and I am trying to refine my parenting strategies with 'A'. Every time it gets good with her - easy all day, no struggles, no whining - it changes and gets really bad soon after. She's so defiant now. She's pushing the boundaries all the time. I know all of the parenting psychological stuff, about how kids need structure, rules, that they test the limits and it's our job to provide those limits... but when you're in the middle of it and caught off guard, it takes some time to figure it all out. That's where I am now.

'H' gets away with murder compared to 'A'. When 'A' was her age, 16 months old, we were tough with her - we set rules and she was expected to understand them and follow them. And it worked. But now that there are 2 children, it's harder. Tonight in the tub, 'H' was splashing and I have a firm "No Splashing Water Outside the Tub" rule. If 'A' breaks it, she gets a warning and on her second offense she is escorted out of the tub. I gave 'H' 4 chances, not my usual 2. I let it slide because I don't want to disrupt things for 'A'. I also view 'H' as still a baby, unable to control herself, even though she isn't a baby and she is able to control herself. When 'A' was that age, I thought of her as a little kid (which she was). It's amazing how your brain plays tricks on you.

I found it - here is the question from the LLL column and my response:

Mother's Situation
I'm planning to stay home after my baby is born in a few months. Up until now, I've been employed, so I'm a little uncertain about being on my own! I've always been on a workday schedule, and I'm not sure how to create a routine for my days at home. How do stay-at-home moms structure their time? I know there aren't any rules, but I'd like to hear what works for others.

Mother's Response
Going from the employment world to the world of full-time motherhood can be a difficult adjustment. It's good that you're thinking about it in advance. There isn't an easy way to structure your time with a newborn. As nap times start to solidify, you will be able to plan around your child, but that won't happen right away. I found it helpful to have regular outings with other mothers. I attended La Leche League meetings every month, and I joined a few other mothers' groups in my area. While your baby is still young, you can also take advantage of activities that you can do for yourself, such as visiting the library or a museum. Wearing a sling, you can take your baby just about anywhere!

At work, you're probably used to accomplishing tasks: start a task or project, work on it for a while, and finish it. As a stay-at-home mother, you won't have that luxury anymore. By the end of the day, it may seem as though you didn't get anything done.

One thing you can do is break down tasks into five-minute increments. For example, instead of trying to make an entire dinner at once, take a few minutes to prepare dinner throughout the day. If you break projects down into smaller tasks, you will have a greater sense of accomplishment and feel less over-whelmed at all the things to do.

Another issue I dealt with during the transition was feeling like I wasn't contributing anything valuable to the household or society, even though I firmly believe that raising children is one of the most important things we can do! At the time, it didn't seem like the work I was doing was very important. It's helpful to remember that your baby is learning from you, and that your new job will have long-lasting rewards for years and years to come.

July 4th weekend

We wanted to watch fireworks this weekend, but it's so hit-or-miss with our kids. By the time the fireworks start, it's so late, and they are ready for bed. Today we decided to take the chance that we might catch a show because both of the girls (and me too!) took really long naps this afternoon.

We read in the paper that there would be fireworks at Saratoga Lake, but we didn't know where on the lake they would be. We asked a bunch of people and Jeff even called the local fire department, but we got no answer. So, at 8:30, we piled into the car (my new car!) and we drove down the street to the lake.

The funny thing about Saratoga Lake is that there isn't any public access. It's surrounded by private homes. We drove around and looked for a spot where we could pull over and have a clear view, but we didn't see any available spots. Then we drove past a beautiful home that had a "For Sale" sign in front and it looked vacant. And I did something that was very out of character for me: I told Jeff to turn around and park in their driveway. Usually I am the one who is nervous about doing anything remotely illegal! Anyway, we pulled in and we had a great view of the fireworks show. The girls enjoyed it as much as a 1 and 3 year old can.

Yesterday we got a huge amount of "house stuff" done. Huge. At some point in the afternoon, I set 'A' up in the backyard with a set of paints and a pile of paper. Jeff was outside washing the house and I went inside to clean. 'A' kept coming inside to wash the paint off of her hands and I finally told her that if she comes inside to wash her hands one more time, I was going to take the paints away. "Please don't paint your hands anymore." "Okay, Mommy."

Next thing I know, she's painted her legs and her arms... and the funny thing is, she didn't paint her hands until after I laughed about it and told her she could paint them. Was that a creative way of getting around the painted-hands issue, or straight-up rebellion? Either way, it was pretty cute.

We have barely stopped moving since the weekend started. Today we went to downtown Saratoga to the BBQ and Dessert Festival. It was pretty neat. The Bread Basket had the best dessert, and Jeff thought Cantina had the best BBQ.

Last night we put the girls to bed and sat outside by our fire pit. We roasted marshmallows and had a great time.

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!