My Real Life

July 21, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

After four children, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve read almost every children’s book that’s out there.

Some of them are fantastic.

Some of them are fine, if you read them once or twice, but after thirty-thousand times, even Good Night, Moon gets a little dicey.

Some of them, I’ve written about before.

I wrote about the insane ABC book.

Nicole Leigh Shaw invited me to ride her Character Assassination Carousel, and I wrote about Bert and Ernie and their misadventures with a mop.

After reading to Tiny, last night, and the millionth time having to explain this book to, yet another, child, today, I thought I’d share with you the book Opposites.

The premise is simple enough.

Take a bunch of pictures of things that are opposites, write the words, and teach the kiddies a thing or two.

However, implicit in a children’s book is the understanding that the information will be presented in a way that doesn’t confuse the kids.

I think someone forgot to tell this to this particular author.

In all fairness, most of the book is straightforward.

You have “above.”


And then you have “below.”


You see a kitten that is “awake.”


And then you are shown a kitten that is “asleep.”


But, what about words that may be opposite, but you can’t really find one subject that demonstrates both words?

Just take two things that are completely unrelated and put them together, I guess.

For example;




Look at the cute bunny.

Look at the cute, soft bunny.

Don’t you want to pet and kiss that cute soft bunny?

Totally an example of soft.

But how do you use a picture of a bunny to show “hard?”

Take a visit to a taxidermist?

Put it in a leather vest and pop a lit cigarette in it’s mouth?

Serve it, well-done, with a nice bearnaise sauce?


My friends, to make a bunny into an example of “hard,” you turn it into…


A Volkswagen Beetle.

I get it…it’s hard to make a bunny look hard.

However, maybe if that’s the case, you pick something else.

Like gum in someone’s mouth and gum under the desk in a classroom.

Or, if it’s too difficult, then skip that set of opposites.

Because, here’s what happens my friends.

When Tiny reads the book (and his sister and brothers before him, I might add) he reads it fine.



But, in general conversation, when you say, “Hey Tiny!  What’s the opposite of ‘soft?'” the kid responds with a proud shout, “A car!”

And what about the pictures that are straightforward, but still manage to confuse the tykes?

Pictures for words like “left” and “right.”





Okay, I get it and I can see the logic in the example.

However, I’m 42 and feel like I have a pretty strong grasp on the concept of left and right.

Most of the time.

And if I am feeling muddled and confused about it, I simply pretend I’m about to say the Pledge of Allegiance and it clears things right up.

But this picture?

Let me explain.

We turn to this page and Tiny says “Left!’ turns the arrow and says “Right!” and I say, “Yes!”

And then he says (every single time) “This side is left!” and puts his hand over the word ‘left,’ which is actually on the right side of the page.

And I say, “Correct!  Well, no, actually.  That’s the word left, but it’s the right side of the page.”

And he lifts his right hand and says “left!”

And I say, “No, that’s your right hand.”

And he points to the word “left” on the paper and says, “This says ‘left!'” and I say, “Yes!”

And the whole thing starts again.

Maybe we could have just had the word “right” on the right hand side of the page and the word “left” on the left hand side of the page and left it at that.

But, what do I know?


July 15, 2014

Secret Doors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Part of my summer is spent in Professional Development with one group of teachers or another.

Last week, I was with the Language Arts teachers, and the presenter took everyone through an activity to help students come up with topics for writing.

It was called “I Remember” and students were to write as many true sentences as they could that began with the words “I Remember.”

Students would then choose one of those sentences and blow it out into a full writing piece.

In order for us to see the power of the exercise, the presenter led us through the exercise and we created our own lists.

While we didn’t have to blow them out into our own writing pieces, one of the sentences I wrote has been stuck in my mind, and so I finally decided the only way to get it out of there would be to write about it.

The sentence was “I remember secret doors.”


I grew up in an old house that was built in the 1920’s.

It was a modest home with two bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, dining room and living room, and a huge basement and garage that still had the iron rings on the walls to tie up horses.

It was a house that whispered to me at every turn.

Even the outside of the house called to me to peek under the slate stones that made up our front walk to see if there was a secret staircase below.

To climb the brick chimney and look out over the neighborhood.

But the best thing about that house was the doors.

There were doors throughout that house…some small, some large, and all promised secrets and adventure beyond.

In the basement, the tiny metal door behind the furnace that was the place where the ashes fell from the ash pit in the fireplace, was the perfect location for making up stories about people who had to hide out and take refuge in the basement.

I imagined that behind the little door, the hideaways would find secret messages and food and supplies from the owner of the house while they waited for the signal that the coast was clear.

The original wood and glass door that went from the basement to the garage was a passageway back in time where, once I passed through it, led to those horses actually being tied in the garage, waiting to be brushed and fed by the little grooms girl…me.

My parents bedroom had a small annex that had four small doors, three of which were tiny closets where my mother stored towels and sheets, but the fourth door led to a small storage space where my parents actually did find certificates to prove that a previous owner had purchased land in London on which to build a Jewish hospital in 1911.

Aside from the total coolness factor of that find, it spurred me on to further dream about what might be behind those doors.

And then there was my room.

In my room, there was a closet, and in my closet was another door.

That door led to small, extra closet/storage space.

That extra door was the center of so many of my dreams as a child.

It was my wardrobe to Narnia.

My gate to the Secret Garden.

I dream about that door, still.

I dream about other doors, as well.

I also dream about the other doors in that house, and I dream about doors that never existed.

I’m not sure what it all means, if anything.

What I do know is that I firmly believe that those doors led me to develop my imagination, and for that, I am grateful.


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