My Real Life

July 21, 2014

Opposites?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

After four children, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve read almost every children’s book that’s out there.

Some of them are fantastic.

Some of them are fine, if you read them once or twice, but after thirty-thousand times, even Good Night, Moon gets a little dicey.

Some of them, I’ve written about before.

I wrote about the insane ABC book.

Nicole Leigh Shaw invited me to ride her Character Assassination Carousel, and I wrote about Bert and Ernie and their misadventures with a mop.

After reading to Tiny, last night, and the millionth time having to explain this book to, yet another, child, today, I thought I’d share with you the book Opposites.

The premise is simple enough.

Take a bunch of pictures of things that are opposites, write the words, and teach the kiddies a thing or two.

However, implicit in a children’s book is the understanding that the information will be presented in a way that doesn’t confuse the kids.

I think someone forgot to tell this to this particular author.

In all fairness, most of the book is straightforward.

You have “above.”

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And then you have “below.”

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You see a kitten that is “awake.”

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And then you are shown a kitten that is “asleep.”

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But, what about words that may be opposite, but you can’t really find one subject that demonstrates both words?

Just take two things that are completely unrelated and put them together, I guess.

For example;

“Soft”

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Aw.

Look at the cute bunny.

Look at the cute, soft bunny.

Don’t you want to pet and kiss that cute soft bunny?

Totally an example of soft.

But how do you use a picture of a bunny to show “hard?”

Take a visit to a taxidermist?

Put it in a leather vest and pop a lit cigarette in it’s mouth?

Serve it, well-done, with a nice bearnaise sauce?

Nope.

My friends, to make a bunny into an example of “hard,” you turn it into…

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A Volkswagen Beetle.

I get it…it’s hard to make a bunny look hard.

However, maybe if that’s the case, you pick something else.

Like gum in someone’s mouth and gum under the desk in a classroom.

Or, if it’s too difficult, then skip that set of opposites.

Because, here’s what happens my friends.

When Tiny reads the book (and his sister and brothers before him, I might add) he reads it fine.

“Soft!’

“Hard!”

But, in general conversation, when you say, “Hey Tiny!  What’s the opposite of ‘soft?'” the kid responds with a proud shout, “A car!”

And what about the pictures that are straightforward, but still manage to confuse the tykes?

Pictures for words like “left” and “right.”

Left.

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Right.

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Okay, I get it and I can see the logic in the example.

However, I’m 42 and feel like I have a pretty strong grasp on the concept of left and right.

Most of the time.

And if I am feeling muddled and confused about it, I simply pretend I’m about to say the Pledge of Allegiance and it clears things right up.

But this picture?

Let me explain.

We turn to this page and Tiny says “Left!’ turns the arrow and says “Right!” and I say, “Yes!”

And then he says (every single time) “This side is left!” and puts his hand over the word ‘left,’ which is actually on the right side of the page.

And I say, “Correct!  Well, no, actually.  That’s the word left, but it’s the right side of the page.”

And he lifts his right hand and says “left!”

And I say, “No, that’s your right hand.”

And he points to the word “left” on the paper and says, “This says ‘left!'” and I say, “Yes!”

And the whole thing starts again.

Maybe we could have just had the word “right” on the right hand side of the page and the word “left” on the left hand side of the page and left it at that.

But, what do I know?

 

July 15, 2014

Secret Doors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Part of my summer is spent in Professional Development with one group of teachers or another.

Last week, I was with the Language Arts teachers, and the presenter took everyone through an activity to help students come up with topics for writing.

It was called “I Remember” and students were to write as many true sentences as they could that began with the words “I Remember.”

Students would then choose one of those sentences and blow it out into a full writing piece.

In order for us to see the power of the exercise, the presenter led us through the exercise and we created our own lists.

While we didn’t have to blow them out into our own writing pieces, one of the sentences I wrote has been stuck in my mind, and so I finally decided the only way to get it out of there would be to write about it.

The sentence was “I remember secret doors.”

—–

I grew up in an old house that was built in the 1920’s.

It was a modest home with two bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, dining room and living room, and a huge basement and garage that still had the iron rings on the walls to tie up horses.

It was a house that whispered to me at every turn.

Even the outside of the house called to me to peek under the slate stones that made up our front walk to see if there was a secret staircase below.

To climb the brick chimney and look out over the neighborhood.

But the best thing about that house was the doors.

There were doors throughout that house…some small, some large, and all promised secrets and adventure beyond.

In the basement, the tiny metal door behind the furnace that was the place where the ashes fell from the ash pit in the fireplace, was the perfect location for making up stories about people who had to hide out and take refuge in the basement.

I imagined that behind the little door, the hideaways would find secret messages and food and supplies from the owner of the house while they waited for the signal that the coast was clear.

The original wood and glass door that went from the basement to the garage was a passageway back in time where, once I passed through it, led to those horses actually being tied in the garage, waiting to be brushed and fed by the little grooms girl…me.

My parents bedroom had a small annex that had four small doors, three of which were tiny closets where my mother stored towels and sheets, but the fourth door led to a small storage space where my parents actually did find certificates to prove that a previous owner had purchased land in London on which to build a Jewish hospital in 1911.

Aside from the total coolness factor of that find, it spurred me on to further dream about what might be behind those doors.

And then there was my room.

In my room, there was a closet, and in my closet was another door.

That door led to small, extra closet/storage space.

That extra door was the center of so many of my dreams as a child.

It was my wardrobe to Narnia.

My gate to the Secret Garden.

I dream about that door, still.

I dream about other doors, as well.

I also dream about the other doors in that house, and I dream about doors that never existed.

I’m not sure what it all means, if anything.

What I do know is that I firmly believe that those doors led me to develop my imagination, and for that, I am grateful.

 

June 25, 2014

I See You

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Real Man lost 80 pounds over the past 12 months.

Let me say that again.

Since September, Real Man has lost 80 pounds.

The weight loss, itself, is not exactly what this post is about, but I’ll go ahead and answer the first question that everyone has when I tell them about it.

He did it through hard work.

He started with the Couch 2 5K app and could only manage to run 30 seconds at a time.

At first, it was difficult.

Really difficult.

But, if you know Real Man, you know that he doesn’t do anything halfway, and now my husband is a member of the running club at his work and is running in 5K’s once a month (in 21 minutes, no less) and runs 4-5 days a week, before work.

He has spreadsheets and websites and clocks his times and routes and pace and is, quite frankly, kicking ass.

He stopped eating in between meals, cut out soda, and makes good choices when he does eat.

So, again, I say, he did it through hard work.

Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you a story.

Like I said, he’s down 80 pounds.

He started at 260 and is now at 180.

Some people mention it, some people don’t.

But some of the people who do are starting to say things to him like, “Okay…that’s enough now.  I think you should stop.”

They say “You really shouldn’t lose any more weight.”

Or, “Any skinnier and you are going to look sick.”

The other night, Real Man was sharing one of these conversations with me and he said, “If everyone is so concerned about my health, why the hell didn’t they say ‘enough’ when I was 260?  Why wasn’t anyone telling me ‘I think you should stop’ when I was busting out of my clothes?  Where was everyone’s concern for my health then?”

He didn’t say this angrily.

He’s obviously appreciative of the friendlier comments.

However…

Now, let’s be honest…

If someone had actually said that to him, he’d probably have been furious and deeply offended.

However, he has a point.

It’s a bad idea, in general, to ever comment on anyone’s weight.

Too heavy?  No one is going to say “Hey…slow down there, buddy.  You are heading toward a heart attack!”

Lost weight?  Many people would be reluctant to say “Hey!  You look great!” because they are afraid that there is the possibility that you’ve been struck with some type of awful disease.

And yet, maybe those are the things that we need to say to each other.

But maybe we need to say them a little differently.

“I see you.”

“I notice you.”

“I love you, but you don’t look like you are loving yourself.”

These are things that many of us desperately need to hear, but the rest of us just don’t know how to say.

But maybe it’s time we started trying.

June 23, 2014

Oh, Veronica

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

When I was a kid, my favorite book was Harriet the Spy.

I read that book so many times, I could probably have recited pages from it, on demand.

I owned an almost complete series of original, hardcover, Nancy Drews, that, to this day, I bitterly regret trading in for a complete set of Sweet Valley Highs.

I was glued to Scooby Doo, and was proud to solve the mystery as soon as the bad guy graced the screen, and Shawn Cassidy and Parker Stevenson, as Frank and Joe Hardy were my idea of perfection.

I dominated at the game Clue.

As an adult, I continued to gravitate toward mystery novels, loved trying to beat the cops in solving the crime on Law and Order, and was on the edge of my seat at every whodunnit thriller to grace the silver screen.

So, imagine my surprise when I was looking through Amazon Prime Instant Video, a few weeks ago, and stumbled across a show about a detective I hadn’t seen before.

I’ve got a bit of a “thing” for tv, particularly for tv shows that are geared for people in high school.

Can’t help myself.

So, my surprise was made greater when I realized it was about a girl, teenage detective.

Veronica Mars.

I started streaming it while on the treadmill and found that I lost track of time, (which was not a bad thing), completely caught up in the show.

The show began to dominate my thoughts.

I was/am addicted.

I even decided I needed to own a canvas bag like Veronica carries, because that’s how I roll.

For those who missed it, (like me), Veronica Mars is a junior in high school and her father is a private investigator.  She helps her father with different cases, but everyone in her school comes to her with their own mysteries to solve.  Predominant in the first season is the mystery of who killed her best friend, Lily.  The second season has another mystery that spans the episodes, and season three, yet another.

Love triangles, excellent dialogue…you’d expect that it was written by Joss Whedon, because it’s basically Buffy without the vampires.

I love it.

She’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s awesome.

Best show ever?

Probably not, but I am enjoying every second that I watch.

I’ve roped Monkey Girl in, after having the prerequisite conversations about “Don’t do as they do” because of the drinking and sex, but she gets why I love it, and she loves it, too.

There were only three seasons of the show, from 2004-2007, but a kickstarter campaign, begun by Kristen Bell (who plays Veronica) and Rob Thomas (the producer) a few years ago funded a movie that tied up loose ends and made the fans happy.

We are both partway through season 3, and because I’m already beginning to mourn the loss of the show, I’ve gotten a commitment from Monkey Girl that, once we finish season 3 and watch the movie, she’ll give Buffy a try.

Because you’ve gotta love a show about a smart girl who doesn’t take any crap from anyone and stands on her own two feet.

April 6, 2014

Sorry, Not Sorry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 11:58 am

I keep seeing this on Facebook, and I’ll be honest…it bugs me a little.

Sorry, Not Sorry.

or

#sorrynotsorry

I mean, are you sorry or not?

Because, I gotta be honest, the “not sorry” part at the end cancels the “sorry” at the beginning, so why say anything at all?

That is, it bugged me until this weekend.

Because, this weekend, I got it.

I had a plan, you see.

A grand plan to spend hours writing.

Hours writing for you.

I was going to write a bunch of posts, (because they are all swirling around in the nether-regions of my brain), and schedule them to publish in the coming weeks, so I could have some sort of routine, again, to the blog.

It was a good plan.

And then this happened…

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And this…

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And all of this…

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And so, I get it, because I meant to write for you, but I didn’t.

So, I’m sorry.

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Not sorry.

April 1, 2014

If You Can Guess…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, it’s not like I haven’t been writing anything over the past few months.

I have kept my writing chops in some sort of shape by entering writing contests.

I haven’t won any, yet…

However, it engages my mind and keeps me fresh.

Since I already know that I didn’t win the last contest I entered, I thought that I might share my entry with you.

The prompt was to write a short story (they gave us a word count, etc) that began with this first sentence:

“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

As I said, I didn’t win, but I’m kinda proud of my entry, and since I wrote it with the purpose of being read, I’m going to share it with you, today.

If you like it, please feel free to share it!

————-

“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

“You’re disgusting,” I replied, laughing as we walked along the beach.

He stopped, put his hands on my shoulders, turned my body so I was facing him, and said “No, Anna.  I’m serious.  I want you to guess.”

I looked him in the eye and realized that he was, in fact, serious.  There was none of the usual sparkle in his eye, and his forehead wrinkled with a tension that I rarely saw on his face.

I was confused, but I played along.  “Um…okay.  Is it a shell?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Try again.”

Suddenly, it clicked, and I got nervous.  The last thing I wanted to do was play this game.  Especially if it was going to end the way I assumed.

“Steven, I don’t know what’s in your pocket.  Just tell me.”

His hands tightened their grip on my shoulder.

“You have to guess, Anna.  It’s the only way you can have it.”

“You’re hurting me, Steven.  Stop.”

I wriggled out of his grasp and turned away from him, wrapping my arms around my torso.  The sun had almost completed it’s descent below the horizon and the air, which had been warm and heavy moments before, now felt too cool for the tank top and shorts I wore.

He reached out his arm to me and I stepped away.

“Anna.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to hurt you…I just need you to guess what’s in my pocket so I can give it to you.”

Growing more uneasy by the moment, I took another step away from him.  “If you want me to have it, why can’t you just give it to me?  I don’t understand, Steven.  Why the weird rules?”

He started toward me, then stopped, realizing that I wasn’t ready to accept him back into my personal space.

“Please, Anna.  They aren’t my rules, but they are the rules.  Just guess.”

“Steven, you’re scaring me,” I said, not sure if I should stay or run like hell.

Steven, my Steven, was a laid back, carefree man.  Quick to laugh and the first, always the first, to break any rule set before him.

So, what was this?

“I know, and I’m sorry.  I didn’t want to do things this way.  I’m so sorry.  Anna, please guess.”

I watched as emotions passed across his face.  Sadness, fright…desperation.  As much as I wanted to run, I couldn’t leave him like this.

I closed my eyes and made my guess, hoping beyond all hope that I was wrong.

“Steven,” I began.  “Is it…a ring?”

Relief broke out on Steven’s features and I tried to keep the dread from showing on mine.

He reached into his pocket.

I could feel myself begin to panic.  I loved Steven.  I loved Steven a lot, but we had only been together for a year.  I wasn’t ready to get married.

“Steven, I don’t…we aren’t…”

Steven’s smile widened.  “Relax, Anna.  It’s not the ring.”

Feeling foolish, yet relieved, I smiled back.  “Oh.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

Steven held out his closed fist.  “It’s okay.  I’m not ready for that either.”  His face grew serious again.  “It’s not the ring, but it’s a very important ring.  Give me your hand.”

I held out my hand to him, and he unclenched his fist, revealing a large, silver, antique ring.  I leaned in as he placed it on my middle finger.  The sun was nothing more than a slight glow over the horizon, the full moon only peeking out from behind a cloud, and I turned it toward the ocean to catch the meager reflection of the light.

“Is something inscribed on there?” I asked as I noticed what appeared to be faint etchings in the silver.

“Auxilium.” Steven was looking down and his voice was quiet.  “It says ‘auxilium.’”

“Auxilium?”  I was puzzled.  “Why would you give me a ring that has the Latin for ‘protection’ on it?”

In that moment, the moon emerged from behind the cloud, full and bright.

Suddenly, his head snapped up, his yellow eyes glowing in the moonlight.

“Because you’re going to need it,” he growled.

March 17, 2014

Where I’ve Been

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

It’s been awhile, my friends, and it’s not for lack of interest in the blog.

I have a million ideas in my head for you.

A thousand posts I want to write.

Hundreds of witty Facebook updates I would like to make.

However, I’m not a full-time blogger/writer.

I’m an administrator at a middle school and a piano teacher, so my writing has always gotten done in whatever time I can find.

But winter is my busiest season, and here’s why:

 

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As the choral director for the spring musical, my February is consumed with rehearsals.

And I love it.

Every single second of it.

When it’s agonizing.

When it’s slow-going.

When it’s amazing.

I love everything about it.

The end result was phenomenal, and I was so proud of the entire cast (particularly Glinda, my Monkey Girl).

It did, though, take a lot of my time, but now we’re done, and so I’m back, friends.

So sorry that I didn’t get a chance to write about how much I hated, but couldn’t turn away from The Bachelor.

Sad to have missed the opportunity to write a timely post about Frozen and my family and their obsession (no, no…it’s really my obsession) with the film.

Didn’t get the chance to write about the polar vortex, the miles of snow, and the fact that I was pretty sure that we’d never see our lawn again.

I’ve cleaned the house, paid the bills, done the laundry, and so I’m back to write for you, again.

While I’ve been away, some of my I Just Want to Pee Alone co-authors penned a new book called I Just Want to Be Alone.

It’s a hilarious anthology about relationships and I urge you to pick up your copy, today!

So, while everyone else in my town is at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, today, we are going to play outside and I’m going to organize my thoughts, and start writing.

Because I’ve missed the blog and I’ve missed all of you!

February 26, 2014

Hot Pants

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, I’m a little creeped out, at times, by the targeted ads that Facebook shares with me.

I’m a little curious what, in my shopping history, has persuaded Facebook to show me an ad for Handerpants.

However, I’m not the least bit surprised when I see ads for weight loss products.

So, it wasn’t a shock when ads for Zaggora Atomica Hot Pants started showing up on the right side of my screen.

For months and months, when I would log in to Facebook, there it would be.

The ad for Zaggora Hot Pants with Thermofit Technology that would help me burn more calories.

Pants that burn calories.

Uh-huh.

Sure.

But one day, I was weak.

I’m not sure exactly what it was that pushed me over the edge, but I finally licked the Cheetos dust from my fingers, moved the mouse, and clicked on the hot pants.

I read what the website had to say and I was intrigued.

Convinced?

No.

But intrigued enough to click around some more.

As it turns out, they were having a huge sale and I had a Visa gift card burning a hole in my pocket.

So, I ordered them.

They feel a lot like a scuba suit.

Kinda like I’m wearing styrofoam pants.

But, if you wear them for 96 hours straight, say, like, during the season of never ending snow days, they become quite comfortable and almost like a second skin.

Okay, I guess anything becomes like a second skin if you wear it for 96 hours straight, but you see what I’m saying.

I started to feel like I was losing inches and then I wondered if I was losing weight, as well.

So, I hopped on the scale.

Nothing.

So, I went back to the website to register my complaint.

And found this:

“Both studies confirm the finding that exercising in Zaggora Hotwear can increase calorie burn.

The UB Study tested 13 subjects in Zaggora HotPants and 13 in standard active wear and found that exercising in HotPants can increase energy expenditure during exercise by an average of 11%.

The ETS Study first tested 30 subjects in Zaggora Hotwear and 30 subjects in standard active wear and found that exercising in Zaggora Hotwear can lead to an increase in energy expenditure as compared to standard active wear of 6% on average.

When testing a group of 10 subjects running at a constant speed, subjects in Zaggora Hotwear burned 9.7% more calories than subjects in standard exercise clothing during 30 minutes of exercise.”

Wait?

I have to exercise in them?

I can’t just lounge around and feel the burn?

I altered the plan and did some exercise while wearing the hotpants.

I definitely sweated more in the areas the pants were covering.

And afterward, my jeans were a little looser, but I really don’t know if it’s because I lost any inches or if it’s because after being that compressed for that long, it takes awhile for your organs and skin to go back to their original positions.

I guess if I really were serious about losing inches, I’d run a 5k every morning, like Real Man does.

 

February 23, 2014

Thirteen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

This one hits me the hardest.

Thirteen.

She’s thirteen today.

She was my first baby.

I learned it all with her.

She calls me her BFF and we snuggle and whisper in her bed after her brothers have gone to sleep and she tells me everything that happened during her day.

I wrap my arms around her and try to hold her like I did when she was little, despite the fact that she is my size.

I want to protect her from anything that will hurt her, but it’s started already.

Broken hearts.

False friends.

Feeling like she isn’t enough.

But, oh, my love.  You are enough.

You are more than enough.

I want her to not make the mistakes I made.

Yet, I know that it’s my mistakes that have made me who I am today, so I bite my tongue and hold her hand and kiss away her tears when she makes them, knowing she’s learned, as I learned before her.

She’s brilliant.

She’s kind.

She’s beautiful.

She’s talented.

She. Is. Everything.

And today, my first baby…my mirror…my heart…

Is thirteen.

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February 20, 2014

Three

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

My baby is three today.

My last baby.

I’ll never have a two year old in my home, again, and for a long time, I thought that fact would kill me.

And, I can’t lie, it does make my heart ache, but this kid makes it all so amazing, that I feel like the journey with him is worth the loss of what we’ll never have again.

He’s a character, this one.

That smile.

That laugh.

He wants, so badly, to do everything his siblings are doing and they let him, and love him and care for him in ways that make me cry silent tears of gratitude.

Because, everyone who meets him wants to love him.

He’s infectious.

It’s amazing to me that, as I scrolled through the pictures in my media library for the blog, to find pictures of Tiny for today, there was a point where there were no pictures of him because the blog came about years before he did.

That’s crazy, because it feels like he’s always been with us.

And today, he’s three.

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