My Real Life

September 30, 2013

Fantasy vs. Reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

So, you ever have a great idea?

An idea so epic that you know everyone will love it and it will be a huge success and your idea will go down in history as one of the greatest ideas ever to have been imagined?

I had two of those ideas, this summer.

Example 1:

It was called Field Station Dinosaurs.

All over Facebook, I had seen people post pictures of their children at this cool place where they had animatronic dinosaurs as you walked through paths in, what was supposed to be, a prehistoric jungle.

There were learning stations throughout so you could meet with “paleontologists” and learn about the age of the dinosaurs.

A little boys dream.


So, Real Man and I packed the kids in the car and said we had a surprise.

We got there and immediately, their guard was up.

“What is this place?”

“This looks boring.”

“I just wanted to stay home and play outside.”

But I was sure that as soon as we got inside, they would love it.

To say they didn’t would be an egregious understatement.

At one point, Monkey in the Middle actually said, “Did you bring us here to punish us?”

Yes, dear.  We spent $100 to teach you all a lesson.

Real Man, Monkey Girl, Tiny and I thought it was pretty neat.

The facts that they had posted at each dinosaur were interesting.

For example, Spielberg got it wrong, in Jurassic Park, when he made the Velociraptor human sized.  The truth is that they were about the size of a turkey vulture.  I did not know that.

So, there certainly was a lot to be learned…IF you were open to learning it.

It wasn’t until the very last “station,” where they were trying to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the dinosaurs and a T-Rex came out and interacted with the audience and a man with a baby dinosaur puppet scared the bejesus out of Tiny, that the boys began to come around.

On the way to the car, Monkey in the Middle said “I guess that was kinda cool.”

We only have one picture of the day because none of the boys were willing to stand in front of a dinosaur.



Example 2:

On the way to Field Station Dinosaurs, you could see New York City in the distance.

Monkey Girl has been to NYC, but the boys have not, and Baby Monkey just kept talking about the city and how cool it must be and how much he wanted to go.

So, Real Man and I planned a day trip into the city.

It was to be simple.

Train into Penn Station, then walk to the NYC Toys R Us (Monkey Girl had told the boys all about it when she had been there and they were so curious about the ferris wheel INSIDE a building), then maybe head to the Empire State Building, back to Penn Station and home.

In and out, and home for Monkey in the Middle’s hockey game that afternoon.

The train ride was great.  Everyone was excited and happy and raring to go.

Check out the eyelashes on this kid.  Wish he got them from me!


However, when we stepped out of Penn Station, onto the street, immediately Monkey in the Middle was upset by the noise.

As we started walking, Baby Monkey began to complain that his feet hurt and he was hungry.

Realizing it had been awhile since we had eaten, we decided to stop into a shop and pick up a quick snack.

Everyone picked a snack except for…you guessed it…Baby Monkey.

After 15 minutes, he finally picked something (everyone else’s had been paid for and and almost eaten by this time) and we headed out to eat.


We got to the store and immediately headed to the ferris wheel, as there were no lines.

I got to ride with Baby who kept up a sweet, constant stream of chatter the entire time.



We checked out the entire store and told the kids we’d be happy to buy them each a little something, but they’d be responsible for carrying it.

You can imagine what that bit of information was met with.

So, we headed out and began the trek to the Empire State Building.

Taking several breaks along the way.



By the time we got there, no one was even the slightest bit interested in going inside, except for Monkey Girl, so she and I checked out the lobby and off we went, again.

For the kids, the highlight of the entire trip was eating at a Wendy’s in the city.

You know, because it’s not like we eat at Wendy’s at least once a week anyway.

Lessons Learned

1.  Sometimes, summer is too long.

I think that by this point in the summer (very end of August/beginning of September) we could have taken the kids to Disney and they would have complained.

2.  Know your kids.

I know my boys aren’t into dinosaurs the way other kids are, but I figured the coolness of the whole thing would make it more exciting.

But, my kids are my kids and they know what they like and don’t like.

It’s as if someone took me to Fashion Week and made me sit through a million fashion shows.

It would be cool because of the celebrities who might be there, but otherwise, I’d be bored out of my skull.

I’m not a fashion girl and my boys aren’t dinosaur boys.

3.  Home is almost always better.

On both occasions, when we got home, the kids were back to playing in just a few minutes and having much more fun than they had on our adventures.

4.  We’re instituting a bit of a moratorium on the day trips around here.

Don’t get me wrong.  Lest they sound like spoiled, entitled brats, I should say that at the end of the day, they all said “thank you for taking us,” and did talk about their favorite parts (who knew they had any?) of the trips, but we’ll probably stick with the tried and true for awhile.

So, what about you?

Ever take a trip that you thought would be fantastic and it turned out to be barely mediocre or met with much less enthusiasm than you had hoped?

September 26, 2013

Six Word Memoir

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

My friend and co-author, Jessica, wrote this post on her blog back in 2011.

I just came across it today.

It made me think, if I could sum up my life/my motto in six words, what would I write?


“We all make choices in life.”

I’ve made good choices in my life.

I’ve made bad choices in my life.

I am very aware, however, that they are all my choices and no one is responsible for my actions except for me.

It would be so easy to blame other people for poor choices I may have made along the way, as I see so many other people doing, but if I don’t take that responsibility myself, what do I learn?

“We all make choices in life” is what I tell my children and my students try to blame bad decisions on someone else.

As my life continues to unfold and I look back, I can see that I have, fortunately, made more good choices than bad, but again, I can’t help but wonder if it’s because I have always held myself accountable for those choices.

I don’t let myself off the hook, and so it forces me to think a little more before I act.

So, when I look back and see the good and the bad, “We all make choices in life” is what resonates in my head.

What would your six word memoir be?

September 23, 2013

If I Acted Like My Kids…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

…I’d have a palate that only appreciated macaroni and cheese or spaghetti with meatballs.

…I’d think wrestling was the only way to communicate with my siblings.

…I’d have the unique ability to clog every toilet I used.

…I’d mysteriously use every spoon in the house.

…I’d never tire of the same song, same book, same story, same show, same movie no matter how many times I had heard/told/seen it.

…I’d be able to forgive before a fight was even over.

…I’d remember to find the wonder in every new experience.

…I’d rush less and take more time to smell the roses.

…I’d understand the power and comfort in goodnight and boo-boo kisses.

…I’d smile more.

…I’d worry less.

…I’d love unconditionally.

When I grow up, I want to be like my kids.

September 13, 2013

Family Jokes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

We were in the car, last night, and the kids were talking about the heat and I called back to them, “Yeah, but is it hotter in the summer, or in the city?”


Real Man and I laughed, not so much at the joke itself (which, hopefully most of you know comes from the song) but at the fact that this particular joke is one of his Dad’s standards.

Another gem is “What’s the difference between an orange?” which always leaves the kids stumped.

I love that.

I love that there are certain things that we will always say, and that hopefully the kids will say to their kids, that will always make us laugh because we’ll remember they were “Grandpa’s Jokes.”

I have a feeling that when they grow up and see my number on Caller ID, they’ll answer the phone “Jello!” because that’s how my Dad answers when we call his house.


Does your family have any inside jokes?  Anything that would cause the casual observer to think you had all lost your minds as you laughed hysterically?

I’d love to hear some of them!  Leave them below in the comments!

September 9, 2013

The Value of Talk

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

My Dad came over for dinner the other night.

I made homemade pizza and we ate and all through dinner, the kids chatted away at their Grandpa, and when the dishes were cleared, they hopped up and went to play.

But, my Dad, Real Man, Monkey Girl and I sat at the table and talked.

We talked about a lot of different things and the conversation flowed from topic to topic as the evening wore on.

At one point, I told my Dad that I had just been talking about my grandmother, earlier in the week, when I was asked about who was one of my inspirations.

I shared that I never forgot the time that I was staying with my Grandparents, in Ohio, and I went to work with my Grandma.

She drove the Bookmobile, and one day, we went to this tiny, broken down, ramshackle neighborhood.

You could smell the dirt and hear the stomachs grumbling.

The kids who came to the Bookmobile that day were filthy and they weren’t wearing shoes.

My Grandma put her arms around them, hugged them, leaned in close, read to them, laughed with them and treated them as if they, too, were her precious grandchildren.

I was a little jealous (only child AND only grandchild, here) and when we left, I said,”You treated those kids like they were me!”

She responded, “Amy, you should be as kind as you can, as often as you can.  You might be the only kindness and gentleness in someone’s day.”

It always stuck with me and it’s something that I tell my own kids over and over and over again.

My Dad said that he never heard that story, but it reminded him of one of his own.

It reminded him of something that happened with his father, one time.

My Grandpa did not like conflict.

At all.

I remember when my grandparents would come to visit, and they would stay for a week at a time, because Ohio to NJ is not just right around the corner.

If my parents started fighting while my grandparents were at our house, my Grandpa would say “That’s it!  Doris, pack your bags!  We are leaving!”

He hated conflict.

My Dad said that one time, my grandparents were arguing and my grandpa said he was going to take a walk.

My Dad sat on their front stoop and watching his Dad walk away from the house, down the long, long block.

He waited for a long time and then my grandpa came around the bend on the other side of the block and my Dad thought, “Well, that wasn’t so bad,” until my grandpa just kept walking to do the loop again.

So, the story my Dad shared took place at the Dairy Queen, which was at the end of my grandparents street.

My Dad was about 12 and he and my grandpa were standing in line and they were behind this woman and her little boy, who was about 4 or 5 and she was just railing at the kid.

Calling him names and berating him.

When the line would move up, she would grab the kid’s arm, if he didn’t move fast enough, and yank him forward.


As my Dad told the story, I was pretty sure he was going to say that my grandpa was so uncomfortable with the situation that he turned around and left the Dairy Queen, but that wasn’t how it went.

At one point, the line started to move again and the woman, reached down to grab the boy’s arm, again.

My grandpa’s arm shot out, he grabbed her wrist and said “I think that’s enough of that,” and put her arm back down at her side.

My Dad said she never raised her hand to the boy again…at least not in my grandpa’s presence.

I never would have guessed that story.

That’s not the Grandpa that I knew.

He was always very busy and very quiet when I was there.

He took me fishing and we’d sit out in his boat (named the “Amy Beth”) for hours, just looking at the water, in silence.

He carved my name into wood and I had that on my shelf in my bedroom and every time he would come to visit, he would see it and nod.

If we were at the table and my grandma started filling my Dad and Mom in on the gossip from the town, he would mutter something about minding our own business and excuse himself from the table.

I loved that story.

I loved to hear that story so much, and I never would have heard it if we hadn’t been talking.

Just talking.

I miss talk.

I feel like we don’t spend enough time just talking with people anymore.

Talking without a goal for the conversation.

Conversation for conversations sake.

It’s one of the reasons I love visiting Kim, Erin and Michaela because it’s pretty much all we do.

Just talk.

I’ll admit, I’m not a great social talker.  I tend to stay quiet and listen and only speak if I have something specific to say.

But even being on the receiving end of a good talk is fulfilling.

Going forward, I’m hoping to really prioritize making time for talk in my life.

It’s amazing the things you can learn when you open yourself up to it.

September 5, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

…not funny ha-ha, but funny as in “Hmmm…isn’t this interesting?”

So, maybe I should change the post title to “An Interesting Thing Happened…”

Maybe I’m over-thinking it.


I was tired this weekend.

It was kinda muggy and yucky out and we were all feeling low-key.

The boys were happily playing in the basement, Real Man was doing something on his computer and so I decided to go up to our bedroom, lay down for a few minutes and see what was on tv.

Turns out, it was “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock.

Love that movie.

I watched for a few minutes and Monkey Girl wandered in.

“Whatcha doin’?” she asked.

I told her about the movie and she plopped down next to me.

And stayed to watch the rest of it.

She was the perfect romantic comedy companion.

She laughed at all the right places.

She “Awwww”ed at all the right places.

She was quiet when she was supposed to be quiet and she knew when it would be an appropriate moment for conversation.

When it ended, (and no one had come looking for us) we flipped around and found “While You Were Sleeping” (which prompted me to think that Sandra Bullock had passed away because when a celebrity dies, they always play all of their movies or all of their songs on the radio.  She didn’t.  She’s alive and well.) and settled in to watch that.

We did have to stop that one in the middle, but we recorded the rest and watched it the next day.

And when it was over, we found another romantic comedy.

You’ll remember that I am always bursting into tears at the thought of this girl moving out of my house and leaving me.

This past weekend, I began to see some benefit to this girl growing up.


Please remember to visit my Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes page and read my story and (if you feel so inclined) donate!

September 3, 2013

Twisted MixTape: Best Of…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

For this week’s Twisted Mix tape, Jen challenged us to create a “Best Of” list for any band.

This is tricky for me, as I am pretty much a fan of all genres of music, and wasn’t sure who to pick.

So, I started going through my iTunes to see who I had the most of and which would make a good list.

I’m from Jersey, so maybe Bon Jovi or Springsteen.

But, then I figured those were obvious choices.

I looked at Pearl Jam which made me think maybe I’d just do Eddie Vedder, but then he’s not a band if I’m doing his solo stuff, but maybe that was okay.

If that was okay, then perhaps Justin Timberlake, because…seriously…Justin Timberlake.

Then I started thinking, maybe I’d go old school.  I scrolled through Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, Metallica, Guns-n-Roses, Clapton.

I almost did the Beatles, but the truth is, one of my favorite albums growing up was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I knew all of the songs that I would pick would be from that album.

So, I asked Real Man to help me figure out my favorite band.

He said that it was Aerosmith.

He reminded me that over the course of my life, the band I have gravitated to the most is Aerosmith.

So, here is, (according to me), the best of Aerosmith:

“Dream On” was released two days after my first birthday.

I like to think that it was a present to me from the band.

I know it might be noise to some, but by the time they get to the end and Steven Tyler is screaming “Dream On! Dream On!” you realize you’ve been holding your breath because they’ve been building to it the whole time.

I also love “Home Tonight” which a softer side to the boys.

Here are the boys mixing the two at a concert.

“Walk this Way” and “Sweet Emotion” also make me stop the scan on the radio every time.

I like both versions of “Walk this Way.”

The original and the pairing with Run D.M.C. version.

“Round and Round” is another that I always liked, but you really don’t hear it very often, so it’s one you need to find on your own to hear it.

I love “Mia” as well.

Again, another that isn’t played a lot on mainstream or even classic rock stations, but I like it.

It’s hard for me to choose favorites from some of their albums.

Permanent Vacation, Pump, Get a Grip, Nine Lives, and Just Push Play were all albums that I played so many times (although, at this point, they were CD’s) that they began to skip and wear out.

I don’t remember if it was Nine Lives or Get a Grip, but one of the two also had an interactive DVD portion that you could play on your computer, and you could be the drummer to the song.  Early Guitar Hero-ish, I guess.

My poor keyboard.

I remember my roommates thinking I was insane, but oh, how I loved it.

I loved them all, but I’ll admit to being a fan to almost all of the songs from those albums that went platinum.

“Love in an Elevator,” “Rag Doll,” “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Crazy,” “Amazing,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Living on the Edge,” “Cryin,” “Pink,” “Jaded,” etc.

“Falling in Love is Hard on the Knees” is one of my all-time favorites.

I love the beat…it’s just a good, driving beat.

I’ll be honest…I wasn’t overly impressed with their 2012 album release, but with that exception, I have loved most of what they’ve produced over the course of my life.

Not everything, of course, but most of it.

Real Man was right in that I have gravitated to them the most over the course of my life, but I’m not sure if it’s because they have been so prolific.  The more you produce, the more there is for me to like.

However, I guess the more there is for me to not like, as well, so job well done, Aerosmith.

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