Getting away...

I'm still around, just a little warmer and more relaxed. I'm in Florida for a bit, appreciating the flowers, my family, and the warm-to-the-bone weather. See you again soon!

Planting peas;
Playing with water on this warm, spring day;
Enjoying the catnip (the first thing in the garden to come back to life!);
Family game night.

Cleaning up pinecones today in the yard and feeling like I'm not making a difference...

Volcano Experiment

The volcano experiment was fun and a little funny today, for me anyway.

I put in two jars: 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of clear dish soap, and a few drops of orange food coloring. We took it outside, buried it so it looked like a volcano, and added 1/4 cup white vinegar. Then we sat back and watched it erupt.

It wasn't actually that simple. A lot of time has gone into the volcano project in our house. The girls have had an obsession with volcanos recently and we've read a lot about them. They incorporate erupting volcanoes in their play. Before we set these experimental ones off, I showed them what happens when vinegar is added to baking soda. I explained that the experiment is less of a way to show how a real volcano works and more of a way to show that interesting things can happen when a few substances are added together.

We all took turns adding the vinegar to the jars and then 'H' decided that she was afraid of the hot lava and she ran back to the house...

...and 'A' was nervous about touching it because she was afraid it would be hot...

...and I started to wonder why this experiment is made to look like a volcano at all!

We should have just called this one the "Fizzy Baking Soda Experiment." I might do it again soon, calling it just that.

The Spring Chipmunk

After some discussion, Jeff and I have decided to start a new family tradition. Easter is coming up, as is the first day of spring. When I was little, the Easter Bunny would stop at our home on Easter Sunday. My family would dress for church and go and listen to the whole "Jesus is resurrected" story. Fast forward all these years, and I don't believe in the resurrection story. Coming to terms with my personal beliefs has helped me to stop self-identifying as a Christian. But the Easter Bunny has continued to stop at our home every year and leave our children a present. This has never made sense to me. I love the Easter Bunny idea, because to me it represents the start of spring, but I don't like tying it to a holiday I just don't believe in.

Enter the Spring Chipmunk. It's a friend of the Easter Bunny, and it picked the first day of spring as the holiday it celebrates. Just as the Easter Bunny doesn't stop at all homes, the Spring Chipmunk doesn't stop for everyone. It does stop for us though, and it brings a basket with candy my girls love (like peeps and jelly beans) and it works with the birds to hide eggs around the house and yard.

Explaining this to the girls was relatively easy (thank goodness!), and we feel good about it. Celebrating the first day of spring is certainly something our family can get behind.

Spring will be here soon!



We've got spring clothing to take out of storage;
A volcano to build in the backyard;
A vegan cookbook to pick up at the library;
Workout machines waiting at the gym;
Cookies to make for a workshop tomorrow night (I might add beets and chickpeas to the recipe this time... shhhh);
... and hugs to give all around.

Sunshine and warmth!

We've got sunshine and warmer weather here today... and I wish I could capture the way the sun lights up the pine needles in a way that makes them look magical and alive.

This is as close as I can get today:

We've got daffodils and daylilies poking through the ground, oregano and lemon balm leaves starting to sprout, buds on the clematis...

...and a young scientist who sits and observes the changes Mother Nature is bringing, then runs back to her drawing pad to record them. Today I challenged her to make a hypothesis about what might happen to the clematis over the next few months and draw that picture, too. We'll visit it often to see if her hypothesis is correct.

The other night I made this wonderful vegetable dish for dinner, swapping carrots for the parsnips, and the next day decided to turn the leftovers into gnocchi.

It was my first attempt at gnocchi, and I think I used too much flour because it was heavy, but the girls loved it and gobbled it up. Great! What a wonderful way to get some rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and onions into them...

Local Greens

We're savoring the greens we picked up at the farmer's market today. A beautiful mesculin mix. Jeff and I had a tasting at dinner - one leaf at a time, no dressing... just bare, beautiful leaves. We loved them.


Today we are:

Loving the play silk I won through Nicole's giveaway last week. The girls immediately knew what to do with it.

Enjoying the beach created out of grains and seeds for the little people...

Wondering when the ice on the garden beds will melt and we can plant some pea seeds...

Hoping the deer find something else to eat soon so they don't destroy all of my shrubs (again).

We went to the library and although we returned a lot of books, we took out a whole bunch. At any given time, I have 20-40 books checked out. Here's what's on the bookshelf at home right now:

Children's tear-jerker: Most Loved in All the World by Tonya Cherie Hegamin

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner (this is more of a sentimental pick than anything else, as I am not much into fiction these days. The woman who taught me how to knit was in a book group with the author's mom.)

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell

Let's Look at the Seasons: Springtime by Ann Schweninger

An old favorite: Sky Tree by Thomas Locker

Play, play, play

Play, play, play, until you're so tired, you just can't play anymore.

That describes all of us. So thankful that tomorrow is relatively free of any plans. We all need a day at home with no structure.

I've been on the run...

a baby shower for a dear friend,

a visit with one of my sisters,

an educational trip to a farm,

and a very special birthday celebration for my 'H', who turned 3 years old today.

learning all the time

:: The pea seeds have sprouted ::

Learning all the time... that describes me, for sure, and my girls too. For the most part, I'm happy with our decision to not send our girls to school this year or next. Even more, I'm happy with our lack of organized "curriculum" because I know that right now it works best for my children. Sometimes though I start to wonder about how I will know they're learning. I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. I've said this before. I wouldn't say that what we do is called unschooling while they're still so young, but I guess it is. I provide opportunites for learning and they pick and choose what they want to do.

I read them stories, take them places, explore the outdoors with them, work on household tasks together, and then I watch the pieces come together. Unschooling probably works well for most children, but 'A' in particular thrives in this environment. She's a self-starter and enjoys working independently. And she's smart. Many, many times she'll come up with an activity idea and implement it and I'm left wondering how in the world she learned to do it! I'm always proud and impressed, and sometimes when my ego gets in the way, I worry that I should have been more "on the ball," teaching her that subject matter earlier, so that she wouldn't have to take it upon herself to figure it out on her own. And then I stop and think about it, and I realize how wonderful it is that she's taken it upon herself to figure something out when she was ready to learn about it! My ego, my ego... it keeps tripping me up when it comes to parenting. I have to tell myself to remember that what she learns and when she learns it isn't all about me.

:: She's sounding out words and asking for help when she needs to... then hangs the signs all over the house ::

:: She's making her own clocks ::

:: She's spending time observing the crunchy, dirty snow on the ground and running inside to draw pictures of it ::

She's learning all the time.


Getting things done!

Laminated: the month and seasons headings I made for our calendar bulletin board. I finally got sick of hoping they wouldn't drop into the cat food and end up in the garbage.

Completed (by 'A'): Baby's skirt! Now she wants to make footed pajamas for Baby. Oh my! One step at a time.

Treated: me! for a cold that just won't go away completely on its own. Finally after huffing and puffing during a slow walk yesterday I decided to go to the doctor.

Found on the internet: a blog by April Davila about taking a month to eat nothing produced by Monsanto seeds.

In progress: a few homemade birthday gifts for 'H', who turns 3 on Monday. Stay tuned for finished photos this 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!