hello june, it’s nice to see you

carrot fennel soup, coming to a cookbook near you in 2013.

I should not be here right now. I don’t mean the “being here” as in the bigger philosophical question of life. I mean really, there’s a book, a manuscript due today. So far there have been 93 pages written. Over 100 recipes tested, written and edited, with a lot more to come. 30,074 words have been strung together so far, in a coherent manner I hope, to form a cookbook.

There is still more to be done, but I found myself here this morning, watching and waiting. I woke up and felt thankful for the sun streaming in through the bedroom windows. I went down to the kitchen to start my writing day, and have been too pleasantly distracted by the birds singing in my neighbors’ backyards. I miss my own yard, the one we used to share back at our old place.

I remember when we started our apartment hunt 14 years ago. We saw over 40 places, and when we walked into the one that would become our home, the one to which we would bring our daughters to after they were born, though we had no idea we’d ever have children—well, the moment we walked in there we just knew. It was love at first sight, even with the living room walls painted pink—I’m not kidding. The kitchen had animal heads resting on the cabinets.

And that yard—the place where we would soon retreat for solitude and to hear the cardinals sing so sweetly. That yard was a mess. It was overgrown, untended to and unloved. It was a jungle but we knew that apartment was “the one” the moment we walked into it on a dreary Sunday afternoon right around this time in 1999.

Birthday parties were held in that yard. Friends gathered for BBQs and cocktails. Late night plans were hatched and when life allowed, we would meet back there for a date after the girls went to bed. I’d bring out coffee or tea, sometimes a glass of wine, and we would soak in the dark and silence. The light was broken for years, yet I could still see his chestnut eyes sparkle in the vast darkness.

I woke up this morning excited for the sunshine, the birds and knowing that in just 30 days The Perillo Girls would be leaving for Paris. For a whole month we will leave these memories, the physical space of them at least. We will plant roots for one month in a place I’ve never been too, where they speak a language I don’t understand.

I am terrified beyond words. My daughters would never it know, though, because I’m good at masking my fears. They deserve the gift of fearlessness, to go after whatever they want in this lifetime and claim it as theirs. I want them to learn this from fact, not fiction. I will be their fearless leader, filled with more fear than they can ever imagine.

Today is 30 days until Paris and 300 days since Mikey died.

I’ve been through a range of emotions since I woke at 5:15am. Happy, sad, confused, hopeful. And now I start my day feeling optimistic. I have survived 300 days of something I never imagined, never wanted and often wish I could turn back the clock 301 days.

But—I am still standing.

I have stumbled.

I have felt broken.

But—I am still standing. And today I will face day 300 with the same fearlessness that motivated me  to buy three plane tickets on a cold day back in January to show the girls that there is a world more vast than the life their father and I started together here in Brooklyn.


  • Kim C.

    Your fearlessness and perseverance is so inspiring. We’ve been struggling w/ infertility over the past 18 months or so, and at times, I find myself so depressed over it – but then I try to step back and try to remind myself count the blessings I do have. Thanks for your honesty & candor, I think you inspire more than you know.
    Have a super great time in Paris – how exciting! I hope you post pics so we can enjoy the sights vicariously 🙂

  • Judy

    Your postings touch me every time. It is amazing to me what the human heart can tolerate. I lost a dear friend unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago; and as I drive by her house, with her husband’s car in the driveway, I am struck by how life goes on. Your trip to Paris will be another facet of your healing process. Embrace it with your girls. Your Mikey would be so proud of you!

  • Rose D., Frenchtown, NJ

    Jennie, How exciting for you and the girls. I truly admire your strength, but more than that I respect your honesty about being fearful. You’re giving your girls a wonderful opportunity and something they will remember for a long, long time. I’m counting down the days with you!!!! Enjoy the weekend.

  • Cailin

    I hope you enjoy it. I went to Paris with my parents when I was about eight–make sure your girls try all the different foods! I’m sure they will, with a mom like you who cooks so many different things. I was picky, so I feel like I missed out.
    You’re very inspiring to me. Today is my day 32. I can’t imagine going through ten times what I’ve already been through. Thank you for writing.

  • Dee

    Excited to hear of your forthcoming adventure. I (a single mom) am taking my daughter to Paris a week from tomorrow–her first trip to Europe.

  • Ginnette

    Tres bien Jennie, here is wishing your month in Paris will be magical and adventure filled. When I read of your plans, somehow Paris seems like the perfect escape for you and your girls. Can’t wait to hear about all the wonderful things you experience and discover!

  • Jennie

    Jennie – thank you for sharing the past 300 days. You have given me a lot to think about over these days and I am so grateful for knowing you through this site!! Paris is a dream for me – I look forward to living it through you. Please…..have fun and make more memories.

  • pd

    The cultural exchange ahead for you and your girls will create lasting memories. Bonne chance!

  • Blossom P.

    Hello Jenny,
    Congrats on your decision to go to Paris. It truly is a wonderful place to be lost in. I want you to know that from one foodie to another and I’m not sure if your girls will enjoy French food but there’s no doubt to say that the French food in Paris is wonderful. I recommend one place in particular. The name is Chez Toinette. I went with my friends about 2 years ago and it was exactly the perfect meal to end my trip. I wanted to experience what Julia Child experienced with falling in love with Paris/France and this was the place that showed me love. We had some not so good experiences in Paris but this place was incredible. The host is brilliant at making you at ease and welcomes you instantly.
    I hope Paris treats you well. Bon Appetit and Bon Voyages in 30 days.

  • Christina

    Hi Jennie- Ive been following your blog for some time now…so happy that you’ll be making your way to Paris! I’ve been living in Paris for about 7 years now, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions! Are you going to do any meetups?

  • Jodi

    You don’t have to share, but I am so glad you do. I’ve been checking back to see the latest update and to see how you were. Though you will be going with a heavy heart, I can’t wait to see what you write about your time in Paris. Can’t wait to eat the recipes you concoct after your time there. Sure wish you didn’t have to hurt so.

  • Alecia

    You are an inspiration. I don’t pretend to understand your pain, your grief and your healing. However, I do see your resilience and your strength. Those girls are lucky to have you as their Mom.

  • karen

    paris has totally been on my mind. I listened to Rick Steve’s podcast all day. Cafe’s, pain chocolat…..3 girls in for a good time. xoxo

  • karen

    I love this poem and when I was reading your post it just popped in my head. For your unconquerable soul…. to Paris you shall go.
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.
    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.
    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.
    William Ernest Henley

  • Maria in NJ

    Jennie all I got to say is you got moxie girl! WOW! that takes a lot of courage to do, Brava! Have a wonderful time. A friend just got back from Europe, she said Paris was her favorite. Have a wonderful time but be safe…m

  • Tracey Alvernaz

    You have come so far in your inner growth. I know it is a great feeling that one can survive so much, isn’t it? I am happy for the book, happy for your vacation and happy that you are enjoying the birds and sunshine. Wishing you many more days of love, warmth and a bit of Paris springtime. Wishing you hugs, rainbows, smiles and nice memories,

  • cherie

    So happy for your plans and your optimism – I know you will enjoy the experience and it will be a magical month for the girls.

  • Deborah

    We are the walking wounded but no one sees our wounds. But as that wound begins to heal we see and become stronger. The scar will always be there but the pain will ease and we slowly let go of the life we had planned in order to live the life ahead. I gave my daughter a trip to Paris for a graduation gift, we plan to go next spring. Can’t wait to hear about your trip.
    Thanks for sharing it helps me very much.

  • Dave Hoffman

    You might enjoy reading ‘Paris to the Moon’ by Adam Gopnik, and ‘Into a Paris Quartier’ by Diane Johnson. The former describes the experiences of a New Yorker who moved to Paris with his young family, and the latter describes the history of a neighborhood where the author keeps an apartment. Both are manageable little slices of Parisian life and history. Also, you might enjoy visiting the Musee Picasso and the Musee Rodin — the Rodin Museum has a lovely sculpture garden out back with some fountains and a nice little cafe — perfect for passing some time on a lazy summer afternoon. I find the smaller museums to be more manageable than the massive Louvre and Orsay (though they are both wonderful as well), and they might be more suited to short visits with kids.
    Have fun!

  • Diane

    Jennie – thank you for sharing the past 300 days with us your always an inspiration Congrats on the book and your upcoming adventure!

  • lisabella

    I think you are giving your girls a gift beyond measure by helping them to see there is joy beyond sorrow. It helps to have things to look forward to. Though set in Provence, not Paris, you and the girls might enjoy reading “The Boss Dog” by MFK Fisher. It’s about little girls with their mother in France, and how they see this new French landscape. If you would like help with a scrapbook when the trip is over, just let me know!

  • Julie

    You brought me to tears this morning. You are so brave, a beautiful example to your daughters and one of the most touching writers I’ve ever come across on this world wide web. Paris is magical and my prayer for you and your daughters is that the magic will embrace the three of you.

  • Dave Hoffman

    You might enjoy reading ‘Paris to the Moon’ by Adam Gopnik or ‘Into a Paris Quartier’ by Diane Johnson while you’re over there. The former describes the experiences of a writer for the New Yorker who moved his young family to Paris for five years, the latter delves into the history of a neighborhood where the author keeps an apartment. Both are quite engrossing!
    You might also enjoy two of the smaller museums in Paris (I find them much more manageable than the gigantic Orsay or Louvre, and I suspect anyone with two young children might feel the same): the Musee Picasso and the Musee Rodin. The Rodin Museum has a lovely sculpture garden with fountains in the back, plus a nice little cafe — perfect for passing some time on a summer afternoon!
    Have fun!

  • lori

    Jennie, You continue to amaze me with your resilience and beautiful words as you’ve worked through each day. I know on August 8, your load will become slightly lighter and each of those days will become easier. I’m thrilled for you and your girls to be able to spend a month in Paris. What a fabulous example you are setting for them. A bientot.

  • Deborah

    Check out David Lebowitz’ blog “Sweet Life in Paris”. Here’s a recent post: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/05/how-to-find-a-good-baguette-in-paris/
    I bet if you wrote to him he would meet up with you and the girls and give you a day of magnificent food!
    It is one of my favorite cities on this planet. You will love every minute (I hope) and being there with your girls will create memories to last a life time.
    You are my inspiration.
    Bon Voyage!

  • Carolyn

    I took my 11 year old daughter to Paris last June. A year later, we still talk about it all the time, and smile at the memories. Being in a completely different environment, away from peer pressure (for her) and family and work pressures (for me) allowed us to both enjoy ourselves in a way that we never could have if we had been at home. Enjoy and savour the memories you’re creating….they will help get you through….

  • Darkandtwisty67

    You carry the strength of a thousand souls in your heart – and one soul in particular that keeps you grounded, loved in a way that is incomparable. There is something so beautiful about your writing – I read, I laugh, I get jealous that I haven’t tasted anything yet…. But when I look at you I see the most amazing, strong, good willed and wonderful person…. And I’ve never even met you… It’s just something that’s in you, no matter how broken you think you are.

  • Lori @ RecipeGirl

    Hi Jennie, I want you to know that I think of you often. I read your heartfelt tweets and your posts too. I wonder how you and your girls are doing these days. And I look forward to seeing you very soon. Many congrats on finishing the cookbook… I know that feeling! But isn’t Justin the absolute best?! XO

  • Pan Cuisine

    Big hug to you Jennie. Hope you and your girls will have the best of time in Paris. I sure it’s tough but hey…like you said, you’re still standing and that’s all that matters for now. God bless you!

  • Paula O.

    Dear Jennie
    You are teaching your girls so much by mustering up the courage to venture out on your own. They won’t forget and as they grow up and realize how hard you fought for them and your lives together they will be in awe of their parents.
    J’espere en glissement annual trouver la joie dans quelque chose nouvelle
    (I hope you find joy in doing something new.)

  • Selfish mom

    I’m trying to find the words to express how proud I am of you without it sounding condescending. I’m just happy to know you. I know so many stories of people who couldn’t move on from tragedy and instead raised their children to believe that bad things happen all the time and there’s no use hoping or planning. How you are handling this with regard to your girls is such an inspiration.

  • Claire

    Dear Jennie,
    I am a Parisian who sometimes checks in to follow your blog; read about how you and your girls are managing… I teach cooking and cater small events. Even though my French family and I are presently expatriated to a foreign posting Paris is our city and our home. Unfortunately I am never in Paris over the summer – always in our vacation home in the French South West (now that is good food) but if there is anything you need to know, want to know, about my city please do not hesitate to contact me.

  • Jenna | The Paleo Project

    My first trip to Paris was last June. My second will be in August. I think it is the perfect place to go with your girls and show them a piece of the world. They are so, so very lucky to have you as their mother. And not because you can mask your fears and not because you cook them such wonderful food. But because you love them, and their father and yourself enough to wake up everyday and show them pieces of the world!

  • Sarah

    I just wanted to let you know that I continue to think of you and your girls every Sunday. I am sending lots of positive energy your way from Washington state. Hope that you get a good night’s sleep tonight.

  • carol

    all i can say, with a smile on my face, is, “The Perillo Girls Will Love Paris!” truly a fabulous city that will steal your hearts… enjoy enjoy & enjoy some more… 😉

  • gardenbre

    Oh I am so happy for you. I just returned from 3 months in Paris where I went to just have a get away and replenish my soul. My brother died two years ago and it was devastating for our family. Paris really was the perfect place to turn a corner – so to speak.
    I speak no French but quickly learned that these phrases … bonjour, je ne parle pas français, merci and au revoir, were key to my getting by on a day-to=day basis.
    They put their credit cards into the machines the same way we do 🙂
    I learned quickly to be cautious crossing streets – they cross on the red and it’s easy to get caught up and to automatically think it’s ok. Motorcycles drive on the sidewalks sometimes so I learned to watch out for them – they won’t bowl you over but might surprise you. There are so many people – I just loved it.
    Their attention to food and eating is so above & beyond … I hope you can make it to Bon Marche … I began following a number of parisian bloggers before I went … that helped. I love david lebovitz’ blog and was lucky enough to attend an event where he answered audience questions.
    I am really looking forward to reading your tweets once you arrive in Paris. All the best!

  • Leire

    Jennie, I just found your blog through Sandeea’s.
    I read a whole lot of posts in a row.
    301 days ago I would have told you how much I like your blog style and the recipes you post and your writing style. I would have fallen in love with your blog.
    301 days later…I have fallen in love with you (not passion love but you get the point, i hope :)) I have no clue what I can tell you, I have no recommendations…all I can say is that TO ME IT SEEMS THAT YOU ARE DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
    No one chooses to go through what you have been…and I am sorry for your loss, for your daughter’s loss…
    Paris will bring all sorts of things and I have this really strong feeling that you will handle them just the way they need to be handled.
    I appreciate your attitude very much and I am aware that even if at first instance this was not your choice, but imposed on you, you now choose life every now and then 🙂
    It is ok to die a little bit and it is ok to fight back.

  • Margaret

    Another Paris based follower who never comments. I wish you a wonderful trip and a much deserved break. I have always enjoyed your recipes and was heartbroken by your devastating news 301 days ago. I too have a Mikey and cannot imagine losing him.
    If you’re looking for tips for Paris with kids, or if I can help in any way, don’t hesitate to contact me.

  • NameLiztheChef

    You and your girls will be in my thoughts on Sunday, hoping, somehow, you three find a way to celebrate the day with memories of their treasured Dad.

  • Karen @ superfinefeline

    Hi Jennie,
    You’ve been so strong, I’m sure Mikey’s so proud of you and will be watching over all of you in Paris. In spite of your fear, I’m sure you will have a great time in Paris and you will be glad you did it. Courage, mon amie!

  • vanessa

    Jennie – I just couldn’t let today go by without stopping by and dropping a friendly hello. Today is 44 days since my father died very unexpectedly and way too young. It’s been a very difficult time for my mom, sister, and myself as I know you know all too well. Today was pretty brutal being father’s day. I hope that you and your girls were able to get through the day with heads held high, remembering good times. I know this is easier said than done. I’ve been watching your entire journey – but I want you to know it has really meant so much to me ever since May 4…it gives me hope that we will all be ok. Thank you for sharing with us. Hugs, Vanessa

  • Emma

    i cant wait for your cookbook! your recipes always look so delicious. your story moves me to tears, you and the girls deserve the best time in paris. its an amazing city, see and EAT everything you can 🙂

  • Kris

    I haven’t been by in a while. I’m so happy to hear you’re going to Paris with the girls. What an amazing time you’re going to have. Enjoy every minute!!!!!

  • Mikki

    Hi Jennie, congrats on the manuscript. I look forward to reading and cooking from your book 🙂
    I have the same question about a reader who already commented about if you will be doing any meet ups or anything like that? Also living nearby.