Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Freakin' Twinkies!

As I have mentioned, I cut Ariana's hot lunch consumption back to twice per week this year (our school has not caught onto this whole 'healthy eating' fad yet.) I give her a variety of food each day and then monitor what she brings back home to better suit her lunches to her taste.

On Monday I noticed she still had a lot of lunch left so when I asked why she replied "Well I didn't eat any of my stuff at snack time since Mrs. Williams lets us share or trade snacks... and I LOVE her for that."
"Oh, so who did you trade with?"
"Amy." (name has been changed to protect the innocent snacker.)
"What did she give you?"
"A Twinkie."
"A Twinkie?????" Now, I am pretty sure Ariana has never had a Twinkie before this. She went on to extol the virtues of the Twinkie and it's golden goodness. I let it drop at that....

Move on to yesterday where she, again, had not eaten her snack. "What did you eat today?"
"A Twinkie."
"Are you kidding me? From Amy?"
"Yes. She like to share."
"Does she have Twinkies every day?"

What the hell is wrong with her parents? Who sends their kid to school every day with that processed crap to snack on? I am all for a sweet treat once in awhile. Had Amy shared a homemade cookie with Ariana I would have been fine. I sometimes send Ariana in with muffins or a mini candy bar after Halloween. But to send your child with a Twinkie every day to sustain themselves? Bizarre. Even if we ate that stuff here, I wouldn't sent it to school for fear of the gossip in the teachers lounge: "Do you see what Michele Horne sends her kids to school with for snack every day??"

And now, not only are these parents compromising their own children's health, they are sabotaging my efforts for a nutritious diet for my kids. I can't compete with a Twinkie, for God's sake! You know those insipid 'Nut Free' classrooms where my child cannot have any product resembling a nut (or even made in a town that grows nuts) with 50 yards of a allergic child because that that child can not be trusted to keep their hands to themselves and not touch my child's lunch? Well, I am going to ask the school if they will declare my daughter's class a crappy-preservative laden-unnatural-barely categorizable as food free classroom, since I clearly can not trust her to keep away from the temptations of the corn syrup solids and artificial flavors.

Oh, and Amy's mom, when I see you at Applefest, I am absolutely going to give you a good tongue lashing and quick education on childhood obesity. Ok, not really... but I will be cursing you in my own head as I give you the evil eye.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Like Kermit, Going Green: "Shopping"

I started shopping online for some of my Christmas stuff today. I am really going to try to go as sustainable as possible. Either fair trade, hand made, upcycled or recycled (helllooo Goodwill!) or experience based. We will see how it goes, but here are some of the sites to get you started if you'd like to follow along on my journey...

Goodwill online has some of the coolest finds. You can score some of the most unique, fun vintage things on this site- it's all the funky stuff from Goodwill but from the comfort of your cozy couch! LOVE it!

Swap Mamas is kinda sorta like Craigslist except for Mama's and more wholesome.

Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique, handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor and personal accessories that encourages artisan partners to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources and recycled materials to ensure each product offered has been crafted responsibly.

Just Between Friends Online Consignment offers quality children's, teens, and maternity consignment sales. Nothing around here right now but it looks like a supercool franchise idea.

I plan on making lots of the gifts and will post some of those ideas as I complete the. Biting off more than I can chew????

Friday, September 25, 2009

New England: Autumn Adventures This Weekend

What are you going to do this weekend. I am not sure yest, but there are lots of choices. Colby will be doing one of the funnest New England adventures: going to a Patriots game. COUGH*Jerk!*Cough

Aside from that, there are lots of other great things going on:

• Smithsonian Magazine is sponsoring Museum Day with free admission to many museums nationwide. There are many in NH, and throughout New England.
In NH:
American Independence Museum, Exeter
Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center, Manchester
Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, Londonderry
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester
Nature Preserve, Keene
New Hampshire Historical Society's Museum, Concord
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Holderness
The Fells, Newbury

• Portsmouth has a Maritime Folk Festival Saturday and Sunday 12-10pm with music in the streets. And it's free.

• Apple picking is in full swing. Check out this list of NH farms. Many of them have hayrides and other great stuff for the kids as well. Two of my favorite are DeMeritt Farm in Lee and Apple Hill Farm in Concord.

• It's also a great time to pick your own pumpkins. You might as well go early and get the best pumpkins. Here is a list of NH pumpkin patches.

• It is the last few weeks for corn mazes here. Make sure you don't miss out, kid's love them. There is a list of NH corn mazes here, my favorite is Beech Hill farm.

The Children's Museum of NH will be celebrating their birthday Sunday from 12-5pm. Cake and ice cream and special guests. (Love this place for my 3 year old.)

• Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover presents their free HopStop Family series on Saturday at 11am. Go see Eric Geoffrey's High Peaks Juggling Show!

Remick Museum, in Tamworth, is having Harvest Festival Saturday from 11-3pm. Check out the wagon rides and hay bale mazes.

• Saturday, Littleton will hold their annual Sidewalk Art Festival. This festival holds a special place in my heart. In 2003, the photo at he beginning of this post won their photography contest and was featured on the poster for the Festival. It was pretty much the only thing I have ever won!

• Tom, from A Dad's Life would like me to add that there is the Working Waterfront Festival going on in Bedford, MA. It looks as though there is food, music, dance and lots more for the kids and a free admission to boot.

Enjoy your weekend- there is lots to do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Ariana: Mom you need to buy some Ramen noodles.
Me: What? Eww. You know I don't buy that stuff.
Ariana: But it's good.
Me: I guess that's debatable... but it's definitely not good for you.
Ariana: Mom, you know what I've learned? The better the food tastes, the badder it is for you.
Me: Stop listening to your father.

The photo here is my bounty from my garden this year. The garden I spent weeks tilling by hand, adding organic soil to, weeding, watering, weeding some more, watering some more... and this is all I got for my efforts! Damn rain! they do taste great, but if I had to break down the time in labor, each carrot would cost about $35.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Simplify, simplify: 7 Great Tools

I often have people ask me how I do it all. How do I work, keep up with 3 kids, soccer, dance, school activities, three blogs, keep the house, have dinner on the table every night, laundry done, grocery shopping done, etc., etc., etc.

I have to simplify, prioritize and organize. I am not harried or stressed out on most days due to the tools I have acquired that help me simplify, prioritize and organize. It makes me more peaceful, my family more peaceful.

I thought I might share 7 random tools that I use to make my days simpler and more enjoyable...

1. Google Calendar. This is an online calendar that Colby and I share that is accessible to us wherever we are with a phone or laptop. This saves the conflicts of over scheduling, or the incessant phone calls of "What time is practice tonight?" (Ok, this is my ideal world... in real life, I get the call, "Are we free next weekend?" "Did you check the calendar?" "No... can you?" "Aren't you in front of your computer?" "Yes, but you know this stuff off the top of your head... just tell me... please?" "Yes, I know, but I am not telling you... this is why I implemented the calendar."

But, I digress. The online calendar really does work for us. We also have it set up to text us the day before an event. This is very helpful for those appointments that you scheduled 3 months earlier and have since lost the appointment card for. It is probably my most favorite 'techy' tool I use to keep the house organized and running smoothly.

2. Online recipe website. I use Allrecipes. Not only does it alleviate having bookshelves worth of cookbooks (ie. clutter), it has a great ingredient search. So, if I am short on groceries and don't want to run out, I can plug them into the search and it will spit out recipes that I can make with what I've got. It's great for a budget to since it will cut down on fast food trips when you think you have 'nothing' to eat.

3. Tortillas (or wraps). I always have some of these in our bread box. They have a much longer shelf life than bread, you can get some great healthy versions (tomato, spinach), and they are so versatile. You can wrap a standard sandwich (anything from peanut butter to ham & cheese), create fun little pinwheel recipes and make quesadillas (I use that term loosely in this house... basically it's anytime I throw some ingredients between 2 tortillas in the frying pan, such as cheese, beans, chicken, refried beans, corn, ham, black olives, really anything that your family wants). You can also use them as a more hearty (and healthy) meal like with chicken Caesar wraps (low fat dressing, of course) This is probably one of my biggest staples next to milk and coffee in our house. Oh, and they are dirt cheap- so stock up.

4. Coffee pot and coffee. Basically I could not start every day before the sun rises without it. Our broke 2 weeks ago and I had to hang my head and go into Walmart to get one at 6:30am since I could not make it through the day without my fix!

5. Virtual sticky notes. Sort of like Post-Its but on my Mac's desktop. I currently have 4 notes on my desktop with various to do's and reminders... it is just like using the old fashioned version, without the pieces of paper falling all over the place.

6. Online bill pay. I have utilized this for years and it is a godsend. I don't have all that pesky paperwork and cancelled checks to file, no need to run out and buy stamps, and I save money on checks, stamps and envelopes. I hate writing out checks and this saves me hours each month.

7. Magic Erasers. With any children in your house, you NEED these. I have had to clean up crayons, markers, lipstick, pudding... you never know what a kid is going to smear on a wall. You know I use only vinegar, baking soda and other natural cleaning ingredients in my house, so having the mild abrasion of the eraser helps me to get out some stuff that my mild cleaners can't.

I hope at least one of these tips helps someone simplify their life a bit.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -Hans Hofmann

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's A Crafty Day: Free Fun Printables

When we go for bike rides or walks, we like to take along some of these cards that we have printed out. Ariana loves to sneak them into mailboxes like she performing some stealthy 007 maneuvers. I like that it helps the girls to be more aware of their surroundings, to literally stop and smell the roses, and to remember that it is always fun to share kind thoughts with people.

Recently we have been struggling with the girls and not being grateful or empathetic. I found this great activity for us to do at dinner time to help illustrate to us all how much we have to be grateful for. We started last night and it went well... let's see after we have done it for a few days if we can still be creative with our ideas.

I found this website, Indiefixx, that has the cutest printable artwork... for FREE. It is exactly the type of art I would create if I had the talent. I have printed and framed some for Acadia's bedroom because I was so in love with it.

This year I have moved to only let Ariana have hot lunch twice per week. Her school lunch program is less than optimal for healthy eating choices. In trying to make her lunch time a little more fun, she likes little notes in her lunch box. These cute coupons are a fun alternative once in awhile.

I also like this lunch survey- although she was just "too busy, mom" to fill it all out.

I just like these elephants to use for wall art... or note cards or just for the girls to play with.

Hope you enjoy these free printables as much as I did.
Every so often I see a movie/read a book/hear a radio show that causes me to re-evaluate things in my life and make changes. For instance- did you ever see 'Super Size Me'? That movie cured me of any fast food cravings I would ever have again.

Now, with Food, Inc. coming out, I am preparing for another change for me and the family. This movie will reveal some secrets about our nation's food industry that will probably scare the crap out of me.

Therefore, I am on a preemptive quest to get the family eating habits back in line. Although we do pretty well (ask my husband, he thinks our house is a prison because I won't buy Oreos, Funny Bones or other highly processed food) we are limited in our organic food intake. For me it is largely due to cost. I am on a strict grocery budget and organic is typically more expensive.

I am the mom that pureed all 3 girls baby food from fresh veggies (thank you Magic Bullet) and then steamed and chopped all their food when they moved onto finger foods... but then when it comes time for them to move into family meals, I lack the same drive to prepare the food. I know that having babies is the #1 reason people turn to organics... so why don't we keep that up as they grow and for ourselves?

So now I am taking one small step to eating better starting with Stonyfield yogurt. I have been a fan of Stonyfield ever since Ariana was a baby and I started her on YoBaby. (See what I mean, I started her on organic even 9 years ago.) Recently I had been buying other yogurts without even looking at the label... I mean yogurt is yogurt, right??? NOPE! Not only does Yoplait have added sugar, they have high fructose corn syrup as well! Eww. And I pride myself on not feeding my girls junk? Man, they can slip sugar in everywhere.

Anyhow I found the Stonyfield website has a ton of recipes to use yogurt in. Also a Google search will give you tons of other yogurt recipes, including one my girls love, a drinkable yogurt (similar to Danimals) You can make a large batch with out all the extraneous packaging and added sugar. Seriously, this small change in my food prep could make a big difference and a tub of Stonyfield is cheap. It's perfect! They are organic, the yogurt is a much healthier cooking option than oil or other additives and I love that they are local... right here in NH! Yay, I love to support local.

They also have a great new product called YoBaby 3-in-1 Meals. There are 3 flavors: Pear & Green Bean, Peach & Squash, Apple & Sweet Potato. It sounds questionable, but Annika, Acadia and I have all tried them and they are great. Especially if your kids are the type who won't eat their veggies (thankfully mine are not), these yogurts might be a sneaky way to get 'em to eat their green beans.

So, I am starting tonight with a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com (they also have a plethora of yogurt recipes) I will try some various recipes and report back to you. Anyone have any they'd like to share?

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau

Sunday Citar

Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it. ~Robert Brault

Check out one of my most favorite photographers Sunday Citar here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My baby's first piggy tails!

The Good Things In Life

There are only 2 days per week that I am in bed late enough to see this... and I savor those days. There is no better way in the world to wake up than to those sleepy eyes, that bed hair and her screaming 'Mama. MAMA!' This is why we are not in a rush to put her into her own room (that and the seizures.) I will never get these moments back so I want to enjoy every one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

People of Walmart Beware

I am sure you have all seen the PeopleofWalmart site by now... and I am sure you have all had a good laugh, right? It is pretty remarkable stuff and definitely worthy of a snicker. The website has gotten so much press that it was actually on the Today Show the other day. One of the hosts of the show called it 'elitist'. What?

Give me a break. The website is picking on poor people? Um, no. It picks on ignorant, attention seeking kooky people. Being poor doesn't explain this...

I mean, he had to buy that shirt, right?

I grew up quite poor... I have lived in a trailer (in a trailer park), in a home with no indoor plumbing... pretty much with nothing. HOWEVER... I never went to Walmart looking like this...

or this...

I know full well that there is a correlation between income and education level. However, common sense is free!

"Hey, Michele, it's me, your common sense. I know you are gearing up to go on your Walmart outing. Make sure you don't wear those shorts that are 4 sizes too small because they do nothing for you..."

"Hey, Michele, it's me again. Make sure when you are at Walmart you don't put any plastic bags over the kids' heads while you are shopping. And if you forget, there is a handy little warning on every single plastic bag ever manufactured..."

Yes, our society judges people outside the norm. But, for the most part I like what we have chosen as a norm. I like that I can shop at Lowe's and people aren't fornicating in the plumbing aisle. I like that I can go out to dinner and people aren't pooping on my table. I like that people aren't allowed to eat eachother. But some people like to go outside of what is called normal behavior and therefore call attention to themselves.

If you want to call attention to yourself by being outlandish, silly, half naked, outspoken... so be it. Don't complain when your picture ends up on the internet that it's because you are fat/poor/ugly/uneducated... There are lots of ugly, fat, poor, uneducated poeople out there who will not be made a public spectacle of because they don't go out in public looking like this...

All these pictures came directly from the PeopleOfWalmart website.

Monday, September 14, 2009

From Mommy, With Love

Dear Acadia (angel of my eyes, cadybear, button nose, cutie patootie),
Could you please tell me...

Why the hell do you wait for 2 minutes after I change your diaper to poop???? Seriously, babydoll, you know I would do anything for you, but don't you know that your ill-timed bowel movements are single-handedly responsible for the overflowing landfill issue?

Could you be a little more eco-conscious and time your poops to coincide with a scheduled diaper change (or better yet when daddy gets home). The Earth thanks you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Irony, Sweet Irony

This sign was posted at the school... the school that did not offer my daughter the opportunity to see the President speak. The same school that did not even broadcast the Presidents inauguration! Seriously. Where they can't celebrate Christmas (or any other holiday in December) Where they can't dress up and have cupcakes for Halloween.

Remember when we were kids? We got to sit in front of the TV and watch the Challenger launch right from our classroom. We got to wear bloody vampire Halloween costumes and eat copious amounts of sugar candy. We had cute little Christmas trees in the classroom (and maybe a menorah as well) We went on field trips to Shaker Village and the state house. We actually had things to look forward to. The smartest kids progressed quicker and the children who needed extra help got remedial classes.

Now... there are no field trips for fear someone might fall off a stair and a litigious family will sue. There are no holiday celebrations because, lord forbid, someone might call the school and complain that they are not celebrating Boxing Day. No Halloween as my daughter dressing up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is just too off-putting for somebody. Children can not be taught anything outside of the box or not on 'the test' since we can't leave anyone behind (but we sure don't mind holding kids back).

Since Ariana is my first child to go through school, I have to wonder if it is just her school... just her teachers??? If I did not value the social aspect of school as much as I do, I would absolutely home school my kids (well, that, and if I thought I could stand being around all 3 of them 24 hours per day!)

Any private school out there need a social media maven in return for a full scholarship? I work hard for the money... uh... I mean scholarship. Or I could install drywall, paint your school, be a kick ass lunch lady (I cook a mean beef stew), a rock star librarian (I already have the glasses), a secretary (I am up to 4 fingers when I type), school mascot (I am experienced in doing cartwheels in a tiger suit)... I can pretty much do anything... just get my kids out of this public school hell hole! PLEASE!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A 9/11 Tribute: Thomas E. Pedicini

My post today is part of an endeavor called Project 2,996, which is an effort by bloggers around the country to remember the victims of 9/11.

Today I am proud to honor the life of Thomas E. Pedicini.

Thomas was 30 years old and he was from Hicksville, NY. Thomas worked in the institutional equities department at Cantor Fitzgerald. Thomas is survived by his parents Nancy and Albert Pedicini of Hicksville; and sisters June Coaio, Pam Morace and Anne Pedicini of Hicksville.

Thomas Pedicini never strayed too far from a guitar. His brother-in- law Raymond Morace's earliest recollection of him is as "a skinny 13- year-old kid jumping around his room playing air guitar" to Van Halen. In his mother's last memory of him, he is teaching his 11-year-old cousin how to play, a few days before his death.

In between, Mr. Pedicini, 30, an easygoing sort and seemingly effortless golfer, studied business and had been working as a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald since 1998, a job he got through another brother-in-law, Mark Colaio, who died with him.

After Sept. 11, in Mr. Pedicini's apartment in Woodside, Queens, one of his roommates found a tape of him strumming and singing his way through some of his favorite tunes. "He was too shy even to show it to me, but I could hear him in there singing and playing so I knew he was up to doing something," said the roommate, Jordan Zed. He gave the tape to Mr. Pedicini's parents. More musical memories.

But Mr. Zed remembers Mr. Pedicini mostly as a decent human being whose life was going somewhere. "You'd sit around and talk about where you see yourself in five years," he said. "He had dreams and goals. He wanted to eventually find the right girl and settle down and have a family and work his way up in the firm. It seems so sad."
-Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on February 3, 2002.

In reading many of the memorials dedicated to Thomas- you can see a picture of what a kind, fun, talented man he was...

I knew Tom back in 94-97. He was so full of life! He was always active: golf, tennis, singing. He was the kind of person who made his own way. I am glad that we crossed paths for a brief time. His energy and passion for living are what I will remember and miss most about him.
-Scott Rustad,Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

To The Pedicini Family, I was his soccer coach 29 yrs ago in Hicksville, he will always be in mine and my families hearts forever. His smile was something I will never forget.
-Anthony Luongo

My thoughts and prayers have been with all of you over the years. I always remember Tommy as the cousin that will sing with us! Keep singing, Tommy!
-Martina Lee

Hey Cuz!! I too think of you often...Not a day goes by that I dont wish you were not taken away from us. You were soo talented and a lot of fun!! I will miss you forever Tommy!! "The sun will come out tomorrow"!
-Michele Abut

It's amazing how one forgets, yet only to remember you with a smile.
-Allyssa Schmitt

Just thinking of you on this day....you were a kind man, quiet neighbor, with a lovely singing voice...my thoughts are with your family....
-Layla Dowlatshahi

I will always cherish the sweet memory of teaching Tommy to sing "Tomorrow" and "You Light Up My Life" when I was his 2nd grade teacher at Old Country Road School, Hicksville, NY. Nobody knew, at the time, that Tommy had a Broadway quality voice at age 7, so we practiced everyday, to surprise his family at the school talent show. When he belted out his beautiful rendition of "Tomorrow", it brought tears to everyone's eyes.
I am proud to have touched Tommy's life in such a meaningful way, as he continued singing into adulthood and our duet, from years before, was included in his memorial cd. I feel blessed to have had such an endearing child in my class and to know that he grew up to be the responsible, respectful and talented adult I had envisioned.
Tommy was brought to heaven in God's loving arms. He is our guardian angel!
-Adele Damian

And from his mother...

Dear Tommy,

Your family, (Mom,Dad,Pam, Ray, June and Anne) are coping as best we can during this difficult time and find the following poem very comforting. We want to share it with others who visit this website
as it truly reflects our feelings for you and our deep loss.
We miss you so, so much. We try not to think that we will never see you again on this earth as it breaks our hearts. We do find comfort, however, that you were greeted by Gammie, Nana, MomMom, Father Verrall and Grandpa Joe at Heaven's door and are with them now. God Bless you sweetheart. We love you, Mom and Dad

Here is the poem:
We little knew that morning, God was going to call your name; In life we loved you dearly, In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you, You did not go alone; For part of us went with you, The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories. Your love is still our guide; And though we cannot see you, You are always by our side.

Our family chain is broken, And nothing seems the same; But as God calls us one by one, The chain will link again.
-Nancy Pedicini

Please take a moment to think of Thomas and every other innocent human life lost on 9/11. Visit the Project 2,996 website and see some of the other tributes. It is very important that we never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prepare Your Home For Fall in New England Printable List

Just click on the list to open it in it's own window to print.

Tangled Up In Blue

Actual conversation between me and my husband:

Him calling home: "I have an important meeting tomorrow. Is my good shirt clean?"
Me: "Which one is that?"
Him: "My favorite one."
Me: "Which is?"
Him: "The blue one."
Me: "The blue one???"
Him: "Yeah, you know, the blue one."
Me: "Uhhhh..."
Him: "Nevermind, I'll check when I get home."

Now go check out this lady for more real life conversations...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: 2 For The Price of One

Please welcome my new nephew & niece into this beautiful world. My sister in-law had 2 full sized babies in her and you never would have known! How freakin' cute are they?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mommy's Fun Lunch Idea

I just had to share the little treat I made for lunch today. I have seen this 'recipe' a few times and knew my girls would enjoy it. Annika was apprehensive at first, but she did end up eating- Ariana loved it from the start. She thought it was 'so cool'...

It is really easy, although it takes a few minutes to thread all the pasta into the hot dog pieces. You don't even need instructions, just look at this picture...

Follow the picture and then cook it just like you normally would cook your spaghetti. A simple and fun lunch for the kids

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mommy's Fun Indoor Activities

As summer slips away, we will have to start coming up with more indoor activities to keep the little ones entertained. I thought I might share a couple that we tried recently...

Natural Music Makers:
I got this idea from familyeducation.com. If you are like me, you have a trash bag full of plastic Easter eggs hanging around. I had Annika go outside and get 5 objects (she picked grass, leaves, rocks, acorns and sticks) I then put some into the eggs and asked Annika how loud she thought it would be when we shook it (she guessed pretty accurately). Then I mixed them up and asked her to identify what was inside (again, she did very well). After that we let Acadia play with them, which caused huge giggles from her. (* Big asterisk here: Do not leave the little ones unattended, it's clearly a choking hazard if the egg open up.)

Plastic Baggie Ice Cream:
You can get the recipe from many sites, but I used Ohdeedoh. The kids clearly loved this since we rarely have ice cream in our house. It works out well since it only makes a 1/2 serving for each child and they really deserve it after shaking that bag for 15 minutes! (Ok, I had to take over after 5.) We just made plain vanilla, but we will try chocolate next.

Paper Dolls:

Do your children have American Girl Dolls? Well, mine don't. But they sure do love the catalog and the last time we received it, they made me cut out every stinking doll and piece of clothing so that they could 'try' the different outfits on them. It was actually really cute and reminded me of when I used to play with paper dolls as a little girl. It provided hours of fun and lots of imagination. Of course, with the internet, you can find a million different printables now, but my favorite is McCalls which is scans from the original magazine dating back to the 50's. Really cute stuff. But you can also print anything from gnomes to Johnny Depp! I am planning on laminating some that the girls really like so that they will last longer. I might even add some velcro to make it even easier for little hands to dress and undress them.

There's my mommy tip for the month, enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Sinking To Her Level.

As I was putting on my makeup (yes, I wear makeup. I always wear makeup. I feel naked without my makeup.) Annika asked, "Can I put some on?"

"No, sweetie. You only play with makeup for playtime."

"We're going to the park. That is playtime."

"I mean like dress up playtime. Little girls don't wear make-up in real life."

"Yes they do. I can't even see your makeup."

"That's how it should be. I want to look natural."

"But you said makeup wasn't natural."

"It's not. That's why you don't need to wear it. It's yucky."

"No it's not."

"Yes it is."

"No it's not."

"Am I really having this argument with a 3 year old?"


"Well you can't... because I said so."

"No you didn't."

"Yes I did."

"No you didn't."

"Listen, Annika, your debating skills simply suck. You can't just say the opposite to everything I say. You will never pursuade me like that."

"Yes I will."

"No you won't. Now get out of here so I can finish getting ready."


"Yes. I said now."

"I said no."

Whatever. You are never going to be on the debate team.

12 Fun Family Fall Activites in New England

Charmingfare Farm in Candia brings lots of autumn fun with a Pumkpin Festival, Kids Trick or Treat activities and haunted hay rides. You can never go wrong with Charmingfare Farm.

You have to, have to, have to go see the pumpkin people in Jackson, NH. Since it is a self guided tour through the town, it's free and my kids love it.

There is no better time than during leaf peeper season to tour New Hampshire's covered bridges. There are some great photo opps with the gorgeous colors New England offers up in the fall.

Of course, don't forget it is time to get to the farms to pick your own apples. Check out this comprehensive list of farms.

Autumn is a great time in New England for agricultural fairs. What a fun way to expose your children to natural living.

There are many farms offering hayrides, corn mazes and many activities for the kids. Go to this website and scroll down for a list.

We all know the Keene Pumpkin Festival, which falls on October 17 this year. Go ahead and bring your pumpkin so you can be a part of the world record.

Just a reminder: If you have a Bank of America ATM, credit or check card, you can get into hundreds of museums around the country absolutely free! (It includes The Currier Museum in Manchester and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) If you have a Bank of America card, you really should check out their website to find a museum near you.

Did you know that local libraries offer passes for free admission to local attractions? You check out the passes just like you would a book and return it within 3 days. Our Concord Library has passes to Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, Currier Museum of Art, Canterbury Shaker Village, Aviation History Museum of NH, The Fells and more. The library usually only has a couple of sets of passes for each venue so you want to call first thing in the morning to see if they are available and reserve them.

The Currier Museum in Manchester offers 'Family Saturdays' every second Saturday of the month, 11 am – 2 pm Spend some quality family time at the Currier, participate in hands-on art activities, go on a guided family gallery walk (11:30 am), visit the new Discovery Gallery, or use a family gallery guide. Each Family Saturday will focus on a different theme. Museum admission is free from 10 am to 12 pm. This falls themes are:
September 12 - Grandparent's Day Gift-making
October 10 - Captivating Color
November 14 - Capturing Nature

September 19 & 20 there is a Tour of Fairy Houses in Portsmouth. This looks to be a lot of fun. Check out the website.

Have you ever visited Antique Alley in New Hampshire. It runs along route #4, encompasses 500 antique dealers through 4 towns. You are bound to find something unique and fun and can enjoy the foliage along the way.

If you have any other ideas, please share them with me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sending My Baby Off to School

I Trust You'll Treat Her Well
Author: Victor Buono
Dear World:
I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a happy laugh that ripples all day long.. and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.

I trust you'll treat her well.

She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning...and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine. Prim and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say "Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.

Now she'll learn to stand in lines...and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells...and deadlines...and she'll learn to giggle...and gossip...and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy 'cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And now she'll learn to be jealous. And now she'll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she'll learn how not to cry.

No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important things...like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friends is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And now she'll find new heroes.

For five full years now I've been her sage and Santa Claus and pal and playmate and mother and friend. Now she'll learn to share her worship with her teachers ...which is only right. But no longer will I be the smartest woman in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time...she'll learn what it means to be a member of the group...with all its privileges and its disadvantages too.

She'll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud...or kiss dogs...or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms...or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.

Today she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I'll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman.
So, world, I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.

I trust you'll treat her well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kids Say the Scariest Things

Ariana after her 3rd day in fourth grade, "Mom, how old do I have to be to have a boyfriend?"

I do not like where this is headed.