Hot air balloons!

I learned a few things today:

* Hot air balloons are magical and beautiful all the time, whether they are rising in the air, filling up with heat, or simply laying on the ground empty.

Today we woke at 4:45 in the morning to go to the Adirondack Balloon Festival. It's an annual event and over 90 balloons were scheduled to fill up and take off at dawn this morning. When we arrived, the frost on the ground was thawing and as the sun came up, the fog thickened. Some balloons went up but most were grounded. Still, it was a treat to see all of the balloons.

* The reason I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall has more to do with how well I've been able to notice and embrace the small, beautiful changes that nature brought throughout the spring and summer than anything else. I loved spring and summer this past year because I cherished the small things that I found outdoors. The new growth, the blossoms, the bright green leaves. I've realized that just because there isn't new growth in the fall and winter doesn't mean little changes won't occur. They will, and I can still take delight in noticing and appreciating them.

* I could have a sauna, mineral bath and massage every day and never tire of the routine. Thank you Shelly & Neal, my husband's wonderful parents, for the treat I had today! Saratoga Springs is famous for its mineral waters and the baths are a delightful accompaniment to the sauna and massage.

* Even two year olds can hammer. Today we stopped at one of our hardware stores and a kid's clinic was in progress. The girls made a wooden fire truck and used child-sized hammers to put the nails in place. What a great way to help children feel comfortable using tools!

Church tomorrow. It was supposed to be followed by a potluck at the farm but because of the rain that's due to come through, the dinner is postponed until next week. We have another commitment next week at the same time and it'll be interesting to see what choice we make and why.

Have a wonderful and magical rest of your weekend!

Shhhh.... it's quiet here. My girls are napping, to get some rest before a potluck dinner we're attending tonight. Life is good. We're just about done painting the living room (big, high walls...), and today I put everything back in the hutch and felt relieved to see the top of the kitchen table once again. I bought a fabulous chandelier for the living room on clearance the other day and I can't wait to hang it and wire it in. Once we get that up, we're just about finished with this whole project that should have been done a few years ago.

I'm starting to wonder if Mother Nature has enlisted the help of her fairies to move me to a place of peace with the new season. Lately my oven smells of apple pie when I turn it on, and I haven't cooked one since last year. I do love apple pie! And I associate it fondly with autumn. Okay Fairies, I'm getting the message... but keep the magic coming because I'm not there yet.

Summer-like weather on the first day of fall. I can handle the new season after all!

Celebrating the new season

We held our "Fall Celebration" tonight. Yesterday the girls collected leaves and made crowns for all of us, we took out some books about the seasons from the library, and I gathered together a candle to represent each one.

We lit the candles and as we did, we said what we liked best about each season. We all agree that we like all the seasons. Jeff and 'A' feel more strongly about that statement than I do, but I do appreciate them all. I read stories and poems and we closed with each of us blowing out a candle that represented the season of our choice. I blew out summer, and it hurt just a little bit to say goodbye.

Tonight as I was tucking 'A' into bed, she reminded me that Mother Nature is ready for us to move to the next season, and that spring and summer will come again, and it will all be okay. Children can be so wonderful and reassuring when you need it most.

"Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."
- A Children's Song of the 1880's

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
- George Cooper, October's Party

Still painting!

my soul has been fed!

Today my soul was fed by lots of other people and oh boy, does it feel wonderful! We went to the Peace Fair in Saratoga Springs today and met people who are working toward peace in many different ways. The fair brought together the local organizations that are working to make real, lasting changes in our world such as promoting peaceful dialogue, shopping for fairly traded goods, eating locally and sustainably, taking action to create progressive political change, and conserving our earth's resources, to name a few.

It was just the kind of place I wanted to spend the afternoon.

At the end of this post you'll find the list of groups that were at the fair. This list is golden! I have so many wonderful ideas now about where to direct our charitable giving and our volunteer efforts, as well as new connections within my community.

I gave some thought to my "Autumn Transition Issue" and I think we should have a family festival to say good-bye to summer and hello to fall. The girls and I will collect some "summer" things such as green grass and flowers, and also some autumn things such as pinecones, acorns and colorful leaves. We'll display it at our festival and light candles in honor of each season. We'll read a story and sing a song and celebrate the equinox.

This is a time of balance, when the days and nights are the same length, when the sun enters Libra. At the equinox, the earth's magnetic field is weakened, and some people believe the universe's energy is available to us in a different way for the 48 hours around the moment the equinox occurs. Is this a time of introspection and reflection for me? Not yet. I have some emotions to work through before I can get there. Or maybe I'm already there?

Adirondack Foothills Peace Committee Part of the Peace Center of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Glens Falls, offering workshops, speakers (Father John Dear in 2010) and peace vigils. Neal Herr - 798-1371

African Reflections Foundation  ( Seeks to raise the standard of living in East African communities through increased access to clean drinking water, health care, education and economic stability. Peace Cranes for sale to benefit ARF made by Amy Doern.

Alternatives to Violence Project   ( Dedicated to reducing violence in our lives, in our homes, in our schools, in our prisons, in our streets and in our society. Workshops build community, improve communication, and draw on that transforming power everyone has within him/her self to change a negative situation into a positive one. Ed Kautz -

Baltimore Non-violence Center   Provides accounting/bookkeeping assistance to progressive groups, does nonviolence trainings and is active in many of Baltimore’s peace and justice campaigns. Max Obuszewki - 410-366-1637

Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace   ( We believe that war is NOT the answer, and that voicing our dissent and helping our government end this disastrous war and avoid future wars are vital and patriotic acts.

Bread for the World   ( A collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Write letters and organize letter-writing campaigns. Presented by Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast, Brooke Newell - 793-3823 -

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany  ( REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM provides support to individuals and families who have fled their home countries because of violence and persecution. Seeking partners and volunteers. Marian Comfort - 453-6650

Children and Nature  ( A collaborative project established by The Saratoga Institute to reconnect children and their families to nature.  Fair activity: Nature Scavenger Hunt and Bubble Making with twigs.

Contemplative Outreach of the Hudson Valley   Information and books about centering prayer. Fair workshop: 12:30 Nolan House. Bruce Gardiner - 325-5546

Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP)   Working to end poverty and hunger. Fran Suarez - 587-8612

Curbstone Press   (  Focuses on creative literature that invites readers to examine social issues, encourages a deeper understanding between cultures, and reflects a commitment to promoting human rights.

Emmaus House – Albany Catholic Worker   Provides hospitality for homeless families, usually one at a time and often from outside the U.S. Helps with food, clothing and advocacy to families in the community. Fred Boehrer   482-4966

Heifer Project  Purchase a meaningful gift card to give to a loved one and help families around the world receive animal gifts and training to become self-reliant.  Presented by PNECC.

Hippies for Hope    A charitable organization aiming to benefit children in hospitals and respite centers by selling tie-dyed t-shirts. Ashlie Busone -

Kanatsiohareke   ( Conducts programs in the culture and traditions of the people; fosters an active accumulation of spoken Mohawk language by members of the community; and continues the oral traditions, stories, songs and dances in the unique spirit of the Mohawk path.

League of Humane Voters   ( Works to pass animal protection laws, elect humane candidates to office, educate the public on matters of public policy, and hold politicians accountable to their constituents.

League of Women Voters    ( ) A nonpartisan political organization. Encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Mango Tree Imports  ( ) A locally owned and operated business featuring fairly traded art and gifts from around the world. Route 50 north of Ballston Spa.

Ndakinna  ( ) A not-for-profit Native American educational organization located on the Bruchac Nature Preserve in Greenfield Center, NY. Courses, programs, October festival.

NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault  ( Working to end sexual violence by addressing elements of oppression, human rights violations and social injustices.

Nueva Esperanza del Norte   ( Dedicated to creating/brokering a range of educational opportunities for the academic and professional development of El Salvadoran students at the high school and college level. Seeking host homes for three women. 623-2144

Olive Branch Olive Oil  (www.palestinianfairtrade.pps)  Organizes agricultural cooperatives and sells fair trade olive oil.  It aims to improve individual’s social and economic situation.

PACE e BENE   ( Fostering a just and peaceful world through nonviolent education, community-building, and action.  Judith Kelly - - 703-536-3564  

Parvisani   (  Sharing a commitment to encourage, support and work: for the environment; for spirituality without fundamentalism and narrow-mindedness; for peace; and for political justice.

Pennies for Peace   ( A service-learning program that raises money to build schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Students broaden their cultural horizons and learn they can make a difference by promoting peace through education. Presented by Presbyterian – New England Congregational Church.

Pinwheels for Peace   ( As part of the International Day of Peace, on the corner of Park and Circular, fair-goers will create a visual public statement about peace with pinwheels decorated with thoughts and images of peace.

Presbyterian – New England Congregational Church   ( A diverse church family is united in the belief that a church that attempts to experience the love of God within its community must also be a church that is socially conscious and actively working for justice.

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship  ( Community of peacemakers who are active in their own communities and around the world.  Focuses on nonviolent direct action.  Mary Ann Harwell 845-786-6743

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)   ( Friends believe God’s presence is in each individual and that we can directly experience God within ourselves and each other. All Friends’ practices, witness, and testimonies – simplicity, integrity, equality, and peace – stem from this basic belief.

Rural and Migrant Ministries  (  A multi-faith organization serving rural and migrant people in New York since 1981 through programs of youth empowerment, education, and accompaniment.

Saratoga Coffee Traders ( Fair Trade, Organic and Shade Grown Coffee

Saratoga County Interfaith Environmental Coalition ( Dedicated to being a resource for the residents of Saratoga County and educating the community on our earth's climate crisis and things we can do as a community to help reduce our carbon footprint.

Saratoga Peace Alliance  ( Weekly Saturday vigil for peace, noon to 1 PM in front of the downtown Saratoga Springs Post Office.  Sponsors various programs throughout the year that promote peace.  Promotes non-violent civil disobedience actions. Fair activity:  Origami Peace Cranes with Dana Smith and Kate Gallo.

Schenectady Neighbors for Peace   ( Serves as an umbrella to those peace activities already happening in Schenectady County, and as a catalyst to stimulate new peace activities in this city and county.

Schenectady Stand Up Guys  ( Raises awareness about men’s violence against women and girls.  Promotes gender equality in our community. Education, community projects, activities.

Seeds for Peace  (  Provides vegetable & flower seeds and tools for weather- and war-ravaged people in many nations so that they can feed themselves, regain human dignity, and work peacefully beside those they once called "enemies".

SERRV   ( Economic self-sufficiency is a key element in strengthening communities and creating a stable economy. Purchase fair trade items to support artisans and farmers worldwide. Presented by PNECC.

Soroptimists International of Saratoga Co.  ( Focus on increasing awareness of the tragedy of Human Trafficking. Interested in connecting with groups wanting presentations or with new volunteers.

Sustainable Saratoga  ( Working to make the city of Saratoga Springs more sustainable. Diverse volunteer groups addressing issues in transportation, biology, ecology, farming and economic development, among others.

Uganda AIDS Widows Jewelry  ( Purchase items to provide income to Uganda AIDS widows. Information on sponsoring school children who are AIDS orphans. Paul Phillips 584-4625

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga  ( We aspire to the exploration for truth and to the ideals of compassion and service. Fair Activities: petitions to sign, information about conflict resolution.

Upper Hudson Peace Action Network  ( For nearly 50 years, Peace Action has worked for an environment where all are free from violence and war.

Veterans For Peace  (  Seeks other means of conflict resolution since wars are easy to start and hard to stop, and that those hurt are often the innocent.  Mike McGraw (

War Crimes Times  ( “News a press that’s free would print”

Women Against War   ( Capital District women working for peace through: direct action, educational events on the costs of war and the possibilities of peace.  Presenting material from: Code Pink  ( a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

Revoluntionary War Encampment

Have I mentioned lately how much I love living here? There's so much to do, all the time. I'm sure there were things to do in Norwich, where I spent most of my childhood, but it just didn't seem as obvious or accessible. Not only is there always something interesting happening here, most of the time there's more than one event at a time, forcing us to really pick and choose how we spend our time.

Today we went to the Revolutionary War encampment at the Saratoga Battlefield. What a beautiful place! We love to go there, especially in the fall (or almost fall...). It was a nice continuation of the "olden days" theme the girls have been connecting with this past week.

For the first time in my life, I'm NOT ready for fall. I'm not looking forward to it and I'm feeling angry that it's coming. This year summer wasn't hot and sticky enough and I'm not sick of it yet. And I might mention, this summer was my first year as a small-scale vegetable farmer (I had a backyard garden) and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would love to garden year-round. I know that as the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, my attention will be turned elsewhere and I'll enjoy the way we spend our days, but right now I'm fighting the end of summer and I'm very down about the change of season.

This attitude isn't very respectful of Mother Nature, is it? Summer will come again, just as it always does, and perhaps I should spend some time appreciating all I've done during this summer season and look forward to the changes ahead. When my kids get cranky and want more, more, more of something they can't have, I remind them that they should feel more grateful that they even got to have the desired item or experience in the first place. I might take some time to reflect on my own advice.

But first I'm going to kiss my sleeping children's heads. Have a wonderful final weekend of summer!

my life

ahhh... this photo represents the current state of my physical life right now. We're painting and the house is a mess; I've got groceries and vegetables that need to be put away and processed; compost that needs to be run out to the pile; and my pickle jars, which should be holding a new round of pickles, are instead used to hold paint while the cucumbers await further instructions at the bottom of the fridge.

Today the girls started gymnastics and they both loved their classes. They're so cute, running around following the instructor!

We're home after several days of visiting. We had a great time with my sister Emily. 'A' enjoyed blowing out the playdough candles Emily made for her.

Today we went to Old Sturbridge Village and we all really enjoyed the visit. It's changed some since I was little - fewer interpreters mostly, but it's still a treasure and worth a family visit.

Now we're home and looking forward to a full week.

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!