My Real Life

January 21, 2013

Thank You, Dr. King

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 11:39 am

January 20, 2013

Cheaper By the Dozen – Movie Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, I’ve been kind of down for the count this weekend, and I’ve caught up on all of my DVR’d shows and then moved onto flipping through the 30,000 HBO channels.

I came across “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which was about twenty minutes in.

I was interested because I remembered the book from many years ago, and, to be honest, it has Tom Welling and Piper Perabo in it, and I’ll pretty much watch anything with Tom Welling and/or Piper Perabo.

The book was all about living frugally and relying on each other in tough times, and so that’s pretty much what I was expecting from the movie.

I was severely disappointed.

The movie centers on the Baker family.

Mom, Dad, 12 kids.

Dad is a football coach and Mom is a stay-at-home Mom who manages the brood.

Their oldest daughter is grown and out of the house, they have a son who is a quarterback of the hometown football team, and a daughter who is a junior or sophomore, and the rest of the kids range from about 12 to 4 or 5.

Dad gets a big-time job coaching a college football team with an old friend of his and so he uproots the family to move to a suburb of Chicago.

Gorgeous house in a swanky neighborhood where everyone is preppy and…mannered.

The Baker kids are not.

So, just as they move to the new home, Mom gets a book deal for a book she has written…titled “Cheaper by the Dozen” and she needs to go on a book tour to promote the book, leaving Dad at home to care for the kids for two weeks.

Dad can’t seem to manage taking care of the kids (who are in school all day) and doing his job and chaos erupts.

They try to call in the oldest sister, but the kids hate her boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) and so they soak his underwear in meat and sic the dog on him.

Sister and boyfriend leave, leaving Dad in the lurch.

Here’s why I didn’t like the movie.

I generally am not a fan of movies that involve kids behaving badly, however, they usually learn their lesson by the end.

Love the Nanny McPhee movies, because she teaches them more than just how to behave and they are completely different kids by the end.

Also, the kids in those movies are misbehaving because they are adjusting to some tragedy or trauma.

These Baker kids had it made.

They were just jerks.

Every time these kids misbehaved or cooked up some scheme, they got their way.

Don’t want the boyfriend around?

Soak his underwear in meat and he leaves.  They don’t have to apologize…they just lose their allowance for a month.

Want Mom to come home from her book tour?

Act like complete animals and guess what?  She cuts the tour short and comes home.

Not a great message.

I also am completely not down with the fact that both parents gave up when the going got tough.

Instead of believing in her husband, Mom comes home from the tour.

Instead of sitting down and talking with his wife and children about ways that they could all work together to make their new lives work, he quits the new job.

I understand the whole concept that the family is the most important thing, but the message is sent in completely the wrong way.

When those kids grow up, if things get tough, are they just going to give up, because that’s what their parents did?

Bad message.

I’m also against the whole “Dad as bumbling idiot” and “Men as completely inept” message that many movies send in their efforts to be funny.

That’s not funny.

It’s pathetic.

I thought it was pathetic that this man couldn’t take care of his children.

Kids were being neglected, behaving horrifically and he pretty much threw his hands up with an “This is too much for me.”


You’re the Dad.

If your wife can do it, then so can you.

Personally, I find nothing sexier than confidence and competence.

Real Man bathing the kids, helping with homework, washing the dishes, etc. then heading to work or off to play hockey?

Good stuff.

If he threw up his hands with a “You’re leaving???  What am I supposed to do with the kids?” every time I needed to be somewhere, we’d have a huge problem on our hands.

I think the majority of women feel this way, so I’m always surprised when movies portray men this way.

Finally, as a working Mom, I was offended by the fact that the only way the family could survive was if Mom was home.

She had to sideline any hope of her own path, her own career, because no one at home could manage without her.


I strive to raise independent children who can make good, solid decisions for themselves whether I’m there or not.  That’s how I know I’ve done a good job.

If my kids act like animals the second I’m away, then I haven’t done my job at all.

So, the fact that she had to give up the book tour and her own dreams (yes, her book still hits the bestseller list, but you see what I’m saying) so that her children would behave is not a mark in her favor, in my book.

And please note, this is not a knock at stay-at-home Mom’s.

It’s a knock at the perception that a family cannot be happy, loving and thriving unless Mom is home.

So, while it was a cute movie…some cute moments, nice how much they all love each other, Tom Welling…I was upset at the messages that the movie sent and disappointed that it strayed so far from the original premise of the book.

January 19, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I recently bought a stylus for my iPad.

I had a gift card from my birthday and I had been thinking about getting an app called “iFont Maker” for the iPad, and figured it would be easier to work through it with a stylus, so I decided to use part of the gift card on the stylus.

However, I have yet to purchase the app, because, in thinking about it, I’m not sure what I would use my own font for, so I’m using the stylus for other things that don’t really require a stylus.

Words with Friends.



When I use the stylus I feel like Mr. Pitt, cutting up his Snickers bar with a fork and knife.

Seinfeld, anyone?

The stylus makes me feel like a complete and utter snooty pants.

Baby Monkey, of course, finds the stylus very useful in his physics games, because he can move gears and levers around with more precision than with his thick, little fingers.


To justify the purchase, I’m even turning the pages in my Nook books with the stylus to justify my owning it.


So, let me know I’m not alone.

What purchases have you made, only to realize, once you made them, that what you bought had no redeeming value in your life whatsoever?

Leave your stories in the comments below…I look forward to reading them!

January 18, 2013

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 2:57 pm

1. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which 5 books, movies, people and foods would you take along?

5 Books:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Shadow of the Wind  by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Hunger Games trilogy (they count as 1 book) by Suzanne Collins

Any book by Maeve Binchy (they just make you feel good)

5 Movies:  (because why wouldn’t they have a DVD player on a deserted island?)

The Holiday

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (they count as 1 movie)

Sweet Home Alabama

A Few Good Men

Pitch Perfect (this one is subject to change…I know I have other favorites, I just can’t think of a single one at the moment)

5 People: (Do I even need to answer this one?)

Real Man, Monkey Girl, Monkey in the Middle, Baby Monkey, Tiny

(I feel sorry for people who don’t have 5 other people in their family…or who have more than 5 other people in their family!)

5 Foods:


Peanut Butter



Cheddar Cheese

2. What is your thought on year round school? 
I’m not necessarily against it.
I’m not necessarily for it.
I can definitely see the merits, and it would cut out the “review” in many math classes, as the learning would be constant and would be building.
I can also see the burnout possibility for kids.
Maybe four days weeks, three day weekends, three months on, one month off…
As I said, I’m not really for or against it…I just don’t really know enough about it to make an informed decision.
3. Is your house escaping the flu this season?
So far, however, as I write this, I was sent home from school with a fever.
Fingers crossed.
4. What’s the temperature where you are?
27 degrees F

5. Are you a winter/spring/fall/summer person?

Gorgeous weather for hikes, walks, doing anything outside.
Not too hot, not too cold.

January 17, 2013

The 4 Square Rule

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

As an only child, I really have a hard time gauging what is normal sibling squabbling and what is not.

As the youngest of four, Real Man is often able to give me a better perspective on it all.

Perhaps it’s my unfamiliarity with the ways of siblings, but I also seem to have less of a tolerance for all of it.

There are other things that are a flash point for Real Man, but for me, there are some nights when I think that if I hear “He touched me!” “She’s pushing me!” “He grabbed that out of my hand!” my head is going to explode.

Monday night was one of those nights.

On Monday nights, we’re all a little grumpy.

First day back after the weekend, long days at work, long days at school…it’s always an adjustment.

So, after dinner, as the children were literally climbing over each other to get into the pantry to find a little treat for dessert, and my ears were already ringing with “She’s stepping on me!” “He’s grabbing my dessert!” and my favorite “No Fair!”, Real Man met my eyes across the table and knew I was right at the edge.

“Okay!” he bellowed.  “Enough!”

And, in his patient, infinite wisdom, he created the “4 Square Rule.”

From now on, when they are just too much in each others space and they refuse to get along, they need to stay four kitchen tiles away from each other.

Doesn’t sound like much, but we have some pretty big kitchen tiles.

Here’s my foot in one of the tiles and I’m a size 8.



It worked like a charm for two reasons:

1.  Their arms aren’t long enough to reach each other from four squares away.

Monkey Girl’s legs could have reached, but she’s not a kicker.

2.  They were all so engaged in making sure they were four squares away from each other, they forgot to fight, they started to laugh, and they started to work together to figure out ways around Dad’s rule.

Often, I’m the voice of reason in this house.

But only Real Man has the ability to turn tears into laughter around here.

And I’m so grateful.

January 16, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

For 2013, I believe I will try to be joining Jodi in her 52 project. A year of portraits, of my children, posted every Wednesday. A series of photographs capturing moments from a year in their lives. A way to watch the passage of time and to pause and capture those little moments that are the essence of them.

Jodi has a link-up on her blog for those participating. It is so much fun to check out what other people are photographing.  Enjoy!


January 15, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

We are fortunate to live close to every member of our extended family.

My father-in-law has 16 grandchildren, and this means plenty of cousins to go around, even in our house, where I am an only child and have no cousins to offer the monkeys.

The cousins range from Tiny, at 23 months, to my oldest nephew who is 21.

The bulk of the kids fall in the range from 6-13.

And these kids really enjoy each other.

Yes, they can bicker like sisters and brothers at times, but when they are together, they just come up with a thousand things to do and create and play.

Even when they are not together.

Quite of few of them have iPods, and there are group chats and FaceTime and all kinds of other things going on.

They are making movies and trailers and playing word games and apps and are just always plugged in to what the others are doing.

For those without iPods, there is still computer FaceTiming and general checking in with each other.

It’s a strange thing for me, as I had no cousins growing up, and my second cousins were all older and lived far away.

I had a sense of family, but it had a different meaning, I think, than how they view family.

I hope they never lose it, and I hope they always realize just how very fortunate they all are to have each other.


January 14, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Today, I’m directing you away from the blog and asking you to help out a friend of mine.

Matt Daly is a colleague, a friend, and an amazing writer whose short story “Strikethrough” has been nominated for The Preditors and Editors Readers Poll Short Story (all other genres) award.

Voting actually ends today, so I’m asking you to take a moment, head over to the site, here, and to vote for Matt.

By all means, click the “link” button next to his entry and read the story, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s haunting.

So, please, head over, read and vote for Matt.

January 13, 2013

Random Sunday Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

1.  I text Real Man frequently.

Most of my texts involve the word “love.”

I text a lot of other people, as well, and I don’t usually use the word “love” in those texts.

However, I also don’t seem to text the word “live” very often, yet every single time I text Real Man and I type the word “love,” my iPhone tries to auto-correct it to “live.”

Drives me nuts.

2.  Things are cracking all around me.


I have a travel coffee mug that I drink two cups of decaf green tea out of every morning at work.

I’ve had the mug for two years and it is one of my favorite “things.”

On Friday morning, I got to school, put in my tea bag, my two Splenda and headed down to the cafeteria, where the cafeteria ladies always have a pot of hot water ready to go.

I poured the hot water  into my mug, secured the lid and as I stepped out of the kitchen, into the cafeteria, my cup split down both sides, in half, leaving me with my mug in two pieces and hot tea covering my left arm and leg.

One of our amazing custodians, Victoria, happened to be there when it happened and we both just stared at each other for a second in complete disbelief.

We cleaned up, shaking our heads, and I was on my way.

At least it was a Friday morning and not a Monday morning, because that could have been an omen for a very bad week.

3.  On Thursday morning, Monkey in the Middle woke up early.

Like, 4 am early.

And, of course, he came to me to let me know he was up.


Not happy.

Hugged him, kissed him, and told him to go play until a reasonable hour.

I never really fell back to sleep, so when I finally gave it up and decided to head downstairs, I was ready to give a lecture on sleeping and people who have to get to work, etc.

Until I saw this:

SONY DSCAnd then it was kinda okay.

4.  I have a iTunes gift card burning a hole in my pocket and am feeling pretty good with music.

Anyone have any iPad apps that they LOVE?

Games?  Productivity?  Lifestyle?

I also bought a stylus for the iPad and am dying to use it for something fun.

I’d appreciate any and all suggestions!

January 12, 2013

Let It Play

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I had a follow-up doctor appointment on Wednesday night at 7:15 pm.

We had dinner and then Real Man took the boys to go transport their sister from one activity to another and I drove a few towns away to my doctor’s office.


This is rare.

This is very rare.

I don’t even get to drive to and from work alone, as Monkey Girl goes to the school where I teach, so I was making the most of my time alone in the car.

I decided to hook up my phone to my speakers, hit shuffle, and just let my iTunes library play.

Normally, when listening to my iTunes library, I have to skip around the songs that may have inappropriate words, or I can’t play the music too loud because of the young, developing ears, but I was alone, my ears are developed, and I was saying “bring on the inappropriate lyrics.”

Of course, the one time I was alone in the car, none of my songs that the kids can’t hear came on, however, forcing myself not to fast forward to current favorites did give me the opportunity to enjoy some songs that I’ve skipped over for awhile, simply because we’ve been listening to the newer stuff.

So, my ride to and from the doctor consisted of the following songs:

(and I completely realize that many of you may have absolutely no interest in this…if so, feel free to pass)

Hallelujah by Jodi, Alana and Morgan – I realize this song has been done to death by a thousand different people, and I actually have three different versions in my iTunes library, but I really, really love this song, and I love singing it.

What Goes Around Comes Around by Justin Timberlake – JT, baby.  What else can I say?

Always be my Baby by Mariah Carey – This has long been one of my favorite Mariah tunes.  Kim can tell you all about it.

If You’re Not the One by Daniel Bedingfield – I’m a sucker for an unrequited love story, and this is a great song for that.

Born to be My Baby by Bon Jovi  – I’m from Jersey.  Bon Jovi takes up a great deal of space in my iTunes library.

Hip Hop Hooray by Naughty by Nature – I’ve always been a huge Naughty by Nature fan, and was actually hoping that Everything’s Gonna Be Alright would come on, because I never listen to that when the kids are around, but I got Hip Hop Hooray instead.  I adapted.

Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri – Love her scratchy voice.  Like a Demi Moore who can sing.

Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry – This song gets my toes tapping and my body bee-bopping around every single time it is on. I LOVE this song.

If You Want to be Happy (for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife) by Jimmy Soul – Real Man and I have always loved this one and made sure it was played at our wedding.

Don’t Stand So Close to Me by the Police – One of my favorites by the Police.  I miss my Synchronicity album.  This song reminds me of Kim, also.

Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi – More Bon Jovi, no surprise.  I like the picture this song paints and think it is very, very pretty.  I love to rock out the harmony with JBJ on this one.

Only Hope by Mandy Moore (Karaoke version) – It’s from the movie, A Walk to Remember, and I fell in love with it there.  Mandy Moore sings it much better than I do, but Monkey Girl and I like to belt this one out on a regular basis.

I’m Yours by Jason Mraz – It’s a little bit of a different version that the one they play on the radio, and it’s just different enough that it holds my attention.  Because, really, this song was more than a little overplayed when it was new.

So, there you have it.  My jamming Wednesday night line-up.  There were a few others that I was hoping to hear, but maybe next time when I’m alone in the car.

You know.

When I’m 50.

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