My Real Life

August 31, 2013

My Dream to End Diabetes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 12:29 pm

Those of you who have been here for awhile may remember reading that I have Type 2 Diabetes.

Luckily, I’m able to control it with diet and exercise and by doing so, I’ve kept it in the pre-diabetes stage, but it’s a constant battle for me.

I am one of the lucky ones.

I know people who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as children.

Who have gone through life with a pump.

I’ve taught students who have needed to check in at the nurses’ office throughout the day to monitor their glucose levels.

My Dad needs to take insulin shots.

A friend can’t venture too far from home because her numbers are always so out of whack, she is afraid to be driving a car and have it drop too low or sharply rise too high.

It’s not a disease that targets only the heavy, the slow, the lazy, as I have heard many people say over the years.

It’s a disease that can hit anyone.

I AM one of the lucky ones.

And so, because I am healthy and strong and able, once again, this year, I am going to be walking in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes.

Please visit my participant page to read my story and, if you feel so inclined, to make a donation toward my fundraising goal of $1,000.

Together, we can put an end to this disease.

August 29, 2013

Education Series Part 2: Charter School

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
Today is Part II in my education series.
I interviewed my awesome neighbor, Amy, who sends her children to a local charter school and I think you’ll learn a lot from her answers!
How were you educated, as a child?
I attended traditional public school. My husband attended catholic school.
What shaped your decision to send you children to a charter school?
I did not look for a charter school, in a way Unity found me.  We moved to Berkeley Heights for the amazing school system and always planned to send our kids to public school.  Our oldest son was having a very difficult first grade year because he was extremely bright and extremely immature.  He seemed to be bored in class and was behind his peers socially.  He was really hating school.  I met someone whose children went to Unity and the more I spoke to her about it, the more I became interested in it.  Unity is a public school of choice with a sustainability mission and multi age classrooms.  We felt the multi age classroom would help with our oldest son’s immaturity and the individualized learning would help him stay interested,
Was it your own experience going through school that made you choose a charter school?
I did not like school, the older I got, the more I hated school.  I would cry every Sunday night begging my parents to let me stay home.  I am very sensitive to my children possibly going through a similar experience.  When I saw it in my oldest so early on, I had to look for alternatives.
Would you have chosen a charter school, even if you lived somewhere else?
We lived 35 minutes from the school when we started.  We moved to Morristown 1 1/2 years ago to be closer to the school.  I think that it would have depended on the experience we had at the school we were in if we lived somewhere else.  Berkeley Heights was a good school district, it just didn’t work for our son.
What is your favorite thing about a charter school?
I like the community feel of it.  It’s small, many parents are involved and all the teachers and staff know the kids even if they haven’t taught them in their class.
Do you follow a specific charter school curriculum?
Unity follows all state curriculum requirements with infusion of an Education for Sustainability curriculum.
Do you belong to any charter school groups?
No, I am not aware of any.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced with regard to attending a charter school?
Kids come from many different towns so my children have friends in Morristown, Maplewood, Long Valley, Boonton, and Summit.  It makes it harder to have play dates and we don’t see many friends at town events.
Are there any myths surrounding charter schools that you would like to address?
The biggest myth is that a charter school takes money from the traditional district schools.  Like any public school, charter schools are free, and are funded by taxpayer dollars. However, there are significant disparities between the per-pupil rates passed on to charter schools and traditional schools, caused mainly by the exclusion of charter schools from state adjustment aid payments . According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a 2010 study showed that New Jersey charter schools were receiving on average $12,908 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $19,782 for those students. As a result, the state’s charter schools are getting 35% less than traditional schools.  Charter schools do not receive any funding for facilities.  The per pupil rate that the school receives plus any fundraising done by the school makes up the entire operational budget.

August 27, 2013

Twisted MixTape: I Stink/You Stink

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Here’s the description Jen wrote of today’s MixTape assignment:

You know what? I stink/ You stink. Get your venom out here, or maybe that ballad that basically says ‘you stink’”, or play it this way: you’re the one who did wrong and you know it. This is your apology/acknowledgement for being an jerk. Or a mix of the two. You decide.

“Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne is my favorite, in this category.

In high school, this punk guy likes this preppy girl (who secretly likes him, too) but she thinks she’s too good for him and ignores him.

He grows up to be a rock star.  She grows up to be a disgruntled Mom who wishes she had given him a chance.

Too bad, so sad.

Love this song.


Missy Higgins wrote “Where I Stood” and it fits perfectly in this category under the “I Stink” portion.

She loved you, she had to let you go, she wishes she hadn’t.

Such a beautiful song.


A good “You Stink” song is “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri.

Love her gravelly voice, and love how she tells the guy to just back off.

He hurt her and who does he think he is coming back around and thinking he can get her back?


I’ll admit it.

I’m a Taylor Swift fan.

I am.

Would I want to be one of her boyfriends?

No, but you know what?

When I was a teenager and I had a breakup, I wrote bad poetry about it.

She just happens to be a famous teen/early 20’s who writes good poetry about her breakups and makes money from it.

Anyway, I think it’s an understatement to say that most of her songs fit into the “You Stink” category, but I’ll go with “We Are Never Getting Back Together” for today.


I’m also a huge fan of Mariah Carey, the early years.

“Someday” is perfect for “You Stink.”

“The one you gave away will be the only one you’re wishing for.”

Says it all.


Back to “I Stink” is classic Britney.

“Oops! I Did it Again!”

Remember that Britney?


Then she went bad.

And broke Justin TImberlake’s heart.

And he wrote about it.

And I love him.


Nothing says “You Stink” more than All-American Rejects “Give You Hell.”

You stink, I rock, and I hope it hurts you is basically the theme.

Perfect for this mix.


I could go on forever, but I’ll wrap up with Orianthi’s “According to You.”

Basically, according to you, I stink, but really, it’s you that stinks.

And that’s that.


August 26, 2013

Urban Farm

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Last week, I had to go to a meeting in a different school building.

I’ve been in and out of this building a million times before, and I usually park on the side of the building and go in the front door.

This day, I carpooled with the other two Vice-Principals, and one of them needed to talk to someone about something after the meeting, so the other turned to me and said, “You want to go out back and see the farm?”

I had known there was a farm behind the school since it had been planted, but I had never actually been there.

We walked out back and I was stopped in my tracks.

IMG_4798 IMG_4799


It’s beautiful.

We went back and talked to Farmer Shaun, who is in charge of the entire project, in conjunction with Grow it Green, and as we stood, talking to him in the sunlight, with a gentle breeze and the sound of the sprinkler softly watering the crops, I couldn’t help but think that this guy got it right.

What a way to spend your days.

The project puts students, townspeople, Girl Scouts, and so on, to work.

They learn about farming, get their hands dirty, and grow a ton of crops.

The majority of the crops are donated to the local soup kitchen.  Others are sold at a low cost to low-income townspeople, and some go to the high school to be used in the school lunches.

It’s amazing.

It has recently doubled in size due to donations, which include a chicken coop.

We are going to start our own, small patch of farm at our school, and I am so excited about the process.

To walk through those crops and see them growing and know that the food is being put to such good use, and that kids are learning about sustainability…I just love it.

If you are local, you should definitely head on over and check out the Urban Farm, if you haven’t already done so.

And if you aren’t local, you should talk to your town about doing the same.

August 23, 2013

My Friends Are Kinda Awesome

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, remember back in March when I co-authored I Just Want to Pee Alone?

Well, some of the lovely ladies that co-authored that book are writers for “In The Powder Room,” which (according to their own words) “…has been entertaining women online since 2009 with the funniest and most irreverent articles, written by the very best women writers. When you’re In The Powder Room, you can have a laugh, share your opinions and enjoy the interactions with other women who are very much like you.”

These ladies from “In the Powder Room” have just published a new book called “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

According to “In the Powder Room,” You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth is a hilarious collection of true tales by women, for women, about being women—bodily changes, relationships, careers, motherhood, aging, illness, and more—written with the humor and grit that proudly sets In The Powder Room apart. But be forewarned: we’re holding nothing back. We’re revealing our funniest deep dark secrets—because it’s through our most vulnerable and honest moments that we forge the strongest connections and discover we aren’t so alone after all.

So, like David Puddy on Seinfeld, I gotta support the team, and so as soon as they shared the good news, I downloaded my copy.

Here’s what I loved about this book…

Yes, there were stories that made me laugh out loud because we’ve all experienced embarrassing moments like the ones that were shared.  But, even some of these made me pause and think, because within the humor, there was cause for reflection, as in Alexandra Rosas Jungle Moves.

Some I could connect with immediately, like Kerry Rossow’s The Reason I Need a Chaperone.  Having been my lifelong chaperones, Erin, Kim and Michaela can tell you that there are some things that I am just not fit to do/decide on my own.

Speaking of, I laughed and laughed at Rebecca Gallagher’s Friends Let Friends Pee Their Pants.  Erin knows.

There were also some that really touched me and some even brought a tear to my eye.

In particular, I found myself very drawn to Love and Other Drugs by Bethany Thies.  I just got it.  Right there.  Ya know?

I could go on and highlight how I connected with so many more stories, but then you might not buy the book because you’d feel like you read it and that wouldn’t be very supportive of me.

Not every story is going to be to everyone’s taste.  And that’s okay, because guess what?  You can turn the page or swipe your way through a story that isn’t connecting with you.

I’m so proud, once again, to be connected with so many of these writers through the Pee Alone book.

Writing is hard.

Writing something funny is harder.

Writing something funny that turns out to be meaningful, even harder.

And they nailed it.

August 22, 2013

The Summer My Heart Broke

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

This was it.

This was the summer my beautiful, strong, amazing daughter decided she wasn’t good enough.

My girl who used to not be able to get her bathing suit on fast enough and get to the beach suddenly dressed slower, on vacation, because she was worried about how she looked in that suit and found herself lacking.

And it broke my heart.

My daughter is tall.  She’s solid.  She’s strong.  She is beautiful.

Her friends are all smaller and slighter and willowy and, as I watch her with them, I’m starting to see her slouch and hunch and hide.

“Stand up!” I want to yell.  She has nothing to hide.

I want to shake her and tell her that I always wanted to be tall, like her.  I want her to know that when she grows up, women will be dying to have her height.

My girl is smart.  So freaking smart.

She is funny and kind.  So kind.

She is the best person I know and when I grow up, I want to be her.

This is the summer that broke my heart because I remember her standing proudly in that bathing suit, racing down the beach, not giving any thought at all to how she, or anyone else, looked.

And I know that, like the Emperor who saw that he was naked, once you cross that line, you can never go back.

August 20, 2013

Twisted MixTape – One Night Stand

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, while I certainly don’t condone the action that makes up the topic for this weeks Twisted MixTape blog hop, I can’t deny that One Night Stands have been the fodder for some amazing music over the years.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “Save Tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry.

I have always, always enjoyed this song.

It’s so upbeat and gets my toes to tapping and if you don’t listen to the lyrics, you can pretend it’s a happy little ditty.

(video has nothing to do with the lyrics, so that helps)


“All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You” by Heart is a song that fits into this category that makes my skin crawl.


I dated this guy in college and it was his favorite song.

He would totally rock out to it and it gave me the heebie-jeebies.


“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” by the Shirelles.

Even in 1960, they were singing about this topic, although I have a feeling it was a bit more taboo to discuss.

Great song and I like that fact that she is being cautious about the whole thing in this one.


“If Only for Tonight” by Luther Vandross.

Oh, Luther.


Bonnie Raitt has always captured me with her voice, and one of my favorites of hers is “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Such a great tune and she sings it so plaintively.

Just a beautiful song and when you hear it, you just feel so badly for her.

Then you remember she’s a multimillionaire, country singer and you feel less sorry.

But still sorry.


What would the 70’s have been without Juice Newton?


“Just Call Me Angel of the Morning” fits the category and I was singing this song LONG before I had any idea what the words meant.

August 19, 2013

Education Series: Homeschool

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, obviously, I’m interested in education.

I know a lot about the topic, but the truth is, most of what I know is about public education.

I’ve always been curious, however, about other education choices, and so I decided that I’d ask a few people about these choices.

Because I think knowledge is always better when shared, I figured I’d share their responses with you!

I decided the three main types of education I’d like to know about were Homeschool, Charter School, and Private School.

Then, I chose to begin with the type I know the least about…Homeschool.

I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who homeschool, but I decided I would go with someone who homeschools in a different state than I do.

So, I went to the wife of an old friend.  Her name is Kelley and she homeschools her three children in Georgia.

Her answers reflect her experience with homeschooling in Georgia, and, as we all realize, every experience varies, so this is simply her opinion and her experience.

How were you educated, as a child?

I attended public school and was fairly miserable most of the time. My husband attended private school.

What shaped your decision to homeschool your children?

There was no 1 single event or factor that led to our decision to homeschool. First and foremost, we are blessed with the opportunity and the choice. Not all countries allow families to make decisions regarding their childrens’ educations (most recently see the decision regarding the Romeike family from Germany). And for that matter, not all states make it easy. We are fortunate to live in a state that, for all intents and purposes, is fairly homeschool friendly. Also, the county we live in does not have the greatest education system. The quality of education varies greatly from school to school and administrator to administrator. The schools are enormous and over crowded. There are (if I am counting correctly) 12-15 high schools in our county, and average enrollment is anywhere from 3000-4000 students.

We also believe that no matter what the school, far too much importance is placed on the results of standardized tests. Our school year started last Wednesday. On Thursday, I had a 3rd grade piano student express anxiety over the standardized test that will take place in the spring. In addition, we do have some health issues in our family that homeschooling has greatly helped. We have 1 child who is way above average intelligence and we were able to challenge her appropriately, where she would have been much more constrained in a traditional school setting. On the flip side, we also have a child with a processing disorder. I have been able to tailor her work, and how she gets it done, to fit her needs without worrying about how 30 other kids in her class were going to be impacted.

Last, our daily schedule has always been fairly unorthodox. It is nice to know that if my kids have the necessity to be up until 11:00, they’re not going to have to catch the bus at 6:15 in the morning-which is when the high school bus comes on our street. We won’t even talk about how I feel about the whole bus issue.

Was it your own experience going through school that made you want to homeschool?

I don’t really think my experience in our school system made me want to homeschool necessarily, but it did make me have serious reservations about putting our kids in “the system”

Would you have chosen homeschooling, even if you lived somewhere else?

I can’t say I would have had the courage to start homeschooling if we lived in a different state where homeschooling was more of a challenge. However, having successfully homeschooled for 8 years, I can say that if we moved elsewhere, I would fight tooth and nail to continue.

What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?

My favorite thing about homeschooling, hands down, is the time that I get to spend with my kids. That is more valuable than any “thing” a full time job could have provided our family with. A very close second is being on our own timetable/schedule.

Do you follow a specific homeschool curriculum?

We do not use any 1 particular curriculum program… I have used many different things. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that you can meet the needs of each student. So, just because I use one math curriculum for one child, I may not use it for the others. In fact, each year, I reassess the needs of my kids to pick what fits them for what they are studying, and where they are developmentally.

Do you belong to any homeschool groups?

We are members of a couple different groups. First and foremost, Homeschooled Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Second, Georgia Home Educators Association (GHEA), and finally, I belong to a homeschool mom’s support group. Occasionally we have get together for the kids, but it is mainly mom’s support. We meet once a month. Additionally, our kids have been heavily involved in scouts, and were/are part of a predominately homeschooled group. They have taken homeschool sports and music classes, and this year my son is attending a hybrid school one day per week.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced with regard to homeschooling?

The biggest difficulty we have encountered was getting our oldest child into the military. The civilian contractor in our area who is in charge of education coding has a known bias against homeschoolers. She was asking for ridiculous amounts of documents that public/private schools did not have to provide. We ultimately came to the knowledge that she was violating federal law by asking for these documents. Once I brought it to the attention of HSLDA, the investigator Generals for both Naval Recruiting and Military Entrance Processing, as well as the commander of Military Entrance Processing, out daughter was moved along with much haste.

Are there any myths surrounding homeschooling that you would like to address?

I guessed the thing I would like to dispel is that there is 1 reason for homeschooling, and that all homeschoolers are the same. There are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are families who homeschool. Homeschoolers aren’t any weirder than public/private school kids. They are simply more comfortable with what they believe in and what their interests are. Sometimes they are more “obvious” because they tend to be in public when most kids are “in school” and are therefore more obvious. The question I dislike most is this: how do you socialize your kids? My answer is: properly After all, when kids are “in school”, isn’t talking during class discouraged? So, why on earth would the “s-word” be a reason to send your kids to school. Not to mention that a vast number of kids in “regular school” are not exactly displaying the types of behaviors we want our children to emulate. I have had people ask me “aren’t you afraid you’re giving your children an unrealistic view of the world?” My response is this: we are showing our children that if you don’t like the “status quo”, you have options. Explore them. Educate yourself and find the best option for YOU.

Kelley Hardy is the Preschool Gymnastics Director, Music Instructor, Assistant Martial Arts Instructor at Dacula Family Sports, Dacula GA.

Kelley has a Bachelor of Music Therapy from the University of Georgia, eight years organizing and leading vacation bible school music, ten years teaching preschool choir, and six years combined experience as a preschool and elementary music teacher. During college, Kelley belonged to the Athens Symphony, University of Georgia Symphonic Band, the University of Georgia Redcoat Band, and the Wind Ensemble.

After earning her degree, Kelley went on to intern as a music therapist with the Clayton County Board of Education. 

Kelley loves children, and has wanted to work with them as long as she can remember. She is a mother of three and has had experience as a nanny. She believes physical activity and music should be fun for children so that while they enjoy it now, they will learn to love it for a lifetime.

In addition to Kelley’s experience with children and music, she earned her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do in June 2012. She got involved with Tae Kwon Do in 2001 when her oldest daughter wanted her to coach, and has stayed involved and loving it ever since. She is Certified AAU Tae Kwon Do Referee. She is also a USA Gymnastics Certified Instructor.

August 14, 2013

Standing Up For Courtney

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 8:18 am

Please visit my co-author, Kim’s, website to read about this amazing family and see how you/me/we can help.

Cancer.  Hate it.



August 13, 2013

Twisted Mixed Tape 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, a few weeks ago, I stumbled across this site, where Jen was sharing some of her favorite music in the theme of 2000-2013.

It was fun to read, and so when I saw her list of future themes, I thought maybe I would play along.

The theme for today is “Duets” and in Jen’s words “this can be duets or duos like Hall & Oats or Loggins & Messina you decide.”

So, I’m thinking about some of my lifelong favorite duets and sharing them with you today.

It may be painful, but let me just begin by telling you that if my Dad were making this list, you’d be listening to a lot of duets by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, so YOU’RE WELCOME.

A Friend of Mine

This could be one of the cheesiest songs ever, and the addition of Darryl Hannah just makes it more so, but it falls into the categories of, “When I Hear This Song, I am Instantly Transported to 1985 and I Love It.”  Just a nice, friendly song, even though I never really believed that Jackson Browne and Clarence Clemons were friends, at all.  This duet always makes me tap my toes.

Islands in the Stream

Love this song.  I just love it.  Maybe it’s because Dolly Parton is just so darn cute.  I don’t know, but I love this song.  I play it on Spotify.  Often.

Friends and Lovers

Maybe it’s because, in 1986, I was a freshman in high school and there were many boys who were my friends that I would like to have moved into boyfriend territory.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I I have always loved this duet, from the very first time I heard it.

Dancing in the Street

I do not love this song.  I do not even remotely love this song.  I have just always thought it was the most ridiculous pairing that somehow made sense, and the video was absolutely the craziest thing I had ever seen.  It was like a car accident on the side of the road that causes rubbernecking for miles because no one…NO ONE can tear their eyes away.

Endless Love

So pretty.  I love this one.  More importantly, I love to sing this one.  I think it is an absolutely beautiful song.

You Don’t Bring me Flowers

Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand are two of my all-time favorite singers.  Ever.  In the history of the world.  I love the album “The Jazz Singer” by Neil Diamond (and the movie) and I can’t think of a single song Barbra Streisand sings that isn’t absolutely amazing.  Call me a nerd, but there it is.  I think Barbra’s voice is almost unnatural.  I get chills.

Speaking of Barbra…

What Kind of Fool

Close my Eyes Forever

With all of these sweet, sweet love songs, how could I possibly leave out Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne???  It’s the baddest love song duet ever.  Although, I was never clear on if it was a love song at all because the lyrics are so strange.  “Like a dagger you stick me in the heart and taste the blood from my blade.”  Love?  Hmmm…

Next Time I Fall

From Lita Ford and Ozzy to, quite possibly, the sweetest woman ever to walk the earth, I love “Next Time I Fall” with Amy Grant and Peter Cetera.  Just love it.  Always have.  Always will.  From 1986 to now.  Hmmm…another 1986 song.  I’m noticing a trend.  Apparently high school was big for me and duets.  Anyway, I just loved this one, back in the day.  I would listen to Amy Grant sing the alphabet and be smitten.


This one is purely personal.  Mark (my brother from another mother) and I sang this one together at a recording studio and it is forever branded on my heart.  Real Man and I even played the version Mark and I made at our wedding.

I’ll stop here, because as I was on YouTube getting these videos, I came across a thousand more.  Harry Connick, Jr. duets, Andrea Boccelli, Josh Groban, Charlotte Church…the list goes on and on.

(edited to add: Just saw Jen’s list for today…cannot BELIEVE I forgot Mockingbird!!!)

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