My Real Life

August 31, 2009

Real Cruel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:11 am

So, Saturday started out like any other day around here.  Kids up at the crack of dawn, breakfast, games, etc.  It was a good day.

We’ve gotten almost all of our Back-to-School shopping done, however, we needed new sneakers for Monkey Girl and Monkey in the Middle.  I’ve never seen children wear shoes like these kids.  It may have something to do with the stream in our backyard and the exploring that they like to do in the woods.  It doesn’t really matter how they get that way…the bottom line is, they needed new sneakers.

So, we decided to hit the mall.  I hate shopping.  I hate malls.  Always have.  Always will.  However, sometimes it’s a necessity, and it’s a real treat for the kids since we don’t do it often.

The kids favorite thing about the malls here is that they all are now equipped with play areas.  Being that they are monkeys, you can imagine how much they love to climb and play.



Another favorite thing of my kids at the mall is Mrs. Fields where we usually buy each monkey a cookie.  Unfortunately, the mall we went to on Saturday was the one without a Mrs. Fields.  So, we timed our trip around lunch time and treated the monkeys to McDonalds, instead.  Big treat.  BIG.

While we waited in line, the monkeys swarmed the scary Ronald McDonald that sits on the bench by the checkout counter.  I’ve never understood the thought behind taking a scary clown (and if you try to tell me that clowns don’t horrify you, too, I won’t believe you) and making it into an advertising gimmick to get kids into your restaurant.  If the Chicken McNuggets didn’t rock my world as a kid, I’d have run screaming as we passed every McDonalds.  (Don’t even get me started on the Grimace.  What the heck is he, anyway?)

So, here they are with their long-lost friend, Ronald.


I always think he’s going to come to life and eat the kids while they climb on him.  So freaky.

After lunch, we decided we had dilly-dallied enough and it was time to find shoes for the monkeys.  Stride Rite was RIDICULOUSLY busy, so while Real Man went off in search of some new shoes for himself, I took the monkeys to Sears.  We found great sneakers there and were set. 

I called Real Man on my cell and said, “Where are you?”  His response was the cruelest thing he’s ever said to me.

“I’m at…the pet store.”

See, Real Man doesn’t ever want a pet again, so why he was at the pet store is a mystery to me.  I can only imagine that it was to torment me, but since I know how much he loves me, I refuse to buy that as a reason. 

Knowing he wasn’t purposefully trying to crush my soul didn’t help as the monkeys and I approached the pet store and saw this sign in the window:


Puppy Sale. 

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

There were the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen in that store.  Puggles and Shi-Tzus and Dachsunds.  A beautiful English Spaniel, and a tiny little English Sheepdog that better be adopted soon or he’s gonna hulk his way out of that cage.

Then, there he was.  An absolutely gorgeous golden Labrador Retriever puppy.  I could hear the sound of my heart breaking in a million pieces as he looked at me through the bars of the cage.  It was love at first sight.  I know we both had visions of running toward each other in a field of tall grasses.  We imagined me sneaking him food from the table, taking him for walks, and letting him up on the bed after Real Man had fallen asleep. 

Alas, it was not meant to be.  We’re not getting a dog, and if we were (which we’re not) we’d adopt from a shelter.  And still…

I wonder if he’s thinking about me right now.

August 29, 2009

Real Tolerant

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:09 am

As I was going through the pictures to find an appropriate one for the caption contest, I couldn’t help but be struck by the pictures of all three monkeys together.  In every picture of all three monkeys together, Baby Monkey is being manhandled by either his sister or his brother, or both.  I realize that I was probably the architect of all of the manhandling, saying something like “Don’t let the baby fall!” yet still…poor baby!

Yet, he seems to be quite tolerant of it all.  Not particularly happy with it, but tolerant.  He seems to know that it comes from a place of love, despite how it happens in practice.

It began early.


I think that I tried to intervene by saying “Why don’t we set him on the chair?”

That was a backfire.


He’s on the chair, but now he’s smushed and Monkey Girl still has her hands all over him.

See the shell shocked look?  See Baby Monkey wondering, “Is this the rest of my life?”

Eventually, he got used to his role.  However, it got old real quick. 

I call the next series, “Study of an Escape.”

The manhandling begins and he’s accepted his lot in life.


He tires of it and tries to rebel.  Note the looks on Monkey Girl and Monkey in the Middle’s faces.  “Mom?  He’s escaping!”


Rebellion thwarted, Baby Monkey pulls out the strongest tool a baby has.


Okay, a full diaper would have been a stronger tool, but the tears was also quite effective.

Holidays are the worst for the baby in a family.  There is no escape from the manhandling.  Even if he’s not being completely held, someone’s always touching him.


Even Santa can’t keep his meaty paws off of the baby.


However, look what happens when he’s allowed to sit alone, everyone respecting his personal space.


What a smile.  Be still my heart.

 As they grew, Monkey in the Middle felt confident enough to try it himself.


 Poor kid can’t even get a break while eating.


So, such is the lot in life of my Baby Monkey.  The funny thing is that the other two monkeys have no idea that Baby Monkey takes after Real Man and as they get older, that Baby is going to outgrow both of them.  Now THOSE will be some interesting shots.

For now, though, he’ll have to endure the love and tight hugs of his brother and sister.

I don’t know where they learned it.


August 28, 2009

Real Bad, but Reeaaaallll Good

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:37 am

So, I have a guilty pleasure.  A guilty, guilty pleasure.  It’s something I absolutely should not do.  It’s something I do in secret when the kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied and I know they won’t come sneaking up on me.  It’s something that is bad for me.  Way bad for me.  But, I can’t help it.  It’s an addiction.  One that I don’t want to beat.

What is it?

It is this:

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Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.  An enormous scoop.  On a sugar cone.

Let me just say right here, before I continue, that the first one of you to utter the words, “But you are diabetic” will be banned from the site.  Permanently.  This is information I already have and is information I choose to ignore in the face of Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, heretofore to be referred to as “The Sin.”

I am, what you may call, a connoisseur of ice creams that blend the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter.  In fact, I’m a connoisseur of anything that blends chocolate and peanut butter.  Pre-diabetes, when feeling blue, I’d take a whole Hershey bar and dip it into a jar of peanut butter.  Repeatedly.  It always made me feel better.  I have changed those ways, but the ice cream?  Give a girl a break.

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Anyway, lots of ice creams have the chocolate peanut butter flavor, but not all are fabulous.  Friendly’s has a flavor with the promise of actual peanut butter cups inside.  It is rare that you actually find a whole cup…in fact, you usually just would find the chocolate shell. 

But, The Sin doesn’t make promises on which it can’t deliver.  Inside every container of The Sin, you will find an enormous vein of solid peanut butter running through it.  Digging into the soft chocolate ice cream with your scoop, you are reminded of the men who spent their lives in the mines, looking for that line of silver or gold in the walls of the cave.  Then, there it is.  A strike. 

There are several of these per container.  So, each cone is it’s own experience. 

Look at it.

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In order to be more healthy, (I know, there is nothing healthy about this), I’ve recently started having my Sin in the afternoon, before dinner.  That way, I’m still up and active and have some shot at lowering my blood sugar after eating it.  It seems much wiser than eating it while sitting in bed, then falling asleep in a Sinful coma.

So, now you’ve seen my shame.  Isn’t it great?

Real Winners

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:31 am

Well, a big thanks to the THREE of you who participated in the contest.  Actually, it’s only more like two, because “tlm” is Real Man and he’s not eligible.

So, our first place prize goes to my old friend, Dave, who won with:

Hey Mom! Our sheepdog exploded!

The monkeys loved the idea of an exploding sheepdog! 

Second place goes to my lovely friend from work, Sharon! 

Sharon’s entry was:

A little tape and the economic crisis would be solved!

Don’t think you won second by default, Sharon.  I’m sure you would have been a winner even if there were hundreds of entries. 🙂

So, Sharon and Dave, your gift cards are on the way!

As for the rest of you…we’ll see you next time.

August 27, 2009

Caption Contest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:28 am

Okay, we’re doing well here at my blog. We’re almost up to 100 hits a day. I’d love to see that climb, but more importantly, I’d love to hear from you! I know someone is reading the blog…my stats page prove it. (Unless I have a stalker out there who is reading it 94 times a day!)

So, let’s get a little interaction from you!

Below you will find one of my family’s photos. I’d like you to give it a caption. The contest will run all day, and I will accept entries until 2 am EST Friday, August 28th. The monkeys, Real Man and I will read over the entries and choose a winner.

To participate, just click on the “Leave a Comment” link below.  Fill out the appropriate boxes.  Don’t worry…the e-mail address won’t be made public.  That’s just for me so I can notify you when you’ve won!

But Amy, you ask. If I am judged the most creative entry, will I get a prize? You betcha! The first place winner will get a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card. The runner up will get a $10 gift card from Walmart.

So, please participate, spread the word, tell your friends; and remember, you can always feel free to comment on any of the content here at My Real Life.

Here’s a favorite picture of mine of Monkey in the Middle. Have at it, my friends!


August 26, 2009

Real Job

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:08 am

I’m sure you all have been dying with curiosity about what I do with my day. Where does she go? What does she do? More importantly, what does her workspace look like?

Well, here ya go.

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This is my desk, in my office, in my school. Yes, it’s usually this neat and tidy. (Forgive the piles of books in the background…the woman with whom I share my office is the Instructional Leader for Language Arts and so all of the book orders get sent to our office. Once school starts, they’ll be distributed to the classrooms and then what you’d see in front of my desk is a long, clean, shining conference table.)

So, let’s look at the desk of me.

First and foremost, you see the computer. This is where I create Excel spreadsheets out the wazoo. I use that computer to create matrices, rubrics, analyze test scores, create and analyze surveys, send work-related e-mails, create permission slips, create schedules, and do a gajillion other things that an Instructional Leader for Math and Science must do.

Then, you see the pictures of the kids. These are my favorite things on my desk. I love to just look at the pictures and try to imagine what they are doing at right that moment. Are they working hard at their little desks at school? Playing with friends? Thinking about how much they miss their wonderful Mommy?

It’s hard to miss the ginormous container of hand sanitizer. The school district put one on every desk last year when the whole swine flu thing hit. Our area was affected a great deal. The absentee lists were crazy in our town and the surrounding towns. So, even though I don’t teach children in my office, both my partner and I have these on our desks and we make sure to use them frequently.

Tape and stapler, pretty standard in a school. Don’t think they need an explanation.

However, I’d like to point out the Looney Toons pen/pencil holder. I bought that 15 years ago when I got my first, full-time teaching job. It was at a residential school for girls with emotional and psychological disorders. It was a heavy, heavy job. These girls had the roughest lives I had ever heard about. I couldn’t read their files without sobbing. It was the saddest job I’ve ever had. So, one day, I was shopping and I saw this Looney Toons pen/pencil holder on the clearance shelf for $1.00. I bought it and brought it to school. I had one student, Elizabeth. She never smiled. Never. I wouldn’t have ever smiled either, if I had lived the life she had lived. She was only 15. When she walked in the classroom, she saw the pencil holder, looked at me, smiled, and gave me a thumbs up. It was the first, and last, time I saw her smile for that entire year. I will never throw that container away.

The little glass jar that is on the desk was a gift from two students I had in my first year at the school where I currently work. On one side, it has my name. On the other is engraved “#1 Teacher.” I love that jar. 

You may also notice a picture of a dog. We don’t have a dog. Anymore. We did have a dog. Bennie. We bought Ben the year we got married; 1998. He was a puppy. Ben was…interesting. Ben had separation anxiety. We had Ben in doggie daycare, had him on an anti-anxiety medication, had a dog trainer, and spent more money on Ben in 5 years than we’ve spent on three kids in 8 years. Ben was a love. A real love. He was protective of Monkey Girl when she was a baby. She and he were best friends.

Eventually, however, Ben bit Real Man. It was a completely situational thing and probably never would have happened in a different situation, but we realized that if he ever bit one of the kids, we’d never forgive ourselves. So, we found a new family for Bennie. Now, Ben actually lives on a farm in Virginia with acres and acres to play on. I get e-mails from his new owner and he is doing great. I miss that guy, and that’s why, five years later, I still have his picture on my desk.

Then there are the Pop-Up Post It Notes, the tissues, the pile of papers I need to go through, my calculator, my To-Do List book with the orange cover, my water, the rolled up picture of the 8th grade class and chaperones (including me) from our DC trip last May, and my cell phone.

This is my desk. This is where I sit during the day and instructionally lead. These are the things I look at while I’m in my office.

Aren’t you glad you asked? (Yeah, yeah…I know. No one asked. But you wanted to.)

August 25, 2009

Added Another Page

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:25 am

My Really Great Things and Real Food page are getting quite a few hits.  So, I figured I’d share, yet another, side of myself with you.

As of this morning, I’ve added a new page, that can be found in the “Pages” list to the right of this post.  It’s called Really Annoying.  Why?  Quite frankly because for as many things that really move me, there are just as many things that annoy me.  I have to believe I’m not the only one, so I figured I’d share.

August 24, 2009

Real Buzz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:35 am
Tags: , , , ,

To save money, I do all the male haircuts around here. I cut Real Man’s hair, Baby Monkey’s Hair and Monkey in the Middle’s Hair. I also cut my father’s hair. My grandma (Dad’s Mom) was a librarian, but she was also a beautician. She had a beauty shop in her basement. When I was a kid, I spent a month each summer out at her house in Ohio. I would sit on the basement steps and watch her cut and foil and color and trim and style and I loved every second of it. There is definitely a latent beautician in me. There’s something about the tidiness of it all. Split ends getting cut off, falling to the floor, being swept away. It gives me quite a thrill.

About 15 years ago, when Real Man and I started dating, I asked for an Osto Clipper Set for Christmas, so I could start cutting his hair. It took awhile for him to trust me with the clippers and his fine head of hair. So, it sat unused. Finally, he got up the courage to let me at it, and apparently I did a good job, because I’ve been his main barber ever since. Poor Elio lost a good client in Real Man. Ah well…his loss, my gain.

Anyway, I cut the all the boys hair around here. It’s a different experience with each body that sits in my chair. When I cut the adult’s hair, we chat. About work, the kids, sports, life, etc. When I cut the boys hair, it’s a different story.

With Monkey in the Middle, I always have to approach the subject of a haircut carefully, because he never remembers from time to time that it wasn’t scary or loud. Then, we ask him to be a big boy and set a good example for Baby Monkey and don’t cry or make a fuss. So, he sits in the chair, covers his ears, gets the bottom lip quiver going and asks me to take off my wedding and engagement rings. One time, one time, the clipper needed oil and so in the middle of shaving his head, the clippers made a godawful sound and he was terrified. I couldn’t tell him it was the clippers themselves, so I said it was my rings, hitting the side of the clippers. Now, the ritual is that the rings have to come off with a big flourish and be set within his eyesight. Then, we turn on the clippers and he covers his ears, and then we ask him to take the hands off the ears and hear that it’s not too loud. Eventually, we get to the point where he giggles and says I’m tickling him and that it’s not loud at all. Eventually, we get to this:

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 Then, while Monkey in the Middle is finishing up, Real Man gets Baby Monkey so he can see a smiling, giggling, perfectly content Monkey in the Middle in the chair. He never buys it. As soon as he walks in the kitchen, the tears begin. No amount of example setting by his big brother or reasoning, cajoling or bribing by his parents can calm the storm. I do his head as quickly as possible, which is why his daycare is probably always wondering at the strange, stray hairs that remain and the patches down near the base of his neck that I can’t work around because he refuses to bend his head. Oh, and around the ears is always tricky too.

See if you can guess why.

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However, in the end, the boys look sharp and neat and they are rewarded with an extra long bath with every bath toy in the house. Gotta get all the stray hairs off, and these are boys who love their baths, so an extra long one is actually quite a treat. So, I cut their hair because I love it and I’m frugal. But, let’s be honest… I also want to spare any poor, unsuspecting hairdresser from the drama. 

Still, look at the outcome.  Love those kids.


August 23, 2009

Real Evil

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 2:39 pm

I know a bit about evil.  Remember, I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  So, I know about vampires and demons and the devil. 

However, the evil that I deal with is far more frightening.  Far more insidious.  It begins as a small evil and then grows and grows, until it threatens to take over every second of your time and every inch of your home.

That’s right, my friends.  The evil of which I speak is…



That’s right.  Look at it.  See the heinous beast that lives in my house.  It lives and thrives and grows.  It’s malignancy spreads through my home until it becomes inescapable.  Look at the picture.  You can see that it has even made it’s way to the couch in my bedroom.  Granted, this is a major laundry day and normally, those clothes wouldn’t be there, but still… 

It is the bane of my existence.

There are 5 of us in this house.  There are seven days of the week.  And yet… 

I have a pretty good system going.  I pop in a load in the morning, switch it to the dryer after work.  The next step is where it all breaks down.  Putting the laundry away.  Ugh…

Five different dressers, three different closets.  Stuff to iron.  I hate it.  Laundry is the one area where my normal, organized self falls apart.  For me, there is no chore more tedious, more odius than putting away laundry. 

By tonight, it will all be put away and my home will once again be peaceful, rid of the dread laundry.  But, at bedtime, we’ll all take off our clothes to put on our jammies and our baskets will once again have laundry to be cleaned.

So, bring on the vampires, the demons, the chatty cashier at Walmart.  I can deal with them all.  Just don’t give me laundry.

August 22, 2009

Real Clunker – Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 5:53 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

If you read the Real Clunker post, you’ll remember that today was the day I was getting a new car.  Ah well…the best laid plans and all that.

Our first visit was to Mitsubishi to look for the Outlander that their website said they had on the lot.  It was the only Mitsubishi in the area that had the Outlander that qualified for the Clunker program and that had the 3rd row seat which we wanted.

Unfortunately, that particular car was the demo and already had 5,000 miles on it, which is about a years worth of driving for me.  So…that was a no go.

We then decided to hit Toyota, because we also liked the Toyota Rav4.  Like the Outlander; a little nicer.  They had 4 that qualified and that had the 3rd row seat. 

The salesman brought one out from the back.  It had arrived from Japan yesterday.  It was beautiful.  He showed us how to work the third row seat.   He gave me the keys and he and I went for a test drive.  I loved it.  Seriously.  I loved this car.  As we near the lot, after our drive, he asked if I had a trade in.  I said, “Yep.  We knew that as soon as the program expired, my car would die, so we figured we better take advantage!”

Then, he made that sucking in air between the teeth sound.  You know the one.  The one that says either “Oooohhh…major faux pas” or “Ooooohhh…this person is about to be really angry with me.”

“Yeah…well…about that.  We aren’t participating in the clunker program anymore.”

My heart sank and I felt a lot like Adam Sandler talking to his ex-fiance after she dumped him at the altar.  She tells him she isn’t in love with him today; she’s in love with him five years ago.  To which he responds:

“…things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!”

You don’t write that on the website?  It’s not the first thing you tell people when they walk in the door?  You don’t take down the Cash for Clunkers signs you have hanging all over the dealership?  Would have been helpful to know before I drove the car and fell in love.

Anyway, I completely get why they aren’t doing it anymore.  Turns out the government wasn’t actually paying the owner of the dealership back in a timely fashion and so he said that he was gonna opt out before he put out any more money.  I get it.  But tell a girl, huh?

So, looks like I’ll continue driving my clunker until it clunks it’s final clunk.  If you happen to be in the area and see pieces of a Dodge Grand Caravan Minivan on the side of the road, chances are, it belongs to me.  Could you pick it up for me?  I’m a whiz with the Super Glue.

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