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Washington, DC
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Okay, so first of all, wait, hold up, everybody shut up for a minute. I am so deeply grateful to everybody who took the time to comment, email, or message me yesterday. It was all a bit overwhelming (although to be fair, right now everything is overwhelming, including getting out of bed and/or composing a meal more complicated than several sticks of string cheese), but it was overwhelming in a good, kind, warm-hug sort of way. I struggle more these days with how honest/confessional I should be online, now that I have at least one foot in a more professional realm, albeit one where everybody still knows my blog name. But I'm glad I just came out and said what's what. Because it fucking sucks and I need a place where I can say that, curse words and all. (IT FUCK FUCKITY FUCKFUCK FUCKER FUCKING FUCKSTICK SUCKS.) But as planned, I got out of bed yesterday, took a shower, combed my hair kind of, powdered my shiny face and even dabbed on some mascara (which I may or may not still be wearing today), and drove myself to my doctor. She listened, nodded, and got to work digging the implant... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at amalah . com
I felt it the minute I woke up on Monday morning. Or more specifically, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel anything. Probably not a big surprise or shocker here, but I've been struggling with my anxiety levels for awhile now. I have retyped that sentence at least 17 times, because "struggling" doesn't seem to go far enough, but alternatives like "suffering" or "practically debilitated by" seem too drama queenish.'s been bad, guys. On Monday, though. A switch got flipped. I woke up late vs. waking up before dawn, and instead of feeling wracked with anxiety over the day's mundane to-do list and Trump-related existential terror, I felt...nothing. Just the abyss of a depressive spiral. Not to get too gross-out personal (LOL AT THE SHIT IN THE ARCHIVES), but I first blamed my anxiety on hormones, and my super-irregular menstrual cycles. So I decided to try a birth control implant in my arm that my (NOW FORMER) doctor swore up and down had zero mood-related side effects and would eventually stop my periods altogether, like WOOT. I didn't need the birth control aspect (SNIP SNIP) but figured no bleeding or PMS sounded pretty great, let's give it a try!... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at amalah . com
Ezra (and Bluen and Bube and Jimmy and Hobbes) had all their birthday dreams come true this weekend. Including this!! This is our friend's horse Ace. She's been offering to take the boys riding awhile now, and Ezra decided that sounded like a perfect birthday activity. To be honest, I was somewhat expecting Ezra to change his mind once he was there, live and in person with a Real Horse. And I think he was a little nervous, but not enough to hop right on and give it a try. He cut his first ride fairly short, but then after watching his brothers he decided he wanted to go again. After all, it WAS his birthday. He was much more confident the second time around. I haven't ridden a horse in FOREVER, so I broke myself in on the laziest, fattest horse in the barn. "Leisurely pace" doesn't even begin to describe it, but it was nice to realize I remember how horses work, more or less. Also, I didn't fall off and die. So, success! Noah went next. He rode therapy horses a couple times in preschool so he obviously loved this, almost as much as exploring the barn... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at amalah . com
And now it's this one's turn to go ahead and be all huge, all of a sudden. Tomorrow is Ezra's eighth birthday. He has requested Angry Birds Legos, horseback riding and a cheesecake. It is also Bluen's birthday. She asked for a new party dress, in purple this time. It is also Bube's birthday. He wants Wonder Woman, so they can get married. Would you believe it? It's also Jimmy the Baby Bat's birthday. He wants a girl bat named Lily. Not to marry, though. They are still just babies. And of course, we can't forget about Hobbes' birthday. He wants a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine set. (Hobbes is about to hit the motherload, by the way, in the form of ALL OUR OLD THOMAS TRAINS. I thought I'd given them away, but found them in an unlabeled box last week. [I went looking once I realized there was no way I could justify spending this much money on a gift for a stuffed tiger I won from a claw machine.] We somehow managed to move the entire collection from one house to the next and not realize it. So...a return to the Isle of Sodor, anyone?) I think... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2016 at amalah . com
On Monday night I hit my head on a wall, split my forehead open, bled profusely all over myself, and got a concussion. REALLY GOOD WEEK OVER HERE. We were hanging out at our friends' awesome new house, a house I've been to before but have yet to fully grasp the twisty, multi-level floorplan -- I keep mistaking closets and the laundry room for the bathroom, and don't even get me started on the light switch situation, there are so many switches what do they all doooo. Half the time I just give up and pee in the dark. Which is probably what I should have done on Monday, because our friends are ASSHOLES. This is Suzy. They like to hide her around the house for maximum jump scare/creep out effect, and they get me EVERY SINGLE TIME. BAM, turn a corner and she's there, lurking in the shadows. You sit down to pee and BAM. Creeping on ya in the shower. Once again, she was hiding out in the bathroom, and once again, I was so preoccupied with finding the proper light switch that I didn't realize she was literally six inches away from my face and suddenly HERRRRREEEE'S... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2016 at amalah . com
Recess. I am going down the big slide with most of my class. Boys and girls together, because everyone loved the big slide. Except maybe the kindergartners, and some of the first graders, but not us. We're in third grade. As I come down, he's standing next to the slide, near the bottom. He puts his arm out, extends his fingers. His hand goes up and under my dress, between my legs. He squeezes. Hard. I get off the slide. I am immediately defiant. Screaming at him. That was a bad thing, a wrong thing. You're not supposed to do that thing. My classmates, even the boys, rally behind me, shocked and scandalized. He looks for an ally. He is angry that none of the other boys are taking his side. He tries to deny and backtrack and explain. I spin around and march off to find a grown up. Our teacher that year was a man. Mr. W. I didn't like him all that much by the end of the year -- he liked the boys better than girls, I concluded for some reason -- but early in the year I adored him and wanted nothing but his approval.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at amalah . com
It's hard to believe we've been in the Yellow House for over a year. Especially since there are still boxes in the basement and several closets, and approximately 4,509.023 Yellow House-related projects we were totally going to do right away, and yet here we are. All the walls are still beige or brownish beige. I despise the ceiling fans with the force of a million ugly ceiling fans turned up to high. I still haven't replaced the super dark velvet sadness curtains in our bedroom. Framed art and photos sit propped against walls where I MIGHT want to hang them, but am still not emotionally ready to commit to a nail hole. Other than that, the house is very lived in and homey, by which I mean cluttered and messy as fuck. Not like, gross messy (unless we're talking about the boys' bathroom but WE DON'T SPEAK OF SUCH THINGS), but just...kid messy. Five people who tend to set objects down and wander away from them and three pets who all have a lot of toys/scratching posts/pet beds messy. Small child who is currently obsessed with ripping up small pieces of paper and scattering them everywhere and a mother who... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2016 at amalah . com
Something has gone terribly amiss in our hand-me-down clothing system. Clothing size math makes me crazy, but it seems everything has collapsed due to a bad ratio of non-worn-through-the-knee pants to children-with-weirdly-similar-leg-lengths, combined with our usual oh-crap-it's-suddenly-chilly-quick-try-on-last-year's-pants seasonal unpreparedness. (The Legs Collective, back in simpler, summery-er times.) Noah's now wearing clothes long enough that they're typically destroyed before they're outgrown, greatly reducing what I can pass down to Ezra. Ike's legs are insanely long that he's practically wearing the same pants size as Ezra (who is a good head taller but super extra skinny), leading to a critical pants shortage. Ezra has attended school all week in jeans that are noticeably two inches too short, which ALSO highlights his complete lack of socks. (I mean, we have millions of socks. There are literally socks everywhere. None of the socks match, and also we are still besieged by the mysterious Zombie Baby Socks, because all I ever do is throw out or donate baby socks and yet THERE ARE STILL BABY SOCKS IN THIS HOUSE. But matching socks that fit them now? Pffft. Pipe dream. I could go buy three dozen more socks tomorrow and we'd be tapped out by Saturday.)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2016 at amalah . com
Less than a week before Noah's birthday, I still didn't have a present for him. Or even a vague idea of what present to buy him. I mean, obviously it was going to be Something Lego, because look at how Not Enough Legos We Have: (We bleached and Nature's Miracled the entire stash, just to be safe, then laid them outside to dry. And then we forgot about them and it rained. And then it rained again and again and now they are finally ALMOST dry and falling through the cracks in the deck and it's basically my Lego Anxiety Dream brought to terrifying life.) What Noah REALLY wanted was a discontinued Back to the Future set. Which I found on eBay for a pretty ridiculously high price, considering the size of it, and so I informed that NOPE, NOT HAPPENING. PICK AGAIN. His SECOND choice was a not-discontinued but even more bonkers expensive Ghostbusters set, because he has suddenly landed smackdab into the 1980s fanboy demographic. I again said sorry, no, we're not buying anything that expensive. His third choice was disappointed silence. Crap. One of the many small businesses from downtown Ellicott City is an independent Lego seller/reseller,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2016 at amalah . com
Eleven years ago, this happened. Our (not-so) little perfect baby arrived. And everything changed forever. Last night during dinner, Noah held his hands up, fingers spread wide. "Starting tomorrow I won't be able to show how old I am with my hands anymore." Into uncharted territory, once again. He looks just like his dad. He got a small, adorable smattering of freckles across his nose this summer and sandy bit of blond back in his hair. His feet are officially bigger than mine and I can just rest my chin on the top of his head, and at least once a week he'll turn a hug into a jump, just to make sure I can still pick him up, even if it's a struggle and only for a minute or two. It's still all Legos and Minecraft and comic books, along with a deep interest in the many theories and philosophical aspects of time travel. This year, however, he's doing his biography book report on Alexander Hamilton. ("SIT DOWN JOHN YOU FAT MOTHER BEEEEEEEEEEP" is his favorite most inappropriate turn of phrase. Probably my bad.) He would like everyone to vote for Hillary Clinton, our first Girl President, a milestone... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2016 at amalah . com
Our first year with a "real" garden has been... ...bountiful, to say the least. And very, very delicious. (Not pictured, because we ated them: turnips, radishes, carrots, kale, zucchini, peas, bell and chili peppers, most of which we'll be getting round two or even three of shortly.) It's also been a bit of a learning process for us, as 1) no human family, no matter how bonkers-crazy they are for tomatoes, can possibly consume the INSANE number of tomatoes we planted, and I say that as someone who has not eaten a non-tomato-centric lunch in four months, has made sauces and jams and salads and soups, and has given away bags of tomatoes to anyone who comes to visit. Also 2) TIMBERRRRRRRRR. Whoopsie. We're having some nasty weather this week, and last night the metal frame Jason screwed into the raised beds gave up under the weight of a 10-foot high cucumber plant. I didn't even notice until after I got back from the bus stop. And while I'm SURE our neighbors were THRILLED at the sight of our giant-ass plant dangling over the fence (at least upright it served as a improvisational privacy hedge?), they did not poach our... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2016 at amalah . com
A few months ago, we went to a baseball game with some friends. As we snaked through the arrival crush, our friends made a bee-line for the much shorter bagless entry line, at which point I gestured to my over-sized tote and apologized. "You know, so much crap because KIDS." The kids were...not there. They were home with a babysitter. And yet I was there, lugging around a giant bag that was maybe 1/4 full of crayons and tissues and old receipts and random Legos and a ton of other stuff I 100% did not, would not use at a baseball game. Handbags long ceased to be must-have fashion accessories for me...the bag I was carrying at the time was just a free canvas tote from Mom2.0 because YAY IT'S MACHINE WASHABLE...but after sooooo many years of diaper-bagging it, that moment in line was a weird, freeing moment of revelation. I don't need to carry all this shit anymore. It's been years since anyone's been in diapers, or even been a moderate-to-high accident risk requiring a backup change of clothes. I don't carry snacks or sippy cups or plastic stacking toys anymore. We keep sunscreen and bug spray and hand... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2016 at amalah . com
Pay no attention to the new design quite yet (unless you're on a mobile device, which in that case, you are very welcome, about seven years late)...Jason jumped the gun a bit by sending it live. His priority was getting all the ad zones set up properly because of all those sweet, sweet Internet nickels; he didn't realize I wasn't down with the default fonts and wanted to test out at least fourteen dozen alternatives. I think we're currently displaying option number four and we're still not there yet. And I know some other pages are borked thanks to the bizarre way I had things set up before. Also, if anyone can help with the header/logo thing and expand some design-y doo-dads across the sea of Every Guest Bathroom I've Ever Had Green, shoot me an email with how much Cash Money you will require. But whatever, it's a site that at least looks like it's from this Internet century and maybe Google will remember that I exist again. Our original trip to Hersheypark included two days' worth of park passes. We ended up spending one day at the park and the rest of the time at our hotel's indoor... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at amalah . com
Wow, I just realized how completely overboard I've been going lately with the CATS CATS CATS stories and photos. It's like, are the kids still around? Has anyone checked on the kids? Yep, still around. And clearly very busy. (He actually seems genuinely fine with this.) Noah is just days away from his 11th birthday, Fellow Olds. And while he still hasn't voiced any displeasure/resistance to making appearances here, it's rare these days to have anything really significant to report about him. Current life goals involve learning to program so he can get a job at Minecraft and make enough money to buy a Delorean, then quit the Minecraft gig and be a full-time professional time traveler. He'd be happy to tell you his theories on time travel, if you have approximately 17 free hours. Also I spaced out this morning and poured milk in his cereal, which was the single worst thing I have EVER done to him, especially since it was the LAST BOWL OF CEREAL. He ate maybe three mournful bites and then made himself some rage-toast out of spite. Mark this date down and Never Forget. Noah clearly will not. (I just got up to pee... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2016 at amalah . com
A few weeks ago, Beau learned how to open the back sliding screen doors with his paw. Or more accurately, with his toenails, which flash forward to today, has resulted in the screens looking like so: Awesome. He's such a smart dog!! Also SO MANY STINKBUGS INSIDE NOW. Before the damage got this bad, however, the main problem with Beau's new skill was that he'd let himself outside and then come back inside before I realized that he'd even done it, leaving the screen door wide open for God knows how long while I tapped merrily away on my laptop in a room far, far away. So that's how Rey got out of the house a few days ago. (Not to be confused with falling out of the house.) I realized the door was open, and then Finn started howling his alarms that he couldn't find her/Dumb Baby Did a Dumb Thing Again, Human Person. I crept outside the basement door and sure enough, there was a small black lump on the far, far side of our yard, and two bright yellow-green eyes peering at me. Inscrutable as ever, I had no idea if she was terrified or basically baiting... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2016 at amalah . com
Hi! Hi hi hi. How are you? I am fine. Everything is fine. Very very busy with non-blog work and then we had to travel to New York for a family wedding on Saturday and oh, absolutely, the whole thing started out as a planned day trip and ended up being a complete and utter clusterfuck as per my usual travel exploits, and while I suppose it would make for a classic Idiots Doing Idiot things story, the real reason things unraveled on us as badly as they did obviously kills the potential/appropriateness of humor. Long story short: Getting out of Manhattan and onto the very last NJ Transit train of the night was no easy feat on Saturday, and involved several unnecessary and/or aborted Uber rides, a lost credit card, a frantic sprint on and off the subway and a lot of REALLY oblivious, slow-moving Mets fans. None of it was very fun, but we made it home and the wedding was just lovely. (We also finally took some pictures of us together!) Another reason for the relative silence here on the blog is that FINALLY, in the year of our Lord 2016, I am redesigning the fucking thing.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at amalah . com
Nine days into the school year -- not even a full two weeks! -- and we have our first kid down with a stomach bug. This feels like a record, even for our barf-happy household. I suppose I could look that up in the archives, but a quick search reveals multiple hundred posts that contain the word vomit (or one its more colorful synonyms). It's almost (but not quite) as many posts that contain the word poop! My blogging legacy, ladies and gentlemen. I have woven a truly rich tapestry. (Also I know, I know. Why is this kid always wearing Christmas PJs? I'm actually not sure, but you gotta admit they add a festive, cozy touch to the proceedings.) (10 minutes after I took that photo that pillow went through something unfortunate. It's going to be a great day!) Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at amalah . com
I ate shellfish for the first time when I was 19. It took about three times before the Allergy Lightbulb went on over my head. I'd get a smattering of hives, a loopy/lightheaded feeling, and then finally, after a fateful all-you-can-eat shrimp bingefest at the beach, I got violently ill and threw up. Okay, I get it. I bought some Benadryl and immediately felt better after chugging it right in front of the cashier. No big deal, I didn't even like shrimp that much; I just ordered the all-you-can-eat because it was a really good deal. (Which I didn't even get to really capitalize on, as my reaction set in while I was still on my first serving.) Since I'd only ever tried shrimp, I never thought of it as a proper "shellfish allergy," though, and years later went on to try all the other delicious options out there without a problem. So I assumed it was just shrimp, and then once accidentally consumed an entire plate of eggrolls before noticing they were full of shrimp on my very last bite. I was fine! Okay, allergy outgrown, or maybe it never really existed. Maybe that all-you-can-eat shrimp was just sketchy... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2016 at amalah . com
OKAY YOU TWO. LISTEN THE FUCK UP. For second and hopefully final time, LEGOS ARE NOT KITTY LITTER. THIS IS NOT A LITTER BOX. (It's also not full of Baby 0-6 month sized clothing, which you shouldn't pee on either because NOT A LITTER BOX.) We have two actual litter boxes, which both see fairly frequent and successful use, given how often I'm cleaning them out, and yet here we are. The boys started complaining that one of the Lego bins "smelled bad" and sure enough, someone (or sometwo) had peed in it. Now, usually this would be the sum of the story, and where the post would end, but because my life is EXTRA GLAM these days, it does not. Because midway through my disinfecting process, I noticed the water level started dropping. Because... Which meant... I'm starting to suspect that I am not good at doing things. (For the record I HAD the sink stopper in place before I filled the sink up. Plz assign proper credit there. It just doesn't seal super well sometimes and got shifted out of place by a small Lego tidal wave of wheeeeee let's all fall into the garbage disposal yoo guyz!)... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2016 at amalah . com
This is the school year I have been waiting for my whole life, or at least the parenting portion of it: All three children riding the same bus, attending the same school, and being there ALL THE LIVELONG DAMN DAY. And thanks to our child-spacing math, this is the only school year where that will ever happen. So far it's been gloriously easy, but also supremely weird. I'm so used to juggling multiple schedules and exits and drop-offs that having them all walk out the door at the same time and being DONE, JUST LIKE THAT, almost feels like a trick. After they board the bus I reflexively glance around the bus stop to collect a younger child only to realize I'm about to corral someone else's toddler. By noon I'm still jolting myself with a GO PICK UP A PRESCHOOLER muscle memory. Eating lunch by myself and not making one for someone else kicks me in the emotions a little bit. (Although that might just be the dog and cats underfoot and nipping at my ankles every time I walk into the kitchen because YOU CAN FEED US ANYTIME, ALL THE TIME.) I've met them at the bus stop... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2016 at amalah . com
So I just dropped three entire children off at school, one FIFTH GRADER who is already so over it, a second grader who was like BYEEEEEEE PLZ LEAVE NO YAY, and sadly, the world's most terrified-looking kindergartner. Ike was expecting, I think, for us to walk him into his classroom, but since the school is approximately 97% made of kindergartners (rough estimate) at this point, they instead were corralling them in the gymnasium where each child was labeled and instructed to line up by homeroom and wait. Ike's face was like, "I'm so confused. I've made a huge mistake. Also they labeled me as Isaac." I spent ages filling out multiple forms listing both Ike's legal name and preferred name, and was assured that would be noted in "the system." It was not. His teacher promised him a new label once they got to the classroom but of course as we left we could still hear people calling him Isaac. So anybody on the to-nickname-or-not-to-nickname fence out there, I must report that a different legal name CAN be a bit of a pain in the ass, leading to blank dumb stares in doctors' offices because who the hell is Isaac,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2016 at amalah . com
At da beach, hangin' with kids, hangin' with friends, hangin' with Hobbes. Who has apparently been hangin' with the spiked beach punch pretty hard. Wow, get yourself together, man. If Beach House Week 2016 has a theme, so far it's been a tie between Things You Should Not Eat: (SPOILER ALERT: Duh. This is a terrible idea. So bad. Even more vile than your wildest fever dreams are able to comprehend. My children, of course, loved them. I still threw the package out while they were sleeping because I WANT A BETTER LIFE FOR THEM, A LIFE WITHOUT THIS ARTIFICIAL ABOMINATION.) (On the other hand, while Maryland blue crabs are ALWAYS something you should eat, especially while at the beach, maybe don't attempt to eat like, 40 of them, even between four motivated adults. That's an awful lot of crab and a pretty tremendous mess.) (Especially after pigging out on Velveeta nacho dip and chips just a couple hours earlier.) //PHOTO NOT FOUND ...and theme #2, aka Burying Small Children In The Sand Is Fun: Burying Ike from amalah on Vimeo. Unburying Ike from amalah on Vimeo. (Noah was having none of the burying business, naturally, but he's here and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2016 at amalah . com
It's been a week, you know? Good time for some cats. Oh look another cat. Hi, other cat. Nothing but cats. Okay, cat and one dog. Okay, dog and other cat. Okay, two kids, too. And that's all I've got. We're off to the beach for a bit and I've barely started packing, unless you count the kids' suitcase that I never unpacked after their week with the grandparents. That's good to go, because FORESIGHT. And EPIC LAZINESS. Which I always knew would pay off at some point, in one small way or another. Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at amalah . com
This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. With lots of travel planned and our garden overflowing, we decided our standard Blue Apron delivery of three meals a week might get a little overwhelming, so we switched to the four-person, two-meals-a-week Family Plan a few times this summer. One of the more charming surprises of this particular plan (besides all the delicious foooooooood), was the inclusion of a weekly "Kids' Cooking Camp." Every week, our box included cooking activities, games and challenges for the boys to try. It was a really great idea. One week covered easy food prep techniques (peeling garlic, washing produce, rolling pizza dough), another week challenged us to keep the dinner table a family-focused, screen-free zone (that was harder on the grown-ups than the kids), yet another taught kids what grows in what season and why it matters; all summer kids were encouraged to submit recipes and photos and stay hands-on in the kitchen. The best week, according to my kids, was this one: Not only were the recipes a hit (Moroccan lamb & beef pitas and a crispy cod with corn on the cob), but tucked inside our box of ingredients was a packet of pea... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at amalah . com
As of 1 p.m. today, Ike is finally, for-real, officially registered for kindergarten. When I called to make the appointment and admitted that yes, he's another Storch boy, little brother to the other Storch boys, I was asked why on earth I waited so long to register. A fair question. "We had some...readiness concerns," I explained. Ike's June birthday has always worried me. He'll enter kindergarten a full nine months younger than his brothers were, and he's never been particularly mature for his age. To be honest, he's probably the opposite of that. Especially at home where he's most comfortable with his role as "the baby." His behavior reports from preschool weren't 100% glowing either, as he would get shy and then stubborn and refuse to participate. He'd claim he didn't know the lyrics or hand motions to the songs they sang every dang morning and sit in stony, arms-folded silence. If he didn't get his preferred seat or spot in line, he'd run off and pout in the corner. He refused to follow classroom rules he thought were silly, like not being able to get up and go to the bathroom by himself. His class had a couple older... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2016 at amalah . com