My Forceful Valentine
Not Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You: The 'Don't Be a Selfish Asshole' Guide to Parenting

Dear Peanut Gallery:

Okay. Let's just start typing and see how this goes:

I am burnt the fuck out, you guys. 

I suspect that doesn't surprise many of you; after years of writing-writing-writing hundreds of words here five days a week about everything-anything, my output here has noticeably slowed. Whereas before I would simply stare at the blank page and force myself to write something, and was fine spending a couple hours mashing that something into submission of NOT ALTOGETHER SUCKING, lately I've been coming here and if a topic doesn't pop (fully formed, with an outline and several bullet points) into my head within 30 seconds I'm like: Nooooope. Maybe tomorrow.

And before you rush to the comments section all GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK WE UNDERSTAND, let me assure you that I am definitely 100% giving myself a damn break about it. I do not feel guilty or panicked or ZOMG MAH RELEVANCE IS FADING about it at fucking all. Dish, please.

I have three children who constantly need things or rides to things or want to talk to me about all the things. I've somehow fallen ass-over-teakettle into a consulting career that demands a lot of hours, hours that I am happy to hand over because it's all personally rewarding and challenging in a way that blabbering on about myself stopped being a long time ago. At 3 pm every afternoon I close the laptop, collect Noah at the bus and spend the rest of the day fully engaged with my children and husband without a second thought at what's going on in my email/blog/Twitter/whatever. 

And before you rush to the comments section all STFU WITH YOUR DISTRACTING PERSONAL GROWTH AND ENTERTAIN US, WHORECAKES, let me also assure you that this is not (at all, not even a little bit) some bloggy setup for announcing my retirement or shut-down or resignation from teh royal Internet. This is just me sitting down and forcing myself to write something, anything, just like I've done on an almost-daily basis since two-thousand-and-oh-fucking-three. 

It IS, however, a shameless ploy for a little crowd-sourced inspiration. What would you like me to write about? I believe I've caught requests for posts about Montessori and why we chose it, a hair tutorial for making crappy ultra-fine hair look slightly less crappy (HA!), and SOMETHING TELLS ME there have been additional questions about cloth diapers that have somehow gone unanswered in the 2430434502098765 words I've written about that topic already. Is there anything...else? Other plots I've left dangling because OOH LOOK SOMETHING SHINY or questions that aren't necessarily Advice Smackdown material but you still want to ask because nosy? Or I don't know, feel free to just start shouting random words at me like MEGGINGS or PACKING PEANUTS or DEODORANTS ON SPRING BREAK. 

Anyway, I'd super appreciate hearing from you and getting some writing prompts to help me get back into a groove. (Not to mention that EVERY. TIME. I've done this in the past something immediately interesting happens in my life as a convenient double-shock to the writing reflexes, so let's just tempt some fate up in this bitch.)

Just be your nice usual lovely non-asshole selves about it, is all I ask. If you tell me to write about why I suck we'll never get to address any other topic ever, since that would require a novel-length 20-part series and ain't nobody got time for that. 


(Plus, Ike will eat you. Grarrrr.)



I am always happy to just read a transcription of Weird Things Kids Say on any given day. Even just a one-liner. That can be the whole post.


I commented earlier and have been thinking about this for a few hours. I've realized that It's like you are my/our best girlfriend. I catch up with you several times a week ( at 10:30pm). I know more about you and your family than the other mamas who are frantically living their lives right alongside me here in my city. And you are a good, uplifting, funny, relatable friend. Motherhood can be, and has been at times, very lonely. Thank you for easing the burden. So. That being said, not sure where I'm going with this. Wish there was a way to share some of our secrets/stories with you...but have no idea how to do that.


1. More words like WHORECAKES.
2. (and slightly more productive) You mentioned in an Advice Smackdown that you make your own bread (unless I'm mistaken, which, let's face it, is not altogether impossible). Show us how you make the bread, please!


You've gently touched on your original blended family and I would love to hear about it (at risk of prying here, sorry!!!) My husband and I each have children from "our previous lives" and now an "ours" child...

I love all the things you write. I would miss you very much if you left. Uhhhhh, maybe not the diaper stuff so much...


I also really appreciate the description of the difficulty of some days, since I have such a hard time often. Those stories make me feel better.


We're struggling with the 2 kids vs 3 kids decision. Any advice on moving from man-on-man to zone defense?


Oh dear god. I saw you say you were burnt the fuck out and I thought "oh my gosh, she's going to stop blogging just like Tanis" and then I got all heart fluttery and panicked because you were honestly the first blahg I ever read routinely, along with Tracey... and then the thought of all three of you being gone from my daily feed reader made me die a little. (HOLY RUN ON SENTENCE FOR THE WIN!)

So to save the TL:DR... take a break. Get inspired. Come back. Just don't leave for good. PWEASE.


-Oh, I agree with KristenSue about another "how do I find a good baby sitter in the suburbs when I don't know my neighbors" advice column.

-Also, maybe a "how to get to know your neighbors without seeming creepy" type post? We have new(ish) neighbors with a son that's gotta be within 2 or 3 months of my son's age and when my hubby and I saw them we thought "OMG we need to get to know them and babysit for each other!" but the most we've ever managed to say to them is "Hi" because we don't want to freak them out or screw it up (I know, we're nerds)

-Keeping the spark in your marriage/date night ideas


-Going from 1 to 2 kids etc. Are you happy with the spacing between your kids?

-More about how you and Jason split parenting responsibilities

-Toddler food: what is Ike eating these days? My son is just a few months younger than Ike and I could always use toddler food inspiration

-Mom fashion? Like, how to be comfortable but not look like a hot mess when you go out in public with your kid...

-I will never tire of posts about your kiddos, even if it's just a bunch of random pictures, because they are just super adorable and they just make me smile. Actually you could write about anything and I would read it because you're the best "friend" I've never met!

That is all. Thanks!


It's 3am and I am up with a one moth old baby, so I have no ideas, but I wanted to tell you that she wears cloth diapers because I read your blog since before Ezra was born.


First off, please don't even consider quitting. It was thanks to YOU that I made it through the first months of life with a new baby and I'm sure many others like me have turned here for inspiration, fun, advice etc... SO my suggestion would be (like sb previously mentioned) - your transition from baby no.1 to no.2 and 3 (what's become easier, what has surprised you the most, what was the hardest etc.), any new gardening ideas? (Spring's almost here!), any (secret) dream ambitions you are yet to fulfill?, last but not least - how do you keep family life happy and together with so much on your plate?


Yes to religion stories. Isn't it funny that so many of us are so nosy? Or so much in the same boat? Religion is a hot mess that makes for interesting reading. But if you need to protect yourself from being disowned or whatever, I understand.

I think you're really super by the way! Three kids and a bunch of jobs and you still look like a million bucks. Plus you're funny.


Agreeing with KirstySue on the whole contrast your kids at the same ages thing! That would be awesome!
Another suggestion is photo/funny story flashbacks (you could even do a Friday flashback deal haha)- preferably photos we haven't seen before, but if not that's fine too ;) your babies are awefully cute.
I would also be interested in hearing more about Jason, I don't really know anything about him or your relationship.
Also, just from a personal interest point of view, I would like to know how you reached your position on same-sex marriage. I live in Australia and hoping to marry my girlfriend some day ;)



I would LOVE to hear about your experience with Montessori. We're looking for preschools right now and holy fuck, it's ridiculous. Leaning towards Montessori, so I'm trying to get some first hand experience from those who love/hate it. Also, on a (very) personal note, I would like to hear about how you're dealing with the loss of your dad at this point in time. We just passed the 3 year mark, and I'm finding my grief to be...cyclical? I'm struggling right now, with him being gone. I really thought the hardness was done. It's a tough, TOUGH subject, I know, but if you're up for it, I would love to read it.


I am a LONG time reader of this lovely blog. There are LOTS of topics, most already mentioned, that I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences on:

1) Gardening.

2) Food.

3) The life of a hippie

4) Definitely Montessori. I am touring a Montessori school in a few weeks and have a ton of questions. How long are your kids going to attend Montessori? How did you choose it? My kids are all so different (3yo daughter and 2yo twin boys) and I wonder if it will be good for all three.

5) Marriage, how you and Jason make it work so well and how you have handled the rough patches.

6) All the funny stories about your kids and life.


Can you write about body image post-baby? Or post-3 babies? I just have the one baby and I'm struggling. I know you've struggled in the past, too, and wonder if you've gained any wisdom here. I don't mean to trigger anything, but I'm really curious about your perspective.


Anything you have to say about feeding a toddler would be appreciated. I think my daughter (13 mo.) subsists entirely on fruit, yogurt & toast. Veggies are summarily dismissed from her plate. Any suggestions at all would be great!


I love it when bloggers talk/write about where they live, why they like/hate living there, etc. If you have already, in detail and I missed it, or have a personal preference not to, never mind!

Also pertinent to my situation: maybe talk some more about overcoming picky eater issues? My son is 13 months old and falling into the 'I will only eat crackers' stage, combined with sometimes only eating things that he can feed himself (that's kinda hard when I'm trying to feed him soup and he's pre-self-utensil). What's a good age for 'this is what we are eating. eat it or starve!'? And dealing with a hungry cracker demanding toddler thereafter??

Cheryl S.

I'd like to know about Noah's sensitivities (if he has them still) and how you dealt/deal with them. (and/or also anxieties. Because my child is scared of everything!)

My daughter has some sensitivities. Not bad enough that she has a diagnosis, but bad enough that JUST PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES!!!! And, right now she'll only wear one skirt/shirt combo. ONE. OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

And we can't watch fireworks. Or go anywhere really loud.

so, HELP?


Whenever I see pictures of your children with the interior of your house in the background, I'm amazed at the LACK of pet hair sitting around in clumps all over the place. When do you clean? Like if you could just post your cleaning schedule. I am in awe of your floors.


Yes, you should bring deodorants to spring break! And I love reading stories about your babies, even if it's the third time around.


Ceiba and Max! Are you gardening this summer? Adventures of the deodorants. Let Noah build and narrate a lego story.


Some of my favorite bloggers don't post very often, but I always check back because they put out quality writing. That said, I think some of your best work is at the advice smackdown, particularly with family relationship advice.


Composting/gardening, food choices, menu planning. Fashun. Kid stories. House updates. Ceiba. ALL THE THINGS.


More adventures on Sodor please! Also, I seem to recall you mentioning being much younger than your siblings. Since I have a brother 19 yrs younger than myself I'd love to know more.

Elaine c.

Hello! De-lurking to say that even though your content may have slowed, it is not in any way less amusing, touching, or cute! I think the first 4 or 5 commenters had some great ideas for prompts and unfortunately I don't really have anything to add there. Just saying your crowd loves you and yes darling, it's okay. :) Oh wait actually, how are you doing with the be-redded hair? Any tips for making your color last? I loved being a redhead but it seemed it always faded to orange in about 3 weeks...


Please, please, please, write about how to keep your marriage strong after having kids! I got married at 30 and my friends have all been married and are starting to have babies and most of them tell me that my marital happiness, as I know it, will fade once I have my first child, and even more so with the second, and so on. I really, really need to hear that this is not (entirely) true.


Amalah, obviously, we all love you. Its been plainly evident, from the above, from past posts. I have loved reading you since you were pregnant with Noah. When you started the Advice Smackdown, pregnancy calendar, Mamapop, SPD column, twitter, all those things, I lost my ever loving mind at the amount of Amalah awesomeness right at my fingertips. I seriously was that excited to get to read your writing. I *STILL* am that excited. I tell my husband frequently "Oh you should have seen what Amalah wrote today." (I never call you Amy, because, well, that just feels too informal.)From how you make so much so absolutely hysterical, to the AMAZING way you were able to so clearly, yet raw-ley (yes its a word) bring us along on the journey of your father's passing, I treasure every word. Okay now I'm starting to sound stalkerish. Nevermind! I love you! Keep writing! And Fin.


MOAR Sodor - my oldest was interested in Thomas for about 20 seconds (and now cardboard boxes are his raison d'etre) but my 29 month old eats, breathes, and sleeps Thomas. My husband is a train geek from WAAAAAY back but somehow I'm the one trying to design new layouts after Tod-zilla goes through and destroys each one.

Potty training each boy - the oldest was a cinch with the 3 day naked training, but the youngest is not interested. He's currently in Antsy Pants cloth training pants, but perfectly content to use them as diapers Did you have to modify your approach and howso?

Life with a 4 year old - I just sigh and say "he's behaving in a developmentally appropriate manner!" but in reality I am yelling too much and struggling mightily. Love & Logic works great if I remember to use it (before my natural instinct to yell kicks in).

Carseat/boosters - what are Noah and Ezra in? The 4 year old is snug in a Britax Frontier in my car but I'm considering a high-back booster (no harness) for the ILs' car - but they are terrible drivers and my first impulse is to bubblewrap them even tighter when G'ma & G'pa take them on adventures.

Please don't retire from blogging! I regularly forward your posts to DH, who says "I swear, she is spying on our family!"


Favorite topics of yours that I could hear about forever:

Ceiba, Ikea, your family - I always wanted to know more about your siblings and mom. Because I'm nosy like that.

Also, distract me because I'm in the ICU watching my bubby (grandma) fade away. And I feel like nothing will ever be the same again, but then I read your blog and remember that hey, you're still out there, living your life, despite losing your dad, which hurt like hell.


Feelings about adding to your family. Do you feel done with 3? Did you feel like you might have been done at 1 or 2 and that feeling changed? I ask as someone with 1 child and knowing I'm not done, but I love to hear other people's thoughts and feelings about adding or not adding to their family. It is strange for me to feel like my life is so perfect right now and simultaneously want more kids knowing more kids will change all our lives. I guess I fear screwing up such a good thing and want reassurance that yes it changes everything but it is all worth it. :) Can you do that? :)


Talk about transitioning to having little people - not just little babies. I love, love, love my baby b/c little babies are sweet and squishy, but am in total awe that he will turn into a little human.

After being able to devote so many posts to loving the heck out of a baby, what is it like to love them with their own tastes, interests, etc., even if those interests sometimes are not aligned with yours. Harder than the baby years? Easier? Would love to read about navigating those changes.


Your Mom, Projects, anything lego-ish, travel, honey boo boo, home organization, fashion, your relationship w/ hot handsome hubby, crafts? :) wov u

Leigh Ann

One of the things that hooked me onto your writing from the beginning is that you can write about anything -- any seemingly mundane day -- and make it engaging and hilarious. So either your life really is that funny ("Oh, hi, BEYONCE), or you have a wonderful way of telling a story. I'd like to think it's both.

Also, so, so relieved this wasn't a "Goodbye, cruel world!" post. Too many of those going around these days.


Love you blog! I think you are hysterically funny.
Please write about why you chose Montessori. Thanks.

Suzy Q

I haven't read the 234 previous comments, so if this has already been suggested, well, what can I say. I would like to read more about Jason, though I suspect there is so little of him on your blog due to an Important Marital Agreement.

Photos of your kids/family are always heartwarming. Old photos of you, too.

Deodorant Wars, man. Never enough of that. Perhaps a Mascara Massacre?

I seriously do not know how you have managed to create so much good content and for so long. Pat yourself on the back, kid, you deserve it!


More dirty hippy things, more Max and Ceiba, recipes (broccoli and cauliflower au gratin is a Thanksgiving staple now), potty training.


I hope I'm not too late to comment! You're hilarious, even when not trying, and I, too, am relieved you're not leaving us. I have a daughter Ike's age, so I'd love love love more of your kid recipes! We love your toaster pancakes and green smoothies. Thanks!


Noah and Ezra share a room, right? As a mom-of-one who hopes to become a mom-of-two-sharing-a-room, I'd love to hear about what age(s) your boys started sharing and how it went. Do/did they wake each other up? Was one a baby still, and how did the other deal with nighttime interruptions of crying and/or diaper changes?


2 things I'd love updates on:

1) I think you were looking at homes in the city again a while ago. Are you still thinking of moving, or did you decide to stay put?

2) I also believe that you once mentioned that HGTV was doing something with your kitchen re-do, but then you did the work yourself. Did it fall through or will we see you on the tv (HGTV)someday?


ooh so excited to hear you write about all these great ideas!!

I'm all for the should we go from 3 to 4 quandary discussion. Because it is total chaos now, yes, but very fun chaos and maybe full out insanity would be a riot?

Would also love to know about your screening process/interview type stuff for nanny/babysitter. I never leave my kids because I just can't face the process of finding someone great. tis overwhelming.


What's the best baby gift! I am obsessing over finding a good baby gift for my sister in law's third child, sex unknown, six years younger then it's brothers. I am shocked by the price of what I find nice e.g. Petit Bateau


I think it's been said already, but I also would like:

1. Toddlers + food. Because some days my girls eat well and some days they don't and sometimes they act like they hate their "favorite" meal and I do my best to take a deep breaths and not freak out but AHH just eat.

2. Marriage and kids. We have been married for 4 years and our twins are 16 months old, and while I feel like we're doing a pretty good job of staying close, any tips/stories (happy and sad) are appreciated :)

The comments to this entry are closed.