Saturday, January 31, 2009

Playing for Change

You have to watch this whole video, it was created by a foundation called Playing for Change. It is 37 musicians from 5 continents who have never met. The result is really powerful.

Their mission statement: "The Playing for Change Foundation is dedicated to connecting the world through music by providing resources (including but not limited to facilities, supplies, and educational programs) to musicians and their communities around the world."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.

As many people know, I am quite a budget shopper. And with my recent job loss, I need to be even more so. I think I do fairly well, spending under $300 per month to feed a family of 5. But, I am trying to do even better. I have been making double meals when I prepare them and freezing half. This is not only more economical, it's way easier on a busy evening to pull a lasagna out of the freezer than to make a meal from scratch. Colby got me a great Pyrex set for Christmas (complete with covers) that is great for freezing. I also recently purchased a bunch of 8 & 16 ounce bell jars which are great for freezing of leftovers in the fridge. With these, I am able to freeze single servings of meals for Colby to take to work, rather than the premade microwavable lunches.

But, just to counter any arguments that inexpensive food must be all mac & cheese or pb&j... it's just not true. (Not that we don't love our mac & cheese or pb&j.) I have actually really researched healthy eating habits. One big thing I learned was that America has one of the only cultures that sits down to a large, multi-course meal every evening. It is common in other countries to have a few light appetizers and maybe a hearty sandwich at dinnertime. In other words, we do not need to sit down to meat, potatoes, veggies and a roll every single night. This one idea helped me change the way we eat a lot. And, I do believe, for the better.

Just to give you an idea, here is what we ate this week... on a budget.

Sunday afternoon I had spare time so I prepared 2 different soups for the week. (A large batch of each.) The first was an awesome spinach/lentil soup. I used the $2 Kielbasa and the $0.50 bag of spinach that I had bought on sale the previous week. Add the lentil and a few other ingredients and I had a huge pot of soup for under five dollars. The second soup was one of Colby's favorites... taco soup. I used the ground beef that was also on sale last week, some taco seasoning, corn, black beans, kidney beans, chicken stock (Of which I had tons from a sale months ago)... and viola! Another large batch.

So, Monday night we had the spinach lentil soup with some rolls. Soup works great for us since our girls don't eat too much and it is a healthy choice for Colby & I. The girls loved it and they got protein from the beans and lots of vitamins from the spinach. I took the leftovers from the soup and froze a few servings in the aforementioned bell jars for Colb's lunch or a later dinner.

Tuesday was the taco soup (I normally wouldn't do soup 2 days in a row, but the day got hectic and it was right there, all made!) I served a few tortilla chips and some sour cream with this soup and it was a hit. We actually didn't even have enough left to freeze, so I just ate the remainder for lunch the next day. That whole meal was $5-$6.

Wednesday was an anomaly for us since we had steak. I never have steak outside of the summer and grilling season. It seems as though I either always pick a bad cut of steak or I simply can't cook it. But I thought I'd try... and it was about as good as usual. However, I cooked a new dish of mashed potatoes mixed with sour cream (really good sale last week) spinach (ah, the endless bags of cheap spinach) sprinkled with a little cheese on top and baked for a few minutes. That came out really well. I also made a great new sage carrot recipe. (Gave in and bought the $0.89/lb carrots instead of the more expensive baby carrots.)

Thursday was pasta day. I made a great spinach lasagna. I used moms good ol' recipe that Colby and I love, but used spinach instead of ground beef. (Used $3.79 ricotta that I stocked up on last week, $1 pasta sauce that I stocked up on months ago, $1 lasagna noodles from stock, $0.50 spinach, $0.75 parmasean, half of my $2 hot sausage, couple of eggs and few more negligible ingredients) So, for under $10, we had a delicious meal and I froze two more casseroles dishes of it for 2 dinners later on.

Tonight, we will have chicken ceasar wraps. The girls really love these and they cost under $3 for the whole meal. We will most likely have some carrot sticks as an appetizer (cut from the $0.89 bag)

So, I think we eat pretty healthy, well rounded meals. My girls are exposed to all different types of food and we don't have to go bankrupt doing so.

The Day Has Finally Come!!!

Man charged in Berlin arson spree
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
After two years and a frightening number of suspicious fires, one man is being arraigned this afternoon on several counts of arson, according to police.

Kerry Tibbetts, 27, of 12 Diana St., in Berlin, was arraigned yesterday on an initial charge of arson for last week's fire at 645 First Ave., with bail set at $50,000.

He is also being charged with arson for fires he allegedly set at 648 First Ave.; 844 Third Ave.; 486 Goebel St.; 30 Main St.; and 486 Champlain St.

These six fires are just a few of the serious blazes that have struck the state's northernmost city in recent years.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mom Jeans Part 2

Ok, I have to go there... I have seen people talking recently (well, blogging, actually) regarding Jessica Simpsons recent appearance at a chili cook off in Texas. People have called her fat and made reference to her weight gain. I think any normal woman would still be happy to have her body, she is beautiful. With that said, what the heck is with the outfit??? I mean, she has stylist, shoppers, assistants... a boyfriend. Who the heck let her out in public in this outfit? I am, by no means, a fashion maven. You will find me in a tshirt & jeans most days, but this outfit is not the outfit of a 28 year old pop icon. I actually remember my mom in this identical outfit circa 1985 (ok, minus the leopard print belt). I am pretty sure if she was in normal clothes, she would have gotten way less press coverage.

Way less coverage than that 10 inch zipper is giving her!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Carry with you an atmosphere of quiet contemplation?

Ok, here it is... I am officially married to the loudest man on Earth. I have known this for years, but I am now sharing it with the world. I know he doesn't do it purposefully, he comes from a very loud family. But it is still hard for me to deal with, as I am pretty quiet and was raised in a quiet household. Ironically, whenever one of our kids gets a little loud... Colby is quick to try to shhh them. Hmmm, I wonder where they learn to be that loud?

Colby is what is known as a 'loud talker'. No matter how hard he tries, he is pretty much yelling while on his cell phone. When our bedroom was in the addition, it was beyond a brick wall and 2 doors. He would go outside the front of the house (beyond another brick wall and door) and I could STILL hear him talking! Seriously. When he is on call, he has to answer the phone at all hours of the night (and morning) and he will go down to the living room for his conversations. I can still recite what he says word for word from my bedroom upstairs.

And it is not just talking. He is just LOUD. He walks loud, he snores loud, he eats loud! I have been gently trying to get him to start eating more quietly, as he has 3 little girls learning their manners from him. Apparently, before me, he had no idea that slurping your soup was #2 on Emily Post's list of bad manners.

He will walk around the house slamming doors all the time, from the front door to the cupboard doors. Our back screen door is on a spring and makes a very loud slamming noise if you don't shut it gently. I must say "Don't slam that door!" at least 4000 times in the summer. Only to have Ariana say "But Daddy does it!" Ahhhh.

I also cringe when I see a cupbord door open because I know that he will walk by and slam it. He doesn't really get it that the door handle is to open doors and also to CLOSE them!

He does other loud things like throwing our silverware from the dinner table to the sink, which creates a loud clanging noise that bores right through my head.

The last thing that really is out of hand is the volume that he watches TV at. When the girls and I watch television, the Bose is on 15 or 16. You can bet that the second Colby sits his tush on the couch he will say, "Can you turn this up?" And subsequently the tv ends upon 30-35! I can feel the bass from the tv when I am up in bedroom and he is watching tv downstairs! Maybe I can get him one of those amplifiers for his ears so that the rest of us don't have to suffer????

Ok, there is my rant for the day! Enough said.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rock & Roll

Acadia rolled over for the first time yesterday! Which is quite a feat since she seems to be a chunky monkey. She eats a lot of food now. I have made her sweet potatoes, pears and squash... and no matter what it is, she will eat a huge helping mixed with cereal. I bought some carrots and peas to try next and I think I will puree them a little less and see if she can handle some more texture. I think I will also buy some Arrowroot cookies since she has been trying to eat crackers the past couple of days. Just the thought of those cookies and how squishy and messy they can become brings back scary memories. It's pretty much a guaranteed bath after a baby 'eats' one.

Side note: We took Annika out of her night time pull-ups a couple of months ago and she has not had one accident! (I really only note this since I use my blog to remember things when I write in the girls' journals and I wanted to remember to give her these accolades in her journal.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things (Yet Again)

While driving to Disney on Ice, Ariana and I played a rousing version of the 'Alphabet Game'. In this version, we took turns coming up with any word we could think of alphabetically with over 5 letters... (astronaut, bright, crustacean... etc...) When Ariana got to 'W' she said "Walkamoley."
"Yeah, walkamoley, the green stuff we eat with chips."
"Hahhahah, that would be 'guacamole', sweetie. With a 'G'."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Disney on Ice... and mudslides?

I took Ariana, Kaitlyn, Annika and Acadia to see Disney on Ice last night. It was really fun, Annika danced around, Acadia squealed in delight and Ariana & Kaitlyn watched intently. Not to sound as if taking 4 children, by myself, to a large venue was an easy task... because it was NOT!

We walked the couple of blocks from where we parked to the Verizon Wireless Arena. Acadia was snuggly in her sling and Ariana & Kaitlyn were behaved as they normally are... uhhh, Annika... well you, know, she's Annika. At the door, Ariana & Kaitlyn quickly make it through as I had given them their tickets. The Verizon Wireless Arena Door Nazi Ticket Checker abruptly stopped me and asked to check my bag. This is my messenger bag that holds my camera, phone, diapers, wipes, money, granola bars, cheese sticks, water bottles, baby bottles, etc. etc... I quickly opened the bag while struggling to hold Annika close by. As Columbo spotted the baby bottle, he asked, "What's in there?" Seriously?
"Um, baby formula."
"What else would it be???"
I furrowed my brow at him the best I could. Ok, buddy... surely you recognize that I just walked in here with FOUR children. I will be happy not to lose one of the children not attached to me in a sling... sober. Let alone, under the influence of ANYTHING.
"Hey, you don't know what type of stuff I see here." He clearly noted my annoyance.
I gave him my biggest, most disgusted sigh as I ripped my bag from his hands and stormed off to the nearest beer vendor. (Joking!)

Only 14 years to go...

From :

Kids Only Appreciate Their Parents When They Turn 22


A new study suggests that children finally come to appreciate their parents when they reach the age of 22, according to

A poll of 5,000 families showed that a quarter of children admitted that they missed their parents care after they moved away from home.

"But by the time they reach their teens, they are learning to develop as individuals, which means they naturally push against everything parents are trying to teach them," said a spokesman for the study. "Teenagers are headstrong, emotional and independent, and at this point mum and dad become uncool, stifling and over-protective"

He added, "But when kids leave home and start to fend for themselves, they no longer have to conform to their parents' ways and rebel against their suggested habits."

About 78 percent of people surveyed said that it wasn't until they were settled themselves that they began to appreciate the difficulties that their parents faced.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Baby Girl

She's getting so big already. We went for her 4 month appointment (yes, we were a month late!)on Tuesday (more on that fiasco later) and she is in the 99th percentile for her height. She's tall just like her sisters. She got a couple of shots and, other than that, she is doing great!

So, my day on Tuesday... where do I start? Let's see, Ariana has chorus on Tuesdays, which has me packing 3 girls into the car at around 7:30am to get Ariana over to the school. As we were rushing around, I realize my keys were MIA! Ahhhh!!! This always happens to me when I need to be somewhere! I ask Annika, and of course she has no idea where she put them. Anyhow, as I rush past the bulletin board, I see the notice I pinned there that Ariana does not have chorus this week. Phew, that buys me a few minutes until we should be getting in the car for Acadia's doctors appointment. I get Ariana out to the bus and continue my search. By about 8:30, I realize that I am not going to make the appointment at 9 (after an impromptu bath to clean up Acadia's disastrous blow-up of her bum!) Still no keys, so I call Colby in Vermont to ask where the spare went... no idea! Ok, I need to call to reschedule. Look for the emergency number list and it is also MIA. of course. And, hmmm, the backup in on the Mac, which is currently broken. Ok, no big deal, pull up the internet on the PC to get the number... hmmm... internet not working. I go to the phone and, sure enough, phone line is dead! The phone line dies here for a couple of days every few weeks... sure wish I knew someone in the phone company who could take care of that! So, 'phone book' you say? Ummm, no. I throw all those away since we always look our phone numbers up ONLINE! Damn it! Next option (now it is 9 o'clock) I call 411 on my cell. It answers "Verizon Wireless 411" and then rings to no answer. I hang up and send Colby a text, as he is in the middle of a training "Need doctor's phone number." No answer from him. Call back 411 and I am able to get the number. I call and reschedule to 2:30. Just as I hang up, I realize that there would be no way to get back home from that to meet Ariana from the bus. Crap, I am not calling back to reschedule again, we are already 6 weeks late for her 4 month appointment from all the rescheduling! I will just go get Ariana early from school and bring her along.
(Text from Colby "Dr. Oliveira?" An hour later? "Never mind.")
Annika remembers where she left the keys, I watch what I can of the inauguration (another post later for that) & get the 2 little ones into the car. At the school, I unpack them & tote them inside (that car seat and baby girl are becoming quite heavy these days.) I go to the office & excuse Ariana. We wait in the hallway for her and I see the PTA secretary coming my way. Oh, no, she is quite a talker. 'Please, not today,' is all I can think. Sure enough, here she comes just as Ariana rounds the corner. "Michele! Did you leave a crockpot here during Applefest?" Yes, I did, but do I look like I have extra hands to take it right now???? "Yes." "Well, let's go get it, before we forget again." Ughhh, get the crockpot, maneuver Ariana's TWO book bags AND Acadia so Ariana can carry the crockpot. Annika carries a lid, and we are off to the car. (Leaving out all the small talk, isn't your baby cute, blah blah blah!)

To the doctor, all goes ok, aside from being a few minutes late! Back in the car, home. Run Ariana and dress her for her dress rehearsal to go back to dance academy. They all get a cheese stick (well, Acadia got a bottle and a diaper change.) Back in the car, get Ariana to dance, trudge 3 kids inside, talk to the other moms, watch for a few minutes and Annika is out of control. Back to the car with the little ones and we head home. I can pick up the house for 15 minutes before headed back to get Ariana. Thankfully, Annika & Acadia both fell asleep so I can clean up a bit.

Back to pick up Ariana, head back home. It is now 7 o'clock and we haven't had dinner/bathed/practiced piano/ done homework... etc. But I won't bore you with the events of our evening!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two Peas

Me: "Did you see the inauguration at school today?"
Ariana: "Yeah, we watched it in the cafeteria. I cried when he was sworn in."
Me: "Awww, I cried too!"
Ariana: "I know, Mom. I told the teachers that you were at home crying."

A pea in my pod.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life would never be the same.

My father made it through his lung surgery ok, although I will not know any details until I get to see him on Saturday. The doctors do not know if they got all the cancer and I am not sure how they determine that. I am not looking forward to seeing him in that hospital bed wrapped in all that equipment. I am going to take my camera and take pictures so that I can keep them on hand to show my girls as my personal anti-smoking campaign. I want them to see the direct affects of a lifetime of abusing your body. Not now, of course, they are so young that I do not want to scare them with seeing their grandfather like that. But, as they get older, I think it is important that they see the direct correlation between a healthy lifestyle, loving yourself and your physical being. I, unfortunately, come from a background that lacks education on the relationship between diet, exercise, drugs, alcohol, mental health and physical health. I have seen this poor education in other small communities as well. I am witness to this deficit in life tutelage significantly shortening the life of those close to me. I believe this is another issue that is falling through the cracks with our current education system (see previous post.) Our government wants to make sure that our kids can 'read & write' (not even well, at that) but where is our physical education, our health classes dealing with nutrition, our counselors who can deal with esteem and psychological issues? That is why we can see a rise in obesity, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and all the related health issues. It is all so frustrating...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Child Left Behind

I have now had over 3 years to form an opinion on the No Child Left Behind Act (via my observations of Ariana's time in school.) And, in my humble opinion, it sucks!

While I believe that the theory is derived from a altruistic idea, it simply does not work for my child. It severely limits her education to the basic reading and math. And I do mean BASIC. As in adding single digit numbers in 3rd grade. This past summer, I completed a 3rd grade and a fourth grade math workbook with Ariana as a preparation for 3rd grade. These books included fractions, complicated word problems, multiplication and much more. Imagine my dismay when she came home from her first couple of weeks of 3rd grade reviewing addition of single and double digit numbers! Are you kidding me? When I asked the teacher about it, she replied that they would spend the first month of the year "reviewing" for the assessment tests. That is 1 whole month of learning lost to reviewing to try to falsify test results! This is what some people refer to as "teaching to the test". Ridiculous.
Not only does the NCLB Act limit the learning within reading and math, it cuts out other learning all together. Surveys of public school principals indicate that since the implementation of NCLB, 71% believe instructional time has increased for reading, writing, and math (subjects tested under the law), and decreased for the arts, elementary social studies, foreign languages and physical education. These restraints may have affected humanities and social studies curricula as well. Studies show American high school students lack basic knowledge in history, civics, and literature.
While the Act funds instruction for core subjects or for remedial special education, it cuts out any programs for gifted and talented or high performing students. The education of these children is brought down to the homogenized idea of learning that the government had designed. As I have complained over the years, I have been told again and again that the teachers must stick to the provided curriculum and not stray for any student. If I want Ariana to learn anything 'different', I need to do it with her at home. Well, I do broaden her education at home... however, when she goes back to school and practices ideas that she has learned 2 years previously, what good does that do? We have been asked if we want Ariana to skip a grade. Well, no, we don't. She is not socially advanced and would not do well with children older than her. She is already the youngest kid in her class as it is. We just want her to be taught at a 3rd grade level, as we used to know it.
One last issue I have with the Act... Schools are also required to provide contact information for every student to the military if requested. Funny how they slipped that into the Act. What the hell does recruiting my children have to do with bettering their education?

This Act is in major need of reform... Please, Obama, help us!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another Family Update

Things change here every day. With 3 little girls, our lives are evolving by the minute. Acadia has learned to do 'raspberries', which is so freaking cute to watch. As she grows, she looks more like Ariana and myself. It's those eyes. Although I am not sure where those eyes come from... I don't see my eyes in either my mom or my dad.

Annika is looking forward to Disney on Ice next week. She absolutely loves princesses and ice skating, so it will be perfect. She has actually been before. But at around 2 months old, she probably doesn't remember! This outing will be quite a feat for me. With Colby laid up, I have to take Acadia, Annika, Ariana & Kaitlin to the show all by myself! If I survive this, I think I should get Mother of the Year.

Ariana has been selected to perform in a show on Saturday that is to raise money for a local theater. It is beautiful old theater that has been around since 1904 and has many great shows throughout the year.

Colby is trying his hardest to catch up at work. With the Fairpoint switchover coming in a couple of weeks, it is very chaotic. He will be away the first few days of next week to train in Vermont.

The next couple of weeks will be really hard on me. My biological father is going to be in Boston for a partial lung removal. I don't deal well with people close to me in pain and I have mixed feelings about him and the situation he has created for himself. I will most likely be spending a lot of time with him at the hospital since he will be hundreds of miles from his home and all alone. He has the operation tomorrow and I pray that he makes it through ok. Even if he does, he will most likely be on oxygen for the rest of his life. I forsee this not mixing well with his heinous smoking habit.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

When The Children Cry

I get an update every week of newly released albums that ITunes thinks I will enjoy based on my purchase history. This week it was.... White Lion! White Lion? Seriously? What could I have possibly purchased that would elicit this suggestion? Anyone who knows me knows that 80's hair bands rank just above heavy metal on my listening charts.

It made me smile, at least. Bleckkkhhh.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Ariana has a friend over today to play during the snow day. As they sat on the couch, her friend comments, "Ariana, did you know that Bristol Palin had a baby boy?"

Ariana replies "Cool, Governor Palin isn't just a hockey mom, she's now a hockey grandmom."

Kids today are just so much more informed than I was at their age. I definitely did not have conversations about what was going on with Governors or vice presidential candidates.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

Our Mac has suddenly died! That means an instant stop to any of my creative endeavors. I can't edit any photos; I can't access any music; I can't make or edit any movies! Ahhhhhhh! I am simply lost! So don't look for any new photos on my photoblog for the time being. Don't look for any cute new movies on here. I can't even write in the girls' journals. It is a sad day in the Horne household...

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 is here...

Time for a family update...

Acadia has become adept at grabbing things. She is at that stage where everything looks interesting to her. You'll find her staring at her toes for a long time as she furrows her brow, as if they are creatures from an unknown planet. We got her a jumperoo right before Christmas so she is loving her time bouncing away. She is still waking up a lot throughout the night, which is making for an exhausted Michele, but we know that this can only last for so long...

Annika is as rambunctious as ever, causing trouble wherever she goes. She tried ice skating for the second year. Colby said she did pretty well and can walk on her skates now, which is better than last year. She is still having a blast with a lot of her Christmas presents... she likes the Wii Fit, she likes her Littlest Per Shop pets, she likes her matchbox cars (although we seemed to have gone from 10 down to one already.) All of the toys are still pretty much scattered all over her room from Christmas. Her most favorite thing right now is the soft pastels that I bought her... she fancies herself quite an artist. However, we will not be replacing them as she uses them up as they are the messiest art supply I have ever seen. I am still wiping fingerprints off my walls.

Ariana had a fun break with lots of family & friends over. She, too, had a blast ice skating on her new skates. We let her have a very relaxing vacation, since this week will be the start of her competition dance season and back to piano lessons. She will be very busy for the next 2 months. She got some more advanced books for Christmas and she seems to be liking those... although we need to start getting back to the library for our books since we have already outgrown two full bookshelves in our house!

Colby is preparing himself for the big Verizon/Fairpoint switchover at the end of the month, which means a few very hectic weeks for him and some very long days. He has said that he will be trying to join me in getting more fit after next weekend (he is spending the weekend up north) so he is trying to get in all of his junk food eating/ beer drinking/ lounging on the couch now.

I am doing very well with my new fitness goals. I worked out 6 out of 7 days since I started, I have had no lattes, no beer and very limited snacks. (I did have 2 beers on New Years Eve, but I did plan on that when I started this journey. This is probably why most people start dieting on New Years Day.) Thankfully, I like healthy food, so that part is easy for me. I have had lots of tofu, baby spinach, squash soup and air popped popcorn (thanks to my new popcorn popper... yay!) But that is all food I really like, so it's pretty easy. The hard part is not eating chocolates and cookies and cakes and all the sweets I love.

(Please excuse any typos in this post. My Mac seems to have died and I am typing this on Ariana's computer, which I cannot find the 'auto spellcheck' setting on.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fathering by Video Game

From Blogger Pictures

For those of you who didn't think it could be done... Colby is here to prove you wrong!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

From Blogger Pictures

Ariana made it to see the ball drop... so here is my first picture of the new year... approximately 12:01a.m.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

All I Want for Christmas....

From Blogger Pictures
Here are some of our favorite Christmas gifts... We all got magazine subscriptions from my mom, which is a great gift that will keep giving all year long.
• The girls love their legos; they each got a new pink set and they are good for keeping the girls entertained for at least a half hour, which is great for my girls.
• I absolutely love my new mixing bowls. I have already used them multiple times in the last few days. They are unique in that they have a pourable spout, which makes them great to make pancakes and things like that.
• Colb loves his new Super Mario Galaxy, it so reminds me of my youth, sitting and playing Mario Brothers for hours. Although the graphics on this game are simply amazing and quite trippy.
• Of course, as I have already mentioned quite a few times in this blog... the Wii Fit is a definite hit with us all.
• Ariana and I each got new blankies that we love. I made Ariana's new blanket with some of her old baby clothes and I got a nice big, warm 'cotton cashmere' blanket from my parents that is sooo cozy.