My Real Life

August 30, 2015

Call Me Martha

I can cook.

I don’t enjoy it, I’m not great at it, but I can cook.

I try to make sure we eat dinner as a family every night, and except for when we have baseball, hockey, soccer, dance, church, or something else going on, we generally do.

And it’s usually a legit meal.

Cavatelli and broccoli.

A roast in the crock pot.

Grilled chicken.

Spaghetti and meatballs.

I can cook.

However, my cooking is basic to the core.

There is no fancy stuff happening in my kitchen, and the meals that I make are quick, easy, and of debatable health value.

And so, despite the fact that at least two people are disappointed by dinner every night…which two depends upon the meal…I can cook.

But, Martha Stewart, I ain’t.

And so imagine my surprise, when last Saturday afternoon, the kids walked into the kitchen and found me whipping up ten eggs, some broccoli and some cheese.

“What are you doing?” they asked suspiciously.

“Trying out a new recipe,” I responded casually.

“Do WE have to eat it?” they asked nervously.

“Nope. Just me,” I responded happily.

“Is it gonna taste good?” they asked delightedly.

“Absolutely,” I responded less assuredly.

See, in my desire to be lose some of this extra weight I’ve been carrying around, I realize that I need to figure out some healthy breakfast for myself.

Because, if I don’t, by ten a.m., I’m ready for the vending machine at school.

So, I was intrigued when I was flipping through “All You” magazine, and found a recipe for “egg muffins.”

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Over the summer, I’ve made myself two fried eggs for breakfast in the morning, and it’s been pretty okay.

But, I know the rush of a school day morning, and am well aware that I won’t be frying any eggs before work.

I gave it a try.

Guess what?

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Those egg muffins didn’t suck!

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, because, let’s be honest…goat cheese? Arrugala?

Not in my wheelhouse.

But, I used some chopped frozen broccoli and a dash of pepper and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on each muffin and they were delicious!

I can grab one from the fridge, every morning, on my way out the door, and can even eat them in the car on the way to work.

I was feeling so good after my success with that recipe, that I decided to keep going.

I used a recipe I found on Pinterest for chocolate chip cookies, because Monkey Girl loves to bake, and I shared the recipe with her.

(The recipe for these cookies can be found here.)

And guess what again?

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Good stuff!

Then I was on a mission.

I made sugar cookies, baked ziti, reorganized the Tupperware cabinet, cleaned out the fridge, and cleaned out the closet in the laundry room.

I was a home-making whirlwind!

I’m feeling so good about it all that maybe I’ll try a different recipe tomorrow and see how it inspires me for the rest of the day!

Or, maybe I’ve channeled all the Martha I can handle and we’ll just order Chinese.

August 29, 2015

Top Post and Continuing Quest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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Every day, I always look at my WordPress stats to see what search terms brought people to the blog.

Sometimes, it’s empty, because I forget to put tags in my posts, so I’m not as searchable as I could be.

But, most days, it’s the same words, over and over.

“wrong turn movie real story”

People seem to be fascinated by the real story behind the movie “Wrong Turn.”

The blog post that they are taken to is here, and I’d love for you to click on it and read it, if you haven’t been following me since 2009.

Which is probably most of the people reading this post.

That post, was actually a follow-up post to the original post which was about my constant quest for the scariest movie imaginable, which is here.

I’d love you to go back and read that one, too, so I don’t have to rewrite it all, but I can say that I can add one movie to the list of movies that has scared the bejesus out of me since 2009.

The Conjuring.

So freaking scary.

However, I’ll be honest…I haven’t had the opportunity to see a lot of movies that aren’t animated over the past few years, and so I may have missed some good ones.

So, I’d love some audience participation and please let me know if there are any scary movies that I need to see.

Because I’m ready to be terrified.

August 28, 2015

Freedom

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

In this house, we are finally free.

Free of tyranny.

Free of restriction.

Free of diapers.

Yes, that’s right…

Of all the amazing things that have happened this summer, the best, the ultimate, the most wonderful was the fact that Tiny is (finally) potty trained.

Yeah, everyone gets potty trained, so why all the fanfare?

Why an entire blog post devoted to it?

Because the stubborn son of a gun is four and a half.

He’s been holding all the cards and we’ve been his pawns.

We haven’t been able to go anywhere without diapers and wipes, and believe me, my friends…they ain’t cheap.

Going to the pool meant swim diapers, and going to the beach meant an awful rash from the sand trapped inside.

It was a battle, and even when we tried to turn it around into no big deal, on the advice of our doctor, no one was fooled…it was still a battle.

Monkey Girl spoiled us.

She was one and a half when she decided she wanted to be trained, and while she ran hot and cold for the next year, two and a half still isn’t bad.

The next two waited until they were almost four, but finally pulled the trigger and so we expected about the same from Tiny.

But Tiny won’t be bound by expectations.

He won’t live by any rules other than those he makes for himself.

And so we begged, we pleaded, we bribed.

We gave him all the power.

Which was exactly how he liked it.

And then, one day, it clicked, and he was tired of the game and decided he was ready.

And that, my friends, was that.

And so, our greatest triumph this summer, was freedom from diapers.

May we never have to change another diaper again.

Well…until the grandchildren, but that’s waaaaaaaay in the future, and by then, I have a feeling we won’t mind so much.

August 27, 2015

A Weighty Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 1:28 pm
Tags: ,

‘Cuz I’m writing about my weight.

Get it?

The title?

I crack myself up.

Unfortunately, I’m also close to cracking my scale, these days.

As I wrote in my post about my goals for the year, I was good to myself this summer.

Very good to myself.

So good to myself that, although I did hit the treadmill on a regular basis, I gained a considerable amount of weight for my size.

With school starting next week, my clothes barely fit, and in some instances, don’t fit at all.

I wear my weight pretty well, so it may not be instantly visible to the casual observer, but my clothes know and my scale knows.

See, I’ve been playing that game.

You know the one.

Where you say, “I’m not going to worry about my weight, as long as it doesn’t hit that number.”

And then, when it actually hits that number, you say “Ah, you know what? That’s not such a terrible number.  As long as I don’t hit that number,” and on and on it goes until you are rationalizing numbers you haven’t seen since you were 8 months pregnant.

Real Man doesn’t care.

The guy has his love blinders on and thinks I’m beautiful and sexy no matter what.

But, I do.

I don’t like the way I feel in my clothes, and I don’t like the way I feel in my body.

Also, I worry about my diabetes moving into the full-blown stage.

The correlation between weight and belly fat and insulin-dependent diabetes is high, and I don’t want to get to that stage.

I worry that I’m at an age where my body is going to cement itself into it’s current shape, and so I want to do something now, before it’s too late.

But what?

I love food.

Love it.

So much.

My former office-mate once said that he had never seen someone eat the way that I do and not weigh 400 pounds.

I guess that’s a good thing?

I use the My Fitness Pal app to track my food and exercise, and I’m great at holding myself accountable.

Sorta.

But, on the days when I’m being really good, I’m really hungry, and food is all I can think about.

And, with the school year about to start, I honestly cannot figure out when I’m going to have time for the treadmill, or strength training, which is where I think I probably need to go in order to start reshaping myself.

I’m probably not going to write about it, but I wanted to, at least, get this part out there, because I always feel like the more people who know about something I’m trying to do, the better I’ll be at achieving it.

I’m not so good at being accountable to myself.

Accountable to others?

That I can do.

So, wish me luck, because although it was good to be good to myself, I have a lot of people relying on me to be healthy and strong.

August 26, 2015

Progressive Dreaming

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve had the same dream again and again.

It’s not the same exact dream, every time, however.

Details, here and there, regarding the main storyline change, with each dreaming.

I have had many recurring dreams, over the course of my life.

For example, when I was a child, for a period of years, I had a sort of “pre-dream” every night, before I’d move into my actual dream for the night.

I dreamed that Dracula, Frankenstein, and some other monster, who I cannot seem to remember, would stand around my bed while I slept, push a panel in the wall, and have my bed descend into a chamber beneath my bedroom, where I would be protected from nightmares.

And, amazingly, when I had that dream first, the dreams that followed were never frightening.

However, that dream was the same…every night.

This dream changes, and so I did some research, and it’s called a progressive dream.

Recurs, but different, each time.

—–

The main part of the dream is a house.

A mansion.

I believe it is round, although I’ve never seen the outside.

I’ve also never seen the first floor.

The second floor is full of bedrooms, and they flow into each other. There are walls and doors, but you get a sense of flow.

I’m trying to get my kids to choose a room, but they won’t decide on which one they want.

There are large bedrooms and small ones.

Rooms filled with beds, rooms with a ton of space and a very small bed.

Opulent rooms, sparse rooms.

However, all of them are bedrooms.

The third floor is also circular, but it has more living space and, what I guess I’d call “specialty rooms.”

It also has an open flow to it, but in the upstairs, the walls are more imagined than real, if that makes any sense at all.

The kitchen is massive, with stainless steel appliances, and one of those refrigerators with the glass doors.

Glass cabinets and a massive island.

The kitchen opens into a family area with many couches and several large televisions that hang on the wall.

This area gives way into a library, with floor to ceiling bookshelves, which gives way to a piano room with several grand pianos, some uprights, and a few decrepit, old pianos.

In all of the dreams, I want to play the grand pianos, but keep being drawn to the old ones that won’t work as well and try to plunk out some tunes.

There is also a circular staircase to a bell tower, and every time I start to ascend the staircase, I look back over my shoulder, and the house has turned into an ancient cathedral, and I know I am there to solve some ancient mystery.

And then I wake.

Those are the pieces of the dream that never change.

The pieces that change are the circumstances that bring me to that house.

Sometimes I own the home.

Sometimes I am visiting.

A few nights ago, in my dream, Real Man and I inherited 2 billion (yes, billion) dollars, and we were considering purchasing the house.

—–

I have no idea what it means.

What my subconscious is trying to tell me, beyond my latest desire to win the lottery.

I just know that whenever I dream it, I consciously, within the dream, try to stay in the dream, because there is a strong desire to figure it out.

And, maybe, sometimes a dream is just that…a dream.

Fascinating stuff, dreams and the subconscious mind.

I’d love to hear if any of you have any recurring or progressive dreams.

Even if just to know I’m not all alone in this!

 

August 25, 2015

DaVinci’s Demons

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I know, I know…

I cut back on tv watching this year, so why on earth would I add a new show?

I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been watching a lot of my summer shows on the treadmill.

In fact, to make sure that I get on that treadmill, every day, I ONLY allow myself to watch some shows while walking on the treadmill.

So, when I finished the season finales of True Detective and Unreal, I needed something else to watch while I waited for the next episode of Suits to become live on the iPad.

I thought, “Maybe I’ll re-watch Outlander,” but, when I got to the Starz app, I saw a show called DaVinci’s Demons.

I like DaVinci.

The Renaissance is always one of my favorite time periods to teach, and I have always been fascinated by Florence and the patronage of the arts and the Medici family and the flourishing of learning and knowledge that happened during that time period.

And DaVinci?

Have you seen his notebooks?

To call him a visionary is almost an insult to his intelligence.

The man was incredible.

I can’t even fathom what we might have today if he had been born in a modern era where the technology to create the things he imagined existed.

When people ask what historical figure I’d like to go back and meet (and you’d be surprised how many people actually do ask me that question), he’s tied for first on my list.

I like Demons.

Okay, I don’t mean, I like actual demons…if they even exist.

Like, I don’t have pentagrams painted under all the beds in our house and chicken heads dangling from the rafters.

At least not throughout the whole house.

But, I like reading/watching about the supernatural, and when it is religion-related, I love it more.

I thoroughly enjoy ancient religious mystery books, and give me some Illuminati conspiracies and I am all in.

So, I thought I’d give it a try.

I was NOT disappointed.

The first episode hooked me, and I haven’t been able to stop watching since.

And, while I’d like to say this means that I’ve been working out on the treadmill non-stop, my willpower is not that strong.

Tom Riley, as DaVinci is crazy beautiful, and I mean, plays insane crazy very well…and is beautiful to look at.

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The political intrigue is high, and much like I enjoyed the politics of The Tudors, I am completely sucked in by the evil Pope Sixtus and his attempts to bring Florence under his control, and out of the light that it enjoys under the leadership of the de Medici family.

It’s also got a bit of humor, and isn’t high drama all the time.

It’s like The Tudors meet Hercules and Xena…just way less ridiculous than the latter two.

The characters are all likeable, except for the evil ones, and those are the ones you love to hate.

And they are complex, because some of them…you love and hate all at the same time.

The show also works in the real sketches from DaVinci’s notebooks, and he winds up making so many of his inventions as he attempts to save Florence time and again.

It’s so good.

Like, really, really good.

Not a show for the kiddies, by any means…language and nudity and violence abound.

But, if you like historical fiction…this could be your show.

August 24, 2015

Fort Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

There are many frustrating things about being the little brother.

You can’t stay up as late as your older siblings.

You aren’t tall enough to ride all of the best rides.

Your older siblings get to do everything first, and their stuff always looks bigger and better.

—–

Over the course of the past week, Monkey in the Middle and his friends have been building a fort in the woods.

They’ve made a teepee style fort and have gone dumpster diving for things to make it super-duper-cool.

It’s an awesome fort.

Baby Monkey has been feeling some fort-envy, because a) he’s not old enough to walk over to that part of the neighborhood alone, b) even if he was, Monkey in the Middle probably wouldn’t let him join the fort-building fun, and c) if there was ever a born engineer, Baby Monkey is it.

The kid will likely build the first bridge from the Jersey Shore to Portugal when he grows up.

So, after the whole family went and checked out MiM’s fort, last night, Baby Monkey was sitting with me in the kitchen and said “I wish we had woods behind our house, and I could build my own fort.”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“What?” he responded.

“Look out the window, you goof.”

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(picture above is pre-Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, but it’s still the backyard)

“Oh, yeah,” he said.

So, out we went.

The result of the hurricanes on the woods behind our house was quite beneficial for a boy looking to build a fort.

The trees fell in such a way that it is almost as if they were begging to be made into a fort.

Like, Hurricane Irene meets The Giving Tree.

And so, when he woke up this morning, Baby Monkey got to work.

With his own little brother.

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There’s still plenty of work to do.

More logs to be propped up to form the ceiling for the “inside” of the fort.

More rocks to be collected to line the walls for the “patio” of the fort.

Brush to be cleared, treasures to be collected and placed.

But there’s a boy who is ready to do the work, and is proud of his own fort.

Close enough that he can go by himself.

Even though he’s the little brother.

 

August 23, 2015

New York After Dark

Filed under: Reviews — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

Okay, after writing that title, I realize that this sounds like it could be a fairly titillating post.

And, it will be.

Just not in the way you are thinking right now.

Wink.

Anywho…my friends all have really interesting jobs.

Not that I don’t, and I love teaching, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as when Kim says “Me? Oh, I work for Facebook.”

Yeah…see what I mean?

So, Michaela is a producer for “New York After Dark,” which is a documentary about living in NYC…and being blind.

The website for the film states:

Fact: Residents of Manhattan believe they live in the greatest city in the world. (Guilty, as charged.) There’s something about the grid of dirty water hotdog vendors, Broadway marquees, and yellow taxis – witnessed through the veil of a century of soot that reminds us that we are part of something historic. Something vital and constant. We feel a certain amount of ownership over the magic our city disperses to the throngs of visitors that all come to marvel at her.

What if we couldn’t see the sights? What if we were unable to grasp that intangible, electric spectacle? Would New York City hold the same enchantment for us? Do those vendor carts become obstacles along with the crowds of tourists all clustered around stage doors?

It seems so off-the-mark to consider that not having sight could put a person in less of a New York state of mind. After all, couldn’t they better hear the buskers…better smell the roasted nuts (and the aforementioned tourists)…better sense the maze of cornerstones?

We’re intrigued by what secrets our city shares with its blind residents. We’ve watched in wonder, trying to understand what the non-sighted experience must be like. So many questions about the day-to-day. Are blind residents targets for crime? Do they really count their entire commute? Do they agree they live in the greatest city on earth or is life in Manhattan simply a matter of easier accessibility?

And, it’s this fascination that’s leading us into the dark.

Fascinating.

Seriously.

I’ve been following NYAD on Facebook, and there are always interesting videos that they are posting, which really make you think.

Michaela actually challenged me, after the last one, and I’m hoping to write a post about it soon, but it was a tough challenge, so it’s taking awhile for me to get the right words.

So, today, I’d love for you to visit their website at http://nyafterdarkmovie.com/ and follow them on Facebook.

Click around when you get to the website, read the director’s notes, watch the trailer, see the production diaries, and think…really think about what it would be like to experience the city…if you couldn’t see it.

August 22, 2015

Venus and Mars at the Golf Course

We’re a mini-golf family.

We love playing mini-golf.

Okay, we love the “idea” of playing mini-golf.

Because when it comes to actually playing mini-golf, we start out like the Brady Bunch, singing songs, laughing about our errors, making some Sunshine Day memories.

By by the last hole, we are practically tossing our golf clubs at the person manning the booth, saying “Thank God that’s over. Never again.”

And, truth be told, it’s not the kids.

It’s Real Man and I.

But, our methods of destroying the fun of mini-golf differ greatly.

By the time we get to the third hole, someone has already gotten a 5, and I am excluding Tiny from this conversation, because his are all 17’s that we’ve turned into 5’s on the score card to be merciful.

As soon as someone gets frustrated with their score, Real Man swoops in and begins to “teach” them how to play.

“Stand here.”

“Hold the club like this.”

“If you line it up this way.”

“No, don’t rush…take your time and really aim your shot.”

And it’s nice, and the kids improve a little.

But when we get to the sixth hole and he’s still doing it, I start to panic.

Because by this time, the people who were two holes behind us are now waiting for us to finish each hole.

And, while I don’t mind waiting for the people in front of me, I don’t want to be the person that makes other people wait.

So, I start with my tactics.

“Monkey Girl…go ahead and start the next hole.”

“Monkey in the Middle…just tap yours in and go with Monkey Girl.”

“Yes, yes, Tiny…just pick up your ball. It’s gonna take you five minutes to push your ball into the hole that way.”

By the time it is Real Man’s turn at hole 16, I’ve already pushed everyone else on to hole 18 and the poor guy is left all alone, and then when he catches up, we yell our scores at him for the last two holes as we run to the next hole…so no one has to wait for us.

Mid-course, we come together again for the “cool” hole.

And then we all golf together, in solidarity, because of this:

But then it starts again.

And when we finally get to hole 18, which is the awesome hole where if you get a hole in one, you win a free game, I’m saying things like “Wow! You almost got it!” out loud, but in my head I’m thinking, “If one of them wins that free game, I’m going to shoot myself.”

We get in the car and tally the scores, although they are all almost always the same.

Real Man always wins by a lot.

Probably because he is taking his time, lining up his shot, and imagining the ball going into the hole.

The next four are a crap shoot, depending on who was able to actually make the shots with their mother hurrying them along, and then Tiny rounds out the herd, yelling things like “72! That’s such a great number! I winned with 72!”

And I sigh and think “Never again.”

Until the next time.

 

 

 

August 21, 2015

Change

When I was a kid, we didn’t find out who our teachers were until the first day of school.

We would get to school, assemble in the gym, organized by buses, and the lists would be posted on the wall. They’d read off the names of the teacher and you’d listen eagerly for your name to be called, and hope beyond hope that it was called off under the name of the teacher that you had been wishing for all summer long.

You’d go to school that first day with a backpack that had a pack of pencils, a notebook (denim Trapper Keeper, if you were awesome, like me), and your lunchbox.

Your teacher didn’t know you before you got there, and it would take him or her a week or two before they knew everyone’s name.

You’d get to class, and the teacher would go over the class rules, which usually consisted of “Keep your hands to yourself” and “Try your best” and you’d hit the ground running.

Your homework, the first night, would be a sheet of math problems and some spelling words, and you’d run home to do it as fast as you could, so you could head outside and ride your bike or climb some trees, trying to grab hold of those last, fleeting moments of summer, as the cool breezes of fall were already sneaking in.

Your parents would have homework, as well. One, rectangular emergency card that asked for your address, phone number, and the name of one other person, in case of emergency.

You’d fall asleep that night, exhausted, but happy, and ready to go the next day.

————

My kids start school in a few weeks, and already, the beginning to their year is different than mine ever was.

The schedules for the middle school were mailed this week, and the high school and elementary schedules will come next week.

What follows their arrival in the house is a flurry of photo taking and schedule sharing via text, Instagram,  and SnapChat (no SnapChat in my house, but I guarantee it’s everywhere else).

By the time school actually starts, they will know the name of almost every child in their classes.

As soon as they get their schedules, I’ll go to the school website and download the supply lists.

And they will be endless.

We’ll go to Walmart or Target or Staples and spend my first paycheck of the year on school supplies, because a pack of pencils and a notebook aren’t gonna cut it anymore.

On the first day of school, they’ll head in with a backpack loaded with supplies, their lunchbox, the BoxTops for Education we’ve saved over the past few months, and 50,000 papers that I filled out over the summer.

In that packet, there was the emergency card, the Home and School directory papers, the school lunch forms, the insurance forms, the user agreements for the school internet, the harassment, intimidation and bullying forms, the donation forms, and a variety of other papers, specific to their school.

They’ll go right to their classroom, and the teacher will already know them, because in that mountain of papers I filled out, was a “Getting to Know Your Child” form where I told the teacher what kind of student my child was, how he or she learned best, how he got along with others, what his or her hobbies were, and what I would like to see my child accomplish over the year.

Their first days will be spent going over the packets of classroom rules, grading policies, dress codes, school handbooks, and having assemblies to discuss the rules of the school.

And then their homework will be assigned.

When my kids get home, they’ll likely sit at the kitchen table working on their first day of school homework and assigned reading until it gets dark out, and then it will be too late to go outside and play, so they’ll veg in front of the television or hop on an electronic device until it’s time for bed.

That won’t be the end for me, though, because I, too, will have homework.

More papers from the teachers and the school that I need to fill out in order to ensure that my kids get everything they need to be successful this year.

————

Times have changed.

Some things for the better.

Some for the worse.

But what will never change is that night before the first day, where everyone goes to bed, fresh and showered, new school haircuts resting on their pillows, tossing and turning, brimming with excitement for that first day and the promise of a new year.

A new year full of possibility and fresh starts.

For all of us.

Photo on 8-20-15 at 9.09 AM

 

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