My Real Life

December 28, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 8:51 am

1. If you had to give 1 million dollars to just one person (not your spouse), who would it be and why?

Wow.  That’s tough.

I’m answering this question last because it is a hard one to answer.

Would I give it to Monkey Girl with the stipulation that she must divide it equally between she and her brothers when they all hit a certain age?

Would I give it to someone who needs it the most, as in one needy person or would I give it to someone who could help the most people with it, like a philanthropist?

I hate the “just one person” part of the question, because I’d love to give it to a school district or I’d really love to give it to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

I really don’t know.

I have a feeling this is one I’ll never need to worry about, but it is interesting to think about.

2. What bathroom stall do you typically go to FIRST? 

The last one.

That way, no one is walking by, casually looking to see if there is someone in there.

I’m an observer of human behavior, and in every crowded public bathroom, in which I’ve ever been, I watch the women cooly look out of the corner of their eyes through the slots in the door (because they are never fully private) to see if someone is in there.


I just bend over and look for feet.

I seem to be in the minority, which is why I take the last stall.

3. How do you prefer to shop: In-store or online?

That’s a hard one.

I like to shop online because it frees up my time.

I don’t have to drive anywhere, I don’t have to take four kids with me, I don’t have to change out of my jammies.

However, I like to shop in stores because I like to see what I am buying, as I’ve been tricked before by pictures online and have been disappointed with what showed up at my home.

I guess I’ll go with online being the preference, however, in certain circumstances, you gotta get to the store.

4. What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

It’s been windy, it’s been snowy, it’s been rainy and it’s been darn cold.

Nothing out of the ordinary for winter.

Just yucky.

I’m ready for a real snowstorm with a lot of good packing snow so the kids can go out and play in it without it disappearing in their hands.

That’s winter.

5. Do you own a pair of Tom’s and what do you think? Overrated, underrated or about right?

I do not, and while I like the idea of them donating a pair to a child in need every time someone buys a pair, I think the shoe, itself, is overrated.

I also have flat feet, and have very, very few pairs of flat shoes because they hurt my feet, so that could certainly play in to my feelings about Toms.

December 21, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 7:30 am

1.  What’s something gross you’ve seen or tasted recently.

I made salad in August.

I made it in the Salad Spinner.

We didn’t have enough room for it in the inside fridge, so I put it in the fridge in the garage.

Forgot about it.

Found it the other day.

Don’t want to talk about it.

2.  What movie this holiday season are you most looking forward to?

I can’t wait to take the monkeys to see “Legends of the Guardians.”

We’ve been waiting for that since we saw the previews this summer.

Real Man and I are excited to see “The Hobbit.”

We are enormous LOTR fans, and this is something we’ve been waiting for for a very, very long time!

3.  What makes one photographer better or worse than another?

Finding something in a scene that no one else sees.

I think it’s amazing when a photographer takes a photo of something so simple, so common, and makes it seems absolutely unbelievable.

It’s that vision…that eye.

4.  What specific, annual part of the season makes you feel all the positive feelings again.

It used to be the 11 pm Christmas Eve service at my church.

Something about the lighting, the candles, the music, the hushed nature of the service just made the magic come alive.

However, I haven’t been to that service since we had children, so I guess it would be on Christmas Eve when we track Santa with Norad.

The monkeys get SO excited to track his progress across the sky.

When they go to bed, they are positively vibrating with excitement.

It’s wonderful.

5.  What are your thoughts on eggnog?

It’s a drink.

It’s okay.

I don’t like the kind that’s spiked with alcohol, but the regular old eggnog is okay for a few sips once a year.

I wouldn’t make it a habit, though.

December 14, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 9:46 am

1. If you bake during the holidays, what is your favorite thing to make?

I don’t bake any more during the holidays than I do the rest of the year, which is not much.

My friend, Allison, actually gave me a recipe that I was absolutely going to try to make this year.

Haven’t quite gotten to it.

In years past, I have baked chocolate chip and sugar cookies for the secretaries and custodians at our school, because, as any teacher or administrator can tell you, it is the secretaries and custodians who run the school…not the administrators.

I may do that over the weekend, but I think that will be the top of my holiday baking this year.

2. Present giving: Gift bag vs wrapped box?

Depends on the gift.

Gift card…always a bag.

Hostess gift…gift bag.

Presents for the kids?

Wrapping paper.

I got a great deal on some paper after Christmas a few years ago and so I’m stocked in wrapping paper for a few years, so it’s not really something I stress about.

3. What do you keep your thermostat on during the winter/summer in your house?

In the winter, we’ve been known to hover between 58 and 63.

The kids have all adapted and we dress warmly, however, I’ve been having some circulation issues with my diabetes, and I may wind up needing the heat a bit higher this winter, as my hands and feet are just icy, these days, when everyone else is just fine.

In the summer, I think we do 72, but to be honest, I don’t really remember.

Some days, anything is better than outside, so as long as it’s a little cooler indoors than out, we’re good.

4. When thinking of your “Christmas to-do list” what percentage “done” are you?


I haven’t had a second to go shopping, and the things that we want to get are things you need to go check out in a store and really can’t get online.

I’ve had a few things delivered, but that’s really it.

So, 2% sounds pretty accurate.

5. Do you do the “Elf on a Shelf”? If so, is your Elf naughty and what shenanigans has he gotten into?


I really have some issues with the Elf.

I hold nothing against anyone else who does it, but it’s just not for us.

The whole naughty Elf thing gets me, too.

Isn’t the whole idea of the Elf that he’s there, reporting to Santa whether your kids are behaving?

So, why on Earth would he be misbehaving?  Shouldn’t he lead by example?

I don’t know…creepy.

December 9, 2012

Five Question…Sunday

Filed under: Five Question Friday,Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

1. How many times have you moved and do you have any tips?

I’ll only count the times Real Man and I have moved.

We’ve lived in four houses together.

My tip would be…don’t move.

It’s a huge pain in the patootie.

However, that’s probably not helpful.

So, instead I’ll say buy and don’t lease.

Pack early and pack often.

Get someone to babysit your kids on move day.

And if you can help it…again…don’t move.

2. Do you have a budget for the holidays, or just keep sliding the credit card and have a heart attack in Jan?

I start buying in August, as I see things I think the monkeys would like.

We also don’t go crazy on Christmas, so there is no reason for a heart attack in January.

We don’t have a set limit, and we don’t spend the same on each child.

We get what we think each child would enjoy and call it a day.

3. What is the one medical thing you avoid like the plague?

If you mean medical procedure, it would be anything with the eyes.

I used to watch “The Operation” on TLC and I watched every single procedure they did, completely on the edge of my seat.

Except when they did eye surgery.

I couldn’t change that channel fast enough.

And now, it seems like every show I watch has someone’s eyes being held open with clamps and a needle going in their eye.

Gives me the chills.

4. What your least favorite Christmas song?

It’s a tie.

Christmas Shoes and The River.

Excuse me while I vomit.

5. This Christmas are you spending more, less or about the same? Why?

Probably a little less because the things the kids are interested in are not very expensive.

November 30, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 9:00 am

1. What do you give teachers for gifts?

Our school district has an Educational Foundation and one of the fundraisers is the Teacher Tribute program.  You donate money in the name of a teacher, and the teacher gets a little card saying that money has been donated in their name and with a little note from the family.  The money goes directly back into the schools through grants from the foundation.  As a teacher, I can attest that it is a wonderful gift, knowing that the money is going back to the schools.

2. Do you text? One finger texter or total pro?

Total pro.

I’m a great texter and an excellent typist.  I chalk it up to being a pianist.

3. Do you give back during the holidays? If so, in what way/which is your favorite charity?

We try to give back all year.

Some charities that are constants with us are the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, Alzheimer’s Association of America, and some others.

This year, we are also doing what we can for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, with donations of money, food, clothes, books, and whatever else they need.

I think that if you have even a little, you should be willing to share with those who have less.

Because there is always someone with less. 🙁

4. If you would’ve been the sole winner of the 575+ million dollar Powerball jackpot, what would you have done with all that money?

Put aside enough money for all 4 kids to go through college.

Paid off the house and Real Man’s Jeep and bought myself a new car.

Given some to our families.

Invested some.

Put some in the bank.

Donated a bunch to the different charities above.

Helped to rebuild the Jersey Shore.

Finally taken these kids to DisneyWorld and Universal Studios in Florida.

5. This week, question number five comes from the woman who hosts Five Question Friday, and from whom I get the questions each week.  Please read and consider her request.  If you don’t pray, then just spread the word and think positive thoughts.  “Will you please take just a moment to spread the word and pray about my friend’s missing family members? There still is no news, and I can’t imagine their pain and worry. Facebook prayer page: Prayers for Trista, Shy and Matt

November 17, 2012

Six Question Saturday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 8:24 am

1} What snack/drinks do you eat at the movies?

Real Man and I usually share a monstrous sized popcorn and we splurge and go for a monstrous sized Coke.

We don’t have soda in the house, so it’s a big deal and it’s just so darn good.

Sometimes…sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly naughty and have been really good about the carbs and sugars I’ve put in my body that day, I’ll go for a bag of Reese’s Pieces.

And eat every last one myself.

2} What’s one food you refuse to ever try?

Oysters. They sound gross and they look gross and I’m just betting they taste gross too.

(disclaimer: this is the exact answer that Kate wrote when she posted the questions for Five Question Friday this week, but I couldn’t have said it better myself)

3} What’s your favourite nail polish color?

I don’t really wear nail polish, but if I do, I like light pastels.

I’m not a blood red girl.

Also, coral.  Every book I read, the woman has short, well-groomed nails painted in coral.

So, yeah…coral.

4} What is your favourite Thanksgiving tradition?

Mashed potatoes.

Not much of a tradition, but basically the only day of the year we eat potatoes, (not in french fry form), so yep…mashed potatoes.

5} What are your least favorite words in the English language?

“We’ll talk about it later.”


I want to talk about it now.

Because later…never comes.

6.  Why are you posting Five Question Friday on Saturday and masking it under a different name?

Because I forgot yesterday.


I just forgot.


Last day to enter our contest to win a $15 iTunes gift card and to have $15 donated to Hurricane Sandy Relief in your name! 

Click here to enter!


Daily Gratitude, Day 17

I’m grateful to work with people that I enjoy, so that going in to work on a Saturday for five hours or so is relatively painless.

November 9, 2012

Five Things I’m Digging These Days Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 7:24 am

The questions for today’s Five Question Friday were questions that I felt like I have already discussed here, multiple times in multiples ways, and so I decided to go rogue.

I live on the edge, my friends.

So, instead of Five Question Friday, I thought that, today, I’d share with you Five Things I’m Digging These Days.

1.  Monkey in the Middle came home from school yesterday with a card trick they had learned in math class.

He showed me, I read the directions and did it myself and then we just did it over and over again because it was pretty cool.

When Real Man came home, we showed him the trick.

Real Man has to know the inner workings of everything, so we played it many more times.

We tried to figure out how it works, why it works, but in the end, we just agreed that it was pretty cool and there was really no trickery involved.

2.  I am really enjoying the CW show Beauty and the Beast.

When I was growing up, my Mom and I used to watch the original with Linda Hamilton and Ron Pearlman and I loved it then.

It’s a little harder to swallow Kristin Kruek (aka Lana Lang from the CW’s Smallville) as a gritty, city cop, however, it has totally sucked me in.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a fan of forbidden love stories, and this one is a doozy.

Great show.

3.  Speaking of love stories, it’s that time of year.

Don’t worry, I’m not decorating the house or playing Christmas music, but it is that time of year for the sappy Christmas romance novels.

I love ’em.

Two people in love, but can’t be together for some reason, but it all resolves itself by Christmas Eve.

I just finished “The Bridge” by Karen Kingsbury who is not an author that I’ve ever read before, as she is a Christian fiction author and I don’t necessarily read that genre, but the story surrounded a bookstore and, seriously, how could I resist that.

Romance, Christmas, books.


4.  My fireplace.

There is nowhere I’d rather read one of my sappy Christmas romances than in front of the fire.

And I have been getting the most out of my fireplace this season.

The impending hurricane two weeks ago caused me to finally get it cleaned (after living here over a year) and while we were all recovering and hosting and doing Sandy-related things, I finally got around to lighting it.


5.  The flexibility and dedication of my colleagues.

We had to get the kids back to school.

It was time, if not simply to provide the hundreds of kids at our school who are still without power a bit of routine, structure and warmth.

However, our school is out of power.

None of the elementary schools are big enough to house over 1,000 middle schoolers, so we’re going to high school.

Again, however, it’s a big school, but not necessarily big enough for all of us.

So, we’re doing half-day sessions.

We are bussed to the HS from 7:30-11:30 and the high schoolers attend from 12-4.

It could be a disaster.

It’s not.

As with any situation, it is what you make of it, and for the most part, my colleagues and I have been doing our best to continue to make our time with the students educational and meaningful.

Business as usual in a most unusual situation, if you will.

And the students have been phenomenal, as well.

They see it as a grand adventure and are feeling pretty important getting to walk the halls of the HS.

Would things be better if we were in our own school?


Can we get it done in an alternate location?

Without a doubt.


Daily Gratitude, Day 9

Sounds cheesy, but I’m grateful that I am able to come up with 5 things I am digging today.  The things on my list show that I am warm, safe, and dry and am surrounded by people I like and admire.  It’s a good life.

November 2, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am

1. What terrifies you the most?

Something happening to the monkeys.

The fear can be paralyzing.

I’m not the kind of mom who wraps my kids in bubble wrap.

I encourage them to take risks, even when I know it will mean they might fall.

It’s the only way you learn to get up again.

I am simply terrified of something out of my control happening to the monkeys.

The hurricane has brought those fears to the forefront.

The two little boys who were killed while playing in their room and a tree fell on the house.

The two little boys who were swept right out of their mothers arms as a wave hit them on Staten Island where there should never, ever have been a wave.

My tornado dreams always involve me being apart from at least two of the kids and I don’t know if they are safe.

It is 100%, absolutely my biggest fear.

2. Favorite fall/winter drink? 

I really love hot apple cider as well as hot chocolate.

If I had to choose between them?

Probably the hot apple cider.

Because it still tastes good if you let it sit too long and hot chocolate…not so good when it goes cold.
3. Do you and your spouse have the same political views?

On some issues.

We can have some good discussions about the topics on which we disagree, and I think that’s healthy.

If you surround yourself with people who think the same as you do, you never grow.

So, there’s growth over here.

There’s growth.

4. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

The last book I read was something by Nora Roberts, the title of which I can’t remember.

I picked it up at the church bazaar two weekends ago and read it in a day.

Easy read, good read.

I’m on page 50  of “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan, but just haven’t had the time to dedicate to finishing it.

Yes, I could have finished that instead of the Nora Roberts but…well…I didn’t.

I love the Rick Riordan books, but this one just hasn’t grabbed me yet.

Gotta read it, though, as all of my students are reading it and I like to know what they are reading.

5. Do you look forward to the snow each winter? Why or why not?

I do.

I love snow outside because of what happens inside.

I love snuggling under blankets, looking out the window at the snow falling.

I love hot chocolate and popcorn with the monkeys.

There’s something about reading in front of a fire while the snow falls outside that just makes me feel warm inside.

I love the excitement that the monkeys display when the snow is coming, and love watching them out in it, once it’s here.

Do I look forward to the snow each winter.



Daily Gratitude, Day 2

Today, I am grateful that an Ohio Edison truck just pulled up my street.  We have a generator, so the van doesn’t make me think “Phewf!  Power!”  It’s the fact that the power companies are pulling in their guys from all over the country, and that those people from all over the country are willing to drive to NJ to fix a problem that is not theirs warms my heart.  I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers.

October 19, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am

1. Where do you hide junk when people come over?

We don’t have a lot of “junk,” but I do move the piles of papers into a Rubbermaid drawer system that I got specifically for that purpose.

Everything else has a home and just gets put in it’s home.

2. Do political ads help you decide who you are going to vote for?


And, quite frankly, I’d be shocked if I heard that they help anyone decide on their vote.

They spend the majority of their time bashing the other guy.

I don’t want to hear what you think the other guy did wrong.

I want to know what you are going to do right.

In detail.

And I’ve never seen a political ad that does that.

3. What’s your favorite holiday party to host?

I’d have to say Thanksgiving.

Why, you ask?

Because of the leftovers.

That’s right.

I base my decisions on food.

4. You go to an island with your husband and can only take one personal item. What is it?

My inhaler.

But, let’s assume that I don’t have asthma.


Other than that…really can’t think of a darn thing I’d need.

I like talking to him more than talking to anyone else, and despite the fact that we’ve known each other for over 23 years, we haven’t run out of things to talk about yet.

I am so grateful to all of my readers, but let’s face it, if I was on an island with my husband, my priority may not be blogging, and I think we could all take a break from the news, so we wouldn’t need any electronics.

If it was pre-children, we could scrap the phone, as well, but if we were on vacation and the kids were with someone, I’d need that phone so I’d know they were okay.

So, pre-kids, just the sunblock.


Sunblock and I’d break the rules and also bring the phone.

5. If you found out your spouse was a Dexter style serial killer (only kills people to save others) would you rat?


I’ve never seen Dexter, (yes, there IS a television show I don’t watch) so I don’t really know exactly how the whole thing works, but if Real Man was killing bad people, I don’t know what I’d do.

How could I have someone in my home, with my children, who goes out and kills people?

And, is just leaving with the kids an option?  Would that make him think of me as a bad person and make me a target?

It’s more than a little ridiculous to even consider this question because I’ve never met a gentler soul than Real Man, but it definitely makes my brain work a little more than usual on a Five Question Friday question.

And maybe that’s why I’m having such a difficult time with the question because it’s unfathomable to me to be in that situation.

So, end result?

I have no idea.

I think I probably would, but it would break my heart.

Or, maybe I wouldn’t.


I don’t know.

October 5, 2012

Five Question Friday

Filed under: Five Question Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am

Before we start, wanna hear something funny?

With the exception of Five Question Friday, I usually type the blog posts ahead of time and schedule them to post at 6 am every morning.

When I do Random Thoughts posts, I start the post and then leave the tab up on my laptop and revisit over a few days as things come to mind.

Apparently, I started yesterdays post and then completely forgot about it, so if anyone came yesterday, lured by the promise of Random Thoughts and got here and only read a Random Thought, my apologies.

It’s a perfect indicator of where my mind has been lately.

Anyway, onto the questions.

1. What album/cd/download are you embarrassed to admit you have?

I’m pretty okay with my choices and basically don’t care if people like them or not.

The Rosie O’Donnell Christmas CD would come closest to being the one that I think others might raise eyebrows at, but I love it, so it’s all good.

2. What’s the one thing your spouse does better than you?

Uh, pretty much everything, but I’ll go with sports.

He’s a natural athlete.


Not so much.

3. When do you start buying Halloween Candy?

The day before Halloween.

Otherwise, I’ll start eating it as soon as I bring it home.

This year, I’ve decided we’re giving out little bags of pretzels.

Might get our house papered, but so much less tempting.

When do we throw out Halloween candy might be the better question.

Because the kids still have Halloween and Easter candy in their bags in the pantry and I just dumped an entire bowl of Whoppers from last Halloween that has been in a cupboard because I bought a big mixed bag of candy and no one wanted the Whoppers and I meant to take them into school but forgot and I never open that cupboard and then I did last week and there they were.


4. Family closets – Yay or nay?

Like, my clothes, his clothes, their clothes all together in the same closet?

Uh, hell to the no.

5. Which home/cleaning chore do you hate the most? Why?

I believe this has been well-chronicled over the course of this blog.



Yes, friends…it’s laundry.

I’ll clean every toilet in the house twice a day and three times on Sunday rather than do the laundry from start to finish.

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