My Real Life

February 19, 2012

One Good Deed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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Once again, Monkey Girl asked her friends to bring donations to the local Food Pantry, in lieu of gifts.

And, once again, her generous friends brought both.

The picture above shows the donations to the Food Pantry, which she is thrilled about.

This year, in particular, she is so excited because our school district runs a fundraiser called Coins for a Cause, where students collect their loose change, and then, in April, vote for one out of three charities that will receive all of the proceeds.

This year, the Food Pantry is one of those organizations, and she is hoping beyond hope that it wins.

I think she’s given them a nice start already!

Proud of my girl.


February 18, 2012

Slumber Party

Filed under: Birthdays — Amy @ 11:10 am
Tags: , ,

It’s good to know that no matter how times change, some things never will.

Like slumber parties.

Don’t get me wrong…

There were some differences.

Like the texting and the cell phones.

But other than that, it could have been a slumber party from my youth.

Monkey Girl has really, really nice friends and they got along beautifully.

We kept it small, and I believe that helped keep everyone happy.

There were teeny-bopper magazines, some dancing, some singing, and just general girl talk.

Monkey in the Middle was policing the event, for awhile, and at one point, came upstairs, shaking his head and mumbling “Inappropriate language.”

We asked what he was talking about and he put his hands over his ears and said, “The girls are using inappropriate language.”

I was a little a surprised, because that’s really not the M.O. of these girls, so I asked “What are they saying?”

He leaned in close and whispered, “They said ‘stupid’ and ‘idiot.'”

I breathed a sigh of relief and then said, “You are right…that is definitely inappropriate language.  Thanks for letting us know.”

There were Mad Libs, and snacks, pizza, sundaes, and four clogged toilets.

As the hours passed, we kept waiting for the volume to lessen, but it didn’t.

So, I began the first of a few treks to the top of the basement stairs to let them know that, perhaps, it was time to wind down.

Real Man and I stayed in the living room, alternately watching television and muting it to listen in on their conversations.

I held my breath when I heard someone say, “Let’s Play ‘Never Have I Ever!'”

I breathed again when I heard them saying things like, “Never Have I Ever eaten five pieces of pizza!”

And then we laughed out loud when we heard Monkey Girl, who does not have a cell phone or iTouch and has been making the hard case for one since the summer, say “Never Have I Ever owned an Apple product.”

By 1:30, there were just a few whispers left, and the sounds of sleeping girls took over the rest of the basement, so we headed up to bed.

And at 6:30, the peals of 10/11 year old girl laughter began to ring out throughout the house, once again.

They got some doughnuts in their system and were ready for an hour long game of Sardines, which, (for the uninitiated), is Hide-and-Seek, but only one person hides.  If you find them, you hide with them.  When the next person finds the two of you, they hide with you, etc., until there is only one seeker left.

Then, there was about an hour of regular Hide-and-Seek.

The boys played with them, and the girls were sweet to pretend not to see Baby Monkey as he hid in super secret hiding spots, like under the coffee table, or just stood really still, apparently thinking he was being stalked by a group of T-Rexes (who, as ANYONE who has seen Jurassic Park knows, can’t see you if you don’t move).

And then there was Tiny Time.

They all sat in a circle in our empty dining room and just kind of passed Tiny around.

He loved it and did some of his best flirting.

Then, the girls got distracted with one of his toys and decided to play hot potato.  That lasted for about 45 minutes.

And then, they rolled up their sleeping bags, got dressed and said their goodbyes.

The house will is quieter without them, but I’ll miss those girls.

Maybe it’s the teacher in me who is used to never having less than 25 kids around me at all times, or maybe it’s the Mama in me who loves a house full of happy, laughing children.

But I enjoyed that slumber party just as much as Monkey Girl did.

I’d go down to check on them and come up with a big, stupid (forgive my language, Monkey in the Middle) grin on my face.  Real Man would ask what I was grinning about and I’d say “Just the slumber party.  They seem to be having a really good time.”

No one cried, had hurt feelings, got sick, had their underwear frozen or their hand dipped in warm water.

And really..what more can you ask for?

February 17, 2012

Review: Hip Mountain Mama Sweet Stripes Skirt

Filed under: Reviews — Amy @ 1:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

Recently, I was very excited to be chosen to be a reviewer for the Hip Mountain Mama website.

They have amazing products that are: “Beautiful Handmade, Fair trade, reusable and Eco-friendly Products for Your Natural Lifestyle.”

For my first review, I chose the Sweet Stripes Skirt.

I loved it, loved it, loved it!

Check out my review here and peruse the site yourself.  I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like!

Frugal Friday – Couponing

Filed under: Frugal Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

Today’s installment of Frugal Friday is all about couponing!

I used to be a coupon phenom.

I had a binder and a system and had articles about couponing published and did really, really well when I shopped.

I still coupon, (yes, it’s a verb), but I don’t do as well as I used to, and it’s because I’ve stopped putting in the effort.

However, after today’s post, I am re-inspired and am going to put my coupon nose back to the grindstone.

For today’s post, I interviewed my friend, Lisa, about her couponing skills.

Lisa always posts on Facebook about how well she does at the store, and it’s impressive, so I figured she’d be an excellent choice to share her tips with us!

Read on and enjoy!

1. Approximately how much money do you save using coupons on your grocery bill each week?
It really just depends, but I save anywhere from 40% to 70% on my bill each week. I have had many good trips to the grocery store. Last night for example, my bill was $165.26 before coupons and $57.72 after coupons; that is a 65% savings.

2. Where do you get your coupons? Do you use multiple coupons? Where do you shop? How much time does couponing take you?
I get my coupons from the following sources:
• Sunday Paper
Smart Source
Coupon Network – lots for baby coupons
Money Saving Mom
Living Rich With Coupons

My mom also gives me her coupons that she does not want – I also share my coupons with her too.

I usually shop at ShopRite, CVS and sometimes Walmart. I do not go to multiple stores, unless it is something I use on a daily basis. For example, I went to Acme the morning because the Chobani Greek Yogurt was on sale for $1.00 each, but with my coupons I got 6 of them for $1.80.

I spend about 2 to 3 hours a week couponing and organizing myself for my grocery shopping. I do it mostly while I am watching television or in the car (while in the passenger seat, not driving – LOL!)

I sometimes us multiple coupons, but I don’t buy 125 bottles for mustard like on Extreme Couponing.

3. What is your method of shopping? (ie: making the list, coupon storage (do you clip all of them, or just the ones you use), matching coupons and sales, etc.
I have all my coupons in envelopes by the following categories:
Milk, Frozen, Cleaning, Healthcare, Snacks, Can/Sauces, Paper, Breakfast, Drinks and Baby
I also have an envelope labeled “Shop-Rite” – I put all the coupons in the envelope that I plan on using that week. I only use that envelope when I go shopping so I am not searching in every envelope.
I tried organizing the binder with the plastic sleeves, but that just did not work for me.
I cut mostly all the coupons but, something that I really won’t use like dog or cat food I will not cut. Sometimes if there are coupons I won’t use and I know someone that uses the product, I will give it to them.
I do match up the sales with the coupons, but for not all stores. I always match-up for ShopRite and CVS. I will not go to multiple stores for the weekly stores, unless it is something I use on a daily basis. For example, I went to Acme this morning specifically for the Chobani deal I mentioned earlier.   One time, at Stop and Shop, I got 10 Healthy Choice Meals for free!
The site Living Rich With Coupons matches up all the sales items for almost every store you can think of- Shop Rite, Acme, Stop and Shop, Wal-Mart, etc… IT DOES ALL THE WORK FOR YOU! It also tells you where to find the coupon- whether it’s the internet or the newspaper. It is a GREAT website. I use it every week to help me shop.
Sometimes if there is a product that I don’t use and I get it for free, I will give it to a friend or donate it to a church. Recently, I got about 100 jars of baby food for free. I gave some of them to a friend and my sister who is expecting a baby in April. I recently put together 7 baskets together that consisted of health, cleaning and food products for a tricky tray that is raising money for a cancer fund. The baskets only cost me a few dollars each to make, but worth about $35.00(each).
Also, this past Christmas I put basket together for my 98 year grandmother of all non-perishable, cleaning supplies and paper products for about $30.00 which was worth over a $100. She loved her gift, because really, what else does someone who is 98 need!!! LOL! I plan on doing the same things next year.

4. Have you ever had cashiers give you a hard time about your coupon usage?
Yes, I went to Foodtown with a bunch of internet coupons to buy items that were on sale.  When I got to the cashier, she told me they didn’t take internet coupons, which was not the case. I asked to speak with a manager and she let me use the coupons. I was not happy, because I HATE wasting my time.
Some of the cashiers at Shop Rite sometimes say “You always do so well with saving money!  I need to do this, when I shop!”

5. What is your best tip for people looking to save big with coupons?
• TIP 1# Use the site
• TIP 2# – Get organized! Separate your coupons in categories whether it is with envelopes or a binder.
• TIP #3- Try not to get overwhelmed- You can get that way at first! Take deep breaths!
• Tip #4 – Make a list of what you are buying and put a C next to it if you plan on using a coupon.
• Tip#5 – Reuse your plastic bags- you are being GREEN and saving money at the same time. I have to be a little better about reusing my bags.
• Tip#6 – Sometimes you can save a ton of money on meat if you can hit a time when they mark the meat down when it’s one or two days before it is still good; after you buy it, either cook it or freeze it.

It’s fun and you can save a ton of money!

February 16, 2012

10 Things I Love Thursday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I’m feeling tired and worn out and was toying with the idea of a post, today, that involved a pity party for myself.

A girl can indulge in a little self-pity every once in awhile, right?

However, I didn’t think it would be in my best mental health interests to let myself wallow, so I decided to channel my energies into finding ten things that I am just loving the heck out of today.

So, here we go…

1.  These staircases.

They are redonkulously awesome and if we ever win the lottery, they are the very first things I am installing in this house.

2.  The unabashed way that babies poop.

First, there is the poop face.

Then, the grunts and groans.

Then, the big, huge smile.

I love it.

3.  My iPad.

I love my apps, I love my games, I love my books, and I love that they are all in one place.

It rests so nicely on the treadmill so I can read or play Words With Friends or watch the Gossip Girl episode that I couldn’t record because my DVR is too busy on a Monday night and distract myself from watching the time.

It gives me nice surprises when I turn it on and see that there are 267 new pictures that have been taken and they are all Baby Monkey using the distortion function in iPhoto and the pictures range from creepy to adorable.

It’s just a fun toy to have.

4.  The movie The Vow.

Mind you, I haven’t actually seen it, but I’m dying to.

I love Rachel McAdam.

And Channing Tatum?

Well, come on.  Seriously.

My friend, Shane, wrote a blog post about it on his blog and gave it his own brand of a thumbs up.

So, the commercials snagged me, the review snagged me, the stars snagged me.

I think I love this movie.

5.  The idea of myself as a serious dancer.

Don’t worry.

I have no illusions that I am any sort of dancer, whatsoever.

However, we’re in the midst of the spring musical, and I’m spending a lot of time choreographing dances with my fellow director.

I’m choreographing in the shower, while I cook, in my sleep.

And, while I choreograph in my head, I look a lot like this:

Don’t burst my bubble.

6.  The fact that my kids get whatever they want for their birthday dinner and Monkey in the Middle chose meatloaf.


7.  My friend, Tara.

Yeah, I’m callin’ you out, Tara.

Tara teaches in the room next to me and is the director of the spring musical.

My co-choreographer, if you will.

Like I said, I’m tired and worn out right now.

February is a marathon.

Yet, I can guarantee that I will laugh…really laugh…at least 5 times throughout the course of the day with Tara.

She’s good people.

8.  Following George Takei on Facebook.

‘Cuz he’s funny.

Or, maybe he’s not funny, but he finds funny stuff and posts it on Facebook.

And that makes me happy.

9.  Real Man.

I just do.

10.  All of you.

I can’t tell you how much appreciate the fact that so many of you come back here day after day to see what I’ve written.

Thank you.

A lot.

February 15, 2012

8…So Great!

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

I have this boy.

You can see some of his remarkable cuteness here and the story of how he joined us here.

He’s 8 today.

He’s pretty spectacular.

He keeps changing on me, and in the past few months, I’m beginning to see glimpses of the man he is going to be.

He’s full of love and emotion.

He cares deeply about others and stands up when someone is wronged.

He loves rules and order and structure, but is just as silly as the rest of the monkeys when the mood strikes him.

He’s a sweetheart and a good boy and he just keeps growing.

I’m so proud of this guy and the person he is becoming.

We’ve had a bit of a rough go of it, he and I, but we’ve always find our way back to each other and now we’re better than ever.

We’re a team, he and I.

I love this kid.

More than he could ever possibly know.

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Filed under: Posts with Video — Amy @ 5:00 pm
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It’s not love related, but it’s our gift to you!



Truthful Tuesday

Filed under: Truthful Tuesday — Amy @ 6:00 am
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Today’s question comes from reader, Heather.

She asks:

Injury or illness ?
I believe we all as moms handle one better than the other….for me, its injury. With the exception of major stuff (which we’ve mostly avoided so far–notice I said mostly) I find injuries to be much more concrete (no pun intended) and much more easily dealt with than illness. Skylar once decided to turn on a halogen desk lamp and proceeded to put her 21 month old finger on the lens til she got a 2nd degree burn. Not fun, but I knew what to do. Illness in my house means incessant whining, tissues all over the house, and battles over nose blowing etc. Not my cup of tea. And you?


I am a phenom in an emergency situation.

I immediately become the calmest person in the room and just kind of switch into soothing action mode.

I don’t know where I learned that, as neither of my parents are particularly good in an emergency.

(Sorry guys, but you know I’m right.)

I’m pretty lucky, because the monkeys are rarely sick, and when they are sick, a little medicine perks them right up and they are fast healers.

I can say that when any of them vomits (which is less often than once a year, which is VERY lucky) it’s just like the scene from Stand By Me…Barf-o-Rama.

I hack and gag my way through the whole thing, but like I said, the monkeys are rarely sick.

So, I don’t have to really test myself.

However, if I’m completely honest, (and if he was completely honest, which I think he would be if you asked him), I’m a terrible, terrible nurse when Real Man is sick.

Because, if he’s sick, half of the team is down for the count, and we need all hands on deck around here.

So, I’m appropriately sympathetic for the first day, but by day two, I can be heard saying things like, “Maybe it’s time to call the doctor,” and “Did you take anything for that?” or “Wow, you’ve been sick for awhile…maybe you’d feel better if you got up and did something.”

It’s not pretty.

I think I might be missing the sick husband sympathy gene, and I feel badly for that because he’s just an awesome man and can’t help it if he gets sick.

(He is the only one of us who never gets a flu shot, but I won’t go there right now.)

So, injury is my area of strength.  Illness…not so much.

February 13, 2012

Why French Parents Are Superior

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

I was up at 6:30 on Sunday morning, with the monkeys standing by my side of the bed, talk-whispering one request after another.

“Mom, I need you to put the batteries in my new remote control car!”

“Mom, I need you to get the milk from the top shelf!”

“Mom, I need you to find my church shirt!”

“Mom, I need you to help me open this pack of markers!”

“Mom, I need you to…” do half a million other things as I stumbled down the stairs.

Much of this I was able to remind them that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves.

As, for the other things, I had one request…

…let me have a little breakfast first.

Some mornings I can get up and get going and it’s no problem.

Some mornings, though, my diabetes reminds me that it is ever present and I really need something to balance out my blood sugar before I can even think coherently.

So, on Sunday morning, I just needed them to have something that we try, try, try to teach our children.


And, so I ate my breakfast, but I did so with 3 little bodies hovering, ever near, daring to say things like “Are you done yet?  Can you do it now?  You could probably do it while you eat!” and Tiny looking at me from the high chair, eyeing up my eggs, thinking, “I should probably eat those, Mama.  You look a little busy.”

The entire time I ate my breakfast, I was thinking about an article that my friend from high school, Meredith, posted on Facebook last Monday.  It was about why French parents are superior, and while I don’t think we, as parents, need anything else to make us feel like we are doing a bad job, since we are our own worst critics, the article was really thought-provoking for me.

(You can read the article here.)

So, this week is going to be an effort in practicing being a French mere, and hopefully, helping my kids train to be a little more like French enfants.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

February 12, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese

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

So, Baby Monkey decided that this years party would be at Chuck E. Cheese.

Or, Chuck E. Sneeze, as a friend of mine so aptly put it.

So, we went, armed with antibacterial Wet Ones, a cake from home (or the store), and a few friends.

And he loved it.

And so did his brother.

There was climbing

Deep breaths for blowing out candles (on the Entenmann’s cake…so sue me)

A successful visit to the Ticket Blaster machine

And a good time was had by all.

Well, almost all.

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