My Real Life

October 31, 2009

Parade Nation

Friday was a three parade day around here.

Real Man and I always take personal days on Halloween parade day.  It’s such an exciting time for the monkeys, we can’t imagine them looking out in the crowd and not seeing one or both of us. 

For yesterday’s morning parades, Real Man and I split up, as Monkey Girl and Baby Monkey had parades at the same time.

I took custody of the camera.

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I love, love, LOVE what they do for the Halloween parade at Monkey Girl’s new school!

First, the principal blasts some Halloween music, ala The Monster Mash, the kids come out, by class, and parade twice around the parking lot.

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After the parade, the classes all go to these pre-painted circles on the pavement and they do some dancing and then they play some games.

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The pure joy on the faces on those hundreds of kids was just wonderful to see.  I love a Halloween parade!

In the afternoon, I headed over to Monkey in the Middle’s school, where I helped get kids in costumes and took class photos for the teacher.  Then, I headed outside and met Real Man in the back for the parade.

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Monkey in the Middle is not comfortable being the center of attention, but will give me a smile every now and then.

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When it was time to go back inside, Mr. Serious had returned and he did his best, serious, Stormtrooper walk as he went inside the building.  I wish I had had the time to get a full body shot of the walk, a his arms were straight down at his sides and he leaned forward on his toes as he went.  Real Man and I looked at each other and said, “What is he doing???”  Then we smiled, because really…it was cute.

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So, one more parade today on Halloween.  It’s raining right now, and I’m really hoping it clears up or we’ll have some very disappointed monkeys around here.  Apparently four parades aren’t enough.  We need five.

So, enjoy your Halloween and may it be as magical and mystical as it was when you were a kid…

Whether you are in character…

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Or are just enjoying the day with good friends…

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October 30, 2009

Daddy’s Work Parade

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:38 am

Real Man’s company holds a Halloween parade every year for the children of employees.  The kids are invited in, they parade around the lobby while everyone watches from the floors above, and then the kids go to the different floors and trick or treat.  Everyone has candy for the kids and it just is a nice way for the parents who work there to get to bring their kids to work for a little while.

So, yesterday was that parade. 

Since I teach at the middle school level, I get out of school quite a bit earlier than the monkeys.  So, after work, I went and picked them up early, came home, situated everyone with their costume and then off we went.

We had to wait in the lobby for Real Man to come downstairs and the monkeys were spellbound by the large fountain.

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Then, the parade began.  Now, picking the big monkeys up is no big deal, however, it means Baby Monkey doesn’t get his nap.  As I believe I’ve shown through previous posts…that little guy needs a nap, even when he thinks he doesn’t.

So, Baby Monkey’s actions said, “Parade Schmarade.”

Check out this grumpy puss.

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Then, he’s got to turn away because he knows that I’m going to try to make him laugh.

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Now, he has to elongate his cheeks because he’s about to smile and really, REALLY wants to be a badass, grumpy monkey Superman.

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In the end, Real Man took them all around and proudly introduced them to everyone who works with him.  Real Man’s brother also works there, and the monkeys thought it was AWESOME to see their uncle at their daddy’s work.  For me, it was just a nice treat to get to see Real Man in the middle of the day.

When it was over, the monkeys and I drove home, and the trading began.  It’s our Halloween tradition and I’m sure it’s the tradition for all of your kids, as well.

“I don’t like this…do you want it?”

“Sure…then you can have this.”

They trade for hours.  They trade every night for a month after Halloween, and although I’ve never actually marked and tracked the candy, I’m pretty sure everyone winds up with the candy they originally brought home in the first place.

It’s such an exciting time of year for kids.  Halloween is magic and fantasy and pretend.  It’s everything a child could want, and I love to watch my monkeys enjoy the heck out of it every year.  Because really…even a grumpy, badass Superman loves Halloween.

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Although he’d never admit it when he hasn’t had a nap.

October 29, 2009

My Other Baby

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:26 am
Tags: , ,

I don’t know if you all realize this, but I do have another baby besides the monkeys.

This baby has seen me through some very rough times.  This baby is always there for me.  This baby takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.  This baby is 30 years old.

This is my other baby:


My piano.

Sounds silly, I know, but I love this piano.

When I was 8, my Grandma (my mother’s mother) offered to pay for half of a piano.  I had to pay for the rest out of my bank account.  So, I had $300, she paid $300 and I got this baby.

I started taking lessons and it was a love/hate relationship.  It wasn’t actually the piano that I hated.  It was being told to practice.  By anyone.

By seventh grade, my piano teacher finally said to me, “Look Amy…why don’t we just end this now?  It’s obvious you don’t want to be here.”

And she was right.  I used to have some…issues…with authority.  (I know, hard to believe)

So, I stopped taking lessons.  And then I started to really play the piano.

I bought my own music and taught myself beautiful compositions.  I played all the time.  I played instead of doing my homework.  I played instead of watching television.  I was a latchkey kid in high school and was always an only child.  I had a lot of time on my hands, and I filled much of it with the piano.

When I went to college, I originally went to major in music, but switched over part way through.  However, I would go to the music center and if one of the practice rooms was empty, I would grab one with a piano and play. 

I don’t know how to explain what happens when I play the piano.  When I sit down, I have the music in front of me, but partway through, I don’t even remember reading the music.  On the bench, fingers on the keys is where I do my best thinking.  If I have a problem, I can sit and play for a half hour and think my way through it.

When I graduated from college, I came home and moved into a house that I shared with some roommates.  I brought my baby and started teaching lessons.  Now, I was able to combine one of my passions with making some money.  Who doesn’t love that?  And what a wonderful thing to watch a child finally play a full song and the look of joy on their faces when the lesson is over as they yell to their Mom, “Listen!  Listen to what I can play!”

The piano has come with me to every house I’ve lived in ever since.  It moved with me when Real Man and I got married and now it is a source of joy for the monkeys as well.  Baby Monkey can sit for hours just making up songs at the piano.  Not banging, but actually making up songs…playing and singing.  Monkey Girl has had me teach her to play and so she will also sit and play.  It warms a Monkey Mama heart.

I still use the piano to teach lessons, and although it’s harder for me to spend a good amount of time on the piano anymore, as when I sit down, I immediately have between one and three monkeys clamoring to sit on the bench with me, I still play my heart out when I can. 

Yes, I dream of someday owning a grand piano.  Ah…the sound, the quality.  But for now, my baby is doing me proud.  I keep her well tuned, and the tuner actually just said, last month, that he couldn’t believe what great condition she was in for being so old.

I’m not big on material posessions, but this is one that I’d have a tough time leaving behind if the house was burning down.  Lots of memories attached, my own personal therapist, and just a wonderful love to pass on to my kids.

October 28, 2009

…and so it begins

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:13 am
Tags: , ,

Today was Baby Monkey’s Halloween parade for his M,T,W nursery school class.

His nursery school/daycare is housed in a local church, and the kids usually go outside and walk around the building twice and all the parents stand out there and watch and take pictures.

However, in a Halloween first for us, it was raining today. In eight years, we’ve never had a Halloween parade rained out. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky!

So, instead of parading outside, the kids paraded around the aisles in the sanctuary.

Baby Monkey had the time of his life.

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He caught sight of us during the first lap and knew right where we’d be on the second time around. He beamed and proudly wore his brother’s old Superman costume.

After parading, the kid went up on the altar and sang some Halloween songs.

Baby Monkey decided not to sing, but to just smile at me the whole time.

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Seriously…he didn’t even look where all the other kids were looking. We caught eyes and just smiled at each other for about five minutes. I was in heaven.

Then, it was time to go back to class and so he waved and went off to his Halloween party and Real Man and I went back to work. One down, three to go.

Halloween. Gotta love it.

October 27, 2009

Fall Colors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:26 am
Tags: , ,

I don’t think it’s a secret how much I love autumn.

The nice thing is…I seem to have passed this on to Monkey Girl.

I picked up three new piano students last week, bringing my total to eight.  They are brothers and sisters, so I only have to drive to one location for those three lessons, which is a nice thing.

These lessons start right after Monkey Girl gets off the bus, so she and I hopped in the car and started driving.  The drive only took about five minutes, but she pulled out her book as we got in the car so she could get in as much reading as possible.  (I get it…I’d read while I drove if I could figure out how to do it.)

All of the sudden, I hear this gasp from the back seat.  I slam on the brakes and say, “What?  What?  What is it?”

Monkey Girl is straining forward in her seatbelt, staring out the windshield.

“Look Mom!” she whispered.  “Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”

This is what she was looking at.

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Really…it was beautiful.  I pulled out my phone to take the picture and she and I just sat for a moment, enjoying the beautiful colors that autumn brings.  There is nothing like fall in the northeast.  Granted, we don’t have a New England fall, but the truth is, looking at this made me forget that it had been snowing a few days earlier and made me want to go home, start a fire in the fireplace, and curl up with a good book.  It was just beautiful.

Yep…that picture was the second most beautiful thing I was looking at that day.

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October 26, 2009

Real Man’s Birthday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:21 am
Tags: ,

Yesterday was Real Man’s birthday. 

We started out the day with my making French Toast and the kids and I giving him his presents.

The kids made him a gajillion cards with all sorts of different messages.  Then, we gave him two t-shirts that Monkey Girl and I bought at the NBC store on our American Girl trip.  One was from House and says “Property of Princeton Plainsboro Hospital” and the other says “…that’s what she said” which is from The Office and is one of the most often quoted phrases in our house.  If you watch the show, this shirt is hilarious.

Then we gave him a beautiful picture frame that says “Dad…Giving me wings to fly and guidance to grow.”    Inside the frame was a picture that I took the other day.


It’s a pretty darn good picture if I don’t say so myself.  Actually, it’s better than that.  It’s a GREAT picture.  So great that I made three copies.  One for Real Man, one for my Dad (who’s birthday we celebrated yesterday), and one for my desk at school.  Feel free to print one out for yourself and put it on your desk at work.  Who wouldn’t want to look at that all day?  How will I get any work done?

The day ended with fire trucks galore across the street and all eight of us pressing our faces against the glass of our picture window, trying to see what was going on.  We still don’t know, but no one was running around and there was no smoke, so we’re guessing everyone is okay.  Luckily they were gone by bedtime, because there is no way that we’d get those monkey boys to bed with real, live fire trucks outside their bedroom windows, lights-a-flashing.

So, Real Man is now my age and so I can spend the next few months pretending I’m not ancient until January, when I turn 38, which is basically 40, in my book.  Funny, I don’t feel 40 and don’t look a day over 20 (yeah, yeah…just go with it).

 So, Happy Birthday to my Real Man, and may all of your birthday wishes (which I’m dying to know, since he made his wish for about a full five minutes before blowing out the candles) come true!

October 25, 2009

And the Winner Is…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 8:21 pm

My old friend, Frank!

Frank’s definitions were:

Brink 44 ¼ – The formula just before the fateful accident that caused the explosion that forever tainted the company with the “Brink of Disaster” label. Had the taste test gone differently, who knows what might have been.

Pilopse – A Greek/Middle English/Latin bastardization of the ancient pastry chef’s proverb, “Pie, cut thyself.”

Unmatin – The practice of stepping over a welcome mat and tracking mud in the house.

I thought all of the entries were really creative, so I was happy that I decided not to choose based on which one I liked the best because you all would have won!  (I’m so diplomatic!)

Thanks to everyone who participated!  Frank, I’ll be contacting you for your address!

October 23, 2009

Contest #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:51 am
Tags: , ,

So, I’m still kinda down for the count, and have been encouraging the monkeys to play far away from me, so I haven’t taken many pictures and don’t have many stories to share today.

Not wanting to let my loyal readers down, however, I decided that it was time to run another contest!

This time, we’re not naming a photo…we are writing definitions for some words.

As much as I enjoy writing this blog, I also enjoy reading the blogs of others.  You can go through my blogroll to see what I enjoy.  I love blogs about life in the country, about creativity, from quirky people, and about people doing things I wish I could do, but just don’t know how quite yet.

I try to comment when something they’ve written touches me, because I know how much the feedback I get here means to me. 

As I make my comments, I’ve found a funny thing.  Used to be that when you would comment on a blog, in order to make sure you weren’t spamming the site with a computer program, they would make you type in a combination of letters and numbers.  You know, like “eom54LY8.”  You’d have to type it in before your comment would post.

Well, these days, most of the blogs that I read have a bit of a different take.  You have to type in some nonsense word that they show you.  I can’t help but wonder, who made up these words and phrases?  Some of them sound like real words.  They aren’t.  I’ve checked. 

There’s nothing I like more than making up definitions for words.  People will say, “What does this mean?” and I’ll say, (with authority), “It’s a word that means the sound of the rocks crumbling and falling into the canyon below as you stop yourself from almost stepping off a cliff.”  And they say, “There’s a word for that?  Wow!”  And I say, “I know…I know” and bask in my psuedo-intelligence for yet another moment.

However, I don’t want to have ALL the fun, so, I thought I’d pick three and ask you to define them.  Rather than choose which one I think is the most creative (because how can you define creativity?) I will choose randomly.  I don’t have a snazzy computer program to do that for me, but I do have the ability to choose through the age old method of writing the comment numbers on a slip of paper, folding the paper, tossing them in a hat and then, voila!  We have a winner.

The winner of this contest will get a $10 Walmart gift card.  The holidays are coming…could be a great teacher gift or a way to knock off a few bucks from a holiday gift you’ll be buying for someone else.

Contest will run until Sunday evening, 8 pm, so that all of my weekend-only blog readers have a chance to participate.

So, please, participate!  I’d love to see what you’ll come up with!

Here are our nonsense words: (Just like a vocabulary test, please make sure you write the word and then the definition, in your comment, so I know what definition goes with what word)

Brink 44 ¼



Oh, and here’s a little something to inspire you:


Couldn’t resist.

October 22, 2009

Wrong Turn

I had two comments to my post about my quest for the scariest movie I’ve ever seen that I wanted to talk about with you, today.

The first is from Jen, who is a friend I graduated from high school with.  Jen says:

Amy, you and I are in the saaaaaaaaaame boat! I am looking for a scary movie, not a gory movie. I was so excited to go see Paranormal Activity, I actually almost chickened out! I left there saying to my cousin, “I have seen scarier spiders on Ghost Hunters!”

As for going to Salem, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. As for haunted houses………come visit me sometime. I have stories of things constantly happening here……..just two days ago in fact was my last encounter. Now I am not scared of whatever is in my house, but after this last “episode” I have been sleeping with the TV on all night….no joke. JCP&L is going to make me it’s #1 customer for the month of October.

Now Ghost Hunters is my favorite show, I never miss an episode, I even DVR them so my kids can watch. I go on Ghost Walks or visit haunted restaurants, etc. I even subscribe to Weird NJ and love reading all the freaky stuff that happens around our wonderful, weird state.

You find that movie, you let me know!!!

First of all, I hope Jen realizes that now I must go spend some nighttime hours at her house.  The lure of a real haunted house is almost too great for me to ignore. 

Secondly, I’d encourage Jen to stay away from those scary movies for a few weeks, as she is basically nine months pregnant and ready to drop that baby any time.  A good scare might push her right over the edge.  A good laugh might, also, as I recall that Family Guy put me in labor with Baby Monkey, but that’s a story for another time.  Unless, of course, she’s feeling ready to meet that little guy, and if that’s the case, then you people need to recommend some more scary movies to help her out!

The second comment I’d like to share with you was written by my Dad.  My Dad said:

I am casting my vote for the Eliza Dushku movie, the name of which escapes me now. Amy, please help me with the title and help me explain why this movie was so freakin scary. I never have watched the end of it, and probably never will, at least alone!

The movie to which he refers is Wrong Turn

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Wrong Turn is a formulaic horror flick.  You know who will be the first friend to die, and who will survive the moment anyone on screen opens their mouth.  The plot is that Eliza Dushku and her buddies take a “wrong turn” in West Virginia and wind up being hunted by these inbred scary crazy people.

The second thing I need to comment on is that my Dad used the word “freakin” in his response.  Tee-hee.  My Daddy said “Freakin.”  That makes me giggle.

This movie scared the bejesus out of my Dad, and I’ll admit, it was not the most comfortable flick I’ve ever seen either.  Your first clue to how scary it is lies in the fact that it is quite possible that my Dad is the world’s biggest Eliza Dushku fan alive.  That he turned off a Dushku movie is big news.

He’s asked me to explain why this movie was so “freakin” 🙂 scary to him, so I will.

My Dad grew up in a small town, in rural Ohio, just about on the banks of Lake Erie.  There was this park, Lake Shore Park, where you could swim in the lake, play on the equipment, go for walks, etc.  My Dad worked at the snack bar in the park in the summers.

Well, apparently there were frequent visitors to Lake Shore Park from West Virginia.  Now, let me take a moment and say that I cast no aspersions on people from West Viriginia.  Kim C-S, if you are reading this, I’m so not talking about you.   These are just my father’s experiences and I’m reporting them as they were reported to me.

Anyway, these visitors would always seem to come when my Dad was manning the snack bar alone.  They were, as he described them, off.  They didn’t look quite as bad as the inbred crazies who were killing people in Wrong Turn, but there was definitely something up and they scared him to pieces.  Poor teenager, all alone at the snack bar, and in would roll the beat up trucks, and out would pour the cast of Wrong Turn.

Apparently, watching the film reminded him of this discomfort so much that he actually couldn’t watch the film any longer.

I think that’s what makes a film so scary to one and not so scary to another.  Our views on what is and is not possible.  In my mind, there’s no way Wrong Turn would ever really happen, so while it was icky, it wasn’t terrifying.  My Dad had already experienced a piece of it, so it was horrifying.

Not to say that I’ve ever seen a girl climb out of a well and through a tv and that’s why I was so scared of The Ring, but I have watched a video tape.  Okay, that’s weak.  That one was just plain scary whether you’ve experienced it or not.

I’m still questing for a good scare, friends, so if anyone has any further suggestions, I’m open!

October 21, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:25 am

In general, I am a strong woman.

I am able to resist many temptations (Turkey Hill Peanut Butter Ice Cream aside).

However, every few months, something comes across the threshold of my home that I am utterly unable to resist. It has total and complete power over me, and it is able to make me do something that I am not usually willing to do.

Part with my money.

What is this demonic presence, you might ask?

If you are a parent of a school-age child, you may already know. Perhaps, you, too, are prey to this predator.

The Scholastic Book Order brochures.


Even if you don’t have children, do you remember these? They’d come home every few months, and I would thumb through them, making lists of the books that I wanted. How could I pick just one? They all called to me, “Pick me, Amy! Pick me!”

Well, as a parent, those book orders still call to me. “Monkey in the Middle would love this one!” or “Monkey Girl would drool over that one!”  Plus the fact that the teacher gets free books for the classroom based on how many books are ordered from his/her class.  Who can argue free books for a school?

Who am I to ignore the call? Particularly when my children seem to have been genetically programmed to do the exact same thing that I did when I was a child. They choose a brightly colored marker and go through and circle all of the books that they want. Then, they casually leave the order booklet somewhere I am sure to see it. On the counter, on my pillow, in the bathroom.

However, they don’t just sell books, anymore. Now they have a companion catalogue that comes home with the book brochure. It’s called “Click!” and it is full of games for the computer or gaming systems or handheld game systems.

My Dad happened to be the grandparent who was here the day Monkey in the Middle got off the bus with the latest edition of the “Click!” brochure. Monkey Girl was soon to follow, and he actually encouraged them to circle. So, they did.

The Scholastic order came today. I had asked Monkey in the Middle’s teacher to shoot me an e-mail when the order came in so I could pick it up, because my Dad wanted to surprise them with what he bought, and there was no way Monkey in the Middle wouldn’t be looking in that bag if they put it in his backpack.

I picked it up and brought it home. He gave one thing to each of the big kids, and then will give the rest to them for Christmas and Birthdays. Apparently, my Dad suffers from the same compulsion I do when it comes to the Scholastic order. I won’t tell you how much he spent, but I will say that it was in the triple digits.

However, Monkey in the Middle has been playing his new John Deere tractor PC game all afternoon, and Monkey Girl is learning the challenges of motherhood as she plays her new “Babysitting” Nintendo DS game. Ah, Grandparents…they were made for spoiling children.

Of course, we also now have seven new Halloween books sitting on the coffee table, but I have no idea how those got there.

Oh good Lord…next month will be the Thanksgiving books brochure. Give me strength!

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