Hello there - I'm enjoying a few precious moments of "me time." Every night after dinner I give Jeff the option of either giving the girls a bath or cleaning up the dinner dishes. I've learned that it's best if he chooses.

Tonight I did a Super Job of cleaning up most of the dishes before dinner hit the table, so after dinner, I wanted the clean up job (which included rounding up the garbage from the kitchen and bathrooms and taking it out to the curb). I told him to have fun giving the girls a bath - something he rarely does now that he's living with a herniated disk and has trouble sitting still. So here I am, dishes done, garbage out, and I get to look at my photos from the past weekend while he gets the girls ready for bed.

We visited my dad and Marilyn over the weekend in Rhode Island, where they live year round. They're in a beach community, and they live on an inlet but have access to a private beach on the ocean. When the weather is nice, which it was over the weekend, we pack up our snacks and entertainment and sit on the beach and play.

Good things in our life:

:: Many of our tomatoes have borne fruit: Super Sweet 100's (3 fruits); Yellow Pear (3 fruits); Speckled Roma (2 fruits); Brandywine (2 fruits). No fruit yet from Amish Paste, Zebra, or Cherokee, but lots of flowers, so fruit will hopefully come soon.

:: Our CSA pickup at the farm is tomorrow and this is what Justine said we're most likely getting:

"Fennel, Lettuce, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Spinach, Mesclun, Scallions, and a surprise (I hope) that begins with “S” – sorry, it is not strawberries."

What do you think the "S" is? Soybeans?

:: I cleaned out my email and it's *sparkling" clean! I unsubscribed from a bunch of newsletters, deleted all of my junk that was mixed into my inbox, and just spent some time tidying everything up. Nice!

:: Tomorrow we're going to the library to sign 'A' up for the summer reading program. I think she's old enough this year to really get it. Talking with the librarian and the book buddies will be good practice for her.

Today at the playground I pushed a girl on the swing for a while and later, when 'A' wanted to be pushed, the girl's grandma pushed 'A' a for a bit. The grandma then told me that 'A' had spoken very nicely to her and told the grandma her name and when she was born, in addition to some other tidbits. It's nice to watch her grow and learn to speak with adults.

Speaking of growing, I counted 'H's teeth today for fun and saw that her final molars came in without me knowing! It's not that I didn't know at all -- a few weeks ago when she wouldn't sleep at all I did tell Jeff that I thought she was teething, but for me to not have peeked in earlier and take time to recognize this milestone makes me sad.

And speaking of grandmas, here's mine: The Infamous Grandma Millicent. If you met her, you won't forget her, and if you haven't, you have missed out.


animal news

"Give me a toothy grin!" I said, and this is what I got, followed by peels of laughter.

And this is our first daylily blossom of the season. It opened up as the sun rose this morning. It introduced us to our day.

A quick update on animal news -

Remember the mama and papa house finch who built a nest outside of our garage? We waited and waited for those little babies to leave the nest and we actually got to see it happen with our own eyes one evening. It happened about a month ago. I stumbled upon it without realizing I was witnessing a magical dance. The mother bird hopped out of the nest and sang and danced, then flew away and kept coming back to repeat the routine. Finally one of the birds popped up to the edge of the nest and waited for a few minutes, listening to it's mother, and then it went! Back came the mother bird to dance and sing next to the nest. Up came another bird... I wanted to sit and watch but my goodness, do you know how long it takes one bird to get the courage to pop up and fly? A long time! I was trying to cook dinner and I didn't have the time to sit and watch. Seeing one go was enough - barely enough - for me.

Fast forward to this week. I woke up recently and thought, "I should see if that bird nest is clean enough to salvage and keep in our home." When I went to check on it, I saw that someone had added a fresh green layer to the nest! Then I saw them - the mama and papa again. They're back! I've been picking 'A' up every day to peer in and give a report. Today she said that there are two eggs in the nest. Magic! I'm excited to watch it all unfold again. And this time around, as a second time bird grandmother, I'm a little more relaxed about the process. I know what to expect, and I know that my cats won't be eating the babies. Whew!

The other thing to tell you about is Erma's progress. Erma is our sixteen year old cat and I took her to the holistic vet recently because I wanted her to have some relief from what I thought was arthritis. She's now on a higher quality diet and she takes a few vitamins and supplements every day. She likes it. At the second appointment, the doctor and I agreed that her limp hadn't gone away so she did some acupuncture on Erma. I really don't know much about acupuncture. What I do know is that it WORKED for Erma. Wow, what a difference. She's not only not limping anymore, I swear she's getting younger every day. This whole experience has opened my eyes to a new form of medicine.

May you be blessed with good health today.

Today was a GREAT parent-child day

Today was wonderful. 'A' has been going through one of her "things" lately. Every time she's ready to hit a new developmental level, she gets super whiny and really out of sorts for a week or so beforehand. We've come to recognize it, and it makes the whining a lot easier to understand. This past week has been whine, whine, whine from the time she wakes up until she goes to bed, with a hefty dose of independent bossiness & sassiness thrown in. Whatever. She doesn't scare me.

Today she woke up a new person. She was much better at communicating - speaking, listening and thinking. She let me put braids in her hair to keep it out of her eyes (this is major!); she asked me if she could talk to the woman at the store who was wearing a shirt she liked, and when she spoke to the woman, she looked into her eyes and gave her compliment clearly and loudly; she wanted to go in the bouncy house at the preschool picnic even though she wanted to get out almost immediately after going in (see the post-bouncy house photo below).

She did a lot of things today and everything was just wonderful. She was wonderful. We were wonderful.

We spent the afternoon playing in the pool and the sprinkler. We all got to enjoy a glass of lemonade too - my special summer afternoon treat.

Hope you had a great day too.

I asked Jeff last night if he would ever like to switch places with me - I can work and he can take care of our girls. I'm not sure I got a straight answer out of him. Taking care of kids involves a lot of physical labor, a lot of patience, a lot of spontaneity, and a willingness to let go of control during moments that aren't of my choosing. It has been a huge growing up experience for me. And I'm well aware that this parenting journey has only just begun.

And even though I wonder if I'll ever be more than a chef or a waitress for my kids, I still love the way I spend my days.

Today I found time to look at the sky...

And I found a dry, sunny moment to dead head my petunias...

And I found time to talk to the tomatoes. I have no real experience growing vegetables and I don't think I'll have faith in my ability to shepherd the process until the season is over and I can look at what worked and what didn't. Just because there are flowers on those tomato plants doesn't mean I'll get tasty fruit. I won't believe it until I see (and eat) it.

And best of all, 'A' found time to make Cinderella a wedding bouquet...

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

Father's Day for us was supposed to go like this:

Let Jeff sleep late while the girls and I quietly make waffles and tofu scramble; have breakfast ready and waiting for him when he finally awoke, refreshed and bright-eyed... yadda yadda yadda.

What actually happened was that both girls woke up at the crack of dawn, I swear, and I tried really hard to keep them quiet but for some reason it just didn't happen, and I tried really hard to make the waffles but since Jeff is the one who usually makes them in our house, I didn't know what I was doing... you can imagine the rest. Soon enough he was out of bed, making his own special waffles and stirring the tofu scramble. At least he has a good attitude about it.

His gifts were sweet and simple except for the massage package. His back (his herniated disk, to be precise) is giving him a lot of trouble and he's been talking about needing a massage for a while. I got him 2 one-hour sessions and the first one was booked for today. We dropped him off after a nice church service (it was a celebration of the summer solstice, something the Unitarian Universalists do well). Then the girls and I stayed out of the rain by going to have lunch at the grocery store. I know it doesn't sound very glamourous, but the grocery store is my favorite place to take the girls for lunch because I buy a container of hummus and crackers, some sliced fruit, and a few seaweed salad sushi rolls for me and 'H'. Everyone's happy and it fits our budget quite well. (and I love hearing, "More shuushi peaze Mommy.")

When we picked Jeff up, he was not only rested and happy, but excited because at the spa he was given a certificate for another massage, a gift from his parents. I had hinted to him that I told them to get him shirts for Father's Day, so he had no idea that another massage package was waiting for him.

Oh, and we also hit the playground today. Fun for all!

I am SO ready for summer! Amazingly, the calendar is already full. Or is it amazing? It happens every year, and yet it always catches me off guard. We visit my parents, then Jeff's parents come, then we have some more visitors and visits and before you know it, it's Halloween.

We're hoping to do one thing this summer that is a little different for us: we are hoping to have a child from the "Fresh Air" program come and stay with us. If we can be matched up with a six year old girl, we'll be thrilled. Any older than that might be too old for our kids. If a child that age isn't available, we'll wait for next summer and hope it comes through. I'm asking for a child who is allergic to dairy mostly because I'm all set up for it and as a parent of a child with food allergies, I would be relieved to know that she was going to stay at a home like ours. Also, it'll be easier to feed someone at our house since we don't eat dairy, but I'm happy to bring in the food that will make this child comfortable. We're just happy to be able to provide a time away from the city where a child can be immersed in nature and quiet and privacy. We've lived in cities, in apartments... it's hard when you don't see trees and the sky everyday, when you don't have a backyard of your own, when you don't have a safe place to play outside. We're here to do our part, and I guess this is part of doing our part.

'A' took this one of me. It's just the kind of portrait I like - fuzzy and not much of me.

Have a great night!

I'm finally figuring some things out!

This is 'A's last week of preschool. I took some photos of her with her teachers and it's just amazing to see how different she is with each one. This first teacher left very suddenly a few weeks ago because she got the notice that the child she was hoping to adopt had been born and was ready to go home. It was all very sudden and the girls missed her so much after she left! She came back to visit yesterday and brought her baby boy with her. She had quite a fan club, look at all the little girls hanging on her every move!

Finally during this last week of school I've started to put 2 and 2 together. 'A' has been saying for a while now that she doesn't like going to preschool. I ask her why, but I try to ask open-ended questions so that I don't lead her down a different path than she's on, and the questions never really result in much. I get answers like, "I don't like the way the boys play."

Yesterday she told me that she doesn't know what to do sometimes at preschool. "I don't want to do the crafts sometimes and I don't like to play because the boys are always playing too rough in the play area and Miss K won't let me read books unless it's time to read them, and I just want to have some alone time sometimes." Okay, now that is an answer I can understand! That makes perfect sense to me. Two and a half hours in a classroom setting for a kid like 'A', who needs a lot of self-directed activities and a lot of short "alone time" breaks, is tough. When I think about what she does at preschool compared to what she does at home, the two are completely different. Not only does she get to have breaks at home when she needs them, she also gets to run the activities and do what she wants, and our craft time is much different. At home I have blank paper and they get to color whatever they want. 'A' is very "process-oriented" and she likes to color, cut and glue, but after she's happy with a piece of art and considers it "done," she has even more fun cutting it up or gluing even more papers on top of it until it's unrecognizable. At preschool, the kids get the materials out and are given a model that shows what the end result should look like. When she reaches the end result, the teachers take it away from her and she's moved on to the next activity. But really, she's not even close to finished.

No wonder she doesn't want to do the crafts. I can't tell you how many times the rest of the kids are sent home with their craft and I'm told that 'A' did not want to do it.

It's nice to get to know her better and see how she likes to spend her time, and see what will make her feel frustrated, bored, overwhelmed or stifled. She's happiest when she's making her own decisions about how to spend her time. And my, is she busy when she gets to make those choices.

Our garden continues to come to life and I'm just amazed by it. I still have no faith that we'll have a harvest and I'll believe it when I see it. But so far it all looks good!

We made cloud pictures to learn about the different types of clouds this morning and weeded the garden a bit, and now I'm going to make some bread and veggie burgers. We're off to the farm today and we have to pick up a nice plant to put in the hand painted planter we made for 'A's teacher. I'm thinking lavender.

settling in after a very nice weekend

Jeff and I went to see Dave Matthews last night with Jennifer and Bill, and as a result of our fun, we are a *little* slow today. The concert was great, even though we stood in the rain for most of it. I was very surprised by how lax the security was. I brought in 2 bottles of wine (which is completely illegal) and they never even dug through my bag to see what was in it.

It was hard to ignore the fact that some - many - of the people attending the concert were younger than us. A lot younger. In fact, I'm old enough to be their mother. I used to sometimes feel disconnected from or annoyed by young adults but I'm finding that I see them in a whole new way lately. They are the next generation. They're my future, and yours too. I have faith in them.

On Saturday we made our trip to the farmer's market, with a larger group this time. I had wanted to stop by the veggie stamping table and just as we got there, a photographer from the local newspaper showed up to take photos. 'A' and Nanette got their photo on the paper's website, and here he is, working his magic...

and here's 'A', working her magic.

There was a Flag Day parade that stretched down Broadway in Saratoga Springs, and because of Jennifer and Bill, who were staying at the Adelphi Hotel, we got the best seats in town. We went up to their balcony, which was shaded, and enjoyed plush chairs and cold water while we watched the parade pass us by. A plane came zooming over really low and we enjoyed that a lot!

Look... here comes the plane!

Looking forward to a nice Monday. Erma goes back to the homeopathic vet. She's still limping around, so that tells me the chiropractic treatment didn't help. Who knows if her supplements help. We're competing to see who can take more supplements a day, I think.

Me and 'H'....

Jennifer and Nanette...

Have a great day!

Pint-sized visitors

My niece and nephew, Nanette and William, are here to visit. Their parents (my sister, Jennifer and her husband, Bill) are in town for the weekend too - they're staying at the Adelphi Hotel this weekend and the kids are with us. The girls ('A' and 'H') are thrilled to have them here and Jeff and I are pretty happy about it too. We cut our parenting teeth during the overnights we did with W & N long before we had kids. We have a connection to them that we just don't have with any children besides our own.

'H' gave me a little scare today. Just before lunch she tripped and hit her knee and started crying about it. I picked her up and soothed her but she wouldn't stop crying. The next thing I knew, she was arched back in my arms, eyes rolled to the back of her head, and she was completely unresponsive. I freaked out, ran to the front of the house, grabbed the phone along the way and dialed 911. I screamed for someone to please help me. All I could think was that I couldn't lose her but I didn't know how to do CPR. She regained consciousness just after the 911 operator came on the phone. She woke up and looked at me like she couldn't figure out why I was screaming at her to wake up, and why were we in the front yard, anyway? She seemed okay so I told them not to come, and that I would call her pediatrician.

The doctor's office was closed for lunch, so after a call to Jeff (who said she was probably hot and hungry, which made sense), my mom (she's a former nurse), and Jennifer, who told me that Nanette had a breath-holding spell and did exactly the same thing when she was little (and by the way, Jennifer's reaction was the same as mine, to run to the front yard and scream for help), I decided that 'H', who does hold her breath when she gets frustrated or upset, had a super-duper breath holding incident and that's what caused her to pass out.

The nurse at the pediatrician's office said the same thing.

My goodness.

To calm down, I made strawberry jam out of the strawberries we got from the farm on Wednesday. They were too good to eat up in one sitting! I want to savor them for months to come. I crushed them up and added the sugar and pectin and made 9 little jars of freezer jam. I hope it sets right and tastes just like the strawberry freezer jam Grandma Millicent used to make. Ooooh! That alone made me excited to spend the night. I knew when I woke up I would be treated to a slice of toast with her jam.

Now that I'm a grown up, I get to eat the jam whenever I want and love every bite of it!

Local Strawberries!

on the way to the farm...

When we got to the farm, we picked up some pure red, organic, local strawberries. They're delicious! They smell fabulous and taste even better. There's nothing like a freshly picked strawberry to make a person swoon.

And there's nothing like a morning of climbing and sliding to make two little girls very happy.

Rain today. The plants are very happy.

We went to buy some fruit and some tissues today. We all have colds, and tissues are in demand around here. I also stopped at GNC to see what kind of probiotics they had. 'H' could use them for her personal digestive issues. By the way, I called the nutritionist and my health insurance company and was told that a visit isn't covered unless it's for diabetes treatment. That is nuts! Anyway, I wanted the probiotics not only for 'H' but for me too. After I took Erma to the holistic vet last week and saw that her tongue health was an indicator of her qi, I started sticking my tongue out in the mirror. I decided to do this homemade yeast overgrowth test. Many, many people have a yeast overgrowth problem and they don't even know it. I took the test and also gave it to 'A' for comparison. Of course 'A' passed with flying colors because her diet has been stellar her whole young life and she's only been on antibiotics twice. Me? I failed, big time.

The woman at GNC was very helpful and at the same time she was a horrible salesperson. She pretty much dissuaded me from purchasing much and instead gave me lots of homemade recipes for probiotics. I bought a "Super Acidophilus" for myself. She told me to take wheatberries (now that I'm reading more and more vegan cookbooks, I actually know what they are) and fill a sterile jar 1/3 full, and add another 1/3 of water. Then cap it and let it sit in a dark, cool place for 2 days until it ferments and use the fermented liquid in a smoothie or drink once a day. She said the whole family should be on it for our overall health.

And she said for additional magnesium for 'H', give her ground flaxseed in her oatmeal or baked goods.

Jeff loves his iPhone. And I love him.

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!