Oh yeah, she's ready to be a little mommy, holding her baby in one arm while she uses the other to water the garden.

I love:

: Asking the girls to water the peas and watching them fetch their little watering can, fill it up at the rain barrel, and give the peas a drink...

: Rowing 8,000 meters on the rowing machine and feeling the energy pump through my veins all day...

: Working in the yard all afternoon and cooking up a simple peas and pasta dinner at the last possible minute...

: Watching Erma's arthritic legs grow stronger and more flexible every day...


Tonight I went out to stretch my neck and say hello to this awakened oak tree. Those little bright green leaves are always a delight to see.

Some library time, among other things

At the library today we exchanged our collection of dinosaur and early humans books for books about Antarctica - specifically, about explorers and scientists who visit and live there. How else do you answer the question, "What do scientists do in Antarctica and what does their house look like?" without taking a trip to the library?

ahhh.... I'm lightening my load and it feels SO GOOD! Today I headed out to the thrift store to donate almost 10 boxes of baby and toddler clothing. I was not looking forward to hauling it all into the store and lucky me, I didn't have to! I saw a young woman coming out and asked her if she wanted some of my boxes and she took everything. It was win-win for the two of us. The store lost out because they charge people for the clothing, but I'm not too upset about it. I'm happy that my things went to a good home. It feels good to let go.

Veggie burgers over salad greens for dinner tonight with roasted potatoes, beets, celeriac and onions on the side.

Thinking, thinking, thinking

I guess we read about our bodies and good health today... none of us planned to pull this collection of books from the bookshelf for story time. It just kind of worked that way.We each went and got a book to read, then met at the couch. I love it when that happens.

Last night I went to a homeschooling information meeting. I had no idea what to expect. There's no formal, organized homeschooling group in our area. It's more of a loose group of families who have gotten to know each other through the years and keep in touch via a Yahoo message board. It was well worth it for me to attend the meeting. I met some other parents with young children (4-6 years old) and it was just nice to meet some other people who are on a lifestyle path that is similar to mine.

I didn't learn anything new at the meeting, and I don't think I expected to. It was very nice to hear my own thoughts echoed by other parents. I liked that several of the veteran homeschooling parents described homeschooling as a lifestyle that focuses on keeping family members together and on letting their children learn what they want to learn and how they need to learn it at a pace that is right for them.

Even though I didn't learn much that was new, it's still a lot to think about!

Have a wonderful day.

Back to "normal" now

Today is the day I start getting our life back to normal. It's been a whirlwind several days here with the house projects. My children need me to focus on them more, and I need it too. Today I'm back in the rhythm of waking up and hugging them in the morning, putting in a load of laundry, feeding the cats, saying hello to the trees outside, and saying hello to my plants inside, and then serving breakfast. I love having a routine. Last week my routine disappeared and the girls were cranky, we ran out of clean clothes, my rosemary plant, which I've kept alive all winter, almost dried up and died, and the cats felt neglected. The trees outside were the only thing that kept going, even without my daily salutations.

Erma is doing a bit better. She's not walking normally yet but she's getting there. I'm hesitant to start acupuncture only because it's so expensive. We'll see.

'A' performance for her dance class was on Friday. You might remember how nervous she got the last time. Before we went, I brought up the topic of feeling nervous, but she didn't care to discuss it. She was more interested in talking about what she saw outside the car window at that moment. At the performance, she did a great job. She twirled and swirled and followed the steps. She looked right at us and smiled on many occasions. When it was over, she said she felt nervous but said to herself, "I'll just stay up here so that Mommy and Daddy can see me dance. If I sit down with them, they won't get to see me." She's an amazing person!

'H' couldn't resist doing a few steps when the performance was over and the floor was all hers....

I'll leave you with a poem that I recently rediscovered. It's written by Anita Mewherter, a friend of my aunt.

Jigsaw Marriage

I look back in sadness now
'cause we almost got it right

I recall those young beginnings
when we emptied all the pieces
pell-mell upon the table
then turned each tiny bit
right side up for luck

worked together on the border
interlocking every piece
in a fragile cardboard frame
believing it would hold

studied the perfect picture
that was printed on the box
we linked the foreground fragments
to build the pretty cottage
with the children in the yard

but we never got the sky
we gave up before we reached it
let the pieces spill and scatter
I can't remember why it happened
that the pieces spilled and scattered

for we almost got it right

One Small Change update

Happy Earth Day! I want to tell you about my One Small Change progress but first, a word about this poor little old lady... Erma.

Erma did something to herself today (I think she caught her claw on the rug and tried to yank herself free) and it really hurt her arthritic hips and joints. She was practically dragging her hind legs behind her, it hurt so much to walk. She's good at communicating with me, and she let me know immediately by crouching down right in front of me and looking up with big, scared eyes. I took her to the vet, unsure of what I would hear (I thought it was just arthritis but hind leg issues can indicate other problems). It turns out it is her achy joints. The doctor took some blood (to provide info for a possible teeth cleaning and acupuncture treatments), gave her a shot to numb the pain, and sent me home with anti-inflammatory drops to use for a few weeks. She's already on Duralactin, a milk protein pill designed to reduce inflammation, and hopefully these drops will help her get back to a place of comfort. Acupuncture will help her out too. Ahhh... the things I do for my cats!

On to One Small Change:
I've been meaning to tell you how the no-shampoo routine is working out, so here it is. I've tried a bunch of different ways of getting my hair clean, including just water; baking soda; vinegar; castille soap; and using a tiny amount of the natural shampoo I was using before.

I've decided that I don't like how greasy my roots feel but I do love the way the ends feels when the grease travels down the strands of hair and settles in. So I've adopted a routine that works for both my roots and my ends and I use significantly fewer plastic bottles and natural resources each time I shower: I use a dime sized amount of shampoo and I only wash the roots. I have a lot of hair, so the dime sized amount doesn't get all the roots, so I wash different roots each time I shower. It works for me. I like this.

Updates on my other changes:
Coffee: I'm done with it, and I don't even miss it. I might make a cup of herbal or green tea in the morning but I rarely finish the whole thing. Making and drinking coffee is a routine I cut out and don't need to revisit.

Cat Litter: We're still going strong with Swheat Scoop!

Eating Less: We're working on it :)

Washable hankies: We love them! They are so much more absorbent than paper tissues and so soft. I made them out of flannel and they're a keeper.

Composting: Our pile in the woods is working out well.

This was a wonderful challenge and I thank Suzy at Hip Mountain Mama for getting me energized!!!

Sharing Nature With Children

If you haven't had a chance to read "Sharing Nature with Children" by Joseph Cornell, I encourage you to check it out. I've been hoarding the book from the library and Jeff decided to get me a copy of my own for my birthday. A second book, now called "Sharing Nature wtih Children II" provides even more wonderful ideas about how to teach children to appreciate the natural world around them.

Today I sat under the pine trees...

...while the girls played in the sandbox...

...and I read through Cornell's books...

...as Grace sat at the end of my chair, looking for bugs...

...and caught a few.

Where did the week go?

Where does the time go? I'll tell you where some of it goes: keeping up our house. Jeff is still working on the walls in our bedroom, which means we're still living out of suitcases and sleeping in too-small beds. I don't like living in a state of chaos, but I'm hanging in here okay. I know it'll all be worth it in the end.

Today is Jeff's birthday... he's 39 wonderful years young. I made him lasagna by request and cupcakes with too-high piled frosting... as if there is such a thing! I've been using the recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and I love them! Moist, sweet and delicious.

In addition to the home-repair chaos in our home, I've created another level of chaos by taking out all of our baby clothing and gear and sorting through it. Some will be given away to friends, some sold at consignment sales, and some will be given to charity. I am washing everything, checking for wear and tear, matching up outfits, ironing bows and cuffs, and lovingly folding and hanging it all up to be used by someone new. It's a huge job, sorting through all of my "stuff." It's emotional for sure. I remember my girls wearing all of those clothes. There are split seconds when I look at the adorable outfits and want another baby to fill them. But that feeling passes as soon as it comes on, thank goodness.

In the meantime, my house is a MESS!

So that is what we've been up to - birthday celebrations and house chaos. Fun times.

It feels really good...

It feels really good to have a clean desk, clean bookshelves, and cleaned-out dresser drawers. It feels really good to know that Jeff is finishing up the wall repair in our bedroom and is almost ready to paint. It feels really good to know that we're repainting the bedroom our favorite shade of green (Benjamin Moore "Harbour Town"). It feels really good to know that all of my baby and toddler gear and clothing is being prepped to sell and give away. It all feels really good!


Happy Birthday to ME! The cupcakes I made were delicious. I took "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" out of the library and am now addicted to it. I had to return it today but I'll only be without it for a week or so because Jeff bought it for me and it's coming in the mail very soon!!!

Spring means:

Watering the seedlings...

Weeding the flower garden...

Watching flowers grow...

Washing [my last load of diapers ever. This is not something I feel the least bit sentimental about]...

Wondering how the little pea plants will do...

Whiling away the time in the sandbox...

Wearing nothing on our feet...

I should add a few more:

* Working out (I'm loving the rowing machine workout lately)
* Whipping up dinners with local, available ingredients (today we had spring rolls made from the mushrooms, carrots and bok choy I got at the Farmer's Market)
* Waking up alert and happy without coffee
* Wimping out on saying "No" to eating up leftover birthday cupcakes, knowing that even more will be made tomorrow (for my birthday)
* Wondering why we don't eat these delicious cupcakes every day of the week
* Wrapping up loose ends as I work on cleaning my desk

Whew! Spring is wonderfully busy and alive here at our home. Have a great day.

New York City!

We spent the weekend in New York City! 'A' has been asking about the city for a while, so we decided to take a trip down for her birthday. We took the train from Albany and the ride was wonderful. Although we were confined to our seats for almost 3 hours, it was significantly better than a plane trip because we didn't have to wear seat belts, there was more leg room, and best of all, there were things to see out the window! We followed the Hudson River the entire way to the city and it was really neat to see how different it looked in different towns.

We did a whirlwind tourist trip: American Museum of Natural History; Central Park; Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty; playground at Union Square (new! and very nice!); a visit with old friends; vegan ice cream at Stogo in our old East Village neighborhood; and finally, Times Square.

We not only acted like tourists, we looked like them. All of us wore our jeans and fleece jackets, putting us squarely in the upstate NY/Vermont/Maine category. I wore my sneakers for comfort. There would have been a time in my life when I would have rather died than wear such an outfit to a major city, but that's over, at least for now. We have two little kids and we needed to be comfortable.

We all had a good time, as good as it's going to get when you're traveling with small children. They did a great job of walking and keeping up, of dealing with the cement city when they're used to trees and green grass, of taking it all in, even when they wanted to rest.

The most stressful part of the trip (for me, anyway) was the food allergy issue. It is so hard to travel with food allergies! Once upon a time I wouldn't have been so worried about it, but now that 'A' has had some close calls and seems to break out in hives more often than she used to, I worry. We went to Whole Foods to pick up dinner supplies for the girls. For the most part it worked out, until she ate the strawberries. Organic strawberries, no chemicals. No problem, right? They made her mouth red and her lips swollen. Then I tasted one and felt my throat and tongue get all tingly and tight. Yuck. It must be the pollen on the strawberries, because neither one of us has ever had trouble with them. Even when food doesn't seem like it will be a problem, we find ourselves surprised. Maybe it's Mother Nature's way of punishing me for buying strawberries in New York in April.

We're back home now for a while. We've got some spring weather to soak up here, some growing plants to tend to, and I have a wildly messy desk that needs some serious TLC.

My small changes update:
Today was my first day without coffee. I switched to from 75% to 100% decaf last week and I didn't even notice the difference without the coffee today. Good!

I've decided through trial and error that I am going to try washing the roots of my hair every 2 or 3 days. I had finally gotten the ends so nice and healthy (the grease finally reached the ends, making them look healthy) and then I messed it all up by using conditioner one day, which did nothing but dry my hair out even more.

Cats: Still going strong with the flushable Swheat Scoop and outdoor living!

Food: We're eating smaller portions. I cut out sugar in my coffee. We're getting there.

What are your small changes?

Happy Birthday 'A'!

She's FIVE! 'A' is 5 years old today. Wow! It seems like just yesterday that she was born.

I made her a birthday crown and a painting smock (photos to come next week). 'H' gave her a bell for her bike. Her relatives all sent wonderful gifts and each and every one sent a birthday card covered in glitter. She loved every minute of today.

Tomorrow and Sunday we have some birthday fun planned. I'll be back next week with details!

Outside time!

Outdoor living has arrived!

After this winter, I have finally realized that the winters here in upstate New York are just the right length for me. Crazy, right? I'm used to a milder Southern New England climate. The winters there aren't as harsh, and spring comes earlier, with more of a bang.

I like the way winter here seems to go on and on, and just when I think it's never going to end, it does. The end of the "dead season" matches my personal tolerance for it perfectly. It ends when I'm ready for it to end.

I love the way that spring comes slowly. The buds start to form on the branches and the bulbs start to pop up, but it happens a little bit every day, not all at once. I'm never taken off guard by it. I'm fully aware that the transformation is taking place. It moves along at a snail's pace, and I look forward to seeing a bit of new growth every day.

And in between those moments, Mother Nature gives us a few surprises, like the nice warm weather of today...

Waking up slowly

We awoke to a foggy yet sunny morning. The heavy rain clouds that sat over our house last night have given the sun something to do today. It's supposed to be unseasonably warm today. Seems like a good day to move slowly and savor each step.

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!