My Real Life

October 5, 2015

Tall Drink of Water

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Monkey Girl has always been tall.

In nursery school, she was always the tallest kid in her class.

In elementary school, she towered over the boys.

By middle school, some of the girls had caught up, and by the end of 8th grade, the boys had generally caught up, and her friend group included some supermodel tall young ladies, and she was no longer walking around, hunched over, trying to appear as though she wasn’t the Big Bird to the Bert and Ernie’s of her peer group.

But, I will never forget those early years.

Because she was tall, everyone expected her to behave like an older child.

In stores, if she was acting two, when she actually was two, people would look and shake their heads, because they would assume she was four.

When I would pick her up from nursery school, they would say “Well, she was sucking her thumb again. We talked to her again and are trying to figure out a reward system to help her stop.”

I’d say “I’m fine with her sucking her thumb. She’s three.”

And they’d smile at me and say “She has to grow up sometime, Amy.”

I’d smile back and say “Yes. Some day. But not when she’s three.”

And when she was five and she was ready…

She stopped.


Well, now I’ve got another tall one.

And he’s only gonna get taller.

But, right now, he’s only 11, (and he’d kill me if he ever heard me say this), 11 is little.

I’ll say it again…when you are 11, you are a little kid.

Granted, 11 today is different than 11 when we were kids, but at the end of the day, they are still pretty new to life and need to be treated as such.

And that’s hard to remember when you are eye to eye with the person you are trying to teach a life lesson to.

I curb the impulse to say “Knock it off and act your age” because he usually is acting his age.

He just looks like a 15 year old behaving like an 11 year old.

Age is not a license to act like an idiot, but it definitely is a reason why silly can sometimes be okay.


I dropped him off at a 6th grade social tonight.

He walked in among the other kid; head and shoulders above them all.

I whispered in his ear, before he ran ahead of me “Make good choices,” and I think he probably will.

But he looked so grown up with his hair gel and size one million sneakers, and in my head, I finished my thought “…and if you don’t…let the adults remember that even though you look big, you are just a little kid.”


So, if I was going to wrap up this post in a neat, little bow, I guess I’d do it by reminding you not to judge a little, tiny book by it’s great, big cover.


Being a teacher and a parent, the one thing I always make sure to remember is that all of my students are someone’s babies.

Even the ones that I have to physically look up to.

October 1, 2015

The Faithful

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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So, Francis came to town earlier this week.

Pope Francis, that is.

And, everywhere he went, he was surrounded by “the faithful.”

Throngs of people, hoping for a glimpse, a wave, a touch.

I watched the crowds on tv and couldn’t help but wonder to myself…

Are they all really faithful?


I’ve been very up front about my relationship with organized religion.

To say it is conflicted would be an understatement.

But, as I said, I am up front about it.

I certainly don’t pretend to be one thing while secretly believing something else.

Or believing nothing at all.

I have no idea what I believe, and I’m the first to admit it.

Faith is not something that comes easy to me.

Circumstances throughout my life have taught me some hard lessons, and one of those lessons is, you gotta see it to believe it, and, unfortunately, even then, it’s best not to trust it completely.

So, I’m a hard sell.

I don’t buy the argument that you have to be religious in order to be a good person.

You know the one. It says: if you aren’t working toward an eternal reward, or following an ancient set of rules of behavior, you must not be a good person, because why else would you want to do unto others?

I call B.S. on that one, because I want to be a good person because I think we’ve only got one shot at this thing, and being as kind as you can, as often as you can is the best way to make sure you leave this world a better place than it was when you got here.

But, I digress…


So, I was looking at the crowd, and I was wondering about other crowds.

Crowds in the synagogue on Saturday night or the church on Sunday morning.

How many people who go to church are true believers?


My father’s mother was a believer.

You wanna talk faith?

That woman had it oozing out of her pores.

My father’s father?

I think he might have just been along for the ride.

He dutifully went to church with her, every Sunday.

Heck, he even became the church sexton, and cleaned that place from top to bottom.

But, I’m not sure that he really believed.

I think he was kinda going through the motions…

Doing what he had been told was the right thing to do since he was a child.

And I know he’s not the only one.


I go to church.

I go on Sunday and I sing in the choir and I play the handbells and I enjoy it.

I like the community of church.

I like the sameness of it.

I’m a church traditionalist, I guess you could say.

For a non-maybe-I-don’t-really-know-believer, I was ridiculously upset when they updated our hymnal to make the songs more modern and pc.

I am one of the bloodiest of the bleeding heart liberals, and feminism is my middle name, but I am more than A-OK with singing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” and just won’t sing it as “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.”

If I’m honest, though, I don’t feel like I’m necessarily hearing “the Word.”

The message is great, and often stays with me throughout the week, but I have been blessed (or just lucky?) to go to a church that has had many, many years of great writers and speakers from the pulpit.

But, it can’t just be me, right?

There have to be other people out there who are there, but aren’t really “there.”

People who drank the Kool Aid, but are thinking it tastes more like Hi-C?


Someone said to me, once, it’s really brave of you to just be so out there with your doubts.

I disagree.

I kinda feel like my not-knowing is the coward’s way out.

Because the real courage?

The real going out on a limb and hanging by your fingertips?

That’s faith.

Believing in something…really believing in something…way down deep in your soul…that you can’t prove is real.

I just can’t help but wonder if there are way fewer of the brave out there than we all guess, and how many people are just putting on a good show.

September 28, 2015

Sex in the City

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I never watched Sex in the City when it was on.

It’s a show that I came to in reruns, and in the later seasons.

So, I never really got to see the beginning of the show, the genesis of certain relationships, or the evolution of the characters.

I simply knew them, as they were, in the end, and I enjoyed watching.

I saw both movies, and at the end of the second one, decided that the stories had definitely run their course.

Amazon Prime recently announced that it had the entire season available for streaming, and I was in need of a new treadmill show, so I decided to watch from the beginning.

And, as much as I liked it before, I like it even more, now.

I’m even obsessing, a bit.

Obviously, it’s not for the faint of heart, and is over the top with the adult content, but what I like about the show is the friendship.

Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha are friends.

Real friends.

And, while it bothers me immensely that they complain endlessly about not being able to find good men, and then when they do, these women are the ones who mess it up, at least they always have each other’s backs.

It reminds me, very much, of my friendship with Kim, Erin, and Michaela.

If we were all single and living in the city, that is.

However, even though we are all married, some of us with kids, some of us not, living hours away from each other, we’ve always got each other’s backs, and I think that is the heart of the show.

The relationships with the men are secondary.

But the relationship between the women takes center stage and I love it.

It’s a lot like why I love Buffy the Vampire slayer.

Yes, yes…I’m a fan of the supernatural, but it, too, is a show about friendship and that is the string that lasts through the entire show.

It even saves Willow’s mortal soul, at one point.

But, that’s an episode for another day.

I do, also, love that the women aren’t willing to settle.

They know what they want, and are willing to say goodbye to relationships that are “just okay” in order to find what they need, and what they deserve.

One of my favorite lines comes from the an episode in season two.

Carrie is leaving Mr. Big at his engagement party and she says (to us) “Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with.”

Love that line.

Not that I consider myself wild, but I understand the sentiment and, again, the idea that “it” is out there for everyone.

On another note, I will admit that the writer in me can’t help but love when Carrie whips out her laptop and starts typing her column.

I’d have loved to have been a columnist.

I used to write little newspaper columns all the time, when I was a kid.

So, it’s very satisfying to see her words appear across her screen as she writes, each episode.

People write the show off as shallow, as too much, and as nonsense.

I disagree.

I think there are some deep thoughts in there, and while I don’t think a lot of the behavior that is modeled would be anything I’d ever want my daughter to learn from, there are definitely lessons to be learned, and relationships to be observed and remembered.

September 21, 2015

Call Me Martha – Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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A few days ago, I was on Facebook, and something delicious came up in my feed.

Bacon? Yes.

Tater Tots? Yes.

Cheddar Cheese? Yes.

I knew I needed to take another foray into the world of attempting to make recipes I’ve seen online.

But, when to make the recipe?

On a Sunday, for sure, because the only thing we love better than watching football on Sunday afternoons is the fall…

Is eating, what we call “football snacks.”

Every Sunday, we throw our, generally, good eating habits to the wind, and consume copious amounts of Tostitos with nacho cheese, pretzels, Doritos, Nachos, etc.

Then, we sit on the couch and cheer until we fall into a gluttonous coma.

Naturally, this would be a perfect addition to our autumn Sunday routine.

I rolled out the bacon:

image1 (1)

Popped in the tots and rolled:


Lined them all up on the foil-lined tray:


Baked at 400 degrees for 25 minutes:


Piled on some cheddar cheese:


Cooked for 5 more minutes:


And we were in heaven.

Monkey in the Middle, who is incredibly health conscious, said, “Oh…these look so bad for you.”

And proceeded to eat three of them.

So, success, and if you don’t care about the horrifying nutrition facts of these, or if you are willing to put them aside for a few minutes (because that’s as long as they actually lasted in our house) you gotta try this.

Satisfaction guaranteed.

September 17, 2015

He Got a Phone

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, we bought Monkey in the Middle a phone.

It was time.

Over the summer, he has started to play further and further away from home.

While, in my childhood, I was out of the house from the moment I ate my last bite of cereal until the streetlights went on and my parents had no idea where I was, we live in a different world.

I’m happy to let him play away from the house.

But I want to be able to get in touch with him.

Also, there are all kinds of opportunities for him to have to stay after school, now that he’s in middle school, and yes, I work in the same school, but we actually don’t see each other all day long.

It’s great if he can shoot me a text and tell me what club he’ll be staying for.

So, we bought Monkey in the Middle a phone.

And, yes, he has texted me to let me know where he is.

And, yes, he has texted me to let me know when he’ll be coming home.

But my guy has a very short patience period, and so, often, when I pick up my phone, the screen looks like this:


Or, he thinks I’m bored and he wants to entertain me:


Then he discovered the camera, and started videoing himself pitching in slo-mo so he could perfect the process.

Very productive.

Then he decided to start taking pictures of me.

Not productive.

Then he discovered memes.


Except this meme says otherwise.

So, yeah, he got a phone.

God, help me.

September 14, 2015

Bookstore Heaven

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 4:22 pm

A few days ago, I got a text from Erin.


We used to devour those Dark Forces books.

I haven’t thought about them in years, but as soon as I saw the picture, I was transported in time to my childhood bedroom, sitting in front of my bookcase, pulling one out after the other and just laying on the floor and reading all day.

Between Dark Forces and Sweet Valley High, I don’t know how I had time for much else.

Anyway, I’ve got a bit of a “thing” for old books, to begin with, and seeing this text gave me an itch.

I needed to have some of those books.

However, the only used book store in our town caters to an adult audience, and by that, I mean grown ups, just in case you weren’t sure.


When I was a kid, there was a used book store in Chester, a neighboring town, which is where I got many of my books by trading in the old ones.

My grandparents would give me books, I’d read them and instantly trade them in for more Sweet Valley Highs or Dark Forces or Nancy Drews.

My Dad and I would spend hours in that store, but eventually, it went out of business.

It’s always been my dream to open a used book store.

A place where people could come and trade in their old books, get someone else’s treasured books, sit, read, enjoy.

It’s not happening today, but hopefully, someday.

I went to Facebook and asked local friends if they knew of any good used book stores and a few people chimed in.

I looked up the places they were offering on Yelp and one of them looked really interesting, but a bit too ecletic.

It was a used book store, but billed itself also as a comic book store.

I wasn’t sure I’d find what I needed.

However, many of the other places were a further drive, so I decided to give it a shot.

We had no school on Monday, and I wasn’t feeling well at all.

However, I had to go pick up the kids instruments from the store where they were getting their fall “tune-up” so I figured I’d just drive a little further and check the place out.

Monkey Girl agreed to come with me, and we were off.

The minute I walked in the door, I was hooked.

Wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling.



Monkey Girl inhaled and said “I love that smell. It smells like old books.”


I took two steps in the door and knew I’d be making at least one purchase.


I’ve got a thing for Archie comics, and believe me when I tell you it was an exercise in control not to just sweep the shelf and buy them all.

I made a few selections, and then continued on.



Sweet Valley High originals.

Oh, Sweet Valley High.

So many times when I’ve found myself being too straightlaced, I’ve said “What would Jessica Wakefield do?”

And when I’ve felt that maybe I was being a little too carefree and needed to exercise a bit of caution, I’d ask myself “What would Elizabeth Wakefield do?”

Not really, but oh, how I loved those books.

So, I made a few more selections.

We spent approximately 45 minutes in the store.

If I had felt better, I would have spent the entire day.

Packed a bag lunch and made an adventure of it.

In the end, here’s my haul:


4 Archie comics

4 Sweet Valley High Books (2 series regulars and 2 Special Editions because they are awesome)

2 Nora Roberts paperbacks, because I picked up the third in the series at a library used book sale, but haven’t read it yet, because I was looking for the first two

A Dark Force book (YEAH!!! They had one!)

An antique, original Bobbsey Twins book.  This one is pure sentiment, because my Dad used to have a set of those books, and I would read them, every summer, when I would stay with my grandparents in Ohio for a month. I always wanted those books, and think my grandfather may have thrown them out when in the midst of his Alzheimer’s. I saw it on the shelf and got a little teary. It needed to come home with me.

And…I had to get the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Pez dispenser, because Rainbow Dash is Tiny’s favorite and we can never find any toys that aren’t all sold out of Rainbow Dash.

A Pez dispenser was the perfect fit, because that kid loves Pez like Olivia Pope loves her wine.

As we left, the store owner said “Tell your friends about us!” and I promised I would, and so here I am…telling all of you.

So…if you are in Northern New Jersey, hop over to Ray and Judy’s Book Stop at 40 West Main Street in Rockaway, NJ.

It’s worth the trip.

September 11, 2015

Not Scary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:44 am

The only person who really recommended a scary movie with on my last post about my quest for a scary movie said that I should try “Insidious.”

So, Real Man and I gave it a try.

It was a good premise, as far as scary movies go. One that felt fairly fresh because it was a twist on an old plot.

We were off to a good start.

There were moments where I gasped or grabbed Real Man’s arm, and I felt like there was some real nightmare potential there.

But, then the movie took a road, midway through, and even though you know the people who wrote the movie expected this middle part to be really scary…it just wasn’t.

And then, when it got back to the scariness, you had been out of it for so long, you weren’t scared any longer.

So, it was a good movie, and I enjoyed it, but when it was over, I went about my business and didn’t think about it again.

So, not as scary as I was hoping.

Then, I was feeling disappointed that I hadn’t been scared enough, so the next day, Real Man and I decided to go see “The Gift.”

The commercials made it look pretty scary, and like a psychological thriller, and those are often the scariest, because people’s minds are twisted and that kind of thing can actually happen, so I was hopeful.

It was a good movie.

It was.

But it wasn’t even a little scary.

So, I’m 0 for 2 this scary movie season.

I’m holding out hope that things get…scarier.

September 8, 2015

The Backpack Diaries

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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Baby Monkey is a cool kid.

He’s only 9, so his peers haven’t necessarily figured that out yet, but he’s a cool kid.

He’s got a lot of different interests, a great sense of humor, a general sense that he’s not really too concerned what others think of him, and he’s just a really good little guy.

However, sometimes I can’t quite figure him out.

In January, I picked up his backpack to move it out of the way, because we were expecting company, and I needed to throw everything into the laundry room and shut the door.

I was surprised when I almost tore my bicep, trying to raise it off the floor.

“Baby Monkey!  What do you have in here?”

So, we opened it up and took a peek.

He had four big books, a dictionary, and a bunch of notebooks.

“What kind of homework do you have tonight? You’re in third grade!”

“Oh,” he replied. “I don’t have any homework.”

I was stumped.

“Then what the heck is all this crap in your backpack?”

He smiled.

“I just like a really heavy backpack.  Makes me feel like a big kid.”

Okay, then.


So, Wednesday night was the night before school started in our neck of the woods.

Which, as everyone knows, is the night that you clean out the backpacks that are full of the junk from the last day of school.

As always…cleaning out Baby Monkey’s backpack was a trip.

Not down memory lane.

Just a trip.

The first thing I pulled out was his morning workbook.



If you look closely, you’ll see that he wrote “Morning work is the worst thing in the universe.”

It must have been a rebellious day.

But, then he must have regained his senses, and his guilty conscience kicked in, because he wrote, first in pencil, then again in red pen, “Ha Ha Ha That was a joke!”

Just in case the teacher was looking.

Then, I took a look in his glasses case.

I was confused as to why his glasses case was even in his backpack, because his glasses broke in December, and he hasn’t worn them since, because they’ve been on the counter.

So, I opened it.

And almost peed in my pants.


Then, it was time to open the front, zippered pocket, which was bulging and making me incredibly nervous.


What. The. Hell.



Two small water bottles, full of old, stale water, colored with blue pen. One of the bottles had a rainbow loom bracelet stuck to it with gum.

A big eraser inside a clear plastic box that was taped shut with blue painter’s tape. Because he never makes mistakes?

A rock. He’s a 9 year old boy. I have no issues with the rock.

Three small seashells. I’d like to point out that it is a good hour and a half to the beach from our house, and we hadn’t been there since last August.

Two screws. Something in his old classroom is clearly going to fall apart tomorrow.

Three pairs of glasses. One pair – sunglasses. One pair – fake, clear glasses. One pair – no clue.

A broken slinky. A staple of childhood. We’re good on this one.

The bottoms of three different, hand-held pencil sharpeners. The bottoms. Not the part with the sharpener in it. Not particularly useful.

A broken yo-yo. Another staple of childhood.

A Guinness Book of World Records timer. Probably timing the longest fart on the bus.

A clothespin. Because if he was timing the farts, he may have needed to close the nose.

A bat. Because, why not?


After I finished cleaning it out, I asked him “So, do you think, maybe, we can keep it a little neater this year?”

He thought for a minute and then said “I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to see what fourth grade brings me.”

Okay, little man.

Fair enough.


September 6, 2015

Amazing Grace

Back in February, I wrote about the Little Church where my father was performing as a substitute minister.

A lot happens in half a year, and my Dad started, today, as their permanent pastor.

For his first Sunday, he asked if Monkey Girl and I would be willing to come a sing, as the choir was still on summer break.

We agreed, and tried to find something to sing together.

But, then it was the end of summer, and then school started, and to be honest, I’d remember we needed to pick something when I was laying in bed at night.

So, on Tuesday, we picked our song, and on Sunday morning, we figured out an arrangement.

It feels so good to sing with my girl, even when it’s last minute and I’m not sounding my best.

I love singing and I love her and I love listening to her sing, and so it’s a win-win-win.

A few people had asked to hear a recording of us, and so here it is.



September 2, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am


Today, this is a room of desks and chairs.

Today, the air in this room is stale.

Today, this room is empty and clean.

Today, this room is a void.

But, tomorrow?

Tomorrow this room becomes full of life.

Tomorrow, children will enter, as nervous and excited as I.

Tomorrow, the air in this room shimmers with possibility and opportunity.

Tomorrow, this room becomes messy; good and messy with trial and error, investigation, curiosity and learning.

Tomorrow, this room is where drama will play out, secrets will be shared, laughter will ring, frustration will build, lessons will be learned, memories will be made.

Tomorrow, new relationships begin to be built, and even though I know they will leave me in 10 months…10 too short months…I love them all, a little, already.

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the school year, because, tomorrow…

We begin our journey.


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