My Real Life

April 2, 2013

Boys and Trains

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

Last week was Spring Break, and originally, my plan had been to take the monkeys into the city to see the Harry Potter exhibit before it heads out of town in April.

However, at the last minute, Monkey Girl and I were invited to go into the city to see “Annie” on Broadway.

We said ‘yes’ and spent last Wednesday in NYC with a good friend of Monkey Girl’s and her mom.

We had a blast.

Julia and her friend are two peas in a pod, and I was able to overcome (I hope) my general social wonkiness and appear to be a semi-normal person.

However, the trip in reminded me just how long the train ride is, and thinking about Tiny on that train for that long made me begin to get a little tic.

I talked about it with Julia’s friends mom, who I think I can safely now call my friend, and she shared with me something she and her husband used to do when her kids were little.

They’d take the train just a few stops toward the city to a town that had a park and a playground at the train station.

They’d play for awhile, get some lunch in town, and then head home.

My boys are always asking to go on the train, and we haven’t taken them, except for once, a few years ago, and this seemed like a great solution and a nice, little adventure.

Also, kids ride for half price and Tiny was free, so the cost wasn’t prohibitive, which is always a concern when you have four kids.

So, Saturday morning, we woke up, told everyone to get dressed and headed to the car.

Now Saturday morning happened to be the same day that this happened:


…so, before hitting the train station, I picked up a few papers at the store.

The cashier already had seen the front page when I walked in and said “Oh my gosh!  I saw this was you and I’ve been telling everyone, ‘She comes in here all the time!'”

I. Felt. Like. A. Rock. Star.

I bought five copies and off we went.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the train station, the boys were beyond excited, but were a little apprehensive, as well.

Baby Monkey was concerned that the train might be too loud.

Monkey in the Middle was sure we didn’t know what time it was coming, that I didn’t buy the right tickets, that we wouldn’t be able to sit together, that we would miss our stop, etc.

That’s traveling with Monkey in the Middle, though.

I had clued in Monkey Girl the night before, so she helped us out with assuring the guys it would all be okay, and, as you might imagine, Baby Monkey just kept asking “Where we goin’?”

The train came, we got on and the kids loved it.

I’m not sure what it is about my boys and modes of transportation.

Cars, trucks, trains.

They love them all.

This was no exception.

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They looked out the window, marveled when the conductors voice would tell us the next stop, watched the ticket takers with fascination, and couldn’t believe how quickly we made it from town to town on the train.

And Tiny continued to ask “Where we goin’?”

We got to the correct station, hopped off and hit the park.

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We played for what felt like forever, and then decided to have lunch.

We hit a bagel shop, got fruit, bagels and sandwiches and had a great lunch.

Headed back to the train station, twenty minutes early, where I told everyone to go to the bathroom, but no one had to go.

Five minutes before the train was to arrive, guess what?

Monkey in the Middle suddenly HAD to go.

We ran for it and he made it.

We got back just as they were making the announcement that we were on the wrong platform, so we booked it up the stairs, over the bridge and back down on the other side just as the train pulled in.

The ride home was much quieter:

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Tiny didn’t even have time to utter “Where we goin’?” before he fell fast asleep.

Nice little trip, half day, good times.

It was a nice reminder that you don’t always  have to go whole hog when trying to do something special for the kids.

They appreciate the effort of anything, and something as basic as this can turn into an adventure they’ll never forget.

(Even if the thing they’ll never forget is the woman who was pulled over by two cops, taken out of her car, and the put in the back of the police car after a very wobbly walk on a straight line.  Real Police action beats any other adventure any day.)


April 1, 2013

What Once Was Old is New

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am
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When I was a little girl, my Grandpa bought me a dollhouse.



I loved that dollhouse.

There was a special dollhouse store in a town about twenty minutes away, and on Sundays, my Dad would sometimes drive Erin and I or Gail and I over there, where I would purchase new furniture or new dolls for my doll family.

I decorated that house over and over again.

As an only child, I played with those dolls into the wee hours of the night, long after I, and the other neighborhood kids, had been called inside because the streetlights were on.

I would often pretend I was Susan from my all-time favorite children’s book, Big Susan.

(If you haven’t read this book, you must.  If you have a young daughter, grand-daughter or niece, it’s a beautiful gift and a story that stands the test of time.)

I loved that dollhouse.

However, as children do, I grew up.

My parents moved when I was in college, and they brought the dollhouse with them, and for the past 22 years, the dollhouse has sat in their basement.

Unused.  Collecting dust.  Unloved.

Until today.

My Mom brought the dollhouse to our house, today.

My Mom and Monkey Girl toiled on the back deck, using bleach to clean up that house, bringing it back to life.

The monkeys immediately went to work, putting in the furniture, decorating with their own style and flair.

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I do have to say that they are NOT decorating it the way I had it, and it is taking every single fiber of my being not to let my control-freak nature out and tell them that that’s not where the baby sleeps, and the piano doesn’t belong in the attic, and the kitchen should not be in that tiny front room, but so far, I’ve kept my mouth shut and have been very supportive.

They’ll go to bed soon.

I’ll redecorate then.

I love to hear them down there, decorating, playing, and loving what once was mine to love.

There’s nothing sadder than an old toy, forgotten and unloved.

I’ve seen the Toy Story movies.

I know of what I speak.

There is nothing more wonderful than an old toy rediscovered and loved.

And while I was joking about redecorating while they are asleep, I have a feeling that when I am in the basement, every now and then, I might just take a turn with the dollhouse and feel the wonder of being little again and letting my imagination soar.

March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family!

At our house, the bunny came and was good to our monkeys.

Baskets were hidden inside a Tardis play tent (which immediately identifies us as the nerdiest family on the block, but these monkeys love Dr. Who and his time-travel machine, the Tardis) and in each basket was a sonic screwdriver, another Dr. Who  invention.

Throw in a treat or two and Easter is done.

Don’t worry…we aren’t one of those families that confuses Easter and Christmas.

That bunny seemed to know that we still have Halloween candy that the monkeys haven’t eaten, in our pantry, so he went light on the candy and threw the two Dr. Who surprises in the mix.

Saves me from eating leftover candy for the next ten months, and gives them something to stimulate the imagination.

It’ll be interesting to see if anyone tries to smuggle their sonic screwdriver into church, later this morning.

Easter at our house…okay, everything at our house…always a little different, but we like it that way.



(Yes, yes…that is a 5 pound Hershey bar front and center.  Don’t even ask.)

March 28, 2013

I Wrapped. Not Rapped. Wrapped.

I’m a skeptic.

I should start with that statement.

I don’t take anything on faith.

Trust no one, always expect the worst, show me, don’t ask me to believe.

I’m a skeptic.

So, when my sister-in-law started a new business in which you wrap yourself in plastic and lose inches, I was…say it with me, people…skeptical.

She had told me about this new business and I nodded and said “Uh-huh…sounds great…wow” like a good sister-in-law, but I was sure there was a catch.

There had to be.

I mean, I’ve heard of people wrapping themselves in Saran Wrap, but it was usually mentioned with the phrase “Met my husband at the door wearing nothing but…” which, in a home with four kids isn’t even on my radar as a possibility, so I couldn’t really imagine what this was all about.

Then, when she started posting before and after pics on Facebook, I could definitely see the differences in the photos, but figured there must be some kind of trick or alternative requirement for it to work.

Wrap yourself and don’t eat anything for seven days except kale shakes and lose inches.

Wrap yourself and have plastic surgery and lose inches.

She assured me that wasn’t the case.

The only requirement was that you drink 24 oz of water while you are wrapped, and half your body weight in ounces for the next three days.

Then, one of the co-authors of I Just Want to Pee Alone did a blog post about Alicia’s wrap and I was all, “Hey…that’s my sister-in-law,” and she was all, “Small world!” and I was all “Well, if she’s promoting my sister-in-law, I should really promote my sister-in-law,” and that brings us to today.

Alicia came over with her wrap and gave me the presentation.

Even for a skeptic like me, it was fascinating.

The key phrase for the company is “Have You Tried That Crazy Wrap Thing?”

The way it works is that it lifts the toxins out of your fat cells and transports them to your lymphatic system, which is why you need to drink the water because it flushes it right out of your system.

The wrap keeps working for 72 hours and you can put it anywhere you can think of…your chin, your thighs, your arms, your butt, etc.  I chose my “post four child stomach.”

She wrapped me up and while I cooked, we talked.

She showed me some of the other products and talked to me about what they do and how they work.

I’m not going to post pictures of my “transformation” because I’m sure there is something in my public school teacher contract about not posting pictures of your naked-self online (not that you have to get completely naked, but still, I teach in a middle school),  but there were some changes in the definition of my stomach.

We didn’t measure, but in looking at the before and after pictures (which she did take, but will never see the light of day) there was a difference.

I’ll continue to drink my water for the next three days and hope to see more changes, and from the results my co-author, The Frugalista, got, I’m hopeful.

Demi Moore, Kristen Chenowith and Anderson Cooper have all tried this wrap.

There is a lot of scientific stuff behind this that Alicia explained to me, but I’m not going to go into details right now.  You can check out Alicia’s website for that information.

This wrap is better than Botox, Liposuction or Shapewear because they aren’t affordable, nor are they fun.

This is actually both.

The way it is affordable is because they offer you different ways to purchase…wholesale or through becoming a loyal customer.

You pay $50 to become a loyal customer, which allows you to purchase anything wholesale whenever you want OR commit to buying three months of product on autoship (no minimum purchase) without the $50 loyal customer fee.

I decided to go ahead and order the fat fighter pills and I’ll let you know how they work once I get them.

Alicia also gave me a few Confianza pills, which she calls organic Xanax.

I’ve never taken pharmaceutical Xanax, but I do get stressed, so when I need one, I’ll let you know how that goes, as well.

Overall, I’m please with the results of my wrap.

My pants were getting a little too tight for comfort and when I just pulled on a pair, I didn’t have to jump off my bed to get in them.

That’s a good thing.

March 27, 2013

Sharing Day!

I’ve been very blessed in my life to have been surrounded by people who have been supportive and kind.

Today, I’d like to pay it forward and share with you some of the amazing things my friends are doing.


I’d like to start with my friend, who you’ve heard me speak of (probably ad nauseum), Michaela.

Michaela is an artist and a photographer and has traveled the world capturing images that make you smile, think, and dream.

These days, Michaela has put her artistic talents to work creating unbelievable mandalas that she sells on her website Wanderlust Mandalas.

In her own words:

What is wanderlust? For me it is a state of mind…a lifestyle…something that is a necessary part of my life…it’s a love of travel. For me, traveling is one of the best ways to truly feel alive and appreciate the world that we live in. Travel inspires my life and my creativity.

Wanderlust Mandalas are digital images created with photos from my world travels. Mandalas, an ancient word for circle, represent wholeness and have been used for millennia in cultures worldwide as a tool for self-expression, spiritual transformation and personal growth. Each WanderlustMandala represents the emotional and spiritual essence I experienced on my various trips and invite the viewer to have their own contemplative experience of my journeys.

I think Michaela’s Wanderlust Mandalas make for great artwork in your home, office, or studio.

Here is a mandala Michaela created after her trip to Laos:



Here is a photo of Michaela’s own living room with two of her mandalas on the wall.  Gorgeous.


Please check out Michaela’s site or her Facebook page and consider purchasing a mandala for your own space.

They are truly incredible.


Ed Territo is a friend of mine from high school.

He’s a genuinely good guy.

Ed is in a band called Bubba Grouch.

Believe me, this may be the first you hear of them, but it definitely won’t be the last.

Please head over to their page and listen to a few of their songs.

Like their page on Facebook.

You won’t be sorry.


I certainly feel all special now that I’m part of a best-selling book.

However, I haven’t had anything I’ve written on my own published yet.

Not like my friend, S.W. Hubbard.

She is a kind and intelligent person who I have known for many, many years.

I actually taught her older child 8th grade history, and can attest that she’s a great parent, as well.

What I want to share with you today, though, is her incredible writing talent.

I’m a huge fan and have read all of her novels.

If you go to her website, you will find information on all of her novels, as well as a wealth of other information.

The most exciting news about S.W. is that she is running a contest right now.

If you go to her website, you will see all of the rules for entry, and you could walk away with a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Please go check out her site, read her books, and enter the contest!


Finally, I want to share with you an event that highlights some of my new friends (and me, but let’s pretend like it’s just about my new friends).

On April 18th, the NJ co-authors of I Just Want to Pee Alone, who I linked to here, will be selling and signing books during the annual Girl’s Night Out Event in Westfield, NJ.

If you are in the area and want to meet some awesome women and have your book signed, then please make sure to register for the event and show up!

The Facebook page for the event can be found here.

Hope to see you there!

March 20, 2013

20 Wishes for 2013 Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

We are a good three months into 2013 now, and I think that’s a fair amount of time to look at my 20 Wishes for 2013 and see how we are doing.

I’ll be honest, I’m not feeling particularly good about it, but I have to admit that I haven’t looked at the list in awhile, so I could be doing better than I thought, without even realizing it.

Yeah, let’s hope for that.

1. Take the family to DisneyWorld. We’ve been talking about doing this for quite awhile and just haven’t done it. I want this to be the year.

So…there actually was a plan in place and we were getting prices and were planning to take the family, as a surprise, next week.  However, a few things came up and won’t be resolved by then, and so we are having to postpone.  Until these things get resolved, I also can’t really make any future plans (it sounds dire, it’s not…I’ll explain when I’m able) so we are still thinking about it and are planning to plan it when we are able.  (Planning to plan…ay-yay-yay.)

2. Get a playset for the backyard. I want the kids to play outside more, and I know my kids and a playset would definitely do it.

This weekend, in fact, Real Man and I are going playset hunting.  We’re hoping it’s simple like, “We want this one.  Here’s our money.  Come set it up.  Go play.”  But, someone started saying things about having to get the yard graded, etc. and we are not happy with that.  Fingers crossed – easy to find and simple.
3. Get weight down by 9 pounds AND KEEP IT THERE. Goal weight: 125

Um, let’s make that 11 pounds, now.  It has been a stressful, stressful few months around the monkey house and I am a stress eater.  I also haven’t made the time to exercise in quite awhile and the scale this morning showed me the consequences of those two things put together.  Very disappointed in myself.

Steps in the right direction – I’m back to logging my food at and I used the delayed opening, this morning, to hit the treadmill.  In a stroke of genius, I chose to start watching “Breaking Bad” while on the treadmill this morning and I am hooked.  I am only going to allow myself to watch that show while on the treadmill, so that will definitely motivate me.
4. Incorporate more vegetables into the family diet.

I’m working on it…I am.  In the last few weeks of the play and then with Tiny in the hospital, veggies took a backseat for awhile, but they are back.  Roast Beef in the crockpot for dinner tonight with green beans and raw, cut up red peppers.
5. Make $1,000 by selling on eBay.

We were cooking, there, for awhile, but again, life got in the way.  I plan to look around, this weekend, to find some more things to start selling again.  This is a doable goal.
6. Get blog readership to 200 per day average.

Interestingly, you’d think that I would have doubled my readers with the publicity that the book is getting.  I haven’t.  For awhile, when we would all give shout outs to the other authors, the format that the blogs were listed had me last, and I think people petered out about midway through the list.  They reorganized, and it still wasn’t helping.  However, I do have a few more Facebook followers on the My Real Life FB page, so that is something.  I’m still working on it, and with our first book signing coming up, I’m hopeful that will improve my numbers as well.
7. Make home office neat, organized, and functional.

That’s a project for next weekend.  I’ve already taken the “before” picture.
8. Read 50 books (and keep track!)

I got up to 11 before life exploded.  The play, Tiny, and now the book.  This whole book thing is like a second full-time job.  Keeping up with the emails and posts and press releases and events and publicity.  Seriously…like another full-time job.  It all leaves me completely wiped out at the end of the day and I can barely stay awake for the shows that we have DVR’d by the time I am able to relax, so reading isn’t in the picture.  However, Erin made a book recommendation, the other day, that I am going to check out.  Although, I have read this book.  Have you?
9. Get pictures hung. We’ve been here a year and a half and haven’t hung up our pictures yet. Drives me nuts.

Not yet.
10. Have family photo taken.

Not with these 11 pounds to lose.
11. Really go through my closet and be ruthless with getting rid of what I don’t wear.

I’m thinking about this for a Spring Break project, next week. 🙂
12. Play piano at least once a week. I teach piano lessons, so I am always at the piano, but I rarely carve out the time to play for myself. I went to college as a vocal and piano performance major and I feel like I’m neglecting that part of myself.

I was doing well with this, and then it fell by the wayside.  I may sit down for a few minutes before my piano student comes, this afternoon, and play a piece of two.
13. Only eat out once a week, if at all.

I plead the fifth.  It’s been nuts around here, okay?  I did a good grocery shop yesterday, though, so I’m looking at homemade for some time to come.
14. Write in my journal more often. I only wrote in it twice in 2012, so anything would be an improvement! I think keeping the blog up every day takes it’s place, but they have different purposes and I don’t want to neglect my journal writing.

15. Really learn about self-publishing to see if it is an option for my novel.

I’ve learned a LOT about self-publishing through this whole I Just Want to Pee Alone experience.  I think it is definitely an option for my novel.  I just need to feel like it’s ready for the public eye, and after so long, I’m not sure.

Which leads me to #16.
16. Re-edit my novel.

I think the first book I need to read when I get a minute is my own.  It’s time to really go through it again and re-familiarize myself with the story. It’s definitely been long enough that I’m not too close to the material, any more.
17. Shred and pare down all of our files.

Not yet.
18. Sell the van.

This one makes me so weary, I don’t even want to talk about it.
19. Take more pictures.

January was the month of picture taking.

Then came February and I still took pictures, but not as many.

March…maybe one or two?

I’ll get back to it in April when Spring inspires me to pick up the camera again.

There are only so many pictures you can take with an icky, gray background.
20. Be outside more.

It snowed today.

We had a delayed opening.

Enough said.

March 19, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

1.  My kids crack me up.

They’ve been huddled around my laptop for almost an hour, intently working on something.

What are they doing?

Mapping out routes to random places using Google Maps.

Me:  “What are you doing, there?”

Baby Monkey:  “Using Google Maps.”

Me:  “Why?  You going somewhere?”

Monkey in the Middle: “It’s important to know how to go places.  And, if you zoom down to street level, you can pretend it’s a driving game.”


2.  Real Man is more than a little awesome.

We were not having a good day.

Any of us.

Everyone was grumping at everyone else and it was going downhill quickly.

So, while sitting at dinner, Real Man holds up a spoon and says, “This is the love spoon.  We’re going to pass it around and when it’s your turn to hold the spoon, you have to say why you love someone at this table, and it has to be specific and more than ‘he’s nice,’ or ‘she’s funny.'”

And they did it.

And the day was saved.

More than a little awesome, that guy I married.


3.  I don’t know how Instagram works, but everyone seems to have an Instagram account.

I mean, I have an account, but I always figured it was just to take pictures and then add cool effects.

I’m not sure how to (or why to) follow people on Instagram.

Is this really something else I need to do?

I love social media…I really do.

I just don’t know if I can add something else to my list of things to read, watch or check.

Weigh in, friends.

Instagram…worth it?


4.  I am currently loving these commercials:


5.  Don’t forget to enter our contest to win a free copy of I Just Want to Pee Alone.

Not just any copy…a signed copy…signed by the four New Jersey authors.

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m one of them.

Contest ends tonight at 8 pm.

March 18, 2013

Jersey Girls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

I had the opportunity, recently, to have lunch with three of the other writers in “I Just Want to Pee Alone.”

We are the Jersey contingent to the book.

I’ll admit, I was feeling more than a little nervous.

These women are pros.

They pull in numbers of readers on a daily basis that I don’t even dream of matching in a year.

They have Facebook followers out the wazoo and their reach is far and wide.


Well, I’m just me.

So, throughout this whole book experience, I’ve been feeling a bit…

…inadequate isn’t the word I want, but it’s the only one that’s coming to mind.

We met at a New Jersey diner and got to talking.

Okay, they got to talking and I just listened.

(Yes, I realize that those of you know who know me well are shocked to hear that I was quiet.  It happened.)

These women were a wealth of knowledge and they were funny and real and normal.

I liked them and they seemed like people I’d like to know even if we hadn’t written a best-selling book together.

(You didn’t think I was going to not plug the book today, did you?)

So, I’ve expanded my world a bit and you get to benefit.

How, you ask?

Oh, because while we were lunching, we signed some books.

For you.

If you’d like to win a copy of “I Just Want to Pee Alone”, complete with the signatures of the four New Jersey contributors, simply leave me a comment below, telling me about a great thing that has happened to you in the past week.

I think we can all use a pick me up, these days, so positive comments get you an entry.

And…of course…you get an extra entry for sharing a link to this post on Facebook or Twitter.

Contest ends Tuesday night at 8 pm!

Once you’ve entered, please go check out the blogs of my amazing New Jersey co-authors.  They rock.

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying

Anna at Random Handprints

Kim at The Fordeville Diaries

Remember…if you’ve already read the book, or are planning to, please head over to Amazon and leave some feedback!

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