My Real Life

May 30, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, I just read a series of young adult books that I loved.

Not high literature or anything, but I totally fell into them.

The premise of the book is that an asteroid hit the moon and knocked it closer to the Earth, causing major disruption like tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.  Millions die and those that are left have to deal with starvation, epidemic, weather changes, etc.

I’ve always been drawn to reading stories about how people survived during the Great Depression.

I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about stories where people make do with what they have and still manage to survive that has pulled me in time and time again.

I loved watching Little House on the Prairie, as a kid (and as an adult, to be honest), not because of the stories (although who can resist the Laura/Nellie rivalry) but because of the way they got things done.

Life on the prairie was hard.  Life during the Depression was hard.  Life in a post-apocalyptic world with a too-close moon is hard.

And, when I read these stories, real or fiction, it always gets me thinking…how would we survive in such a situation?  Are we prepared?

Trust me, I’m not thinking the end of the world is upon us and I’m not waiting for the government to come and take away all of my belongings, but I do see some logic to some preparation.

In the days before the monkeys, I was a master couponer.

Actually, even in the early days when we just had Monkey Girl and Monkey in the Middle, I did alright with the coupons.

I had a few articles posted in some couponing magazines and people came to me for advice on saving money in the grocery story.

In those days, I had a stockpile in the basement.

Not full of  guns and ammo and anti-government paraphernalia and canned goods to the ceiling, but definitely with enough non-perishable items to get us through a serious dry spell in case anyone lost their job or there was some weird natural disaster and we couldn’t get out to buy food.

And, having just finished this series, I started thinking…maybe it’s time to stock up again.

Not like I did, but just a bit.

In the book, the hottest commodities were batteries, canned goods, and medical stuff like aspirin and inhalers.

I started thinking, maybe I should take $20 of my piano money each week and just buy a flat of bottled water, a pack of batteries and a few cans of beans or corn and just stash them away in the basement.

I’m totally suggestible, by the way.

When I read books about people who are artists, I fully believe that I could paint the Mona Lisa.

I am a moderator (an absent moderator, these days, but still a moderator thanks to a very patient and gracious website owner) of a frugal living website called The Frugal Village, and I know that many people there stockpile on a regular basis just in case of things like a job loss.

Some have amazing pictures of their stockpiles, and I’m always impressed how far they can all stretch their dollars.

Particularly because I fully believe that these monkeys can literally eat every single food item in my pantry and still be hungry for more, and when I have three teenage boys in the house, I worry that Real Man and I will need to get three jobs each just to keep them fed and satisfied.

So, I’m curious…what are your thoughts on preparedness and stockpiling and all of this stuff, and if you have a stockpile, large or small, what kinds of things are you putting away, and why do you do it?

No ridiculing each other…just plain old curiosity on my part.

Please, let me know.  As fun as it must be to listen to me ramble every day, I’d love for it to be more of a conversation!

May 29, 2013

No Yelling Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I’m a yeller.

I’m working on it and definitely don’t yell as much as I used to, but I’m a yeller who comes from a family of yellers.

I think my kids know that my bark is worse than my bite, but I have always been mindful of trying not to yell as often as I have the impulse to.

My friend, Heather, apparently, is also a yeller, and has taken on the challenge of not yelling.

She is blogging about it here, and I would really, really love for you to check it out.

Heather is someone who inspires me in so many ways, on so many levels, with so many aspects of her life.

This is just one more to add to the list!

May 28, 2013

Update On My 20 Wishes for 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

It’s the end of May and I felt like this might be a good time to take stock of my 20 wishes for 2013.

Almost halfway through the year, and if I am slacking in some areas, I need to get on that.

So, bear with me, but here is where we stand on the 20 wishes in 2013.

20 Wishes for 2013

1. Take the family to DisneyWorld. We’ve been talking about doing this for quite awhile and just haven’t done it. I want this to be the year.


Haven’t quite gotten there with this one.

I am hoping to get a plan in place for the fall, but as of now, this is a no go.

2. Get a playset for the backyard. I want the kids to play outside more, and I know my kids and a playset would definitely do it.

Ordering it this week.

No lie.
3. Get weight down by 9 pounds AND KEEP IT THERE. Goal weight: 125

I’ve actually gained weight this year.

I’ve had some change in some medications, and I’d love to blame it on that, but I can’t be sure, and at the end of the day, I can only blame myself.

It’s something I think about every single day and I know I need to make the time for me to take care of this.

It’s important for so many reasons.

So, stay tuned on this one.  I’m on it.
4. Incorporate more vegetables into the family diet.

Working on it.

Think I’m doing a pretty good job with this one.
5. Make $1,000 by selling on eBay.

I was starting like gangbusters in January, but then things slowed down.

When summer starts again, I hope to get going again on this one.
6. Get blog readership to 200 per day average.

I’m not averaging 200 per day, yet, but there are more days where I hit 200 than I used to.

I have, however, doubled my Facebook subscribers to the My Real Life page, and I think that is a very good thing, so I’m feeling happy on this count.
7. Make home office neat, organized, and functional.

Oh, baby…we are kicking butt on this one.

We cleaned it out before setting up my writing nook, and just this weekend, hung up some pictures and diplomas and we are 3/4 of the way to perfection in there.
8. Read 50 books (and keep track!)

Halfway through the year and I am at 31 books.

Summer is always my busiest book reading time, so I have no worries that this one will be complete by August.
9. Get pictures hung. We’ve been here a year and a half and haven’t hung up our pictures yet. Drives me nuts.

This weekend, Real Man and I took hammer, nails, picture hangers and got to work.

I LOVE the results.

It just feels so much more complete.
10. Have family photo taken.

I don’t feel picture ready.

Real Man doesn’t feel picture ready.

This one is a no.
11. Really go through my closet and be ruthless with getting rid of what I don’t wear.

This is a summer project.
12. Play piano at least once a week. I teach piano lessons, so I am always at the piano, but I rarely carve out the time to play for myself. I went to college as a vocal and piano performance major and I feel like I’m neglecting that part of myself.


I just can’t seem to find the time to do this, and when I do, Tiny wants to sit right next to me and “play” along and it’s not inspiring.
13. Only eat out once a week, if at all.

Some weeks are better than others.

Wednesdays are tough days for us because everyone needs to be in different places all at the same time and we wind up eating out on Wednesdays.

Things are about to slow down, so that will be good, and I want to get in some good practice over the summer so we don’t fall back into bad habits when school and activities start up again in the fall.
14. Write in my journal more often. I only wrote in it twice in 2012, so anything would be an improvement! I think keeping the blog up every day takes it’s place, but they have different purposes and I don’t want to neglect my journal writing.


My writing nook has gotten me back to journaling and I love it.

Now that I’m doing it again, I realize how much I missed it.
15. Really learn about self-publishing to see if it is an option for my novel.

I am still learning much about self-publishing, but I’m not quite there, yet.

So, this is a work in progress.
16. Re-edit my novel.

I have joined several online writing groups and have joined a group that is physically going to begin meeting in July and will be working through the novel, as well as other pieces of writing of mine, through those groups.

It’s nerve-wracking but exciting.
17. Shred and pare down all of our files.

Summer project.
18. Sell the van.


I cannot tell you what a relief that was.

That van was sold and that money was put away and this makes me insanely happy.
19. Take more pictures.

I’ve taken so many pictures that I have no more memory on my phone.

I don’t exactly know what to do with all of my photos.

I’ve deleted the fuzzy ones and the no-so-great ones, but I still have too many.

I’m not sure if I should save them to a DVD or have them printed out.

I just don’t know what to do with them.

However, I guess it’s a good thing that I have so many, because it shows that I’m following through on this one!
20. Be outside more.

We are outside fairly consistently these days.

Playing with sidewalk chalk, playing horse, shooting hoops, playing hockey, badminton, croquet, kicking a ball around, playing four square, volleyball…you name it, we’re doing it.

So, big yes on this one.


So, there you have it.  My update.

I think I’m doing pretty darn well and am proud of myself.

It’s a good feeling.

May 24, 2013

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

1. Do you wake before the alarm or stay in bed until the last possible second?

Depends on the day and how long it took Tiny to fall asleep the night before.

Normally, I am up before the alarm, and then when it goes off, I ask Real Man to hit snooze and give me just five more minutes.


2. Who should get a baby shower? Is it just the first baby or all babies?

I think it’s just for the first baby.

This coming from a mother of four who gave away all of her baby stuff after baby two and had to start all over again for number three.

And then she gave away all of her baby stuff again and had to start all over again for number four.

But I still felt like a shower is only for the first baby.

A baby shower is to help Mom and Dad get the things that they need to bring that baby home.

After that, you’ve got the stuff.

If you pull and Amy and give it all away…then that’s on you.

But people shouldn’t have to keep buying you the same things over and over and over just because you decide to keep having babies.

3. How will you spend Memorial Day?

Hopefully reading, writing, and playing with Real Man and the kids.

I don’t really like to do anything on holidays that fall on a Monday because I have to go back to work the next day.



But that’s how I roll.

4. Do you have a Storm/Hurricane/Tornado/Fire plan for your kids, house..?

We have a meeting place in case we need to get out of the house and the kids know to get to the basement if there is a hurricane/bad storm/tornado.

It makes me sad and a little scared that we’ve had to live through a few of these and that’s how we got to the plans, but I guess that’s life.

However, the kids are all too little, still, to have a “If we are separated and a tornado occurs, here is how to contact each other,” which is the exact plan we need in all of the tornado nightmares I have.

Maybe tonight I’ll dream up a solution to that one.

5. What is your favorite morning drink?

Orange juice.

A nice, tall, cold glass of OJ.

But it’s too high in sugar.

So, decaf green tea, at my writing table, looking out the window.

I know, I know…it didn’t ask for my favorite morning drinking location, but sometimes…I overshare.

May 22, 2013

What I Can’t Let Go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

People call me a lot of things.

Sentimental isn’t one of them.

People who know me well know that I’m a big mush inside a tough exterior.

I cry in public when I see kids on a leash.

(The previous statement is not meant to start a debate.  It’s just a fact, folks.  I broke down into sobs on a DC trip one year after passing a mother with a little guy on a leash.)

I sobbed messily in the middle of a Social Studies class I was teaching when we made the decision to give our dog away.

Real Man had to get a new shirt after sitting in between Kim and I during Steel Magnolias and I have to actively avoid watching Terms of Endearment or I’m a mess for days.

A mush, for sure.

But sentimental?


I would be the dream person to go on Clean Sweep because I’d let go of everything.

I know the memories are in my head, not in the item.

However, there are a few things that I will never let go of.





This was my Grandma’s lemonade/iced tea container.

The top is a plunger that mixes the powder in with the water.

It’s not really efficient for a family of 6 because it only holds two quarts of liquid.

I don’t care.

Every single time I see this in my refrigerator, I think of my Grandma and the summers I spent with her in Ohio, and every time I see my kids using it, I think of how very much she would love my monkeys.




This is (obviously) a bottle of Martinelli’s sparking cider.

We will, most likely, never ever drink it.

However, when Real Man and I bought our first house, the woman we bought it from left this in the fridge for us with a note of congratulations.

This bottle represents the beginning of our married lives together, as we got married a few months after we purchased the house.

I wouldn’t trade the family we have now for the couple we once were, but I remember those days so fondly.

Fondly sounds like I’m remembering my Great Aunt, but I can’t think of another word right now.

It was awesome and they were great times.

There, that’s better.

So, even though we will never drink it, we will also never throw this out.




My parents moved when I was in college.

When they moved, their realtor (who also happens to be Kim’s Mom) had this amazing drawing done of the house they had sold.

The house I grew up in.

When we moved into this, our fourth (and final) home, I asked if I could have it, and they agreed.

Because I loved that house.

I loved that house more than you should ever love something that isn’t alive.

It was old with nooks and crannys and hiding spaces and history and awesomeness.

It’s the house of every single one of my childhood memories and I remember crying when they told me they were moving.

My parents have been in their current house for twenty one years, and it still doesn’t feel like “home” when we go there to hang out.

So, this drawing stays because the building in it was so much more than a house.

It was my home.




My non-sentimentality has me giving away baby things as soon as my babies grow out of them.

Which is why we were in sticky situations when we found out we were (surprise!) pregnant with Baby Monkey and then five years later (surprise!) pregnant with Tiny.

Clothes, accessories, baby ‘stuff’, blankets, you name it.

I got rid of it.

Partially because it wasn’t being used which just made it clutter, but if I’m completely honest, partially because seeing it made me want another baby.

Because I always want another baby.

But, the shop is closed (permanently) so this time, all the baby stuff can go.

These two quilts, though…I will never give away.

The quilt on the left is a quilt that Erin’s Mom sewed for my first baby, who turned out to be Monkey Girl.

It is made up of pieces of dresses that Erin and her sister, Kristin, wore when they were little girls.

All of my babies have slept under this quilt, and Tiny is currently sleeping under it as I type.

I love it.

The quilt on the right was sewn for Tiny by my friend and former colleague, Susan.

Susan sewed this quilt for me after retiring, while packing up her entire house to go sail around the world with her husband.

I know how much Susan loves quilting, but because of my friendship with Susan, I also know how much time goes into making a quilt like this and I will treasure it always.

So, in a year or two, there may be no traces left that any babies were ever swaddled in this house.

But I will always have these quilts, and hope that, one day, my grandbabies sleep under these quilts.

Okay, now that sounded sentimental.

Better quit while I’m ahead.


May 21, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Having a hard time knowing what to write about today, because I just keep thinking about Oklahoma.

I’ve always been fascinated with tornadoes, and it is a fascination mixed with a very healthy fear.

I have only seen one once.

I was in Indiana, visiting my college boyfriend.

He was at work and I was going to pick him up.

I was driving on a long stretch of road, and everyone suddenly began pulling over and getting out of their cars and pointing.

I looked left and saw a thin funnel cloud making its way across a field.

It wasn’t that far away, and you could see the debris it was kicking up.

However, the people along the road didn’t look too scared, and just as quickly as it had appeared, it went away.

I have always loved the movie Twister.

Not because it was critically acclaimed (it wasn’t) or anything like that.

But because I feel like tornadoes are Mother Nature at her worst.

At her most unpredictable.

At her cruelest.

There is some advanced warning, but not always, and it’s usually not enough.

It’s terrifying.

I went to college and student taught in Ohio, and we had tornado drills where everyone headed to the basement.

There were no tornadoes in the area in the four years I was out there, but I remember those drills and they still give me goosebumps.

I can’t even imagine the terror of hiding in a storm cellar.

Of hearing the sirens.

Of hearing the wind, the debris.

The cone of silence.

Of having to drive into town afterward and find your home, your every possession…gone.

Of not knowing whether or not your children were safe.

Of finding out they weren’t.

I know I can’t just pack up the kids and dig out a bunker and fill it with provisions and never let them out so that nothing every happens to them.

But on days like this, it is exactly what I want to do.

As an adult, I still have nightmares.

More often than I’d like to admit.

And when I do, they are always about tornadoes.

That I am somewhere that my children are not and we are hit by a tornado and I just can’t get to them.

My heart goes out to those in Moore, OK, and throughout the midwest, who were hit by these vicious storms.

I’m just so, so sorry for you all.

May 20, 2013

Why Travel Alone When You Can Bring 330 8th Graders?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I spent last Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C. with 330 8th graders.

It was a blast.

No lie.

We take the 8th graders to D.C. year after year and it is always so much fun, but it is also a wonderful time for us to create special memories with the kids before they leave us for high school.

330 kids is a lot of children.

Everywhere we go, in D.C., people comment on the size of our group.

And yet, they are also usually the best behaved group at any attraction we visit.

It’s such a blend of kids…homeless with millionaires, jocks with brains, punks with preps.

And it works.

It’s wonderful to see the sights through their eyes.

They marvel at things to which I have long since become immune.

They tear up and show emotion at the same things that make me weep.

The Newseum has a special exhibit on the assassination of JFK, and as I stood and watched the film describing the news coverage surrounding the assassination, I snuck peeks at the faces of my students and they were rapt.

Watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, my students were silent and respectful and full of awe.

Seeing the sheer amount of names on the wall at the Vietnam Memorial or witnessing the neverending sea of tombstones at Arlington, you could see the human cost of war suddenly becoming real to their young minds.

It’s a trip I have only missed twice since coming to this school…while on maternity leave with Baby and while on maternity leave with Tiny.

And as glad as I was to be home with my babies, a part of me definitely ached to be on the trip with my colleagues and students.

The D.C. trip is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility.

But there are some things in life that are worth the effort.

My job, my students…definitely worth the effort.

May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am


May 14, 2013

My Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Not, “My Space” the old and probably defunct social media website.

I mean my actual space.

My writing space.

My new writing space.

I have a beautiful roll top desk that used to be my Dad’s.

However, it’s right smack dab in the living room and the traffic through the living room is constant in a house with four children.

And, even if there is no one there, it’s not really very inspiring to be facing the wall.

It’s just not.

And, so, and idea blossomed a few months ago, to take a small piece of the office, (which was Real Man’s domain since we moved in) and turn it into a writing space for me.

I needed a desk or table, as the roll top was too big for the space and would cover half of the window I was planning on using.

I needed to clear out that area, because, as you remember, clearing out the office is one of the things on my 20 Wishes for 2013 list.

It’s occupied a lot of my mind over the past few months, even though I wasn’t making any progress toward that end.

Then, on Thursday, I was picking Tiny up from his babysitters and she mentioned that they were having a garage sale on Saturday.

It’s a huge, neighborhood-wide thing.

I said I’d need to get over there because I was looking for a small desk and explained my writing space.

She said, “Wait…come with me,” and took me into the garage and showed me a desk that they were planning on selling.

Small, wooden, well-loved.


I offered to buy it and she offered to give it to me.

I loaded it in the truck, brought it home and it fit perfectly.

Maybe one day I’ll refinish it or paint it or do something with it, but for now, I could care less about it’s appearance.

Because it is just what I was looking for.

I can’t tell you the amount of time I have spent at this table.

Maybe it’s because it’s new and it will wear off, but right now, I. Am. Inspired.

And sometimes…that’s all you need.


May 13, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I’ve always tried very hard not to project my own “stuff” onto my kids.

I’m terrified of dolls and clowns, but if one of the kids had wanted a clown doll, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.

I’m allergic to seafood and shellfish, but even though I don’t make it, if it’s being served wherever we are, I encourage the monkeys to try it.

I love a good scare, but two of my monkeys have a fairly low tolerance for the fear, so I don’t watch things that might be too scary for them when they are around.

(I’ve seen way too many parents go the “suck it up…it’s not that scary” route and that never ends well for anyone.)

So, I thought I was doing a good job of not projecting my “stuff” onto the monkeys.

Until last night.

I have to sleep with socks on and I have to sleep under at least one sheet or blanket.

I might kick my socks off while I’m sleeping, but for some reason, it is very difficult for me to fall asleep without socks on.

I can’t even nap just laying on the couch.  I have to be covered by something.

It’s always been this way.

It’s getting warm at night, which is not a good thing for me, because I like a cold bedroom so I can burrow in.

It also makes it difficult, because my socks and my sheets make me hot, but I can’t fall asleep without them.

I persevere and have lived through 41 summers of it, so I know I’ll get by.

And then I go to tuck in the monkeys.

And Monkey in the Middle and Baby Monkey are clad in only their underwear, laying on top of the covers in their respective beds.

“We’re ready for songs, Mom!” they called out.

I sit down on Baby’s bed first and say “Don’t you want me to cover you up?”

“No, it’s too hot,” he replies.

“But you won’t be able to fall asleep!” I respond before I can catch myself.

“Why not?” he asks.

“Oh, nothing…I’m sure it will be fine.”

So, I sing and kiss him and move to his brother’s bed where I do the same, and I leave them both on top of their covers to try to sleep.

But I feel unsettled.

How will they fall asleep?

No socks!  No sheets!  It’ll be impossible!

And so it seems as thought as well as I thought I was doing, there are some things that seem non-negotiable to me in the world of projecting, because if Mama’s gotta have socks and sheets, shouldn’t everyone have to have socks and sheets?

Of course, when I went to check on them in the middle of the night, both were sound asleep.

Under the covers.

Just sayin’.

So, what about you?

Is there anything that is a fear, phobia, tic, quirk of yours that you have tried not to impose on your kids?

Let a sister know she’s not alone!

Next Page »

Theme: Rubric. Get a free blog at