My Real Life

August 22, 2015

Venus and Mars at the Golf Course

We’re a mini-golf family.

We love playing mini-golf.

Okay, we love the “idea” of playing mini-golf.

Because when it comes to actually playing mini-golf, we start out like the Brady Bunch, singing songs, laughing about our errors, making some Sunshine Day memories.

By by the last hole, we are practically tossing our golf clubs at the person manning the booth, saying “Thank God that’s over. Never again.”

And, truth be told, it’s not the kids.

It’s Real Man and I.

But, our methods of destroying the fun of mini-golf differ greatly.

By the time we get to the third hole, someone has already gotten a 5, and I am excluding Tiny from this conversation, because his are all 17’s that we’ve turned into 5’s on the score card to be merciful.

As soon as someone gets frustrated with their score, Real Man swoops in and begins to “teach” them how to play.

“Stand here.”

“Hold the club like this.”

“If you line it up this way.”

“No, don’t rush…take your time and really aim your shot.”

And it’s nice, and the kids improve a little.

But when we get to the sixth hole and he’s still doing it, I start to panic.

Because by this time, the people who were two holes behind us are now waiting for us to finish each hole.

And, while I don’t mind waiting for the people in front of me, I don’t want to be the person that makes other people wait.

So, I start with my tactics.

“Monkey Girl…go ahead and start the next hole.”

“Monkey in the Middle…just tap yours in and go with Monkey Girl.”

“Yes, yes, Tiny…just pick up your ball. It’s gonna take you five minutes to push your ball into the hole that way.”

By the time it is Real Man’s turn at hole 16, I’ve already pushed everyone else on to hole 18 and the poor guy is left all alone, and then when he catches up, we yell our scores at him for the last two holes as we run to the next hole…so no one has to wait for us.

Mid-course, we come together again for the “cool” hole.

And then we all golf together, in solidarity, because of this:

But then it starts again.

And when we finally get to hole 18, which is the awesome hole where if you get a hole in one, you win a free game, I’m saying things like “Wow! You almost got it!” out loud, but in my head I’m thinking, “If one of them wins that free game, I’m going to shoot myself.”

We get in the car and tally the scores, although they are all almost always the same.

Real Man always wins by a lot.

Probably because he is taking his time, lining up his shot, and imagining the ball going into the hole.

The next four are a crap shoot, depending on who was able to actually make the shots with their mother hurrying them along, and then Tiny rounds out the herd, yelling things like “72! That’s such a great number! I winned with 72!”

And I sigh and think “Never again.”

Until the next time.




August 7, 2012

Anatomy of a Rainy Day at the Beach

Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:28 am

Board Games


Card games

Trips to the library

Crazy traffic, since no one is on the beach

Staying in our jammies all day

More Card Games

Outdoor showers in the rain

Grilled chicken and fresh veggies for dinner

Evening walk for Real Man and I because it’s clearer and we MUST get out

And sneak into an ice cream shop for a treat

Just us

Family Olympic Watching

And one, last board game before bed


August 4, 2012

Vacation – Part 3

Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:00 am

What have we done with the rest of our week?

More beach.

Trips to the park.

Sibling snuggles.

Time at the arcade.

Lots of walks.

Waiting for the recycling truck. (Always a good time)

Happy times.

July 31, 2012

Vacationing – Part Deux

Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 7:34 am

Another great day, more fun to share.

Early mornings with Monkey in the Middle and Tiny equal hanging out,


filling empty water bottles with rocks,

and checking out spider webs in trees.

Fun of the beach,

We love watching these guys burrow their way back into the sand.

There was also a paddle ball marathon with Monkey in the Middle and I, who are trying to up our record of volleys each day.  This day, we got up to 21.  Shooting for 30 tomorrow.

Quick trip to the A&P.  Much more manageable on a Monday than a Saturday.

Longer trip to the library.

Grandpa treating the kids to the ice cream man.

The kids re-paying Grandpa for the ice-cream by beating Grandpa and I in Beat the Parents.

Another banner day with the monkeys.

Life is good.

July 23, 2012

The Land of Make-Believe

Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:00 am

We took another day trip on Saturday.

This time, to the Land of Make Believe, in Hope, New Jersey.

It was such a great day.

We headed in right at opening, and were surprised to see a huge sign saying that they only accepted cash or the Discover card, due to the fraudulent charges policies of Amex, Visa, and Master Card.

And, then they had a huge ATM.


Wasn’t an issue for us, as I had been saving some cash, from piano lessons, for such an event, so we were set.

In we went.

I went to the Land of Make-Believe when I was a kid and it was nothing.

I mean nothing.

Since then, it’s quite a bit different.

There are two parts to the park…a water park and an amusement park.

We told the monkeys, before we even left the house, that we wouldn’t be doing the water park today.  Just the rides.

They were fine with it.

So, here’s our adventure, in pictures (except where words are needed):

(Monkey Girl and I playing Miss Mary Mack)

(Lovely turkeys in Old MacDonald’s Barn)

(This was on the bridge on the path to the rock where Jenny Jump fell to her death, trying to escape the Native Americans)

We finished up with ice cream and a nap.

On the way home, we decided to pull into a scenic overlook to remind the monkeys just how beautiful New Jersey is.

Living in the burbs, you sometimes forget about the sheer beauty that is the Garden State.

The End.

July 16, 2012

Day Trip

First of all…the winner of our Caption Contest!  Thanks to the Random Number Generator at, the winner is:


Congrats, Carla!  I’ll put your iTunes card in the mail! 🙂

Now, onto today’s post!

One of the things I had hoped to do with the monkeys, this summer, was to take them on some day trips.

Things we can’t do during the school year.

So, on Friday, my friend, Jean, and I packed up our 6 kids, hopped in my truck, and headed to Philadelphia.

On the agenda?

The Please Touch Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary.

We packed a lunch, and followed the GPS directions to the Museum.

We found a parking lot, paid, ate our lunch in the back of the truck, and then headed out.

We walked around for awhile, following the directions from the parking attendant, but there seemed to be no museum anywhere.

So, we finally started asking people, and we were met with blank stares and confusion.

Finally, someone told us that the museum had moved and was a 15 minute drive away.

Jean and I laughed, turned around, headed back to the truck and rerouted the GPS.

Then we arrived.

None of us had ever been to the Please Touch Museum before, and when I posted on Facebook that we were thinking of going there, it got mixed reviews.

It exceeded expectations.

The kids loved it.

Even Monkey Girl, for whom it was probably a little young.

Here are some highlights, but please know these don’t even begin to cover everything at the museum.

At the Pit Stop, Tiny “drove” a race car.

Until, that is, he saw Baby Monkey playing pit crew, with the magnetic tires and car parts.

Then, he had to get in on the action.

In the Space room, Baby Monkey donned an astronaut outfit and headed into space.

Each themed area had a space for kids who were three and under, and as a result, Tiny got to harvest some potatoes,

Almost fell in a laundry basket,

and hung mittens for the three little kittens.

He sailed away with the Owl and the Pussycat,

and spun straw into gold.

Finally, he watched over while Monkey Girl napped, at the end of the rainbow, to the tune of some nursery rhyme lullabies.

They loved playing on the big piano, and as he was enchanted with the keys lighting up under his feet, Tiny needed to get down for some closer inspection.

At the end of our time there, we took a ride on the carousel.

Aside from the activities, one of my favorite parts of the museum were the displays of older toys.

Two, in particular, caught my attention because I owned both, as a kid, and played with them until they were completely worn out.

I play hard.

The first was the Family Tree House:

I loved that Tree House.  It went side-by-side with my Weeble tree house.

The other was the Smurf village:

Oh, how I loved my Smurfs.

So, when we finished with the museum, we headed to the penitentiary.

We were all starving, so despite the fact we had already had lunch, we decided all that exercise and movement at the museum had earned us “second lunch.”

Because, you know…we’re Hobbits.

Right down the street from the penitentiary is a phenomenal pizza place.  Seriously some of the best pizza I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot, because I’m from Jersey.

At the penitentiary, we took the audio tour, which was self-guided, and I definitely suggest people take audio tours.  The kids listened, were quiet, and were fascinated.

Al Capone’s cell was fascinating to all of us.  Crazy that the guards would allow him to have such luxuries when he was such a bad guy.

Not everyone was thrilled with the prison, but it’s understandable, because while he had been allowed to run and play at the museum, he had to stay contained in the stroller at the penitentiary.

It was a great day of adventuring.

The boys all slept on the way home (I have been asked by Monkey in the Middle NOT to share the photo of them sleeping, and so I will not) and Jean and I got to relax and chat while we drove.

Good friends, good food, good entertainment, good day.

July 7, 2012

My Town – Part II

Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:00 am

I grew up, right up the street from this park.

When I was a kid, you would look out and all you would see was two ponds, side by side.

One, used for skating in the winter, feeding the ducks in the summer, and strolling around all year long…the other, used for fishing and for being mysterious.

Since I was a child, however, nature has grown up around the ponds, and while the man-made stone walls allow you a vision of pond #1, pond #2 is all but obscured by the brush.

While I miss the old view, the new is pretty darn beautiful, as well.

My summers were spent going to the pool, then across the street to the baseball fields to catch a Little League game, then to the park, which backed up to the fields.

Pond #2 had a little sandy peninsula that you had to crawl through the brush to access, and Gail and I spent hours and hours there, imagining, pretending, playing.

Tiny and Monkey Girl were loving the view, as it is today.


In the park stands a statue of Thomas Paine.

If you don’t know who Thomas Paine is, and you are an American, shame on you.

(And, click his name, above, to get to the Wikipedia link)

In this park stands the largest statue of Thomas Paine, in the world.

It’s beautiful.


When we were kids, there was this rumor of a mysterious woman who would come and put a rose at the base of the statue.

We were always on the lookout for her, but as far as I know, none of us ever saw her.

We did, however, always find the rose on the statue.

Anyway, happy to have introduced Tiny to the park, we decided to go on our way and return another time, when the big boys could join us.


June 12, 2012


Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:00 am

First hike of the year.

I could only get Monkey Girl and Monkey in the Middle to join me, but it was a great time.

We found some friends along the way.

Did some climbing.

Apparently, all the hiking and rock climbing was exhausting…even if you didn’t join us!

April 14, 2012


Filed under: Adventuring — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

A few weeks ago, Baby Monkey went to a birthday party at the FunPlex.

He loved it.

He came home and told his siblings about it, and suddenly, they, too, needed to go to the FunPlex.

I’ll be honest…I thought it was pretty cool.  Kinda like a small, indoor amusement park/boardwalk all-in-one.

So, I put it in the back of my mind.

We had our week off for Spring Break, and we packed a lot in.

We also had the Monday after Easter off, and I was wavering between taking a day off and just chilling or doing one more fun thing with the monkeys.

I went for fun.

So, I told the Monkeys we were going to run some errands and then do something super fun, but if there was any complaining on the errands, no super fun.

They were angels on the errands, and I kept dropping little clues, in our conversation, about where we were going.

Monkey Girl began a notes sheet, on her iTouch, with the clues to try and figure out the mystery.

It was pretty darn cute.

Once the errands were done, I headed down and pulled into the Funplex parking lot to the cheers and thanks from the monkeys.

If you ever want to go, be the first ones there and you miss the crowd and it’s a much more fun experience.

We had a great, great time.

Bumper cars were the favorite activity, but they tried everything multiple times, thanks to the wristbands that got them on all the rides.

Monkey in the Middle LOVES racing games.

Back to the bumper cars.

The funniest part was that, after we had been there for about an hour, I got a text from my friend, Jean, with whom we had been to the Crayola Factory on Friday.

The text read “r u at funplex??????”

I wasn’t sure why she was asking, because I knew I hadn’t mentioned to her that I was thinking of going, so I just texted back “Yep.  Kids r in heaven.”

And in the door walked Jean, her two kids, her two nephews and her niece.

She had been planning to take her nephews, as a gift, for a few months, but never mentioned it to me, either.  When they pulled in the parking lot, she recognized our truck and said to her kids, “Guess who is here?”

It was fun to see them, the kids were thrilled, and I got to hang out with my friend for another day.

And when all was said and done, I had three very happy children.

And one very happy, but exhausted baby.

This picture was taken 5 minutes after we got in the car.

Just in case you didn’t get the full effect of the exhaustion:

April 8, 2012

How We Spent Our Spring Break

So, this past week was our Spring Break.

Despite the fact that I wanted to relax and just unravel my mind from everything that has been happening around here in the past few weeks, (and get some laundry done), we were busy, busy, busy.

Because, let’s be honest…Spring Break is for the kids.

And so, I did my damnedest to make sure it was about the kids.

Real Man took Monday off and we went to the beach.

On Tuesday, we really yucked it up and the four big kids and I had dentist appointments.

They were wonderful at the dentist, but there were four of us, so the whole experience lasted almost three hours from start to finish.

Tiny was interested in the toys for about 5 minutes.  The other 2 hours and 55 minutes?  Not so much.

We spent the rest of the day playing outside and having fun, finishing up the night with A Dolphin Tale.

On Wednesday, we headed over to my parents house, first thing in the morning, as my Dad was heading out to Ohio that afternoon.  The kids and my Dad played dominoes, did jigsaw puzzles and taught him how to play Words With Friends on his Facebook account.  (I think we may have another addict on our hands)

I spent the morning chasing down Tiny who was loving exploring Grandma’s house.

We had lunch, I gave my Dad a haircut and then we headed out.

By that time, Tiny had snuck in a 10 minute nap, but, unfortunately, that meant he would not sleep again, so at that point, I had everyone go to the bathroom and we headed to our favorite park.

The place was packed but we had a blast.  There was swinging and climbing and sliding and ice cream trucking and everything in between.

We got home in time for me to make dinner, and then we ate, and the monkeys relaxed by watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the basement, while Real Man and I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  The kids were in hysterics in the basement and Real Man and I were intrigued in the living room.  I had read the book, previously, and think that this is a case of the book being better than the movie.  I never read the second one, but I think I’m going to start that one tonight.

Thursday was a day of playing with friends.  The boys had friends over from 11-2 and then we took an hour break and the kids had our old neighbor kids, and good friends, over from 3-5:30.  I would have to say a good time was had by all.

I had to laugh, because my friend, Jen, had recently posted this on her blog.  Ah, playdates.

Friday was a doctor appointment for Mama, then the monkeys and I picked up my friend, Jean, and her kids and headed to Pennsylvania to the Crayola Factory.  Another perk of living where we do!

I had received a deal through Living Social for 4 people for $20, which is half off the regular price.  It covered the older monkeys and I, and Tiny was free.  So, the 8 of us only paid $5 each.  Fantastic.

If you’ve never been, I will warn you it is tight and is probably not organized in the best manner possible.  However, it’s a blast for the kids…particularly if you have Crafty Craftersons like Baby Monkey and Jean’s little girl.  They could have spent hours in every single spot in the place.

A good time was had by all, and it was nice, for all of us, to spend a day with our friends.

Saturday was another great day.

We woke up and I made pancakes for the monkeys.  They loved them.  Tiny still needs to learn moderation, as he tried shoving an entire pancake in his mouth.  Take it slow, little one…take it slow.

Then, Real Man suited up in his sweats, sweatshirt and comfy socks and headed into the office and closed the door behind him to update Quicken and do our taxes.

The monkeys and I suited up and headed to the center of town for the Easter Egg Hunt.  So much fun and the kids all saw friends from school, which made it extra special.

I’m amazed at how much work must go into it, considering how many kids live in our town, but it was really well-run, I thought.  (Except that it started late, but the Bunny shows up on a fire truck, and, apparently, there was a fire call a few minutes before he was supposed to arrive…I guess that takes precedence.)

Each child got a bag with a small chocolate bunny, jelly beans, 2 Blow Pops, 2 pieces of Laffy Taffy, and the most important things, a toothbrush and toothpaste. 🙂

Then, the green was divided into different sections…1-3 year olds, 4-6 year olds, and 7-10 year olds.  My Mom came with us and went with Monkey in the Middle to the 7-10 year old section and I stayed with Baby in the 4-6 section.  When they blew the whistle, Monkey Girl held Baby’s bag and he ran around and got the little foil covered chocolate eggs and dropped them in his bag.

When that was done, there was a raffle.  Each gift bag also had a plastic egg.  On the outside of each egg was a number.  They must have called 50 numbers (I may be exaggerating, but it certainly felt like 50) and those kids got large chocolate bunnies.  My monkeys were so hopeful, but no winners in our house.

When it was all over, we walked over to the library where we had some books to return.  Everyone picked some new books, a few movies and then just browsed for awhile.  Tiny crawled around, checking everything out. So far, he hasn’t discovered the fun of pulling all of the books off the shelf.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, but so far, it’s just a nice space for him to crawl.

We went home, had some lunch and then, while Tiny napped, moved ourselves to the basement so as not to distract Real Man.  The big kids bundled on the couch (it was a chilly egg hunt) and watched some On Demand shows and Baby Monkey and I sat at the craft table and colored with the coloring set he got at the Crayola Store on Friday.

We colored every superhero imaginable, and then he decided he wanted to try his watercolors.  He wasn’t thrilled with them.  I never was, either, as a child.  The idea of painting never really lived up to the reality of painting.  It was always my least favorite thing to do in art class, as well.  Bob Ross, I ain’t.

Then, it was time for me.  I went and got my hair cut. hour and a half of sitting in a chair, having someone wash my hair, then sitting under the dryer while my roots lighten up, then having my hair blow dried, which is something I never do for myself.  Heaven.  Brought my iPad so I could read (currently reading The Girl Who Played with Fire) and just chilled.  The woman I go to knows that I’m not a chatter, and so she generally leaves me alone.  She has said that it’s relaxing for her, as well, not to have to consistently make up things to talk about.  We work well together.

Came home, got the monkeys, ordered some pizza (I decided that I could take one night off during break…I deserve one night…right?), fooled around with Photo Booth with the big boys:

Ate dinner and then colored our eggs.

Today, we’ll be celebrating Easter with family and then probably just crashing.

Monday is our last day of the break, and I don’t have anything planned.  I’ve snuck in the laundry throughout all this fun and so I don’t even have to spend my last day doing chores.  I can just do whatever and go wherever the day takes us.

This was, probably, the best Spring Break I can remember since the aforementioned Spring Break of ’93 when Kim and I were snowed into Jersey and couldn’t get back to college.  It was just fun and great time with the monkeys.

It’s made me start to dream about summer and imagine the fun we’ll have then.  3 more months to plan and dream!

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