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amalah
Washington, DC
Recent Activity
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Well, we are back. I have to admit our big attempt at an off-the-grid vacation did not go exactly as planned, but my commitment to (mostly) staying off social media was probably a win for all of y'all, as you were spared an AWFUL lot of complaining. It started with this, the evening before our flight to Cancun. We'd been gloriously clueless, right up until we arrived at my Weather Channel-watching in-laws' house with the kids. By the next morning, the potential tropical cyclone seven had been upgraded (downgraded?) to Tropical Storm Franklin, a truly terrible name for a storm because we all know Franklin is a whiny little bitch. But it looked like our flight would get there a few hours before the worst of it, and while we'd likely lose a day to rain, Cancun wouldn't get hit TOO badly. As long as we got there, we agreed, we'd be fine and make the best of it. And we did get there! Right on time with the sun still shining! We managed to hit the pool, beach, outdoor restaurant, two swim-up bars AND a jacuzzi tub before the first of the raindrops started to fall. And fall. And... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at amalah . com
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Misting fans? Check. Cooling towels? Check. Passport wallets? Check and check. Cute new bathing suit? Hellzyeah check. 400 dozen bottles of sunblock? Check check checkity check. Laptop? Naaaaaahhhh. Next week is our 19th wedding anniversary. And while we originally planned to "save" a big special vacation for our 20th next year, we ended up changing our minds. After all, 2017 marks 20 years together, which should also count for something. Also, both of us really, really need a vacation. A real one, sans kids, without a work meeting or two squeezed into the agenda to justify the expense, or a trip sponsor/brand to satisfy with a quota of blog posts and regular properly hashtagged social media check-ins. A vacation where BOTH of us leave our computers at home and go completely off the grid, un-damn-reachable, do not bother me, I do not care if your website is on fire. So that's what we're doing. We're going to Mexico. I am going to see some pyramids. I am going to lose my ever-loving archaeological-tastic mind. What I won't be doing? Blogging. Checking social media. Reading the goddamn news. I've turned off my breaking news alerts (aka my Outrage Attack Dailies) and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2017 at amalah . com
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I took Ike to see my hairstylist yesterday, who wasn't super optimistic she'd be able to do much beyond a very close clippering, but was determined to at least TRY to keep Ike looking as much like Ike as possible. (Shoutout to Kiera at Bombshell Salon!) Every other stylist in the place looked at him and said to me, "oh evvvvvvvvery kid does it, I swear." Then they turned to him and said, "I bet that was pretty fun though, right?" A quick reminder of the before: (For both state of his hair and general mood.) And now! The triumphant after: A little bit of genius, a little bit of witchcraft... ...and yep, a little bit of Trumpian combover. It'll likely require some product until those front bits grow out to keep the camouflage in place, but I think we can do that. He's incredibly happy and relieved and really quite pleased with his new look. "Don't I look SO CUTE AND GREAT?" he asked his brothers as soon as we returned. (He still thinks he's going to let it grow back out, though. After rejecting all the short hairstyle inspiration pics I showed him, he asked me to Google... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2017 at amalah . com
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I was down in the basement finishing up my workout when Ike appeared at the top of the stairs. He said he had something to show me. "You'll never believe this, Mom," he said. "Now that I'm six years old my hair is different." My stomach sunk. I turned around. It sunk even more and took my heart with it. "OH IKE," I shrieked, "OH NOOOOOO. WHAT DID YOU DOOOOOOO?" I knew what he did, obviously. He'd gotten the scissors (again) and cut his own hair (again), but this time it wasn't just one small random snip off the top. He'd hacked his bangs off entirely, almost to the roots in some places, and taken off large random chunks around the sides of his head. Only the long, straight locks in the back were untouched. I more wanted to know WHY. And of course, the unanswerable, perpetual question of CHILD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING. "Did you want your hair short? Because we could cut your hair short! Oh, Ike, why why why did you do that?" "No!" he responded, shaking his head and looking slightly stricken, "I still have long hair! I just wanted to make the front look cute... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2017 at amalah . com
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Ike had his six-year routine physical yesterday, and in Classic Ike style, it ended up not being as routine as I was expecting. He's on track height-wise, shooting up over three inches this past year. Weight-wise...not so much. He's always been a skinny thing, but consistently 25th-percentile-or-so skinny. He gained just a tad over a pound this year, which knocks him all the way down to the 12th. And while growth charts are certainly prone to some year-to-year weirdness, our doctor was very much Not Happy and Rather Concerned with Ike's weight. At barely 39 pounds, he's underweight for both his age and height, and it's just super inconsistent with his growth so far. Now, we dealt with our fair share of Dinnertime Pickiness Drama Shenanigans this year, but I really thought 1) he's been doing much, much better for several months now, and 2) we were more than making up the calories of a smaller dinner elsewhere throughout the day. Good breakfasts, a generous lunch, lots of healthy snacks. He drinks whole milk and loves cheese and yogurt and granola bars and fruit and chicken and steak and fruit/vegetable smoothies. He doesn't drink soda or get regular candy and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2017 at amalah . com
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Hours spent in Philadelphia, total: 27, ish Hours spent on trains: Three Hours spent waiting for trains that were late: One Hours spent in meetings: 12 Hours spent in meetings thinking about when we get food: Nine Hours spent in meetings resisting urge to slide dramatically off chair and under the table every time someone said, "hold up let's revisit that last slide for a sec": At least four Number of times I felt irrationally important and grown-up like because I was wearing an ID badge I had to swipe to go to the bathroom: 11 Number of nostalgic favorite snacks from my Pennsylvania childhood consumed and frankly disappointed by: One Number of cheesesteaks consumed with tremendous enthusiasm: Two Number of salad portions politely accepted on plate: Three Number of salad portions discreetly hidden under a napkin and thrown away: Two Point Seven Five Number of inexplicably tiny hotel room hair dryers used: One Number of times I ordered business cards to bring to meetings: Two Number of typos I made on the first order: One Number of actual business cards distributed: Zero Number of work things to do as result of meetings: 4,20583u70q303q55uj7 Number of children who greeted me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at amalah . com
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Ezra and Ike attended a kids' cooking camp this week, which has been delightful, especially since Ezra sweet talked his counselor into letting him bring home an extra cupcake for "his mom who really loves cupcakes." I originally signed them both up thinking they'd be together, so Big Bro could help keep Little Bro out of trouble (or at least keep his head out of the ovens, or something), but they were divided into different age groups. Ike's been pretty mad about that, which may or may not have been a reason behind the Incident Report we received: According to the camp nurse: "Isaac complained that he had something in his nose. Asked Isaac to blow hard to remove the object from his nose." According to Sir Isaac himself, he "dropped a bead on the table and it bounced back up into [his] nose and got stuck there." WELL AT LEAST WE GOT TO KEEP THE BEAD. Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2017 at amalah . com
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Late last summer, I discovered dozens of wild raspberry bushes in the woods behind our fence in the backyard. There were only a few stray berries left by that point, but Ezra and I did our best to harvest every last one we could. And I promised him that we'd pay better attention this year and maybe we'd get a few more. We started out picking just what we could reach through or over our fence, since we were a little wary of all the bugs and thorny things back there. (Of course we collected them in half of a Lego Star Wars planet. WTF else would you use?) Then one day, after watching Ezra pine for the dozens and dozens of bright red berries just beyond our reach, I said screw it, and hoisted him (and then my own ass) up and over the fence. Turns out, it's magic back there. Yes, there are thorns and mosquitoes and uneven rock paths. There are prickly vines to duck under, that catch and snag your hair and clothing and refuse to let go. There's a small stream that fills your shoes with muddy water, if you take a bad step on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2017 at amalah . com
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This post is sponsored by PURA D'OR and 2MinuteClub. After my last sponsored post on 2MinuteClub's skin products (which I am still using, still loving, BTW), a wholllllllle bunch of people asked me if I'd tried their best-selling Facebook-famous shampoo and conditioner. I said that I had not, but really wanted to, and...well. Mayyyyyyyybe if they were happy with the skincare post they'd let me try the hair care line next. BOO YAH. First, here's what I'm dealing with: Super duper fine hair. I have a ton of it growing out from my oily-as-anything scalp, but thanks to the aforementioned fineness, plus coloring and heat styling, it gets increasingly dry and brittle as it grows out. Which means lots of breakage and fly-aways and split ends that require regular trims. Which also means I have been trying to grow my hair out to my Goal Length (of just below boob level) for approximately 700 years. I'm still several inches short, since I eventually end up having to cut back most (if not all) of the growth progress thanks to the dryness and breakage. Now I know I could stop 1) coloring and 2) heat styling, but y'all. Come on. Frizzy,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2017 at amalah . com
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From The Complete Poems of Robert Frost 1949 When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust— Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm I should prefer to have some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at amalah . com
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On the very same day we got a new dog, Jason found a wee little frog in the garden. The kids (who just got a new dog) asked if we could keep it as a pet. I said no, we just got a new dog. Like literally an hour ago. The kids (who just got a new dog), said awwww, that's mean. That frog was our best friend. We had the world's shortest IEP meeting yesterday for Ike's lisping issue. Surprise surprise, he does indeed officially qualify as having a moderate speech impairment and will be getting 30 minutes a week of individual or small group speech therapy, combined with additional support in the general education classroom. He has exactly ONE PAGE of goals (basically all the sounds he can't produce correctly divided into four groups), which -- as mah fellow IEP peeps can testify to -- is goddamn ADORABLE. It's the cutest, tiniest IEP in the world. (And yet the entire thing is still 25+ pages long printed out. I feel like maybe this is the real education scandal Betsy DeVos should look into: America's freeloading special education students are destroying America's trees!!1!) The meeting lasted barely 15 minutes.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at amalah . com
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WHY HELLO BELLY So it appears the Popsters has always been a tad...um...rotund around the middle, which has already changed dramatically after just one week with us and all our assorted insanity. She's actually shaped more like a dog than a barrel on legs. In her mind, though, she's still the same size as in her puppy pics. We really aren't doing anything to dispel that illusion for her, to be honest. Poppy's first week really couldn't have gone any better. She's learning our routine and following Beau's lead, sleeping beautifully (and silently!) in her crate, going potty outside, unless we space out on the need for more puppy-frequent breaks. Or if it's raining. (Beau's like: HA HA SAME LOOK AT WHAT LITTLE PRINCESSES WE ARE.) Beau's already a lot less jealous/defensive over toys and attention and really, REALLY loves their near-constant playtime. They play play play then sleep sleep sleep until one of them wakes up and starts it all up again. They both seem really happy. The boys were originally not super stoked about getting a "big" dog. They were thrilled to hear we were considering a puppy but wanted a super tiny one. But it didn't take... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at amalah . com
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Let's be honest. Is anyone here for anything other than dog photos? Most certainly not. We've decided to stick with Poppy, but are changing the spelling because random i-for-y swaps in names makes my eyelid twitch. It's been her name since puppyhood, she responds really well to it, and honestly, it just kinda suits her. It's also an EXCELLENT jumping off point for all sorts of ridiculous nicknames. Poppy Pie. Popsters. Popsicle. Popscotch. Poppins. Popparoni. (A friend who was lobbying for keeping the name sent me like a dozen separate texts yesterday of increasingly ridiculous nicknames and I have to say, she laid out a compelling argument. Especially when she started changing "pop" to "poop.") Beau is loving his playmate, but will let you know the second you are giving her too much attention. Usually by just climbing on top of her head and being like, "What other dog? Is just me here, sittin' on a dog-shaped pillow." To which Poppy responds: "This is fine. Everything that happens is fine." They play and play and play and then sleep and sleep and sleep. (I feel like Poppy's presence really brings out the Ewok resemblance in Beau for some reason.) Okay,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2017 at amalah . com
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LOOKIT. LOOKIT OUR NEW BABEH GIRL. WHO IS A VERY VERY GOOD GIRL. This is Poppi! (That's her rescue name that may or may not stick; we've yet to come to a consensus on any other one suggestion.) She's a teeny tiny little five-month-old puppy baby who already has 20 pounds on Beau. She's going to be a bit...uh, bigger than the hamsters and ferrets we like to pass off as dogs around here. We knew She Was It probably 30 seconds after meeting her. We've introduced Beau to a LOT of adoptable dogs over the past month -- we never met one who was his instant BFF like this girl. They were off leash together in our backyard after 10 minutes or so and were clearly perfect playmates for each other. She's a pittie mix...our guess is either Dalmatian or Labrador, but who knows, who really cares. She is sweet as a pie that you take one bite of and then say, "this pie is way too damn sweet, like dial it back on the sweet, PIE." She's been in foster care since she was around eight weeks old (was a shelter puppy before that). She lived with multiple... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2017 at amalah . com
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Amy's Brain: dog dog dog doggie doggo dog dog to dog or not to dog hello yes this is dog and look this is another dog too many dogs dog dog dog Amy's Blog: no dog yet but look Jason got a new tattoo and is now contemplating a half sleeve because I am a corrupting influence I love it. The kids are big fans too, because look! It's them! On Dad! They're like, famous or something. We're probably corrupting them too. I was supposed to get my cover-up work done last week but the appointment had to get pushed back to this Sunday. Then on Tuesday we're having a home visit with a PUPPY (still a pittie rescue) because we all know I said NO PUPPIES and that basically means I will 100% cave and do exactly the opposite of that. (See: NO MORE DOGS! And also: OKAY ONE DOG BUT NO MORE CATS!) (Speaking of corruption, Noah has now taken to peppering his speech with appropriately-placed BEEPS. Like, not actually swearing; he's literally going around muttering things like "What the BEEP? Holy BEEP! MotherBEEEEEEEP!" Ezra, meanwhile, is SCANDALIZED that there are kids in his YMCA camp who say... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at amalah . com
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Our weekend was almost 100% consumed by the search for America's Next Top Dog, and unfortunately we have nothing to show for it. In a fit of what was probably massive overconfidence on our part, we decided to go look at some shelter pit bull mixes and fell in love with a sweet little female on Saturday. Everybody got super excited. Photos were texted, names were discussed, a list of necessary and not-so-necessary supplies was drawn up. We put her on hold so we could arrange a dog-meet-dog testing thing with Beau, which...did not go well. At all. Beau reacted just fine, but the other dog went from "hmmm not so sure about this" to super-aggressive hackles-raised "LET ME GO SO I CAN EAT HIM RAWR RWAR" in under five minutes and the shelter employees called the whole thing off. She'd ignored every other dog in the vicinity the day before, but alas, there was something about being up close with Beau that she just did. Not. Like. Disappointed but determined, we repeated the whole process with a second pittie, which did go better (but not 100% "oh yes this will all be fine" confidence inspiring). But then there's still... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2017 at amalah . com
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(Mah Innernetz went down on Tuesday morning and was finally restored late last night. No work, no play, just futile router rebooting every hour on the hour and racking up massive data overages from Verizon Mobile while waiting on Verizon FIOS to get its shit together, trapped in a super frustrating ouroboros of corporate bullshit.) First of all, happy birthday to this guy: Here he is with his birthday present, which I 100% had nothing to do with: In addition to Friday night soccer*, Jason's newfound return to outdoorsy-sportsy-ness now includes bike riding. Like on trails and dirt and stuff. He is currently scouring Craigslist for a bike for me, which is adorably misguided. To give you an idea of the last time I rode a bike, please consult this terrible blog post from 2003, only the fourth post ever published on this site, back when I had no clue what I was doing and wrote a lot of angry Open Letters to strangers and stores and the Oxygen Network. I do not particularly want a new bike. I'd really rather get a new dishwasher, as our current one is barely functioning and I am like five minutes away from... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2017 at amalah . com
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Jason and I took a little getaway to D.C. this weekend in honor of Father's Day and his upcoming birthday (Thursday, somebody remind me). We got all dressed up for a fancy dinner and an evening at the theeeeeatah. (In the full series of selfies, you can actually SEE the curls withering from my hair from the good ol' D.C. humidity in real time.) The show was WONDERFUL, although the guy sitting next to me appeared to disagree, as he refused to applaud and then muttered "What the fuck was that?" to his wife as we exited our row at the end. I did not hear her answer. The Sound of Music was playing in the other auditorium, so maybe that would've been more his speed than a genderqueer punk rock drag show about a botched sex change operation and a Greek mythology-fueled mental breakdown. Maybe try Google next time, sir? Anyway, we loved it and happily made our way back to our hotel, looking forward to sleeping like the dead for as many hours as we desired. We had an overnight sitter and there would be no small nightmare-having children or head-jumping cats all night. That was technically true,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at amalah . com
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It's been two full days since school ended approximately 84 years ago. Getting work done has been...challenging. Every morning I lay out a schedule for everyone -- exactly what chores need done, spaced in between blocks of outside time, reading/writing time, instrument practice -- that must be completed before I will even consider any screen time requests. Then I head to my office and close my door, hunker down on a task for exactly 30 seconds before the someone barges in to tattle on someone else or ask where something from the dishwasher goes. (IT'S A SPOON, CHILD.) Also, can I go on my screen? Mom? Mooooom. Mooooommmmmmm. I feel like I've been snappy and scoldy and super easily annoyed; even perfectly valid questions and complaints are being met with a built-in WHAT NOWWWWW level of irritation. Camps start up next week, which no one is all that excited about, but I'm sending them anyway because I believe it will be a enriching and positive experience for my children to be around adults who aren't ready to bite their heads off in a Pavlovian reaction to the sound of a door opening. I was writing a column for AlphaMom this... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at amalah . com
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It's the last day of school! You're mere hours away from summer vacation! Now line up outside so I can take one of a photo and do that "look how you've grown/changed" comparison thing. Look excited, or something. Wow. Tough crowd. (According to MY compare/contrast thing, Ike's hair is longer and he's wearing shoes he outgrew in January, Ezra's legs have grown approximately 25 inches, and Noah's been wearing the same dang shirt since August. Sounds about right.) Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at amalah . com
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It's been a momentous couple of days around here, starting with Noah's elementary school graduation on Friday. Which...okay, we all showed up dressed for that "casual classroom party" vibe and instead discovered that OH NO THIS SHIT IS FULL ON SERIOUS POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Girls were decked out in fancy dresses; some of the boys were in suits and ties. The mom next to me was all dressed up and brought balloons and roses. I wore workout clothes and brought my phone. Thankfully Noah spent most of the ceremony in the last row so no one could judge his shorts and Minecraft t-shirt...at least not until the super fomal certificate processional at the end. D'oh. The best part -- BEST -- was when the principal announced he'd received a very important letter for the graduates and read some kind of form letter about dreams and accomplishments and America blah blah blah. "Sincerely," he read, and then paused dramatically, "Donald Trump." Dead fucking silence. A few people rolled their heads back to suppress laughter and everybody else stared at the floor. I glanced at my forearm and swallowed an obnoxious snort. The graduates were not impressed. It was fairly delicious. Noah... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2017 at amalah . com
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This morning was Ike's kindergarten graduation "concert," an adorable yet tuneless affair, made slightly more memorable by the speedy and efficient mass exodus at the end by parents rushing out to get to a TV or computer to watch the Comey hearing, which started right around the time Ike's class was singing The World Is a Rainbow. (I'm watching it now, knowing full well that it's infinitely more interesting than anything I could post here.) Tomorrow is Noah's 5th grade graduation. Perhaps we'll linger a bit longer afterwards. Meanwhile, perhaps we've maybe, possibly, finally found our TBD. Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at amalah . com
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As someone born two days after Christmas, I always thought Ike had it made with his June birthday. Unfortunately, I've realized that although he's not competing with a major holiday, his birthday does tend to get a bit lost in a flurry of end-of-school-year and sibling activities. On his actual birthday, we had to rush through presents and his birthday dinner in order to get Noah to his band concert on time. (Ezra wrapped up a semi-deflated ball that Ike likes to steal from his room, along with a handmade card. Noah stuck around to confirm a lack of Minecraft/FNAF-related presents and then kinda wandered off.) Thanks to a Woody costume and an ice cream sundae (complete with a candle and singing waitstaff), he didn't seem to mind the day's crowded schedule that much. (Also a bulk package of composition notebooks helped. They fill these up by the dozens.) Saturday was pretty booked up too, with music lessons and an end-of-year picnic at school, which they were all clearly thrilled about attending. But hey! Pizza for the MILLIONTH MEAL IN A ROW. (Ezra's Hobbes is literally disintegrating, guys, and I fear his days are numbered. If anyone sees a similar... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at amalah . com
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Six years ago today, our family was officially made complete. Six years ago today, we welcomed the funniest, sunniest little boy on the planet into our lives. Today I sent him off to his almost-last day of kindergarten with a hastily put together "special birthday snack" to share with his friends. It is, embarrassingly, just 22 plastic sandwich bags with only five or six Doritos each, because that was the only store-bought, nut-free snack we had on hand that was both unopened and non-stale. Because I completely forgot about the special birthday snack. Until Ike reminded me last night, and I watched his face fall as he recognized the signature OH SHIT expression on mine. It's hard to be the Baby Ike, sometimes. He was actually thrilled about the Doritos, since I think he's only ever had them at parties, or perhaps as someone else's special birthday snack. "My friends are going to LOVE these chips," he declared confidently as we packed them up. (It came out more as my fwends are going to WUV deez chips, which of course we're working on, but dang it the lisp just makes everything he says sound even cuter.) He's much better about... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2017 at amalah . com
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Last year, around this time, I decided to get Jason a smoker for his birthday/Father's Day. He'd had one on his Amazon wish list for ages so I figured that's the one he wanted. (I did not know anything about smokers, except that you use them to smoke meat things, and every time we go to someone's house and Jason sees they have a smoker he's like the kids encountering someone else's epic Lego stash.) But when I went to actually check his list, he'd added several different models. And then I began to learn that the world of smokers and smoker accessories is very contentious and complicated. Do you go electric? Charcoal? Propane? Wood pellet? Digital bells and whistles? Super old-school and basic? The internet is full of people with VERY STRONG OPINIONS yelling at each other over this issue. Just Google "what kind of smoker is best" and they'll probably show up at your house to yell at you in person. I tried to feel Jason out on his opinion, only to learn that he didn't really have one. He "needed to do more research." Oh, lands, save yourself! I tried to drop hints that maaaaaybe he could... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2017 at amalah . com
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