After I eat this candy, I'm going to want to make a cake.


Funny how some of us (me) don't get insight about ourselves until we find ourselves in a stressful situation and our destructive behavior is too strong to ignore. Today, I am seeing my food-stress connections more clearly. Jeff dropped off his car for scheduled service this morning. It's not an old car - 7 years old - and we planned on having it for another few years. It would be NICE to not have a car payment all the time.

While we were at the NY State Museum in Albany this morning, he got the call from the garage. The engine is about to die, and it will cost $4K to rebuild it. What to do? Fix it or get a new car?

So, while he's out looking at new cars this afternoon, taking constructive action and working on fixing his problem, I'm sitting here eating some newfound Halloween candy ('A' found it in the bread basket, how timely!) and thinking about all of the other sugary treats I would love to make right now.


I probably won't make the cake, or the cookies. And I did stop eating the candy. I've been so good these past few months at being mindful of what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat. I haven't lost a ton of weight, but I am losing some slowly, and it feels like I'm doing the right thing.

All of this new insight is making me think back on the past year, or two, when I made cookies galore. I wonder: What was I making them for? What was I trying to cover up, or trying to heal all that time?


This information about me will help serve as a barometer in the future. If I find myself wanting to bake or eat a thousand cookies for "no apparent reason," I know that I have to dig a little deeper and ask myself what is really going on.


Anyway, we took a family trip to the State Museum. I like it there. There are so many different things to see. It's the perfect destination for Mr. Scientist and Mrs. Art & History to bring their children (that would be me and Jeff). I've been wanting to go during the week but our weekdays are so heavily scheduled and I can't find a nice block of morning time to go. I hate that it's so scheduled. I'm not making this mistake again. Once the music class and gymnastics is over, I think I might do more field trips for just our little family and less of the group activities with other toddlers.

Back to the museum. 'H' has been very interested in the art that hangs on the walls at the nursing home, so I thought it would be neat for her to see some of the paintings at the Rockwell Kent exhibit. She likes to point to different things in the paintings and ask what they are. I like his early stuff, he uses light very well. I don't think a lot of people understand how important light is in a painting. It takes on a lot of different hues and tones and if you look at a painting and only concentrate on the lighting, it can change the way you see the work.


The girls liked the carrousel the best (they call it a carousel at the museum, which is actually the British spelling of the word). Of course that was their favorite!


Have a great day.





I took a bunch of photos today, and here they are. I don't have a lot to say. I started out the day with a sad feeling in my heart and I just can't shake it.


'A' and I played outside today while 'H' took her nap. We had a good time. Today we had trouble walking around because the snow was heavy and icy on the top and deep and fluffy underneath, so as we walked around the yard, we sunk straight down! We spent a lot of time sitting down and building little houses.


Dinner last night was YUMMY! We had squash, black bean, spinach and goat cheese burritos. It was hearty and very tasty. Here is the recipe - straight from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 package (10 ounces) frozen cooked winter squash, thawed
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 flour tortillas (10-inch)
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup store-bought salsa, plus more for serving

Directions

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, garlic, and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in beans and spinach. Cook until warmed through, 4 to 6 minutes; season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Stack tortillas, and wrap in a double layer of damp paper towels; microwave until hot, about 2 minutes. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spoon goat cheese, then salsa in a line down center of each tortilla.

Spoon bean mixture on top of salsa. Fold side of tortilla closest to you over filling, then fold right and left sides in toward center; tightly roll up burrito. Cut burritos in half, and serve with more salsa.


I'm sad today because when I dropped 'A' off at preschool, the teacher was taking some time to sit down with each child and see if he or she could write their name. All of the children are 3, with the exception of one girl, who is 4. If any of those children were actually able to write their name in its entirety with no assistance (very few were able to, and 'A' was not one of them, I am happy to say), it was because their parents taught them how to do it. So, instead of testing these little kids and asking them to perform on the spot, why not just sit down with each parent and ask all of us if we teach our children how to write their name? Isn't that what this is really testing?


This was Phase 2 of the "evaluations." Phase 1 was last month, when the teacher sat down with each child and asked them to identify some colors. 'A' loves pointing out different colors - so far she's been introduced to little more than the basic rainbow colors, and for now it's enough. Over the past few months she's picked up on hues, so she can look at something that is dark pink and another that is light pink and see the difference. She learns this stuff by observing and then asking me about it. So, guess what happened when the teacher asked her about the colors? Her answers were either "I don't know" or she said the wrong color. Talk about an aversion to performing and being tested! This kid does what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. And I think that is a very natural thing for a child. WHO CARES if she's able to identify a bunch of colors? Don't you think that taking some time to watch her observe something and come up with her own conclusions is a better indicator of how her brain is functioning than quizzing her on color swatches?


Sorry to unload like this. It just makes me feel very sad and empty when I run into stuff like this.

Part of what makes me so crazy about how she's supposed to be educated is that I really want her to have a wonderful life experience, I want her to grow into a wise, mindful, giving, happy person, and I want her to always find joy in learning and growing. And I don't see how some of what is called "education" is going to help her on that life path. I'm not concerned about whether or not she learns enough to get into college or get a good job. She will learn enough, and then some. 'H' too. Both of my girls come from very intelligent families and I have no doubt that they will turn out to be well-read, learned, critical thinkers. I just want their path to be enjoyable.

And appropriate for their individual personalities.









We had snow today. Our morning music class was cancelled, and so was my gym time this afternoon. We stayed home and rolled around :)


'A' has shown a lot of interest in doing things for herself lately, as well as helping me out with "grown up" activities. I pretty much follow her lead and let her do what she wants, within reason. Last week, for some reason, I told her that we would make some time to make bread this week. Today was the perfect day to do it. We worked side by side with our own batches. I did all of the kneading. The recipe was a new one, and in the end, we felt it called for too much whole wheat flour and didn't produce the bread we wanted, but it was a good experiment. My mother always baked bread, and she believes that when you grow up in a home where you see bread being made, you're more likely to feel comfortable making it as an adult. Probably true. She had three of us to teach, and I'm not sure it "took" with my sisters. One out of three of us became a baker. If you go by those odds, I am more likely than not to raise two "non-bakers."

Remember how 'A' doesn't like to get dirty? While we were mixing the bread with our hands, she decided that she had to go and wash hers right away because she didn't want the dough to stick to them!

So, the results of my informal experiment are in. When I eat raw, dark, leafy greens for dinner, I spring out of bed the next morning, full of energy. When I eat them cooked or don't include them in my daily diet at all, I have significantly less energy and I feel like lounging in bed all morning.


Here is a recipe for raw greens in a salad. Last night I used turnip greens, which I would describe as heartier than romaine lettuce and more delicate than bok choy, and a little more bitter than most salad greens, but overall not bad. We actually mixed the greens with some other baby lettuces we had in the fridge. And lucky for me, the bundle I got was so big that I have enough for a few days worth of salad.

Mess o’ Greens Salad With Warm Dressing
If you don’t have pecans, it’s still delicious. You can also add goat cheese, raisins or pears for more flavor.

6 cups fresh mustard, turnip, and/or collard greens (about 1 pound)
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp. vegetable oil
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped or broken

Wash greens well, dry thoroughly, then remove and discard the long stems. Tear the greens into salad-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and mustard. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet until hot but not smoking. Add the vinegar mixture and pecans and cook, stirring regularly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour over the greens and serve at once.


'A' took the following photos today - yes, that's right, it's Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff!

I remember when we were tossing around names before 'H' was born and I was really excited about "Sydney" and my dad used the argument that Syd is an old man's name to try to sway me from using it. I still like that name, even after the "talking to" I received!


Snow tonight and tomorrow!

new life


This is what was waiting for us when we woke up this morning. Two of the little strawberry seeds that we planted have sprouted!


After spending some time coloring this morning, 'A' ran over and handed me this drawing of a "flower growing in the soil." I love it!

Here are some photos that 'A' took of 'H' this morning:




This is a prayer that was read by Rev. Gene Robinson at Barack Obama's Inauguration. It was also read in our church by one of the members of the congregation who stood up and felt it needed to be shared. I like it.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears — for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger — at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort — at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience — and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility — open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance — replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity — remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart
, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN.

I'm waiting for Jeff. We have a date tonight to sit down and get the ball rolling on our taxes.

We had a funny moment last night - well, I thought it was funny. I spent the entire day with my sisters, and I arrived home just in time for dinner. That's the same time Jeff usually gets home from work. He spent all day with our children. It was as if our schedules were reversed for the day. After dinner, bathtime rolled around and he suggested I give them a bath, which I did. Now, on a typical night, we divide up the duties: one of us gives a bath and the other will clean up the kitchen. When I came downstairs after putting 'H' to bed, I saw that the kitchen hadn't been cleaned up all the way. I asked Jeff when he was going to do it, and he gave me a look that said, "I just spent all day taking care of our kids - I fed them breakfast, got them dressed, organized activities for us, prepared lunch, put 'H' to bed for naptime, played with 'A' in the afternoon, went to the grocery store, got dinner ready... and now you're asking me to clean the kitchen too???" and I looked at him as if to say, "Yes, I expect you to keep your end of the bargain because you are living a typical day in my life, and I always get the job done!" And then I laughed so hard that I had to spit my sip of water back into my cup.

I'm reading two books that are jam-packed with neat info: Organic Crafts: 75 Earth-Friendly Art Activities by Kimberly Monaghan and Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver. I got them both from the library and I think I may buy the Organic Crafts book because it has a lot of neat projects that use natural materials to make art, and many of the projects call for a field trip to the backyard to look for materials, which I love.

Guerilla Learning is full of answers (and questions) to those questions some parents ask such as "is the goal of the school curriculum 100% healthy for my child and if not, how can our family take responsibility for our education?" The authors described our public school district almost to a "T" - one that puts so much emphasis on testing and homework that things like recess and free play are pushed so far to the side that they fall off the daily schedule. I don't blame our district specifically because it's all part of a larger web of national issues and it is representative of so many school systems in this country. Teaching children how to do things - more and more things, earlier than before - is, for a lot of people, a good thing. But it makes me uncomfortable. If 'A' wants to learn how to write all of her letters and learn how to read in the next few years, then good for her. But I don't want her to have to learn because it's expected of her - I want her to learn because she wants to do it... the same way she is learning how to speak (on her own), and the way she learned how to walk (on her own), and the way she's learning how to use her imagination (on her own). When she wants to know something, she asks to learn, and that's how it should be.

Jeff is now waiting for me. Have a great night!

I took the girls to the dentist the other day. I was so impressed with them! Six months ago, at our last visit, I swore their crying had done some psychological damage to the poor dentist. They screamed on my lap the whole time, both of them. This time, they both opened their mouths wide and let the dentist and the hygenist do their stuff.


Today I met Jennifer and Emily in Massachusetts for a little wedding dress shopping. It was a lot of fun! There are so many nice dresses out there. And it's just amazing how different our personal styles are.





Crushed Garlic


We went to the Saratoga Automobile Museum today with 'A's preschool class. It was my first time there (but not the girls' - they went with my dad and Marilyn a few months ago). The gentleman who led the tour was very good with this age group - lots of interaction and activity, very little listening required.


This popcorn and peanuts car was my favorite! The woman who created it drove it until 9 years ago. Wow! The museum is pleased that they got to buy it instead of Jay Leno.


I watched the inauguration today with the girls on my lap. I knew it would be a big event - in fact, I consider it to be one of the biggest events in our nation's social and political history - but I am very surprised by how much it has affected me physically. I feel so relieved now, almost wiped out. It's like I'm starting to calm down after a long and stressful nightmare. I'm feeling a new sense of relaxation. I am able to breathe.


I have other good reasons for feeling happy and peaceful too. I've been letting Mother Nature do her thing and bring me back to my center, my place inside where I feel good and loving and whole. I've been on this journey for a few months now. My only goal at the beginning was to better connect with my children and Jeff. I understand that travel will be a part of Jeff's job and I accept that, but it doesn't change the fact that when he's gone for a week or longer at a time over and over again, and we barely talk on the phone during that time, our relationship, as good as it is, changes temporarily. And speaking of changes, my children are so young and ever-changing. To stay connected to them means actively tuning in and making them a priority in my daily life. I know that sounds obvious, but if you stop and take a look around, I bet you can find people you know who don't put their children first.


I've been doing a kind of active meditation when it comes to interacting with Jeff and the girls. I've been making a point to be present in the moment when we are together, to see the beautiful parts of them, to be patient and sympathetic with them. I've pretty much funnelled all of my energy into this healing process, evidenced by my lack of social life, creative hobbies and housekeeping. Along the way I've made time for my health too and I've been exercising regularly, which feels great.


Recently I have been overcome with wonderful feelings of peace and love. My relationship with Jeff is great and is only getting better. The girls are fabulous. I feel like I am able to communicate with them so much better than ever. We don't have that many struggles anymore or many whiny moments. I see them learning and growing right before my eyes. What got me was realizing that I spend pretty much all day every day guiding, loving, disciplining, teaching 'A' and 'H', and what I get in return is a healthy dose of unconditional love from them that fuels me and makes me whole in a way I never imagined I could be. They really are the source of my happiness, and I am starting to understand more fully what that phrase "a mother's love..." really means. When I'm plugged in with them, I don't need a break from them, I just need more of them. I don't get exasperated by them, I get more amused every day. Watching them experience the world for the first time is the most magical thing in the world. This is it. This is the meaning of life. And I'm living it right now.

All of this is not to say that life here is blissful and perfect, but it does feel like heaven to me. Just yesterday, actually, I made a bad parenting decision and I ended the day feeling like I let myself and 'A' down. It was the afternoon, during 'H's nap, and she and I sat down to work on a puzzle together. She is sick, so more than ever she was asking for my attention. The phone rang, and I answered it. Instead of getting down to business and hanging up, I talked. And it kept ringing, and I kept talking. She was at loose ends and was begging for me to be with her. That's a specific case where I knew exactly what I was doing. I have made it a point to not talk on the phone when I need to be with her, and I wasn't happy with myself yesterday.


On a different, but somewhat related note, I have been taking in a lot of information about different methods of educating children. It all started when I was wondering what the heck we were going to decide to do about preschool next year. And now I'm still gathering information because I'm finding that it's helping me to be a better communicator with them.

One of the things I am learning about is the Waldorf philosophy. Until a month ago I knew nothing about it, but you wouldn't believe how many current and former elementary school educators are singing it's praises. If someone finds out I'm not putting Abby in a preschool program next year, the topic of the Waldorf philosophy usually works it's way in. One of the approaches I've borrowed from it and applied to our daily life is the notion of paying attention to the rhythms that are found in every day life. Young children need to have a rhythmical flow to the day that will allow them to think creatively and also allow them time to be close to their caretaker - or mother, in our case. Sometimes they need time to be close and listen to a story or a song, other times they need time for free, unobstructed play, and then there are lots of activities in between. By tuning into the girls' rhythms and structuring a consistent day around what they need, I've found that our lines of communication have opened up quite a bit. It's easier for them when we do things according to when they are ready, not when me and the rest of the world are ready.


So today, I have a lot of things to be thankful for.

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!