My Real Life

December 17, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 8:14 am
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During my 20 minute lunch, I will often call Real Man, just to check in and chat.

I miss that guy during the day.

So, on Friday, I called during lunch and we chatted for a bit.

I said, “The Smurfs” is coming from Netflix today.  I say we call a family movie night and snuggle up and watch with the kids.  They’ve been dying, waiting for it to come.”

Real Man said, “Will we watch the movie before or after you make the gingerbread house with the kids?”

Silence on my end of the phone.

See, some people have the elephant in the room.

Our family has the unopened Gingerbread House kit in the room.

A few years ago, while in the grocery store, the kids asked if we could get a gingerbread house kit.

I said sure, instantly creating warm, fuzzy images in my head of the kids and I, hovering over the kitchen table, laughing and loving as we made a gingerbread house together.

Then, when it was done, it would be all we could do to not begin to eat and destroy it immediately.

Ah, what fun we’d have.

We put the box in the cart and headed home.

However, every time I’d look at that box in the pantry, the warm visions I’d had at the store would be pushed out of the way with new visions of pushing and shoving and kids yelling “Hey!  It’s my turn!  Move!  You’re in my way!  I want to put the red candy on!” and I’d find a reason why we just couldn’t put together the gingerbread house today.

That gingerbread house sat in my pantry for three years.

Every holiday season, the kids would ask to make the house and every year, I’d put them off with “Another day, another time,” while thinking in my head, “Another year.”

When we moved in July, I saw my chance.

While packing up the pantry, I took that box and tossed it in the trash.

There were no kids around to witness it, and it felt so liberating to get that sugary monkey off my back.

I had, quite frankly, forgotten all about the gingerbread house until last weekend, when Monkey Girl and I went to Walmart to get a gift for a friend.

As we passed the Christmas aisle, she turned to me and said, “Oh Mommy…please can we get a gingerbread house?  And MAKE it?”

And there I was, once again, filled with visions of happy children, squealing with delight as I put a dollop of icing on each of their noses, Christmas carols playing sweetly in the background.  The baby, giggling with glee as he watched the merriment from his high chair.

And I put the damn thing in the cart, came home and put it in the pantry.

Where it has been, since last weekend.

So, when Real Man threw down the gingerbread gauntlet on Friday afternoon, it was a challenge that had to be met.

Kids got off the bus on Friday and I said, “Does anyone have any plans this afternoon?”

They didn’t, so I said, “How about it we make our Gingerbread House and then have movie night with “The Smurfs?”

The screams of joy assuaged the small tic I had developed, just saying the words “Make the gingerbread house.”

And you know what?

It was fun.

We decided to scrap the directions and make our own design.

There was a little pushing and shoving, and a few “You put on more gumdrops than me!” but for the most part, it was fun.

A lot of fun.

It ain’t going on display at the Gingerbread Museum (I have a feeling it won’t last much longer than tomorrow night, anyway) but it’s a pretty darn good representation of what’s important to these monkeys.

And I love it.

December 16, 2011

Crazy Hair Day A.K.A. Tear My Hair Out Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 11:14 am

It is Spirit Day, today, at the boys school.

And, in addition to just wearing your Spirit Day clothing, it’s Crazy Hair day.

Never a problem when Monkey Girl’s school has Crazy Hair day.

Her hair can be fairly crazy on a normal day.

However, I’ve got two boys with tight crew cuts.

Crazy Hair day and my boy’s hair doesn’t quite mix.

However, it’s been a few weeks since I last took the electric clippers to their hair, so we had a little to work with.

A little.

Last night, at dinner, Baby Monkey decided he wanted me to shave a mohawk in his hair.

It’s the best I could do with his hair as short as it was.

He had hoped for a crazy, punk-like mohawk, but based on the fact that he can’t stop looking at it in the mirror, I think he’s happy.

But then, he’s always happy.

So easy to please.

Then it was time to think about Monkey in the Middle.

He was NOT down with the mohawk.

He can barely tolerate a regular haircut.

A mid-season shave wasn’t going to happen.

So, we brainstormed.

He decided we should use hairspray and try to make it stick up as much as possible.

Great idea.

Except I don’t have hairspray.

I don’t have hairspray or mousse or gel or any other hair product, other than shampoo and conditioner.

And, apparently, this makes me mean.

Apparently, the reason I stopped using hair products, once I graduated from high school, is because someday, I knew I would have a 7 year old boy who would need hairspray for Crazy Hair day, and I wanted to be sure that he couldn’t participate.

Apparently, my lack of hairspray is a direct reflection of my lack of love for my 7 year old son.

Apparently, my low-maintenance cosmetic lifestyle means that I love one of my kids less than I love the other three.

At least, this is what Monkey in the Middle was telling me last night.

After some books and some cuddling, there were apologies (from him) and assurances that we’d figure something out (from me) and he slept.

Around 5:30 this morning, however, I woke to the uncanny feeling that someone was staring at me.

I opened my eyes to find Monkey in the Middle standing next to my side of the bed.

“So, what are we going to do with my hair?” he whispered.

And so it began again.

We tried using Monkey Girl’s detangler to see if it might dry hard and make his half a centimeter long strands of hair stand straight up, but to no avail.

By 6:00 am, I was online looking up homemade hairspray recipes and Googling things like “Will Jell-O powder stain the skin?” and “Food Coloring for Hair?”

We were both exasperated and frustrated and about ready to give up when I finally said, “How about stickers?”

He looked at me blankly.

“Why don’t we cover your hair in stickers?  That’s kinda crazy, right?”

He loved it.

The stickers took hold of those little strands of hair and held on strong.

And so, while it may not have been the craziest hair of the day, it made him feel like a part of it all.

And we’re good.

Until January.

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 1:31 am
1. What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?
Interestingly, I covered this in last week’s Five Question Friday.
It was an electric typewriter that I received when I was a kid, enjoying Christmas at my grandparents house in Ohio.
Sometimes, when I’m doing some writing, I still wish I had that typewriter.
There is something about the click, click, click of the keys on a typewriter that makes the writing seem that much more fascinating.
2. Worst/Funniest White Elephant gift ever received?
I kinda take a White Elephant gift exchange for what it is.
You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
However, one year, I was at a holiday party and we were playing the gift exchange game.
One of the people at the party was a recent transport from down South and wasn’t really sure what to bring for a gift.
So, she brought a carved, wooden squirrel.
The woman who opened the squirrel had some very unkind things to say about it, and I remember watching as the giver just kinda slunk out of the room, got her coat, and went home.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach and so sad for her.
Someone had already reprimanded the woman who had made the remarks, but it put a fairly abrupt end to the game.
Again, I say…You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
3. Is your Christmas tree plain and simple (white lights and matching ornaments) or is it wild and crazy (colored lights with lots of ornaments collected over the years)?
It’s a mix.
White lights and a mish-mosh of ornaments.
Handmade ornaments from the kids to handmade ornaments from my childhood and fancy ornaments we’ve been given over the years.
I have four kids.  I can’t imagine not having their ornaments displayed proudly right next to the fancy ones.
It makes them feel special and it shows the world that this is who we are.
Our tree is a good reflection of our lives.
Messy and complicated, inconsistent with lights that work some days and don’t others, and pretty and polished when we’re working at it, but basically, just a happy celebration of six lives lived together, for better or worse.
4. “How” do you iron your clothes? The old fashioned iron/ironing board way, the shower, back in the dryer, etc.
Oh, wait, that wasn’t a joke?
Now that I’m finally on top of the laundry situation around here (yes, you read that right…I’ve conquered my demon) I do my ironing like this:
When the dryer buzzes, I jump up from wherever I am, race to the dryer, fling open the door and pull out the still hot clothes.  I give them a good shake and hang them right on a hanger.
Clothes ironed.
5. How much baking do you do for Christmas and what are your “must make” items? (I’m looking for recipes here, peeps…)
I do about this much baking for Christmas.
You can’t see that?
Okay, that’s an exaggeration.
I usually bake for the custodians and secretaries at my school.
I know the principal gets the big bucks, but let’s be honest…without the custodians and secretaries, the school doesn’t function.
Ask any teacher.
They know.
However, I usually just do chocolate chip or plain, old sugar cookies.
Last year, though, I took Rolo candies,  put them in the oven for a few minutes, then pressed them on top of pretzel squares.  (Google Rolo’s and pretzels for recipe)  Actually, they are probably in last year’s December blog posts.
Those were ridiculously delicious.
Other than that…not a holiday baker.
And thus ends another edition of Five Question Friday.

December 15, 2011

Another Reminder

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:20 am
Tags: ,

I’ve said before that I completely realize the backwardness of drawing people to my blog, only to redirect them to another blog.

However, sometimes I read something that I just can’t help but share.

This is one of those times.

A colleague of mine posted a link to this guys website, and I just love, love, loved this particular post.

We’ve pared down Christmas considerably this year, and reading this post helped me to remember that I don’t need to feel guilty about that.

So, stop your shopping, because here are the 5 best toys of all time!


December 14, 2011

How I Know

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s that time of year, again, when we all get the sniffles and coughs and regularly scheduled winter ailments.

However, for me, I’m never quite sure if it’s allergies or an actual cold.

I can guess, but I’m never really sure.

So, I take this medicine or that medicine until something takes and that’s how I diagnose…based on what works.

However, there is one surefire way for me to tell whether it’s allergies or a cold, and it’s by looking at my nightstand in the morning.

I’ve been under the weather for about a week, now.

I power through, but it’s starting to wear me down.

Yet, I haven’t known what to take (and can’t take much anyway, as I’m still nursing) so it persists.

This morning, however, I was able to make my diagnosis.

It’s a cold, verging on bronchitis.

Hmmm…what tipped me off?

See, I’m a sleep-medicator.

Some people sleepwalk, sleep-eat, sleep-lots of things.


I sleep-medicate.

Apparently, in the night, the coughing got so bad that it triggered my asthma, which caused me to, in my sleep, sit up and rifle through my nightstand drawer to find an inhaler.

And, apparently, the first one was empty.

So, I went for the second.

Which was also empty.

I must have finally found what I needed in the third, and went back to sleep.

I remember none of this.

This is why I don’t keep any other medications in my nightstand drawer.

I also think that I need to throw out those empty inhalers.

But that’s another post.

December 11, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:39 pm
Tags: , ,

We’ve found a new game in our house.

I got it at my church bazaar, back in October, but we didn’t bust it out to play until tonight.

Now, we’re wishing we hadn’t waited!

Monkey Girl and Monkey in the Middle just said it may have surpassed Clue as their favorites.

(Note:  Monkey in the Middle was clear that it does not surpass Chess, but it’s a close second.)

It’s called The aMAZEing Labyrinth and is made by Ravensburger Games.

It’s a puzzle game, which is always a winner around here, but it’s more than that.

There are stationary and then moveable maze pieces and you have to get all the treasures you pull from the pile, but the maze keeps changing on you and it’s fun and frustrating and a really good thinking game, at the same time.

So, if you are looking for one more gift, this holiday season, this one could be for you.

December 9, 2011

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 8:56 pm
Tags: , , ,
1. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Eh…I’m not really a cookie girl.
Erin’s Mom used to make chocolate chip cookies that were uncommonly delicious and that I have never been able to duplicate.
Also, I was born in LaFayette, NY, and we used to always drive back to visit and stay with our friends, The Watsons.  They used to bake, and when I say bake I mean BAKE and every single one of their cookies were better than anything you could ever buy in a store.
So, holiday cookies?
No favorites.
All time cookies?
Erin’s Mom’s and The Watson’s.
Both should have their own brand.
2. What’s your favorite holiday movie & why?
White Christmas.
I love it, I love it, I love it.
When the soldiers all sing to send off the general, the song “Sisters,” the gorgeous dresses that Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen wear.
I love this movie.
3. Is there a gift that you bought for your kids that you wish you hadnt after they opened it?
Matthew’s first drum.
And, now we’re thinking of getting him an actual drum set for his birthday.
Thanks for the reminder.
4. What is the messiest room in your house right at this moment?
The office.
The basement ate up the money we were going to use on getting office furniture like a desk, shelves, etc.  So, we still have things in boxes, the computers and printer on a folding table, piles on the floor.
I try to stay out of there.
It makes me itch.
5. What is the furthest you have driven for the holidays?
There were a few Christmas’s in my youth where we drove out to Ohio to visit my Grandparents for the holidays.
Usually they came here, but every few years, we’d drive out there.
My favorite Christmas of my childhood took place in Ohio.
I got a typewriter.
A real typewriter.
I have such warm memories of laying on my grandparents floor in the backroom just looking at my typewriter, then typing page after page of stories and poems for days on end.
I loved that typewriter so much and loved being at my Grandma’s house for Christmas.

December 3, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:55 am

Have you seen the new Target commercial where people are preparing for the holidays and they keep saying “Done,” “Done,” “Done?”

All these people checking the next thing and the next thing off of their lists as they move toward the holidays?

That’s how I’m feeling about the passing of time, right now.

Like we’re wading through every 24 hours, and at the end of the day we just say “Done,” and move on to the next.

I think it is the danger of the holidays.

Early in the season, we begin marking time as we make our way closer and closer to whichever holiday it is that we celebrate.

We forget to slow down and enjoy this time and we certainly forget that time, once checked off our list, is gone forever.

It’s hard not to do this.

Even as I write this, I feel the burden of everything to be “Done” this weekend:

a trip to the Division of Motor Vehicles, Monkey Girl to voice lessons, two birthday parties for the boys to attend, church school for the monkeys, laundry for everyone, grocery shopping for the upcoming week, grading of student blogs, Christmas shopping to be done…

We all have similar tasks, and the mental checklist is hard to avoid.

So, my challenge to myself is to get the tasks “Done” but to slow down and enjoy each one.

To truly experience everything we are doing, and BE there…not mentally check it off and move to the next thing before it’s done.

To remember that, once it’s “Done,” it’s done and you can’t get that time back.

And time lost is the worst loss there is.

So, I hope you join me and that this holiday season can be different for you, than seasons before.

May we find ourselves at the end of the season not feeling like it has flown by and with little memory of exactly what we’ve done.

And may this be the slowest and most enjoyable holiday season you can remember in a long, long time.

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