Life, Such As It Is
Um, Hi?

Wednesday Advice Smackdown

Hey Amalah,

So how is that two-month-old Amazon baby of yours scaring the shit out of you today?

Also, get a haircut. GOD.



So Noah and I were hanging out in bed, watching The Price Is Right, which he loves, and I refuse to feel badly about that, because I make it educational, what with the prices and the capitalism, and we do this great little COME ON DOWN dance and ANYWAY, I AM NOT THE ONE ON TRIAL HERE.

So there was a commercial break, and I realized that I hadn't put kibble down for Ceiba yet, the poor downgraded baby, and also that I would like some coffee. So I left Noah squarely in the center of the bed and dashed downstairs to feed the dog and make a 30-second cup of pod coffee.

And lo, in that timeframe, the genius child had rolled over onto his tummy and was working VERY HARD on flipping back over again.

Am doomed. Doomed!

Anyway, let's take some of your questions before Noah learns to type and takes over this whole stupid operation.

Dearest Amalah,

Oh Queen of the Internet, who do I love thee? Let me count the ways!  First of all, I love your totally zany style of writing.  How is it possible you write for a financial publication?!  Second, I love that you have absolutely no shame about what you write up on your blog, even though you know your coworkers read it.  You are my hero!

So, Queen Bee, I do pretty please need your help.  I have recently been transplanted from New York City to Amsterdam.  I know, awesome right? I am loving it.  (And feel free to come visit!)   Here's the thing:  I am a 25 year old chick and this move was the result of a fairly big promotion for me.  Translation: I am scared as shit and need to keep my shit together!   I am a young chick in a world of middle aged paunch-bellied white business men.  Seriously, on a commuter flight to Helsinki (!) recently, I realized I was the only woman as well as the only person under 45 on the flight.  Europe is old school like that.

OK, I am getting around to my question I promise.  I did what I have to do:  I improved my posture, pared down my make-up to the essentials, upgraded my wardrobe with fabulous slacks, belts, buttoned shirts, business suits and heels.  I look awesome!  But I have one big glitch: my bag!  I carry a cute tiny laptop, but I still carry it in the damned free black Dell shoulder bag.   Ew, it is SO ugly!   And so... ordinary.  So Amalah dear, Lady With An Eye For Lovely Purses, could you help me find a professional women's tote that is polished, professional (but young, not stuffy!) functional, not too heavy, and all in all wonderful in all its soft touchable professional goodness? 

Also, what color should I get?  I often wear brown and pink-ish combos as well as black and purple/wine combinations.  Also - it needs to be able to hold 1 -2 manila paper files as well without crushing them.

And kisses to that delicious baby of yours!

Joke (YES that is my name, for Pete's sake, it's not pronounced like the noun ok!)

Well, there's certainly no shortage of lovely, lovely totes out there. A nice, classic leather bag would be your best bet -- super professional, timeless and it'll last damn near forever so you can justify a bit of a splurge.

You didn't mention a price range, although I'm assuming a Hermes Birkin bag is out of the question, and if I'm wrong about that, then I hate you, like I hate Rory Gilmore. Also, starving people. Christ.

(See? My extravagance does have limits. Although my judging does not.)

Obviously, my first choice is the Coach Hamptons Leather Business Tote. If your laptop is small and your folders are not legal-sized, this should be the right size. Not huge, definitely professional, and despite the stupidness of Coach's website, is available in a wine-colored leather that will go with both brown and black outfits. (Dark red, cream or other warm-colored leathers are the way to go if you're trying to find one bag to go with everything.)

If $398 is out of your budget, this bag (or similar versions from past seasons) is generally available at Coach outlets or, with a little patience, on eBay for about half that price.

And for a cheaper option, I think that the right person (i.e. one with a more eclectic professional wardrobe) could pull off carrying this fun tote from Lacoste. It's not leather, but it's cute and simple and would double as a good weekend or travel bag. Also: perfect for the klutzy girls among us who routinely spill their Starbucks on their handbags.

Which I have never done. No. Not ever.



More questions to come, but the baby is done recharging his scary, brilliant brain and is now awake and ready to terrify his mother some more.


I just broke up with my boyfriend of three years. I still love him but its obvious that we both want different things out of like and have different interests. The three years we were together we were on and off and this is the third and final time we're going our separate ways.  Over the last three years I've been to several colleges and now I am back home. It's hard to meet people in my one and only class (a nursing class at a community college)  because there are only five men who are older/not my type/and married. The problem is I've lost touch with the few and really good friends I had back home. I need advice on how to get out and get a life, meet new people, and get over the relationship that should have ended a long time ago.

Thanks for everything,

I always get a little twitchy when people send in questions about dating and breakups and whatnot, because I'm guessing they've missed the critical part of my biography where I've been with Jason since I was 19 years old, and pretty much decided that I was going to marry him by our second date. So all my dating experience is confined to high school and my freshmen semester of college -- hardly the most together and mature times in my life.

So my breakups tended to fall into one of the following categories:

1) I did the dumping, which meant I never really liked the guy anyway, but was just using him to make my best friend jealous and/or ensure a date to a formal function of some sort and/or he had a car and I needed a ride. When I broke up with him, I generally had someone new lined up, because I could not face life without a boyfriend, because life without a boyfriend was NOT WORTH LIVING and a clear sign that I was destined to DIE ALONE WITH TOO MANY CATS.

2) I was dumped, and usually in a relationship that was way, way past its expiration date anyway, but because life without a boyfriend was not worth living I stayed put and COMPLETELY LOST MY MIND when he dumped me. Like, I would cry all the time and even let him see me cry, because maybe he would take me back out of pity. Or I would stop eating and make sure he knew I'd stopped eating, because maybe he would take me back out of fear. Or I would take up with the first loser who showed any interest in me because maybe he would be jealous of me and my new loser, or something.

So my first advice would be to not do any of those things.

Overall, you sound like you have the right idea -- you know the relationship needed to end and while it's sad, you aren't in denial about it or trying to mash your life into a shape that would better fit into his.

One big glaring issue I have with your letter is that I think when you say you want to "meet people" you are really only interested in meeting people who are men. For example: Everybody in your nursing class is a person, and potentially a person you could be friends with and "get a life" with, but you're tossing the entire thing out as a viable social option because you've already sized up and rejected the five men in the room.

So are you really interested in a social life -- one with friends and new interests and independence -- or are you really just looking to meet a new guy to plug the big relationship hole?  Because the first one is easier, and healthier, and I find that people who get all desperate and attend clubs and activities for the express purpose of meeting someone to date are usually left disappointed because there's just this whole DESPERATION aspect to it all.

You know the types -- they show up at Habitat for Humanity or a young professionals association not really for the joy of being there or to "meet people" (OF BOTH SEXES), but with this not-so-secret agenda of sizing up every other attendee as a potential mate.

So listen -- even though you sound like you've got a handle on why the relationship ended and aren't holding onto any hopes of reconcilation, you've been through the wringer, emotionally speaking. Three years of an on-and-off relationship? Different schools and finally back at home? Those are tough things to deal with. Give yourself a break and throttle back on the "meeting people" anxiety and maybe try to find some girlfriends to go out dancing with.

Call those friends you've lost touch with and tell them you're back in town, how about catching up over a beer some night? Find a study partner in your class. Propose a happy hour. Head to the student union and look for some groups that interest you. (I spent a semester at a community college, and honestly? There were enough clubs and outings and events to rival the big universities.) Join a book club, attend a protest, do some volunteer work.

And you'll meet people, I promise. Just remember that those people don't all need to be cute boys.


More questions to come, but a certain cute boy in snowman jammies requires my attention.


Okay! Maybe not so much with the more questions thing.

Questions for future sure-to-be-similarly-truncated Smackdowns can be sent to

(Please note that the question queue is...well, it's extremely long at this point. About two months-ish. So you may want to go elsewhere for your pertinent advice needs, like what to do if your hair is on fire.)



$12400 for a handbag is insane.


Gawd if I could stick my hand into my computer screen, I would lovingly pinch that little chubby cheek! His preciousness is immense!


Gah. Hermes.

There are also some loverly bags over at ... in case you still want leather but can't justify the $400...

Ah, who'm'I kidding? You're a jet setter! Living in Amesterdam! Buy yourself the deserve it!

So jealous!




How about Monsac? Is what I carry and I adore it, and it has the added benefit of being made in Europe, so is already set to be a big hit there...will also run you about $400 smacks though...but is vachetta leather, which REPELS latte!! Check out the bags at!!

Real Girl

I am so glad I was not the only baby in history to be taken in by the Price Is Right. I used to call it "Babaka." In fact, I loved the Price Is Right so much as a baby that whenever I wanted to watch ANY tv I would point to the screen and yell "Babaka."

Don't you just want to scream out: Come ON people. The calcium pills are $12, the car is more than $9,000, and good lord why do you want that furniture anyway?


mmmmm....birkin bag *drool*

Heather O'Douls

I want to eat that baby.

with hot sauce.

Ali G

ha! i know joke, and i can assure you she has a fabulous new professional wardrobe your bag suggestions will look amazing with!

joke, honey, i want pics modelling your new look, styled by amalah.


You realize that one day you're going to have to tell your son the truth: Bob Barker is a bit of a pervert and says inappropriate things to his Barker's Beauties. But wait until after you tell him the turth about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.


The bag? Meh.
The baby? Yum.

Silly Hily

My daughter scared the shit out of me when she was just one month old! She was napping in her crib without the rail up b/c hello, she's ONE month! I'll be damned if she had not rolled over and was inches away from falling when I went to check on her.
LOVE the Coach Tote! Joke, I say get that one!

Yet Another Laura

But, DUDE its on SALE!!!!!

Bozoette Mary

Levenger is an excellent suggestion; may I also suggest Franklin Covey? They make great cases, like this one.

Anne Glamore

They don't tell you this while you're pregnant, but a big part of motherhood is seeing what you can do in 20 or 30 second dashes away from the baby. You're acing that part!


The rolling over may be a fluke (my 8 week old has done it), but YES indeed it is scary. My kid rolled over onto his stomach in his sleep and didn't even wake up. Since SIDs is one of my 3 Mommy Paranoias (car wreck with old Noodle Neck and falling down the stairs being the other two), this turn of events was particularly distressing.

Anyway, here's hoping it was a fluke for you, too! :-)


Um, what do I do when mine rolls over?? Because right now, the entire household gets managed in brief moments of "I'll just leave him here safely square in the center of the bed for, like, nine seconds while I do something silly like, oh, use the bathroom or let the dogs out to do the same..." I guess I and our precious dogs are destined to pee our pants and starve to death once the roll happens. Also, to wear only very dirty clothes.


Amalah... um.. this is going to sound strange but.. you got your baby from AMAZON? I.. I didn't know they did that.

Silly Hily

Wow! Great advice on the dating question.
Also, Noah's fish? My daughter had the exact same one and loved it.

I'm a Mama??

Frequent lurker, first time poster...

I felt compelled to post when I saw this "Nobody tells you about the baby headbutts that leave you with a big fat bloody lip." Up in the corner of my screen today.

As a tiny baby my little boy Alex loved to play bonk. Most of the time it was fine. Sometimes it hurt a little. Every now and then I ended up with a fat lip. It was ok, it was how he showed affection - he only "bonk'd" those he loved.

The problem? Now that he's 20 months old and has a head the size and approximate weight of a chevy it's not so cute. He doesn't do it often, but when he does it HURTS. In october, he broke my nose with his big old forehead. I came in to work with two black eyes and a crooked nose the next day. It was lovely.

So Memo To Noah from Alex: You must be very gentle when playing Bonk with your Parents - because Mommies yell really loud when you make their noses bleed and it's a little scary which might make you want to yell really loud too.


Amalah you rock. I think I have a bit of a girl crush on you.


If you want scary, wait until he starts walking. And with all his brilliantness, that will happen in about a month :). Just when you start to feel sorry for them falling all the time, they get organized and go charging thru your home like a bull in a china shop. Things will never be the same again.
Ps-gobble up thighs and cheeks as much as possible. Even if you do it 24 hours a day, you will look back when he is grown and think you didn't do it enough!


Noah looks very much like Jason in the last picture.

Lisa V

You hate Rory Gilmore? Isn't that a little like hating Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Easter Bunny ?


He's adorable. Love the Noah pics. Keep em coming!

And now, assvice for all (including Danell)- baby can still be left for SHORT periods on bed, but with PILLOWS on either side to act as walls. As long as there is a pillow between baby and edge of bed, you should be fine (says the mom of a now 10 year old who rolled off the bed at 4 months while her FATHER was watching her- not that I still hold a grudge or anything).

Carry on.


Live Noah cam! We need a live Noah cam. Right now!


Holy Crap, that crying face? Looks almost as if he's faking it... but I'm sure he's not... but seriously? INCREDIBLY adorable!!!


Is there anyway you could post where the snowman jammies came from? My 4 month old needs new sleepers and that one is extra cute.


When my younger brother (who is significantly younger than me, so I remember his baby years quite well) was a baby, he would roll ALL OVER THE PLACE! Even after he learned to crawl, his preferred method of movement was rolling... and he was fast. So keep an eye on that little one of yours!


Siobhan: the snowman jammies (and the skiing reindeer fleecey sleeper in the last pic, and the reindeer shirt from yesterday) are from Old Navy. Such cute stuff, and so darn cheap.

Obviously, I went on a bit of a spree after he officially outgrew EVERYTHING IN HIS CLOSET.


(I usually name myself "for Joke!" but because I was on the smackdown I'll go by Joke today. I mean, how many Joke's do you all know in your lives anyway??)

So anyway, you all, Amalah and commenters alike, gave me some AWESOME advice on bags, thanks! I'll be scouring the sites you all recommended, and I solemnly promise to post a picture on my blog of whatever bag I end up acquiring. Thanks ladies!


I think your advice for the meeting people question is dead-on. However, I might also suggest getting a part-time job in the food industry. From my experience, when I waited tables, after work we would all hang out and have a great time. It's a good way to make friends and they'll bring in their other friends from time-to-time and therefore there is the possibility of making more friends than just those people you work with (and there are a lot of cute waiters out there if the question writer is still stuck on the finding a man quest). Just my 2 cents.


I have a laptop bag from I love it. I really like the tote, but I don't think it zips at the top-bad for Chicago snow.


Thanks Amalah. I actually got the set of reindeer onesies as a gift. I'll have to go check the website for the sleepers. Seth has gotten so many compliments when he wore the reindeer one. I recently finally packed up all the 0-3 months stuff which Seth was able to wear until exactly 3 months and then he started growing like crazy. At 4 months he was 14 pounds and 27 freaking inches. So for Cbristmas we are getting a new carseat. I'm sure you'll have to do the same soon. We are getting the Britax Decathlon. My sister has the Marathon and she just raves about it.


Ok, so, I know this has nothing to do with laptop bags and Noah is crying, but that last picture is adorable.


You know what? I buy all my purses at New York and Company, and I receive compliments on them constantly, particularly on a green bag I bought this past spring. And I've never spent more than twenty dollars on any of them. Coach has great stuff, but I get bounced checks just gazing at their lovely lovliness.


Just wanted to clarify that I am not using the spring bag during the winter months. I'm not that cheap.

Also, I bounce checks, not get them. That would be weird.

Wacky Mommy

baby is beautiful. thanks for the pix. i love my new Kate Spade bag. You inspired me to ditch ripped-up purse/diaper bag (Asian silk thing, very pretty but, as i said, shredded) that i've been hauling around for two years.


My son had a similar first rollover experience, and I felt so doomed. Sure enough, he was rolling all over the place soon afterwards.


I'm laughing so hard my cheeks are hurting. So is
my 18 week squishy. Thanks! Now I need a warm rag
to ease the cheek pain! And a anti-wrinkly cream to prevent the smile lines!

Is totally worth it!


Oh, well, he will eventually fall off the bed. Even if you put pillows around him, even if you only leave him on the floor on a blanket when you get your coffee or feed the dog... He will fall because one day you will put him on the bed, turn around for a second without thinking, how fast can he move? Well! mx^2 = c fast! Before you can say peek-a-boo, boink! But he will be fine. At that age, you can dribble them on the floor (as long as it's not on their heads), they'll be fine. You on the other hand, will cry like a baby, award yourself the "worst parent in the world " trophy, apologize to your husband profusely for a week about "almost" breaking the baby, drive yourself insane with "what if he had fallen on a sharp corner" nightmares and after you have exhausted yourself with guilt and remorse, you will see a parent at the park with a 6 month old with a cast of his leg after a fall down the stairs and you shall smugly pass on the worst parent trophy to them and move on with your life, until the next fall off the bed, off the sofa, off the stroller, take your pick.
Noah, as always, is delicious.

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