My Real Life

December 29, 2009

Our Big Trip to the Mall

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:07 pm
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Today we went to the mall.

I believe I’ve shared with you my distaste for shopping before. However, although I cut the boys hair, I don’t mess with Monkey Girl’s hair, and it was time for a cut. So, I made the appointment at the kids hair place at the mall, called my Mom and asked her to join us and off we went.

Even with the appointment, they weren’t ready for us when we arrived, so the kids played on the riding machines outside of the “salon.” We didn’t actually give them a dollar for them, but they had just as much fun as if they were moving.


Then, they were ready. Monkey Girl took her seat and let the work commence.

My feeling about her hair is that I let her make her own decisions regarding length. It’s just hair, it will grow back. As she gets older, if she wants to experiment with color, I’m cool with that, too. It’s a non-permanent way for a kid to express their individuality. With hair…anything goes.

Today, she decided to get it chopped off. She wants it short. I’d think to keep it long for the winter and short for the summer, but who am I to buck the logic of an 8-year old. She wants it short.

While she was in the chair, the boys were waiting just outside the door of the “salon” for Grandma, who ran to Macy’s to pick up something.

I think Baby Monkey was meditating.

But, I could be wrong. He could have also been begging the passersby for change. I hope it was meditation.

When it was done, I thought Monkey Girl looked adorable. She was thrilled. Even now, hours later, I keep forgetting about it until I see her and it keeps knocking me over again, how cute that girl is.

Next, we headed to the Hallmark store where my Mom wanted to pick up some thank-you cards.

The monkeys and I waited outside.

While we did, Monkey in the Middle entertained himself by playing a pretend football game. It was Rutgers vs. Utah, and Rutgers won.

Here he is after catching a particularly difficult touchdown pass.

Go Rutgers!

Then, we hit the food court where Grandma bought the monkeys some lunch. While they ate, I ran and used one of my Christmas gift cards.

When I came back, they were all done and we headed to the kiddie playground that this mall has.

The kids love this place. I have no idea why, but they really, really do.

Monkey Girl is starting to feel a little old for it, but she played for awhile before her newfound “maturity” got the better of her. I don’t want that to start already. I want her to be little and not caring about cool forever.

After the playground, we went to get the monkeys each a cookie at Mrs. Fields (which is the real reason the monkeys love the mall.) They sat with Grandma and ate their cookies, like happy little monkeys.

While standing there, watching them devour their sprinkle cookies, I looked up and noticed the name of a new food stand at the mall.

Seriously? Perhaps they should just have a stand that has a bunch of IV lines that simply sends the cholesterol and fat to peoples veins directly. I mean, seriously, just leave out the middle man!

 Again, I say, ick.

Finally, we went through Barnes and Noble, which is on the way out of the mall.

Ahhh…I love you Barnes and Noble. I truly, truly do.

The monkeys headed for the train table, while my Mom shopped.

I get my love of books from both of my parents. When I was a kid, about three or four nights a week, after dinner, we would get in the car and head to the local strip mall and browse a book store called “The Happy Booker.” We would each leave with at least one book each time, and sometimes more than one book each.

My family and book stores are like peaches and cream, peas and pods, milk and honey. We go perfectly together.

While the kids played and my mom shopped, I looked around the kids section and saw that the kids Christmas books were 50% off. So, I picked up 10.

Then, I saw two books in a series that Monkey Girl loves, but she doesn’t have these two yet, so I picked them up to put away for her birthday in February. I also found a cool scratch and sketch pad for Monkey Girl’s birthday.

When my Mom came back, she watched the monkeys at the trains and I bought the stuff using the rest of my Christmas gift card. Great deals, and no money out of my pocket. Gotta love that!

When I came back, my Mom headed to checkout and I started gathering the monkeys.

At this point, Monkey Girl was all mall-ed out.

On the way home, I ran into Target and returned something. So proud of myself that I fought the lure of the aisles on this trip. I went in, returned and walked out.

Then, my Mom stopped at Kohl’s to buy something, but luckily, she knew right what she wanted.

And, when we pulled into the driveway, Baby Monkey was fast asleep.

I picked him up, carried him through the 20 degree weather, laid him on my bed, didn’t even bother to take off his coat, and covered him with the Giants blanket. This was 3 hours ago.

This is what he looked like, as I typed this blog this afternoon:

Let’s face it…malls are exhausting.

November 5, 2009

Next Contest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 8:39 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ll be taking a blogging break until Sunday, but in the meantime, I’m going to run another contest here at My Real Life.

In order to enter, please leave a comment below telling me about your favorite book and tell me why you love it.  I’ve been slowly making my way through my book pile, and soon will be in need of some new titles.  It’s okay if I’ve already read your suggestion, because it could inspire someone else!

You can earn multiple entries by referring a friend to the blog and having them enter the contest, as well.  All they need to do is leave a comment with their favorite book, and mentioning that you sent them to the blog.  Then, both your friend and you will get an entry into the contest.

You can also earn an extra entry if you are a blogger and you add me to your blogroll.  In your entry, add a link to your blog.  This option for bloggers who are newly adding me to their blogroll. 

I’ll determine the winner by writing each persons name on a scrap of paper (multiple entries from referrals will have multiple scraps of paper with their names on it) and then selecting a name at random.

Remember, your privacy is intact, as all readers will see is your first name.  Your contact information is solely available to me.

The prize, you ask?

A $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card!  What else could I give as a prize for a contest surrounding book titles?

So, while I’m on break, feel free to scroll back through and read the blog from the beginning if you’ve joined us late, refer a friend, enter the contest and enjoy your life!  I really do appreciate every single one of you who read the blog.

Contest Ends at 8:00 pm on Sunday November 8, 2009

September 7, 2009

Real Small Town Fun

So, every Labor Day weekend, our town hosts a “Block Party.”  Years ago, when it began, it was a “Block Dance,” and there was music and free birch beer.  Now it has evolved to a petting zoo, rides for the kids, free birch beer, actual beer you pay for, hot dogs, ice cream, a raffle for gifts from local merchants and a 50-50.  Oh, and REALLY LOUD MUSIC.

The Block Party, this year, was held on Saturday night.  It was a lot of fun.  The kids love the rides and the animals.  The adults get to converse with the other adults in town, because pretty much everyone who lives here goes.  A good time is always had by all.

My monkeys certainly enjoyed themselves.  Baby Monkey wanted to ride this ride that swings back and forth, back and forth, like a big, huge clock pendulum.  Monkey Girl and her cousin, who is also in 3rd grade, were very tolerant of him, because he wanted to ride with them, which meant they couldn’t ride on the top level.  They are really, really good girls.

Monkey in the Middle took some turns with him as well.  Here they are waiting to go on the Whip. 


I’m not sure how kids don’t break their necks on this thing.  Must be the malleability of kids.  If adults went on, I guarantee they’d all be suing.

Monkey Girl wanted to go on everything, and she did.  Multiple times.  She went with her cousins and friends from school.

Monkey in the Middle turned out to be quite the ladies man.  It seemed that every line he got in, he had some other 5 year old girl that he knew from pre-school or kindergarten wanting to hold his hand and ride with him.  On one ride, three of them couldn’t decide who was going to get to ride with him, so they smushed in four to a seat so no one was left out.  It was very cute.

However, in the end, as always, Monkey in the Middle had his eyes trained for his two cousins, who are also in kindergarten.  My sisters-in-law and I were all pregnant at the same time and so the one girl cousin was born in December, the other in January and then he was born in February.  It’s worked out really nicely, although sometimes that number three can be tricky.

Here he is with one of the cousins.  We call these two double trouble. 


Here he is with her again and Monkey Girls first communion. 


You can see it on their faces.  He’s about to do something and she is totally in on the scheme.  When the three of them get to high school, that place won’t know what hit it.

After the rides were starting to shut down, Monkey Girl and Baby Monkey had ice cream cones for $1.00 each.  Vanilla, with sprinkles.  Good deal and made them very happy.


Then, it’s time for the raffle.  Throughout the week prior to the Block Party, local merchants have the raffle tickets in their stores at the checkout counters.  It is free to enter, and almost all of the local merchants donate something.  The prizes range from a free apple pie from the farmers market to a $50 gift card to Stop-n-Shop grocery store to a gift bag from the local jeweler, etc. 

So, they start calling the names.  Two members of my family won, and the prizes were both pretty ironic.  If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you’ll remember that Monkey in the Middle just spent $30 of his hard earned money on a Thomas the Tank Engine train set addition he’s been wanting at Barnes and Noble.  Guess who won a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble at the Block Party?  You guessed it…Monkey in the Middle.  My good friend, Jean, said that I should tell him that this is good karma.  When you work hard, good things come back to you.  I like that idea.

My neice won a few free piano lessons at a local music store.  The irony?  I teach piano lessons on the weekend.  Obviously, it would have been way more ironic had I  won the piano lessons, but still…she’s in the family.

The night ended with the 50-50 drawing which was won by a boy that I estimate to be about 11.  He won $445.  Talk about good karma!

It was 9:15 when it was all over and done. We came home and put the kids right to bed.  They were zonked. 

Although there can be frustrating aspects to small town life sometimes, evenings like that are definitely one of the best things about living in a small town.  Good clean fun.

September 5, 2009

Real Proud

I am always proud of my monkeys, but today, I’m extra proud of the big monkeys. 

Back in the spring, Monkey Girl informed me that she wanted a Nintendo DS.  I said, “I don’t think so.  We have a Wii and a an xBox 360 and a Game Boy.  I’m not spending $129.99 on a Nintendo DS.”

Still, she persisted.  So, I told her that if this was something she really wanted, then she should save for it.  I’m a big believer in kids working for things.  My feeling is that parents who buy their kids everything aren’t helping them prepare for the real world.  You want something as an adult?  You need to work for it.  Obviously we take care of the kids with food, clothing, a roof over their heads, and we are good Santas and birthday fairies.  But, this didn’t fall into the “need” category and there were no holidays or birthdays in sight.

So, she started saving.  She already had some money socked away.  Monkey Girl has a chore chart.  Each chore is worth $0.25.  If she does all the chores in a week, she has the opportunity to earn $8.75 a week.  There are some chores that she does regularly and gets those stickers, like emptying the dishwasher.  If she doesn’t do that, I can’t refill it, so that’s a non-negotiable, but it’s on the chart.  Making her bed?  It’s on the chart, but it’s not a non-negotiable with me.  It’s her bed, it’s upstairs and no one goes there except for us.  On days she has a friend coming over, I expect it to be made.  The good news?  She likes to make her bed, so it gets made every day and she gets the sticker anyway. 🙂  However, you can see that even though the potential is there for $8.75 a week, she may not make that much in a week, depending on the chores she does or does not complete.  Again, you only earn what you work for.  What a novel idea.

When she does get her allowance, she divides it into three, unequal parts.  $1 goes to church on Sunday.  The rest is divided in half.  One half of it goes to her bank account savings and the other goes to her spending box. 

Anyway, she kicked it into high gear last spring.  She started doing every chore on that chart and asking if there were any big projects she could do to earn some more money.  So, I gave her a sock sorting project and a picking up all the sticks in the yard project.  She also started making greeting cards and selling them.  They are really nice and she charged $0.75 – $1.00 for them.

Mid-summer, Monkey in the Middle went to Barnes and Noble with his grandpa.  While he was there, he saw this Thomas the Tank Engine add-on for his train set.  It has lights and bells.  It’s actually pretty cool.  It was $30.  He came home and asked for it and Monkey Girl immediately said “Why don’t you save for it, like I’m doing with my Nintendo?”  Wanting to do anything that she does, he said “Yeah!!!” and started saving.

So, now he has a chore chart that he also can earn $8.75 with.  He’s not really even getting close to that, but he’s working hard.

So, today, the big Monkeys pulled out their money containers and started counting.  Monkey in the Middle had $32 and Monkey Girl had $65. (We told MonkeyGirl that if she saved half, we’d pitch in the other half…we aren’t complete monsters.)  So, off we went.

First we hit Best Buy.

buying 003

Monkey Girl chose a blue Nintendo DS Lite.  Real Man and I decided to buy her a game to go with it, because really, how cruel would that have been to have said, “Okay, you’ve got your Nintendo!  Now you can sit and look at it until you can save up for a game!”  She chose a Wizards of Waverly Place game.

She brought it up to the counter and was bursting with pride as she paid.

Then, we hit Barnes and Noble.

buying 001

buying 002

Another very proud kid as he explained to the cashier that this was his money he was paying with.

Now we’re home and each is busy with their new purchase.  I’ve overheard both explaining to Baby Monkey that they need to be careful with the new items because they were very expensive.  I honestly believe that it gives them a better understanding of how hard you have to work in order to earn a certain amount of money.  It has also helped them to realize that when you work hard for something, you need to take care of it.  Many kids today live in a disposable society.  They are given so much that they don’t care for any of it.  I’m so glad that we are working toward not allowing our kids to have that mindset.

I’m just really proud of the big monkeys today.  They worked hard and are enjoying the fruits of their labor.

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