Jeff has been tie-dyeing! I wish, wish, wish I could say that this round of tie-dyeing was a family project, but as much as I wanted it to be, it wasn't. Jeff is the tie-dyeing master and as soon as he saw me pull out the baby garments I wanted to tie-dye for the new little babies in our life (Baby Sayan and Baby Daniel), he took over, in a good way. Everything looks wonderful! I can't wait to wash all of them and hang them on the line for a group photo.

Today was a miracle day, one that I always wish for but can't ever plan. I not only got a million things done (phone calls for appointments and information, errands, cooking, bread baking and more) but somehow I got to spend so much of the day playing with my daughters. We went to the library and to the playground, and enjoyed leisurely meals and laughter the whole day through. And to top it all off, I even booked us an hour at the gym today and had a wonderfully refreshing and cleansing workout.

Today was a busy mom's perfect day. Tomorrow we're going to spend some time painting placemats for the outside dinner table, so let's hope that tomorrow is an artistic mom's perfect day!

Life is GOOD!


Saratoga Lake: this is the view from the end of the main road near our neighborhood. We drive past here every time we can - I miss "the water" so much, the water I grew up close to. The ocean. Driving past this lake is the closest I get to seeing a large, moving body of water and it feeds my soul more than most things can.

We've had a lot of in house excitement these past few days! We moved a bunch of furniture around to accomodate a "big girl" bed for 'H' and she loves it. We replaced a few "kid toys" in the play area with a table and chairs (a "work table" for the girls, for ongoing projects) and we moved the futon couch out of 'H's room and into the play space. It gives the house a new level of grown-up sophistication. And you know we can use all the sophistication we can get!

The biggest thing, of course, is that she loves her new bed! You never know how the transition is going to go. When we set up the bed for 'A' over two years ago, she opted to be tucked into it but two seconds later (for several weeks in a row), she wanted to be moved back into her crib. 'H' was excited to sleep in her new bed. I kept saying, "you can make your decision when it's time to go to bed, and whatever you decide is fine with us." Would you believe that the girl wanted to leave the dinner table early so that she could be tucked in to her new bed? She's so grown up and she knows it!

Funny how different each child is, isn't it?

last of the blueberries

'H' is still working on that ear infection. She has a fever and she says her ears and nose are "plugged". She didn't sleep well last night, and neither did I. That's okay, she's not in pain and today we enjoyed the blueberry patch. It's almost the last day of the season (I picked some of those bushes bare). We were the only people there.

I don't have any complaints about life, it's all good. Beauty all around.

Here's something Jeff and I noticed this summer - genetically modified corn has come to Saratoga County. This Pioneer Hi-Bred corn is bred to resist glufosinate, a highly toxic herbicide. Glufosinate is currently being phased out across Europe because of the health and environmental risks. It's probably already in use around here, and the presence of the Pioneer Hi-Bred now guarantees it. Good-bye butterflies and bees, hello birth defects and fertility problems.

A short visit to my sister's home

We took a trip to my sister's home, a trip that was supposed to last a couple of days. But 'H' has a cold and is possibly on her way to an ear infection and she was not in the best mood while we were there, so I cut it short. We all went to the country club for a swim in the pool, read stories, played, and went to the aquarium together before saying good-bye. We took in an IMAX "Deep Sea" movie and as expected, it was a great experience.

Today I took the girls to a "preschool naturalists" group at the state park and we caught bugs and made bug masks. The weather is delightful and it's a wonderful day to be outdoors.

We've got more outdoor excitement lined up - in 2 weeks we'll be visiting my other sister, who raises honey bees. She's going to show us what the hive and the honey comb look like and tell us all about how honey is made. We're going to spend the night and take a trip to Old Sturbridge Village the next day. I'm excited! I can tell a trip to the library to check out books on honey bees and the "olden days" is right around the corner.

Tomorrow though, you'll find us at the blueberry patch, getting in one last good pick before the season winds down.

We made sushi at home this past weekend with Chris and Sue. Jeff and I were more than happy to consume a little fish and shellfish in honor of the occasion! My favorite roll right now is an inside-out cucumber and seaweed salad roll. What did I do before I discovered this combo? YUM!

I think I finally have late blight on my tomatoes, and I say "finally" because I think I'm one of the last to get it, and as I understand, this is the proper time of year for it to surface. I yanked the Brandywine today but am just not ready to throw out the rest until Jeff sees them.

My zucchini and squash plants aren't producing tons of fruit since I sliced them open and removed the borers but they're producing enough to keep us happy, so I'm pleased about that. I'm making Ratatouille (again) tonight for dinner with squash and tomatoes from our garden.

Today we have an apppointment for An Adventure in Parenting at the pediatrician's office. 'H' has been holding her breath more often lately and passing out, and I want to have a talk with our doctor to make sure it's nothing more than breath holding spells. My gut tells me there's nothing more to it, but I would like to be sure. If it is just breath holding, we'll be talking about management of the spells. Meaning, even though she "comes to" very quickly when I promise her a popsicle, perhaps I shouldn't keep up that behavior. I actually stopped promising popsicles a while ago and this new round of fainting is just occurring despite what I might do or not do. I don't know what to do!

Speaking of 'H' and her health and what to do... I do know what to do about her chronic constipation issues and now that I've been doing it, we're sailing along very smoothly! First I omitted all dairy from her diet and after a few months, she was feeling significantly better. Then I noticed that if I didn't load her up with magnesium every single day, she'd have trouble again. Her favorite magnesium-rich foods are prune juice (the girl loves the stuff!) and ground flaxseed, which I usually bake into bread, muffins or cookies. So, the recipe is: No Diary + Lots of Magnesium = No More Constipation, and best of all, no more Miralax! That stuff is poisonous and I cannot believe all the doctors recommend it.

Some things we're looking forward to in the next few weeks:

*A trip to my sister's home in Connecticut, with a chance for all the cousins to play together.

*The 232nd Anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga will be held in September and this is what we are excited to see: 18th century American, British, and German soldiers set the 1777 scene with tents, campfires, musket and cannon firings. Discuss strategy with officers, judge a court-martial, go on a "reconnaissance" party, learn about open-fire cooking techniques, see a dramatic performance of British Colonel Bannistre Tarleton or take part in mock musket drills.

*The Peace & Justice Fair in Saratoga Springs on September 20. The goal of the fair is to show people ways that everyone can have a hand in peacemaking, whether it is through buying fair-trade goods, lobbying the government, or something more.

rain & veggie burgers

Rain today.

I'm so happy and relieved to finally use up some of the veggie burger vegetables I've been getting from the farm. In process are two recipes: beet-jalapeno-mushroom burgers and swiss chard-mushroom-pecan burgers. I love taking burgers out of the freezer on busy days and having dinner ready in no time flat.

I've been thinking about parenting lately, more than I usually do. It seems that 'A' used to be so steady, but when I take a closer look, she has so many ups and downs and different cycles she goes through, it's hard for Jeff and me to keep up sometimes.

She - and the rest of us, for that matter - made it through the "I am an independent grown-up and I want to live on my own, without anyone telling me what to do" phase intact. She now wants to live here with us, help out, and interact without an attitude. It's so nice to have her back. There are other things about our relationship that I work on, like hugging her more (neither one of us likes to hug all that much, so it's lacking. 'H' on the other hand is a wonderful hugger and she's always running toward one of us with her arms wide open...). I'm really looking forward to this next year with the two of them.

As the start of the school year draws near, I'm finding that I'm more happy than ever with our decision to keep the girls out of preschool this year. Sometimes I make decisions that I feel are right but part of me wonders how I'll really feel when the time comes to carry it out. It's hard to ignore the school chatter - it comes from other parents, from the media, and from my own Pavlovian associations with this time of year. It's going to be fun to be with them and let them do what they want and need to do as the year goes on. One thing in particular I won't miss: getting up and getting out the door on time. Ugh. I have never been one to arrive at school or work early or on time in a relaxed manner. No matter what personality traits my kids have when they get older, they aren't capable of getting up and getting ready on time at this point in their lives. And when you have someone like me in charge of the situation, it degrades quickly. It's not as if we sleep late or anything. We just like to let the day unfold in a civil and slow way. It causes us so much stress to get out the door when we're not ready. I can't stand the sound of myself, "Just about ready to put your shoes on, please make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave... Did you go to the bathroom yet?... Time to put on your shoes, do I need to lead you to the bathroom?... Could you work on putting on your coat?... Were you able to get your coat on?" I'm learning that if I take myself and my family out of situations where I act like a nag and a bitch, we're all happier.

Sometimes I think about what my cousin told me. She said she didn't send her kids to school until third grade because that was the point at which they were ready to "take on" school. They were excited about getting up and getting ready, about learning the things they were taught, about doing their homework. They didn't need to be herded through the day - they were old enough and excited enough to do it on their own, because they wanted to. Her boys are teenagers now, ready for college, and they have a wonderful family.

I wonder what the future holds for us?


My dad and Marilyn came to visit us on Tuesday. We sat outside of SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) on Tuesday night with a nice little picnic and listened to the Doobie Brothers play, and planned to stay for the Allman Brothers, but the rain drove us out.

The next day our guests scored sweet front-row, finish line, club house seats at the track. The girls and I made focaccia for dinner (we use the Cooks Illustrated recipe with a grated potato and it's fabulous. If you don't have the magazine, Google the recipe and you'll find it). 'A' was having a very "big girl" day, washing dishes in the sink, helping me cook, and doing all sorts of big girl things, so I sat both of them down with a ball of focaccia dough and had them knead and shape their own for dinner.

When they were done with the edible dough, they spent time making some animals out of play dough.

Later that afternoon, we were off to the farm. I can't think it enough - it's so important to me that my kids see where some of our food comes from. It's so important as they form their perceptions of the world around them to see that food is grown by real people, on real land, for real purposes.

Today before we said good-bye we all went into Saratoga Springs to taste some spring water, ride the merry go round, and have some lunch.

This week my niece is at my mother's house attending summer camp at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Next year 'A' will be old enough to go and I am so excited to sign her up. The campers spend most of their time outside (regardless of the weather) as they observe the salt marsh, tidal flats and turtles, fish and other wildlife, learning to respect and find awe in nature. Older campers have the chance to shadow a researcher, something I find very attractive.

For now, our observation of nature includes finding enormous dead bugs in the yard and mixing them up with our toy bugs, just for fun. Doesn't that look like a cicada to you? Some come every 17 years and some come back every year. I guess this is an annual one. They are quite large and a lot of fun to look at.

Busy-ness and complete surprises

We've been running these past few days! Even 'A' said today as I returned the toys I took away from her the other day for bad behavior, "Mommy, I didn't miss them at all! We visited so many people and I was doing so many things and I didn't think about them at all." I've been watching her. She's telling me the honest truth.

The other day we went to visit Beth Anne (above), the sweetest of all sweethearts on the planet, at her parent's home nearby. She's visiting now: Beth Anne lives all the way across the country in LA. Also at Beth Anne's house that afternoon were Tracy (a.k.a. Trabo, her J-Lo name, in the photo below), who is one of Jeff's dearest friends and our former roommate from our NYC days together; Lara, who is newly married; and Sue, who along with Beth Anne, wins the sweetest sweetheart on the planet award.

It was a treat to spend a sober, sunny afternoon with just the ladies (usually there's a fair number of men mixed in when I see any of them, and usually we're not completely sober...). The visit filled me up with love and peace and all kinds of emotional deliciousness.

By the way, I did see a shooting star the other night! Just one, and it was all I needed. Just as Grace came to snuggle up in my outdoor blanket, and I said, "Grace, it's time to go in. The moon is rising and the mosquitos are out..." Just then, the largest shooting star ever sailed straight above me, across the sky. It was magnificent.

I worked at the church fair on Saturday and while I was there I bought the most wonderful piece of garden art ever. It's a big, colorful flower made out of water bottles. The bottles were cut, torched, heat gunned and painted by the women of our church and they're just beautiful. I love that they're so sunny and happy. And the best part is, since plastic takes 500,000 years to degrade, I can pass this along as a family heirloom forever and ever! I love it!

One of my surprises this weekend - I surprised myself a few times - was how comfortable I felt working at the plant booth. I've been poking around in the garden at home for a few years now and I must be starting to have some confidence because I was able to talk about plants with the customers without really thinking twice. Nice!

Tonight Jeff is at the Phish show at SPAC with many, many of our friends. It's not entirely my gig so I didn't go (it might be more my gig if I didn't need to spend $100 on a babysitter in order to go). He went early to tailgate (and he intended to ride his bike but it was just so hot today). The girls and I scooted in the back way in the afternoon to see everyone we could and give kisses all around before heading back home to our air conditioned home.

Gosh there were a lot of cars there! Do you think this is what the Woodstock parking lot looked like at Max Yasgur's farm? Do you think there were this many cars there? I doubt it.

My favorite surprise came tonight. I came home from SPAC with the girls and intended to feed them dinner, bathe them, and put them to bed early so I could have some time to clean the house or relax, or do something of my choosing. We all had a leisurely dinner, and then at bathtime the skies opened up and a fantastic thunderstorm rained down, complete with nearby lightning. I postponed the bath. 'A' asked a question about the Earth and I wondered if it was too early to introduce them to the TV series Planet Earth. I put in a disc and they loved it. Just loved it. The rain stopped just as the movie ended, so we all went upstairs for a bath. I savored my time with them tonight. By the time I kissed them goodnight, it was 10 pm and too late for me to have any substantial time to myself, but I didn't care. I was surprised by how much I wanted to spend time with them tonight, how gentle and playful I wanted to be. It's a reminder to me that I do my best parenting when there's no schedule to follow. If I'm not concerned with the clock, my patience and understanding flows more easily.

I hope you have a wonderful day and I wish you all the joys you are able to imagine.

sparkly feelings!

The Unitarian church fair is this weekend and I'm donating time and goods. Today I dug up some perennials to sell at the plant booth, and on Saturday I'll be working at both the plant booth and the jumble table, 'A' in tow as my special helper. I also made some "heart healthy" egg- and dairy-free chocolate chip cookies for the dessert sale. "Heart healthy" is in quotation marks because it's just a claim of mine and it's not based on any science, and it's probably not really true, but it does sound good. I make them with Smart Balance instead of butter and instead of eggs I use flaxseed, and the flax oil in the Smart Balance and in the ground seeds is heart healthy.

Tonight Jeff is at a poker game and I'm going outside soon to watch the rest of the Perseids meteor shower, something I try to do every August. This year it'll just be me out there, laying on the ground looking up at the big night sky. I've been known to wake up my roommates, my husband, my family members... anyone who happens to be sleeping on a Perseids night, and make them go outside with me. Last night was actually the peak for us so tonight I shouldn't expect much, but it's fun to go out and watch. You end up seeing a lot more than you expect when you lay down, be still, and take time to really look at the night sky.

'A' and I are still working on the whole "I am four and I want to live by myself" thing. Tonight she stuck her metal hair clip in the light socket and said that a big light came out of it. My goodness, she could have been hurt, or worse! We had a big talk (after my freakout, and her freakout), and we're further along the path to reconciliation than we were earlier today. I think I need to talk to my mother about it because as I recall, I was pretty independent and also wanted to live alone at that age, and somehow my parents were able to fold me back into family life without too much stress.

Have a good night, a boring night with no electrical sparks.

Life today was a walk in the park

I brought my camera around and snapped some photos throughout the day. This morning we dropped 'A' off at a preschool-type class at the YMCA. Her teachers from the past year were teaching so I thought it would be nice for her to go and see them again. Sending her there meant that 'H' and I had 2 and a half delicious hours together with no pressing errands (except for the cat food errand I completely forgot about - sorry Erma and Grace!). 'H' and I started at the library to return a book, then moseyed over to the health food store before finally hitting Congress Park for a ride on the carousel.

Now that July has come and gone and the dust from our Fresh Air child's visit has settled, I feel like I can make some assessments of the whole experience. I think the next time we do it, our girls will be 5 and 7 years old and we'll have a 6-year-old come and stay. That way they'll all be in a similar age bracket. The only irritating thing that has come out of all of this is that 'A' has developed quite a sassy streak that Jeff and I feel is her way of imitating some of 'R's behavior. We knew that might happen, and it's taken some time but we're holding our gentle but firm ground, and she's starting to act more like herself again. And you know, what do you say to a 4-year-old who demands that you move out and let her live her own life? We just keep saying, "I will always love you" and hope for the best.

In the end, the Fresh Air experience was a positive one. There were definitely some "glitches," but the benefits far outweigh the downside. I wanted to do this not only to help an inner city child spend time in nature, but also so that my kids could continue their life journey of putting a human face on someone from another culture, someone who lives in poverty, someone who is doing their best in their own way.

Speaking of putting a human face on another culture, I realized something today that I'm not happy about. I was listening to an NPR report on Africa and I realized that although my children can listen to the newscast, they would benefit so much more by seeing the visuals on TV. Since I get all of my news either through the radio or on the internet, and because we watch very little TV at home, my kids don't see what people who live in different parts of the world look like. They don't see the news.

When I was little, my parents watched the nightly newscasts every single night with the expectation that we kids would watch too, and on Fridays or whatever night Washington Week in Review and Wall Street Week were on (are those the names of the shows? It was so long ago...), we watched those too. We saw the news and although we understood little of it, we were at least exposed to something. We incorporated it into our play, so instead of just playing on the couches on a rainy day, we pretended the couches were our boats and we were Cambodian boat people. We had no clue what was happening in the world, but we knew that something important was happening somewhere.

One of the problems with having my children see the news in 2009 is that media images so are much more graphic than they used to be. I think it can be a good thing for adults to see those images, because people need to see what's really going on instead of some sugar-coated, toned-down story with images to match. But for little kids it's too much to understand.

So you see, I have a dilemma, a problem to solve. I can't use TV or the news to fill my kids up with healthy images of other cultures so I guess I'll have to do it another way entirely.

On a separate note, as a follow-up to my achy joints issue, I've been playing phone tag with my doctor but her messages indicate that none of my blood tests came back positive (no Lyme Disease or Lupus, in other words), so that's good. I feel a bit better every day so I'm thinking I had a little bug. Part of me is happy I went and got the tests and the other part of me is wondering what I was thinking, telling my doctor I don't feel well. Have you seen Sicko? You won't ever want to tell a doctor anything after you see that movie. You never know, your insurance company could drop you for a mystery ailment if you divulge too much information. It can and does happen and it's not something I would like to have happen to me!

Also ill are the squash plants. Squash Vine Borer in every one. I sliced them all open, removed the borer, and covered up the wounds with compost-rich soil and lots of water. I can only hope they'll live. It's a long shot but I just wasn't ready to say good-bye to the plants yet.

Above: if you've ever wondered what the traffic is like in a tourist town, here is a glimpse.

Below: Scenes from the farm today.

I know I've said this before... I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that we live in an area where I can visit a bustling, beautiful little city in the morning and an organic, rural farm in the afternoon and still stay so close to home the whole time. I do not take any of this for granted! We live in a very unusual place.

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!