My Real Life

September 3, 2016

To Pony, or Not to Pony

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 5:04 pm

It’s Back-to-School time, and this means shopping.

I’ll be honest…there wasn’t too much to buy this year.

A few things for the girl, a few for the oldest boy, then the younger two have hand-me-downs which have been washed and sewn to look like new.

We have school supplies from sales past, and a few years ago, we invested in LL Bean backpacks that last forever and are replaced for free if they don’t.

However, this year, we have someone starting Kindergarten, and we are well-aware that any backpack preferences today will not be the same in a few years, so we don’t mind hitting Target and picking up a cheap, first backpack to last this year.

So, I packed Tiny in the car and told him what we were doing.

“Isn’t this exciting?” I gushed.

“Yes! I can’t wait to get my new pack-pack!”

B’s. P’s. They’re all the same, right?

“What kind do you think you are going to look for?”

“I want a pink, My Little Pony pack-pack, Mama. I can’t wait. I hope they have one with Rainbow Dash on the front!”

And my heart sunk.


Let me be clear…

I love that he loves the ponies.

They teach lessons about kindness and acceptance and goodness, and when he plays with his pony dolls, it’s a very different game than when he plays with his trucks.

He has pony dvd’s, toys, books, and it’s all good.

And I have no issues about the whole “boy playing with a girl toy” thing, either.

Girl toy, boy toy.

Who the hell cares?

If Monkey Girl and I are painting our nails, he wants to paint his and we happily let him join.

I put on makeup, he wants to try, no problem. Have at it, little man.

In my life, all I want is for my kids to be happy and safe, and that’s where the worry came in.

The backpack would make him happy.

But it might not make him safe from bullies.


As a parent and a teacher, the one thing I know is that kids are not always kind, and that there is nothing to make a child feel insecure and question themselves faster than…

The Bus.

The majority of all issues my kids have had at school have been a result of someone being unkind to them on the bus.

I have my own lingering tics as a result of riding the bus with David Hurta who used to yell, at the top of his lungs, “Amy Lawrence wears gazelles!”

Every. Single. Day.

And, what the heck were “gazelles” anyway?

I digress…

My concern with the My Little Pony backpack was two-fold.

  1. That some kid on the bus would tell Tiny that My Little Pony is for girls and that he would never love them the same way, again, because they would now be tainted with someone’s disdain, and
  2. That someone would tease him and be mean to him and call him names because he happens to be a boy who loves a show about ponies who are sweet and kind and have merchandise that happens to be primarily created in the color pink.

And yet, I’m a believer in always being yourself and being proud of who you are and what you enjoy and making no apologies (unless, of course, what you enjoy is illegal), so I was leaning toward buying that pack-pack with joy.

But, just to be sure, I decided to ask some of my friends.


The responses varied, and what I found most interesting was that they varied based on my groups of friends.

My teacher friends said things like:

“He should rock it! Maybe he can add some key chains with his other interests so he can show them to kids who aren’t into ponies? And maybe a few tips on how to say “we can still be friends even if we don’t like all the same things?”

“MLP is so popular – I say rock it! A lot of kids will love the backpack: guaranteed!”

“My daughter’s best friend (a boy) loved The Little Mermaid, wore nail polish and dresses in class and all his classmates accepted him and his interests.”

“If he can handle two older brothers he should be soooo good to go.”

My non-teacher friends said things like:

“No My Little Pony backpack. Get him one for home and play dates so it’s a special one with his special toys.” (This advice given with the disclaimer that it was coming from someone who still has PTSD from being teased badly on the bus)

“Can you steer him in another direction? Maybe take him to a place without My Little Pony backpacks for sale?”

Good advice, good ideas from everyone, and I appreciated the fact that the responses were different and looked at it from both sides.

But it got me no closer to a decision.

Tiny just kept chatting away in the backseat about his new MLP pack-pack and how it’s what he’s always wanted and then he said “My Little Pony just makes me so happy, Mama,” and that was that.

My Little Pony it would be.

Until we got to Target and he saw a Paw Patrol backpack and couldn’t live without it.


I hate that I even paused.

I hate that it I needed to consider the meanness of others when discussing something that brought my little guy such joy.

I hate that, while it has never crossed my mind once to dissuade Tiny’s love of the ponies, I balked at the thought of his outwardly displaying that love for the world to see, not because of what it said about him, but because what it would reveal about those around him.

I know I can’t protect him from everything, and I don’t actually want to, because how else will he learn to stick up for himself?

But 5 just felt too little, today, to have to learn that skill.

August 24, 2016

Beautiful Memories

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:57 am

On our beach vacation, Tiny spent a good deal of time collecting rocks and shells.

He called it “catching shells” because he’s five and because the beach demands terminology used at sea.

You catch fish.  Why wouldn’t you catch shells?

While I spent my time looking in the surf, picking up, throwing back, examining, and trying to find just the right one, Tiny found beauty in everything he found.

“Oh, Mama! Lookit! Dis is so beautiful!”

“Wow! It’s the prettiest!”

“I never seen one like dis!”

And, the result was that I left at the end of the week with one, beautiful stone that was naturally shaped like a heart, and Tiny left with a bag full of a mixture of half a mussel, concrete, a dirty clam shell, and a bunch of other pebbles that could have easily come from someone’s driveway.

When we came home, I soaked everything in a solution of bleach and water because, for Christmas, I plan to get him a lamp with a glass base into which we can deposit those rocks and shells, each year, and when he is grown up, he can take it with him…a tangible memory of our summers together.

And, when they came out of the solution, they looked slightly better than they had before, but the cleaning process also showed those which had no real, recognizable beauty.

Tiny was in the basement, playing with his brother, and so, I thought I’d cull his collection down to just those that will look pretty in the base of that lamp. I took the others and tossed them beside the deck, and put the rest in a baggie, to await Christmas.

When he came upstairs, he asked to see his shells (because he calls them all shells since he found them at the beach) and I pulled out the bag.

He started to take them out, one at a time, and place them on the table, “oohing” and “aahing” over each one, when he suddenly stopped.

“Mama. Where’s the rest?”

I wasn’t sure how to play this, because I had been sure he wouldn’t notice the absence of a piece of cement, a broken mussel and some pebbles, so I responded, “The rest of what?”

Smooth.

“The rest of my shells. Where they at?”

So, I explained that I kept the prettiest shells for his collection and put the rest of them outside, and I began to trip over my words as his eyes began to fill with tears.

“What’s the matter?” I asked him.

“I fink they’re ALL pretty because we caught them together.”

So, out to the yard we went, and we were able to find them all because I had dropped them right next to the front porch, and we added them to the bag, and they, too, will find their home in the base of the lamp.

I’m not sure how could I have forgotten that happy memories are always beautiful, no matter what they look like on the outside.

IMG_0352

August 16, 2016

Joy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 11:09 am

There are moments in life which fill you with joy.

I don’t mean happiness.

I mean joy.

Unfiltered.

Unfettered.

Unembarrassed.

Just joy.

Moments with my family can fill you with joy, for sure.

Moments of personal success can also fill me with joy.

But, I find, that often, the things that bring me  joy are the experiences that spark memories from childhood.

And my childhood wasn’t necessarily filled with joy.

But there were moments…

So, what sparked this line of thought?

Last week, my family vacationed at the beach.

New Jersey was in the middle of an intense heat wave, and the air was thick and hot and suffocating.

I don’t love the beach.

But, man, do I love the ocean.

Tiny and Baby played in the surf and Real Man, Monkey Girl, Monkey in the Middle and I went out to bob in the waves.

And, as the kids and I do, when in the water, we started searching for the perfect wave.

That wave that would drive us into the shore.

The water was rough and the waves kept coming.

Over and over again, I bodysurfed those waves.

And you just know, when you are in it, whether it will take you all the way or drop you off midway to shore.

You need to feel just the right rumble of churning water under your stomach, and that’s your signal that you are going the distance.

And when I feel that rumble, I smile.

As hard as I try to keep my mouth closed, I smile and shriek and laugh and tumble and get knocked around like a leaf in the wind and it fills me with an unparalleled glee.

Joy.

As a kid, we vacationed at the beach, and I would spend the entire day catching these waves, and even today, as an adult, I don’t care how disheveled I am as the waves deposit me on the sand.

And I am disheveled.

My hair is full of seaweed, and it covers my face as I’m gasping for air, choking, coughing, bathing suit askew, and I’m running back out to catch the next one, immediately.

I have no inhibitions in the ocean, because the ocean gives me such joy.

To be caught in a body so vast and a power so strong.

It’s exhilarating.

It’s fun.

It’s joy.

My dream has always been to open a used bookstore where people could come and exchange their books for new ones at minimal cost.

There would be an area to sit and read and drink coffee or tea, and I imagine shelves bursting with well-read, well-loved books, that would change hands again and again and again.

And I want this bookstore to exist at the beach, because what’s better than finding that vacation read while on vacation.

That’s my dream, and it just doesn’t work anywhere that isn’t the beach, because at the end of the day, when I close the door, and flip the sign to “Closed,” I want to hit the beach and get tossed around a little by nature.

Because, for me, that is joy.

April 11, 2016

Because You Make Me Laugh

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Real Man is a serious guy.

Seriously.

I’ve known him for 28 years, and feel confident when I say Real Man is a serious guy.

But, not always.

Not if you know him…really know him.

Not if you give him a chance to collect his thoughts.

He’s not one for quick quips or fast-paced banter, but if you really care to take the time to get to know him, you’ll find out that Real Man isn’t always a serious guy and that there is a very funny side to him.

This afternoon, while searching through my email for something, I stumbled across a perfect example of this.

—–

I leave for work fairly early in the morning, and Real Man has always been responsible for getting the kids to their daycares and schools.

This has been the routine since each of them was born, and so his morning jobs, before heading off to his own job, has always been ponytails in hair, matching the socks, finding the left shoe, remembering the Show and Tell letter of the week, and all those other things that come before you can actually leave the house for school.

And I have always been very grateful.

However, I have also always felt like I was missing out, and I always wanted to know how the morning went so that I would know the moods they had at drop-off, so I could imagine how their day was going.

So, every morning, before we had smart phones, I would shoot him an email, asking “How was the morning?”

And his response would always be either, “Fine” or “It was a rough one.”

I’d follow up with “Fine how? Were they extra cute? Did they sing songs? What are they wearing?” or “Uh-oh…did someone bite someone? Did you remember the Scholastic order I left on the counter? What toy did he/she lose so I can be consistent with the consequence after school?”

And sometimes he’d respond, but some days, by the time the second email was sent, we were both fairly ensconced in our days, and he wouldn’t have time to respond.

Inevitably, every few weeks, we’d have it out, and I’d say “You have to give me more than ‘Fine.’ I’m a writer, I’m a reader, I’m a history teacher. I NEED information!”

And we’d argue about how he didn’t have time to send me a play-by-play and if there was anything that I really needed to know, he always made sure I heard about it, one way or another.

He wasn’t wrong.

He was really good about it.

But, I’m me.

And I can’t let things go.

So, apparently, on the evening of May 21, 2007, I must have done my bi or tri-weekly haranguing for information, because, on the morning of May 22, 2007, Real Man responded to my email question of “How was the morning?” with the following reply: (Names and locations have been edited)

There was a chill in the air this morning, but it didn’t seem to affect either Monkey Girl or Monkey Boy, who were wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Monkey Boy, with his growing-out buzz-cut was especially vulnerable to the 50 degree air, but he didn’t seem to mind. Monkey Girl, with her abundant locks tied neatly into two pony tails had some extra insulation.  After the morning ritual of wanting to sit in any seat but their own, they were clipped in where they belong.  Dad then noticed garbage strewn all over the side of the lawn. “Damn raccoons” he thought to himself as he picked up the waste.  In the truck the children wore sunglasses in the backseat while enjoying Billy Joel’s “All for Leyna”…their youthful naivety masking the mature undertones of the musical composition.  There was a man cutting tiles on the corner, the noise piquing Monkey Boy’s interest.  “Dad, I want to see the machine.” He called out.   They drove by slowly as father showed son the man cutting tiles in the driveway down the street.  Dad then noticed how long it had taken to clean up the garbage, and made the snap decision to drop off Monkey Girl first.  Would this change in routine affect the children adversely?  No, they stepped up and accepted the obstacle as if it were nothing.  After pulling up to X School, where dad had gone to kindergarten as a child as well, Monkey Girl asked permission to be unclipped.  She made a comment about how her loose tooth was almost down to her lip.  She then proceeded to kiss her brother and father good-bye and strode up to school braver and more confidant than any other 6 year old.  Although her back was to the truck, her father was sure that she was flicking her loose tooth with her tongue the entire way up to school.  She must have said something cute to the man standing by the door of the gym, because he smiled at her as she passed through the gateway.  Dad and Monkey Boy proceeded on to nursery school, another establishment that dad had attended as a child.  They walked through the parking lot hand in hand, but at the bottom of the stairs Monkey Boy broke free and raced to open the door as he does every morning.  They were greeted in the entryway by the director who said “Good morning” to both of them.  Only dad replied as Monkey Boy was a little shy.  They both signed Monkey Boy in “as a team” and went off to the Big room.  There they were greeted by the daycare teachers who also said “Good Morning”.  Once again, dad was the only voice heard as Monkey Boy buried his head in dad’s leg.  Dad proceeded to hang up Monkey Boy’s bag, which contained his lunchbox.  When they were saying their good-bye’s Monkey Boy gave dad a kiss and a hug and reassured him without prompting that he would say sorry to Mrs. B, Mrs. B2, and Z.  This apology that he was referring to stemmed from an incident last week in which Monkey Boy was disrespectful to his teachers and threw sand at a classmate.  Dad smiled, but also knew that Monkey Boy would soon be engrossed in his day and would forget the apologies.  That would be OK though, as the incident is now over.  Dad walked off and turned for one last wave good-bye at the door, then disappeared into the hallway.

Snarky?

You betcha.

But, on the morning of May 22, 2007, and as I read the email this afternoon, I laughed so hard I cried.

Real Man will say to me, “Sometimes, I just don’t get what you see in me.”

And I always reply “More things that I can count. But number one will always be, because you make me laugh.”

—–

Here’s hoping someone makes all of you laugh today.

March 12, 2016

Doing it All

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:35 am

I cried the other night.

Deep, wracking, heart-breaking sobs.

We were in the last week of play rehearsals before the show, the night before had been the dress rehearsal, which means I had been at school from 7 am to around 10:30 pm. Hockey had just wrapped up, so even though I wasn’t driving Monkey in the Middle to the rinks, I was driving Monkey Girl to the high school for her own rehearsals and the dance studio for classes and her job, and I was in the midst of grading research essays and we were recovering from birthday season and I, my friends, was tired.

Baby Monkey and I went to daycare to pick up Tiny and while we were putting on his coat, he said “Mama, how come I didn’t get to go in the room where we took our pictures with Santa?”

“What?” I asked, a little distracted as I fought with his zipper and tried to figure out what we would be having for dinner.

“Everyone got to go in the room where we had our picture taken with Santa and wear nice clothes, except me.”

And suddenly it made sense.

“Tiny…was today…picture day?”

He nodded at me sadly.

I zipped him up and walked back into the room where the children were playing and asked the teachers, “Did I miss picture day.”

They nodded at me and said that yes, I had missed picture day. They talked among themselves to see if the photographer would be coming back and then agreed that that day had been the last day the photographer would be there.

So, apparently, I hadn’t just missed picture day, I had missed the entire picture opportunity.

I hustled Tiny out into the hallway and as we walked out of the building, the tears began to fall down my face.

“Mom, are you crying?” Baby Monkey asked.

“Yes,” I whispered through gritted teeth.

“Why?”

“In the car,” I hissed.

When everyone was clipped in, Baby Monkey tried again.

“Why are you crying, Mom?”

And the dam broke loose and I began to sob.

Why was I crying?

Because I was drowning.

Because I am everything to everyone.

Because the weight of my choices is a heavy mantle to bear.

And, yes, they are choices, and not choices I regret, and they are mine.

I loved everything I was doing, but it was a lot and it was all converging at once.

But, I was tired and I was, for the moment, drowning.

I honestly didn’t remember seeing anything about picture day coming home, but it must have and I must have skimmed over it or thrown it away.

And so, rather than burden Baby with the truth of the matter, I said, through my tears, “I’m crying because I missed picture day for Tiny and there are no make-ups and now, for the rest of his life, I will never have a Pre-K picture for him like I have for the rest of you and it makes me so, so sad.”

Baby reached forward and put his hand on my shoulder and said “I’m really sorry to hear that, Mom.”

I drove home and I cried the entire way.

When we got there, Monkey in the Middle was sitting at the counter, doing his homework.

“What’s wrong?” he asked the second he saw my face.

Baby filled him in and then sat down to his own homework.

Except it was math homework, and they were word problems and he was sure he was going to fail before he even began, and so, soon, his own tears started.

As I tried to get him settled and calm him down, while still crying myself, because once it turns on, it is almost impossible for me to turn off, Tiny decided he wanted someone to play outside with him.

I tried to explain that we were all in the middle of something, and he would have to be patient, and his own tears began.

So, at this point, three of us were in tears. Big tears.

And, slowly, I see Monkey in the Middle stand up at the counter and start to put on his shoes.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Taking Tiny outside. I can’t concentrate right now and then you and Baby can get through his math,” and as he walked by, I saw tears on his own face.

“Are you crying?” I asked. “Why are YOU crying?”

He answered in a small voice. “Because you are all so sad.”

Which, of course, made me cry harder.

—–

 

We made it through.

Monkey in the Middle took Tiny outside and Baby and I settled in and he got through the math.

Baby went out, MitM came in and got his homework done.

I stopped crying and got dinner on the table.

We made it through.

I made it through.

Why do I share this story?

Because I hear it all the time, “I don’t know how you do it all, Amy.”

The truth is, I do do it all.

And I truly enjoy everything that I do.

But, not without a price.

Things slip by.

I lose things.

I cry.

And that’s okay.

But, the point is, it’s not easy, and just because I look like I have it all together doesn’t mean that I do.

And that’s okay, too.

January 18, 2016

Did I Miss Something?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:12 am

Teachers measure time in very different ways than civilians.

January 1st can come and go, but we all know that the year really starts and ends in September, when our classrooms fill with fresh, new faces and that scent of “possibility” is in the air.

Our time at home is also measured differently.

Home projects and travel are considered and planned based on “breaks” and days are carefully plotted and planned.

For myself, I have a running list of things I need to get done around the house, and am consistently planning how and when I can get those things done.

The strange thing is, this year, despite the fact that it is January 18th, I continue to be planning for winter break.

“I really need to go through my closet and donate some clothes. I’ll get to it over winter break. Wait…”

“The garage needs another sweep before winter weather finally arrives. Winter break…hang on…”

“I need to list more items for sale. I’ll do it right after Christmas. But…”

Did I miss something?

How is it January?

I had a busy and productive winter break.

Christmas was wonderful and full of family and laughter and smiles.

The following week was spent with friends and each other (and Star Wars) and highly productive as I cleaned out three different areas of the house that had been long neglected, allowing me to keep doors to rooms open that have long been closed.

New Year’s was a great time, and, although I don’t sweat turning 44, I had the normal January 3rd birthday blues as I came off of the high of the activities of the week before.

Yet, as soon as we went back to work on January 4th, I started planning things to do…over winter break.

Completely forgetting that it was over.

So, it wasn’t that my time was wasted or boring or sad.

It was wonderful.

So, why am I still waiting for that winter break?

Part of me wonders if it was the weather.

New Jersey Christmas isn’t supposed to be almost 70 degrees.

Cousins aren’t supposed to be able to play in my driveway and yard on Christmas day without bundling up with snow gear.

One of the reasons that I have always loved living in New Jersey was the change of the seasons.

And this no longer seems to exist.

So, maybe it’s the weather.

Maybe it’s the fact that our Christmas decorations are STILL up.

However, our record is St. Patrick’s Day before taking it all down, so I still have a few months to go, so that can’t be it.

Whatever the cause, January is almost over and President’s Day weekend looms over the horizon, and I still can’t make that switch in my head.

Am I going to be sitting in the kitchen over Spring Break, wondering where the snow is and planning the things I still need to do for Christmas?

(Of course, at the rate we are going, there will be snow over spring break, but that’s another post.)

Time is just moving at a pace that is too fast for me, these days, and I can’t put my finger on why.

This was, by far, the fastest school year in which I have ever taught.

And that counts the school years where I only taught for six months because February brought a garden of little monkey babies to my life.

People say that time passes more quickly as you age, and, as a parent who is looking down the barrel of a 15, 12, 10, and 5 year old when March finally arrives, I realize this is true and I wonder how the heck that happened.

I don’t know what it is, but I’m still waiting for December 23rd.

So, if we’re talking, and I mention to you all the exciting things I plan to get done over winter break, just smile and nod at me.

Because, clearly, I missed something.

January 4, 2016

Hope Springs Eternal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

2015 passed and I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in that year.

For the most part, I think I was fairly successful.

There’s a lot of talk about not making resolutions, and part of me thinks that maybe I should just throw in the towel and not make any.

I mean, who has ever made a resolution, or a list of resolutions, and kept them all?

Is making resolutions the epitome of setting yourself up for failure?

I don’t know.

I think resolutions and goals and wishes show hope.

And isn’t that really what we all need?

A little hope?

So, for 2016, I’ve got some hope.

Hope that the world will be better than it was last year.

That people will treat each other with more kindness and respect.

That we can heal.

I also hope that I can be better.

I have hope that I will make good choices.

I have hope that I will be patient.

I have hope that I will be a person I want my children to grow up to emulate.

Those are my big hopes for 2016.

On a smaller front…

  1. I hope to make time for myself this year. In 2015, I rejoined both my handbell and my singing choir as an effort to regain some much needed time doing something that was just for me. And then hockey changed nights and suddenly, I had to bring Tiny and Monkey Boy with me to handbells, and couldn’t stay to sing. That’s being a Mom and having responsibilities, and I am 100% aware of that. However… whether it’s getting a sitter on choir nights or carving out thirty minutes a day to exercise, I need to commit to myself.
  2. I hope to bulk up our bank. I always have goals to save money or to make money, but the bottom line is, in 2016, I want to be successful with our finances. We have four kids to eventually put through college, and places we want to go and things we want to see. This is the year I hope to pay more attention to the little things and stop the leaks before they happen. There’s a lot of stuff around here, as well. Stuff that I think someone else might be happy to have, and so I plan to sell and donate many, many things.
  3. I hope to write. Somewhere, something. Just write. Publishing would be amazing, but I love to write, and I want to get back to that. Writing for the love of it.
  4. I hope to be the change I want to see in the world. I tell my own children and my students countless times per day that we should be as kind as possible as often as possible. In 2016, I hope to be a living example of this. I think I do a good job of this, but we can always do better. We have to do better.

And, so there you have it.

And, with any luck, hopes turn into reality and we all have a good year.

January 3, 2016

15 Wishes – Checking In

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 10:50 am

2015 has come to a close and I had set some goals for myself, and it’s time to reflect and see how I did.

However, I will say that, no matter how many of these things I have accomplished, it was a tough year for many people, myself included, and the fact that we all survived it is good enough for me.

  1. Take the family to DisneyWorld. Didn’t happen. We watched many friends take their families, and, quite frankly, I just don’t know how to find the time or the money to get 6 people to Disney or Universal. Sounds like an excuse, but it’s the truth.
  2. Participate in at least one random act of kindness per week.  There may have been a week or two when I missed the boat on this one, but I think, for the most part, I was able to succeed here.
  3. Exercise at least twice a week.  Some weeks, yes. Some weeks, no. I actually just checked the MyFitnessPal app and I’ve gained 10 pounds in the last year, but I have a feeling that has more to do with my eating than my exercise.
  4. Watch less tv.  I may have succeeded here. I did cut back on a lot of the shows I watch. However, I still watch a lot of tv. And I stream a lot. But, I like to be entertained, whether it is movies, tv or books.
  5. Make $1,000 by selling on eBay, consignment, etc.  Maybe $100, but it wasn’t even close to $1,000.
  6. Blog at least once a month.  I came close. I did. And some months, I blogged more than once. However, some months were empty, here on the blog. I had more than 12 posts for the year, so the average is once a month, but we all know that’s not really the same.
  7. Read 50 books (and keep track!)  I actually read 60 books in 2016. That makes me very happy. They weren’t all deep and thought-provoking, but they kept me entertained.
  8. Really go through my closet and be ruthless with getting rid of what I don’t wear.  I did this, but there is more work to do.
  9. Play piano at least once a week. I did this and loved it. This was a great goal for myself. It makes me very happy.
  10. Write in my journal more often.   I am looking in my journal right now, and I can see that I wrote in my journal twice this year. So, I’m going to count this one as a miss.
  11. Get published, again.   Can’t get published if you don’t write. And I didn’t.  So, no.
  12. Re-edit my novel.  It didn’t happen.
  13. Shred and pare down all of our files. Did it. Feel great about it.
  14. Entertain more. Um, yeah, no. I did not do this. I love to have people here, and I had a candle party, a work party, and hosted Christmas, but for 2015, that’s it.
  15. Be kinder to myself. I don’t know. Part of me thinks I did this, but part of me thinks I didn’t. Probably the part of myself that is too hard on myself is the part that thinks I failed.

So, I guess you win some, you lose some, and when I look at this list, I see things that I want to carry through to next year. I don’t know what is coming in 2016, just like, in a million years, I couldn’t have guessed what was going to happen in 2015. Life throws you curveballs. All you can do is keep your head held high.

December 22, 2015

For the Kids, For Us All

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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I have four kids.

As a result, over the past 14 and a half years, I have seen A LOT of kids movies.

Probably way more than my share.

But, if I’m honest, kids movies aren’t something that were new to me once Monkey Girl arrived.

In college, I actually had a subscription to Columbia House Video Service, and the movies that I ordered, every month, were Disney.

I believe I owned all of the Disney movies on VHS at one point, and I was probably 25 years old at the time.

So, saying that the movies are related to my kids is probably not being entirely honest.

I remember how I felt when I watched them all.

I couldn’t get enough of The Little Mermaid, and I could recite every word of Aladdin.

And Nemo?

Forget it.

Even the earliest Disney movies sucked me in.

I used to shudder at the evil queen in Snow White time and time again, and sing along with Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

But, there seems to be a difference in the movies that are produced “for children” these days.

I loved those older (and I’m using a broad time span in the term older, here) kids movies, but the movies today…

I love them more.

Yes, there is certainly the digital quality aspect, but when the Lion King came out, we all marveled at the visual wonder it produced, because, for it’s time, it was amazing.

It’s the creative way that these films are no longer films for children, and they leave us thinking about them far after the screen has faded to black.

—–

In 2012, Disney released Wreck It Ralph and I was mesmerized.

ralph

The creativity in that film is beyond anything I could ever hope to have.

I watched, entranced, as video game characters left their games at night and gathered together to party, participate in support groups, and used a surge protector as Grand Central Station, and electric cords as a means to travel from world to world.

The worlds created in the games danced in my brain for months, and the plot?

The desire of Vanellope to be accepted was familiar to the remnants of my teenage self, and Ralph’s quest to be good resonated in my home with a boy who struggled to behave, and whispered the words from the movie in a small plea, as he snuggled in his bed one night, long after we had seen the film.

“I don’t have to be the bad guy, right Mom?”

—–

Frozen made me weep from the first preview we saw.

Frozen-movie-poster

Frozen was definitely more of a traditional Disney film, but oh, how it grabbed me.

The story of the sisters, to the sister-less me, made me yearn for a sibling, and the music…

Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell were the perfect choices for those songs.

I cried through the entire movie.

I have seen it at least 100 times since the first time and I love it more every single time.

—–

And then came Inside Out.

insideout

You want to talk creative?

The way the film created a visualization for the brain and memories, and the personification of the emotions.

Beyond my wildest imagination.

The islands of personality.

Long term memory.

Core memories.

Commercial jingles that get stuck in your head.

Growing up.

The importance of sadness.

I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about this film.

And, again, it has captured the brain of a boy who is uncomfortable with emotion, does not want to discuss sadness or fear, and struggles to hold it all together, at times.

I would be underestimating if I said that he references the movie only once a day, and every time he does, it is with a question or a personal note.

“Remember when Sadness was touching the happy memories and making them sad? That totally happens sometimes.”

“Joy just tried too hard. She didn’t understand that all the emotions are important. Right?”

“Wasn’t it funny when the teenage boys brain just went on full alert when he saw a girl?”

—–

Kids movies are no longer just for kids, and they are definitely no longer just for entertainment.

These major blockbusters are meant to touch us and meant to make us think, and they do.

Oh, they do.

I still love my “big people movies,” as Tiny calls them, but if I want a good case of the feels…

It’s gonna be a kids film every time.

 

October 17, 2015

Reunion

It’s hard for me to fathom, but it is time for my 25th class reunion.

I know, I know…

How is it possible that I have been out of high school for 25 years?

However, it’s true.

Reunions fill me with a feeling of glee.

Not because I’ll get to see my high school BFF’s, because Kim, Erin, Michaela and I talk on a fairly regular basis to begin with.

And, none of them are coming to this one.

Hmph.

But, because a reunion is my high school yearbook come to life.

—–

Our high school had all the cliques that were rampant in the movies I loved to watch in the ’80’s.

There were jocks and geeks and prom queens and druggies and every other type of kid you can imagine.

My high school was incredibly diverse and so, for the most part, there was a small group for everyone.

 

I loved high school.

I really did.

But, not because I was in the middle of it all, soaking in every second of experience that high school had to offer.

Truth be told…

I was a background kid.

My friends had large groups of friends, but my group was small.

I was friendly to people, and people were friendly to me, but I wasn’t getting invited to any parties, and no one was thinking of nominating me for anything when yearbook superlative time came around.

And that was fine with me.

I had my girls and other than that, I preferred to just watch it all unfold around me.

—–

I don’t love a reunion to reconnect with people I haven’t heard from in years.

The truth is, I probably know what most of the people who will show up had for dinner last night, thanks to Facebook.

Actually, when you think about it, Facebook makes the whole idea of the reunion a bit outdated to begin with.

The people who want to stay in touch do, and the people who don’t? Well, they generally aren’t on social media sites and probably won’t show up at the reunion.

If they even know about the reunion, since they aren’t on Facebook.

See how that works?

And, if the last reunion was any indication, most of the people there won’t know who I am anyway.

I can’t tell you the number of people Real Man had to introduce me to.

“Hey…aren’t you going to introduce me to your wife?”

“Um, it’s Amy. Amy Lawrence? She graduated with us.”

“Oh, sorry…I can’t place you.”

And, while I have aged, I don’t look different enough that I’m unrecognizable.

But, you gotta be in it to win it, and I was definitely not in it.

Background person.

No, I go to the reunions because for a people watcher like me, it’s exactly like the days when I would sit on a bench in the atrium and watch the crowd go by.

They may not know me, but I know them, because while they were busy talking and laughing and fighting and posing, I was taking it all in.

 

This is not to say that I’ll be sitting in a corner, speaking to no one.

As an adult, living in the town in which I grew up, I have become friends with many of the people that I didn’t know well in high school, and some of them will be there.

Others, I didn’t know at all, but we’ve through Facebook, and I am looking forward to seeing them in person after only really getting to know them across fiber optic cables and miles and miles of land.

Because, as an adult, the nonsense of high school slips away, and the person who you thought was so much better than you and that you would never be able to be friends with, turns out to be facing the same struggles, and is every bit as human and fragile as you.

—–

So, yeah, I’m going to the reunion, and while people may not remember who I was, I’m excited for them to meet who I’ve become.

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