May I Have Your Attention. Because I Am Fresh Out.

Amalah On Tour

So I have a real-life friend (SHUT IT. I DO.) whom I've known for a pretty long-ish time. She's known me since before we had babies, since before this blog was the crowning achievement of my life's work, since back when I wore terrifically large and misguided flower pins. She may or may not have played a central part in the Very Last Time I Was Allowed To Play a Board Game With Other People. Although thinking back to that last one, some of my aggression may have had to do with JELUSY, as my friend has a pretty awesome job working PR and marketing for hotels, namely resorts. Beautiful, tropical resorts that she gets to visit and see firsthand. Plus, she's way prettier than I am.

ANYWAY. Right before Thanksgiving, she sent me a message on Facebook: Hey Amy, do you want to go to Jamaica?

I messaged back something jackassy like UH, HELL YES. DURR.

Her reply: Great! Do the boys have their passports? They'd like to send you pretty much right away.

Me: Wait. You were serious?

At that point, I admit I slammed on the breaks, because WHOA. WHAT. I get super-nervous about this sort of thing: there's always the inevitable wank-y fallout, as people grumble over who does and does not merit getting Free Stuff, plus what were "they" expecting from me, as I'm not a travel writer or...or...well, anything other than someone who writes funny stories about dumb stuff but certainly takes this dumb stuff fairly seriously, and my dumb stuff is not for sale! You keep your free stuff out of my dumb stuff! And that's a POLICY.

Turns out that "they" were a local DC family who own a cluster of villas in one of the more far-flung areas of the island -- a fishing village that has only had phone lines since the late 1990s, a village that they are passionate about providing opportunities for, either through employment or helping to provide early childhood education. They also cater to families, providing full-time nannies and such during your stay. My friend asked the owner, after visiting with her husband and baby boy, if they'd thought about reaching out to a mommyblogger. The owner said sure, did she know any?

And the moral of the story is: Wait until your friends are too drunk to remember anything before you backhand them across the face over a game of Cranium.


So the deal was, for full disclosure: We pay for airfare and staff gratuities. Bluefields provides the lodging and meals for a week. I bring my laptop and post during the trip, but only about things I want to post about, would usually post about, and no expectation that I'm there to be some bloggy travel-brochure for them.

I continued to hem and haw about it until late December, when I looked around at my little family, my stressed-out and overworked husband, Noah, who has never seen anything more exciting than the beach in his own home state and begs to go to the airport for fun, and Ezra, who I would not want to leave for a week of vacation but who admittedly makes it hard to enjoy a vacation that involves diapers and naps and water safety all by ourselves. I finally thought: Screw it. Screw everything. Let's go on a damn VACATION.

All that stood between us and paradise were passports. Jason's had expired, and neither of the boys had one. And we'd stupidly neglected to ever order Ezra's official birth certificate. This is a problem, for my fellow travel neophytes. And Dear Lord in Heaven: Do not ever attempt to get passports at the last minute, even if everyone assures you that three or four weeks is not technically last minute. We paid a fooldamn fortune to get all three passports expedited, spent an entire Saturday in a quest for an open passport office and then waited in a Line Of The Damned, and very nearly purposely abandoned a child or two at Fed Ex Kinkos in our attempt to get photos taken. (Seriously, though: Ezra looked away from the camera in the first two shots the guy tried, as he is A BABY, and the guy SLAMMED THE CAMERA DOWN on a nearby counter and walked away with his hands over his hard while saying, "THAT'S IT, I'M DONE." Oh...okay?)

In the end, we got everything gathered and out and applied for. And Noah's and Jason's passports arrived after two weeks or so. We assumed Ezra's would arrive the next day. Or the day after that? Shit. Where is it? With DAYS to go, we started calling, and kept getting the same message: It's processing. Finally: It's been shipped.

More days go by.

The U.S. Postal Service: Uh. We dunno. Weird.

You guys, as of YESTERDAY, we still did not have Ezra's passport. You have never, ever seen a more hysterical person. Than me. Every night I laid awake, wide awake, panicking over something I had less than zero control over, because you can yell at people on the phone all you want but that isn't going to make anyone head out and start searching postal trucks for lost express envelopes for you.

(Whenever I did get to sleep, I kept having the same nightmare over and over again, involving these giant alien robots from Neptune invading earth, while I was trapped in this constant scenario of needing to hide while in a room full of hundreds of people who I KNEW would soon be...shot? eaten? stepped on?...but I knew if I could just find a closed space and not move, I might just make it. But then I was always stuck with these two other people, one of whom always failed to grasp the gravity of the GIANT ALIEN ROBOTS FROM NEPTUNE SITUATION and would do something stupid like forget to close a set of vertical blinds or start spinning around in an chair or answer his phone right when the robots showed up, and at this point I would finally wake myself up because I was that terrified, so I have no idea if my plan to hide under office furniture was indeed the correct way to deal with giant alien robots from Neptune.)

Ezra's passport arrived today. We leave tomorrow morning.

(Please don't hate me. Much.)



Is it OK if I hate you just a little? :)

Have a super time anyway!

Amy K

Wow, have a great trip!


I'd have died of anxiety over the passport before yesterday, and then it would have taken me the entire week of the trip to wind down and start enjoying myself, so I can't hate you even a tiny bit. So fun! Will there be pictures?


ohmyg-d, just have fun! So much fun!


Have a fabulously awesome time!!!! (And yes, I'll try to keep my jealousy at bay... you're going to Jamaica, my coworkers are in the Bahamas this week and Mexico the next... thbbbbbpt)


Ooh! Have so much fun. And now my novel to make you feel better:

In 2007 I decided to fly to Ireland to visit this guy I barely knew because, well, I don't know. We emailed a lot and had a great night on the town before he left for Ireland? So I went to renew my passport and long story short it never came, ALONG WITH MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. The US Postal service "lost" it all. (Before you ask why it was all in the envelope, it was because the passport people told me to.)

The day before my trip I had to call my local Congressman and CRY on the phone and as it turns out- your Congressman gets a certain number of "same day" passport freebies for their constiuents. So I got a new, replacement passport and went on the most disastrous trip ever that I spent gchatting with my now husband, back at home.

A few months later a tattered package arrived with all of my stuff in it - no identity theft!

A month after that the Department of Homeland Security called me and informed me I was breaking about 200,001 laws by having two passports & invalidated both of them as punishment.

So there's that.


Ooooh! Looks beautiful and relaxing and peaceful and serene...I'm sure you will fix all that! Can't wait to read all about it.

Seriously, you needed a vacation.


Oh, hells yes! I am jealous! Damn, I need better friends.

But, you guys totally deserve a vacation. I can't wait to read about it!

Have fun! Wear sunscreen! And please post lots o' pics!


Not sure if I should hate you for this or love you for that video yesterday.

Baby passport photos are the BEST


WOW! Amazing.


I had no idea that little kids needed passports now; I thought they could still travel on a parent's passport (makes mental note to apply for passport for son). Kids change so much so fast; I wonder how their dealing with the picture issue...

The resort sounds great. Have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures!


I'm with JennyMoo - I would have shrivelled up and died of anxiety over the passport issue. seriously. Have a great time!


I can't believe I just committed the cardinal sin (their instead of they're). I blame the teething infant and consequent lack of sleep.


OMG, Daisy. Oh my God!

(And yeah, they still make you put Every Important Identification Document Ever in the same envelope, which only helps to up the terror that is a lost passport application.)

Operation Pink Herring

Dude, you MORE than paid for this trip with that kind of close-call passport drama.


Doood. You deserve this trip. You all do. It's been a looooong year. Go and whoop it up. And remember to share a romantic dinner with the man. Take advantage of every opportunity in the sun. And please do not "pull a Monica" and get your hair in braids.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

Holy crap, that was close! And yes, you and your family desperately need a vacation - have fun!


My first thought was, why would I ever hate you for your good fortune? That would just be sad and petty and rotten.

Then I looked at the website for the villas.

Sorry! I have to hate you now!

But srsly, I hope you have a completely divine vacation.


"SLAMMED THE CAMERA DOWN on a nearby counter and walked away with his hands over his hard"!


This was so hilarious! The dream is priceless! What an interesting life you do lead. :)


Wow! Have a great time. I'm really happy for you and I'm looking forward to reading about it. Get lots of pictures!

chatty cricket


have so much fun!!


Damn! You need a vacation from that dream! 'ANd I hate you just a little, too. I expect a FULL report on EVERYTHING you do down there and I expect PICTURES A PLENTY of nom-able baby flesh slathered in sunblock and big floppy hats. Mmmmkay?

Daddy Brad

I am really excited to see your post as our family is just back from and preparing to go on another Free Blog Travel Trip. Keeping free stuff out of dumb stuff is well said. Enjoy your trip.

Mrs. D

So jealous!! Can't wait to read your normal non-travel-brochure-y posts about Paradise!

And what is with the passport photo guy? Dude. Take a chill pill.

Safe travels!

Sprite's Keeper

Have a great time! Don't hate you. Much.


Dude!!!!! Have a great time!!! Remember to lotion up.


I love the flash-back links. Enjoy Jamaica. (As I cry frozen tears...the high tomorrow is 5. Just 5.)


Ok, I just checked out the villas and now I need to know which one you're staying in! Have fun!

(Oh, and I also have some passport drama. They told me I didn't need to do the expedited service, so I didn't, then it was like a week before I was supposed to go to Amsterdam. I called and they were all "MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE THE EXPEDITED SERVICE." BAH!)


WOW that looks like a nice place for a holiday! Go forth and enjoy, why not!

Chris H

Can't hate you. You all really deserve this time away. Looking forward to the photos.


Oh my! I shivered with horror over the passport thing. Gawd.
Have a great time and I can't wait to read about it!


Have fun!

My brother didn't get to go on his Peace Corps assignment to Thailand because of the stupid passport office. He didn't have it in time and the Peace Corps wouldn't let him come late. Sucks!!

Parsing Nonsense

Wow, I can't believe how perfect the timing was for him to get his passport! Have a lovely time, I promise I won't hate you because I'm having a baby soon and I'm more excited about that than I would be about a trip.

Take loads of pictures and share your exploits!


Okay, I am jealous. Even though it doesn't snow where I live or rarely get below freezing, today's the first day I've seen the sun since 2009...

Also, wanted to point out that I worked for my local congresswoman and had to put in all the requests for expedited passports. Really annoying when someone wants a passport tomorrow for something cool like going to the finals of the World Cup in Germany, but I still got appointments for them. So yeah. Don't forget that it's your elected official's responsibility to help out, but you got Ezra's passport in time, so score!

And those villas look to die for!


You are too damned funny for me to ever hate you. Have a wonderful trip!

However, as punishment for getting to go on such an awesome trip, I think we all need to see your passport pics.


I totally support anyone getting free stuff for any reason, and anyone who doesn't is just jelus. ANYWAY. When we got my son's passport photo taken the photographer was all, "MAKE SURE HE DOESN'T SHOW HIS TEETH," which is apparently a new rule. I wasn't allowed to show my teeth either. The thing was, though, that my kid was about 1 month old.



have a ton of fun!!! Lucky girl! :)


Definitely JELIS and full of hate.


Amalah, I think you and your family deserve a special trip and I'm SO glad you get to go! And I promise not to be jealous at all AS LONG AS you post regularly while you are gone. Because I am addicted to your blog. And if you cut me off I will be cranky as well as jealous.


Awesome! You totally deserve it. I can't wait to read about it.

Have fun!


Yeah Amalah and Family! You go get your vacation!


Have a fanTAStic time. And, consider it your goal to try to make us all a little (or a lot) jealous.

Mary Lou

Have so much fun!

I went to Jamaica in September and it was so lovely. You are going to have a fantastic time. The only thing was all the weed smoke that everyone was partaking in. (and I was at a Sandals!) I couldn't wait to get home away from it, so here's hoping that your resort is away from the reggae wannabes.


Super super jealous, and my family had a vacation earlier this month! Looks fantasticly luxurious, dying of envy over here!

One of the Amy's

Have a ton of fun. And a beer for me, please.


how wonderful! enjoy; can't wait to hear how it goes.

samantha jo campen

You suck, but in a good way I guess.

Have loads of fun!!


no hate. have a great time! can't wait to hear stories.


Have a wonderful, wonderful time!

You'll be flying via the UK to pick me up, right?

Heather B.

I have a similar story about my visa. Wherein I could leave the country but wasn't allowed to return.

Come to think of it, I should have taken that offer. Hmm...

Have so much fun, lovelies!


Too late. Got the full-on hate for you right now, since we are about to be BURIED UNDER THE WINTER STORM OF THE APOCALYPSE and you're going to be on a nice warm beach.


No hate here! Enjoy your vacation!


Take that trip and LOVE IT! I mean, hell, if there's a good place to go WITH MY KID, like with sitters that won't kill or lose her, I wanna know. . so hell yes that that trip!


Of fuck. That was close.


OMG that place looks like heaven. Enjoy. I shall live vicariously through you!


Oh my gosh! Awesome ending! Have so much fun.
Also, when you mentioned vertical blinds in your dream... I definitely felt like you were giving me a shout out (my family owns a window covering business). Just let me think that, k? K.


Have a great vacation. I cannot believe how close of a call this was! I would have wine now to calm down.


Say hi to my Grampappy over there, ok? He's the old dud sitting on his stoop just outside Montego Bay (No joke. He's cool. And if you want feeding? Go find my Auntie Vie. You won't need to eat for days after.) Also? Those Villas? Are. The. SHIZZLE. True true.

Make sure you say "Irie" a lot.

Have a freaking AWESOME TRIP!!!

PS Not everyone over there who smokes weed is a reggae wannabe. Some just like to smoke weed ;)


Lorena: Is jelus.

Just don't...don't let the boys listen to reggae.


Ummm, kinda hating you, right now. Couldn't you have linked to some shacks or something to make us feel a little better? Those villas are amazing! Seriously though, relax and have fun (I guess)


Wow, that's awesome! I need a vacation and I'm a mommy blogger.. Maybe one day I'll have the same luck! lol :) HAve a great time!


Have a fabulous time!


So excited to read about your trip. SO excited for you. We're (hopefully!!) going back to Jamaica this year for our anniversary, and as I look at their website I'm wondering how all the nannies and kid-menus and such will be as good as they sound. Thinking maybe next time we would consider a place like this with the kids. Just maybe. Hope you guys have a great time!!

LD's Mom

No way. I would have been equally freaked out!!!

Have a blast!


Can I swear? Fuck the naysayers. This is in effect, a business trip, you are a business, you've more than adequately disclosed = go for it. Y'all have a good time!

Also, Line Of The Damned" is fucking brilliant!

Amy J

Have a wonderful time!!!


Totally jealous!!! You will have a blast!


These villas are beautiful - pls negotiate a discount rate for loyal readers of your blog (seriously - I'd consider hauling my husband and kids for a week!)

Heather Ben

Have fun!


That reminds me, if I ever want to go to Canada again, I have to order an official birth certificate for myself so that I can get an updated passport because mine is long since expired, and then I have to get myself and three kids passports. Which will almost certainly involve notaries and photographers, two kinds of people who scare me for some reason.

Maybe I'll just never go to Canada again. But you have a super time!


Duuuuuude! I'm totally jealous, but I cannot hate. If I were offered a free trip to freaking prardise I would take it! Have fun! I can't wait to read your posts and see pics!

Oh, and in regards to the passport photo guy, I repeat what I said about the woman at the party: Wow, what an asshole.


Not jealous, because....I'm going to Jamaica on Saturday!!!! But we'll be at Sandals Whitehouse. Can't wait to go!


Very jealous. And cold. Send us ur warms.

I got my infant's passport photo taken at the post office.. they put him on a white sheet on the floor. It's one of his cutest pics! They're probably the only people who do enough kids to have a clue.


Jamaica should take care of those dreams for you. I got to go with a friend when they got hitched. Never thought we would be those resort-type people but OMG, we loved every minute in Jamaica and would go back in a heartbeat. (Funny, but I almost didn't have my passport. We knew that Jamaica would let me in, weren't sure that the US would let me back in and I was okay with that after a week in paradise!) Have fun for all of us!


Jamaica should take care of those dreams for you. I got to go with a friend when they got hitched. Never thought we would be those resort-type people but OMG, we loved every minute in Jamaica and would go back in a heartbeat. (Funny, but I almost didn't have my passport. We knew that Jamaica would let me in, weren't sure that the US would let me back in and I was okay with that after a week in paradise!) Have fun for all of us!


Sorry to double comment. I'll be more patient in future.

Becca Sanborn

I pretty much think my passport story trumps every passport story.

Basically, I applied 2 or 3 months before I was supposed to leave the country... plenty of time to get one without expediting. Well, this was back when they closed the Bahamas and Canada and you had to have a passport to travel... so EVERYONE and their mother decided to apply that the same time.

I had to leave to go to North carolina for training before leaving the country so I left and didn't have my passport. I was in nc for 3 days and the morning I was supposed to leave the country, my passport arrived, at home, in TN 12+ hours from where I was. I had to have my parents drive to nashville and put it in air cargo and mail it to me in chicago's airport. I flew from nc to chicago and had to race and pick up my passport in order to fly out of the country... and I only had 2 hours to do so. I barely made it.

I definitely broke down and cried for days before then... it's too stressful, damn system!


Awesome! Will wave to you -- we're leaving for Negril in the morning! We're lucky enough to have Grammy and Auntie coming to watch our little ones, so mom and dad are going to lounge on the beach and vegetate in a way that hasn't been possible in the last 2.5 years. Hooray!!


Awesome!!!! I hope you enjoy the crap out of this vacation - take full advantage of every amenity, and just relax.

I follow your every post, but rarely comment, and my overriding take-away is that you are overworked, underpaid and need more childcare!

Enjoy, luxuriate, drink lots of rum.


Whatever! Enjoy your vacation Amy! You need/deserve it. I'm happy for you guys.


I'm inclined to utter a mean, mean thing that starts with a b and rhymes with the word that follows wicked and precedes 'of the west' but that's just JELUSY talking.

Have fun!! And don't forget the sunscreen, bitch!

(Oops, I did it after all, didn't I????)

(And now I shall apologize because I'm from the midwest - I'm SO sorry... I was just trying to be playful and funny but you're probably all "Who IS she and why is she acting like she knows me??" SORRY!)


So funny...we almost went there on a reccomendation from these super cool people we know. The owners seem really awesome. WE WILL make it there someday. I have four monsters aged 10, 6 1/2, 4 1/2. & 16 months so the nanny part wins me over! Have FUN! In the meantime, I look forward to reading all about it.


Hooray! Enjoy Jamaica. We get free entertainment from you on a regular basis, nothing wrong with you getting a little love too.


First of all, have an amazing vacation, because you deserve it, and this sounds AMAZING.

How do *I* know that you need a vacation?

Because you inadvertently typed "with his hands over his HARD" when you were writing about the photo guy.

Also, I have had that EXACT same passport drama, only it was me that was going to have to stay behind. Woo!

Brigid Keely

Wow! Fun! Except for the anxiety dreams, of course.

(needs to get baby's birth certificate, thanks for the reminder)

Jessica (@ It's my life...)

Oh! How fun! What a fantastic opportunity. And, you know, given that you remember to bring the kids home and all, maybe you could try to leave your guilt in Jamaica. Cuz you're an awesome blogger and you fully deserve the love that gets you.

Have fun! Remember the sunscreen!


Hooray hooray hooray!! Have a great time.


Awesome! Enjoy your trip. Can't wait to hear all about it -- and see all the photos. Yay sunshine!


ack. phew. you almost freaked me out there. this passport business is crazy - the waiting...the hope...the OMG is it going to arrive on time.

ENJOY your vacation!

Erin (Snarke)

Wow! Have fun! (sooooooo jealous!)


Shoot, girl! Anyone who begrudges you a free vacation shouldn't be blogging or reading blogs! That's AWESOME. Glad the passport got there! Would have been really sad to leave Ezra home alone, you know?

Have fun! Be safe! Take lots of beautiful pictures of your boys in Jamaica!!


Okay, I am SOOOO jealous, but also really excited for you! Take lots of pictures to make it easy for us to live vicariously through you ;)


I AM SO JEALOUS! We went to BLUEFIELDS on our honeymoon, it is FABULOUS! You will love it, the food, the catering to you (they do your laundry!) the 3:30 p.m. Daiquiri's (tell Ricardo Hello!).


Holycrap! Have an awesome time, Amalah-family! I will soon be having the baby-passport-photo adventure myself, though there is no planned travel in our future, just because I am that particular sick type of planning ahead person. I'm always ready for a trip to Jamaica! Hint, hint! Srsly, have a great time - I can't wait to read about it!

Alison C

I do hate you a little bit - No seriously have a brilliant time



Have a great time!!! I am THRILLED for you!



no hatin her, just mild dislikin' can make it up by posting pics of some braids and some yummy noah/ez on the, we need a discount as loyal readers, taht place looks amazing, have a BLAST you lucky little chick!


and I cannot type this am..

Big Gay Sam

I won't hate you as long as you bring back some Jamaican Gold. ;)

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