My Secret to Getting My 4-Year-Old Twins to Do What I Want

photo (10)Are you curious? I’ll give you a hint. It has something to do with a certain public figure I’ve ranted about before.

You can read the entire post over at WhatToExpect.com. I’m very flattered to have been asked to contribute for them. Hopefully, my schtick will fit in nicely alongside their revered prenatal advice and breastfeeding tips. There goes the cyber-neighborhood!

Read the whole post here.

5 More Secrets I Keep From My Kids

ShhHey guys. It’s Daddy again. Remember that post I wrote about the 10 biggest secrets I keep from you? Of course not! I only shared that with everyone except you. (Oh, and did we have some good chuckles about it, too!)

Well, it turns out, Daddy’s full of secrets, and since you still can’t read or use the internet, I’m ready to spill a few more. Yes, go on playing Legos. Just grown-ups talking here. Nothing you’d be interested in…

1. None of your friends nap anymore.

naptimeIt’s true. I’ve talked to all their parents, and they’re stunned that Daddy and I are still making you lie down for an hour every day at four years old. Their kids would never do that, they tell me. I usually leave out what a struggle it is to get you to follow through, and how every day I consider putting an end to nap time. But even our constant fighting over the nap is better than a day without naps — and I don’t mean for you.

I always say you have to nap because you get too cranky when you don’t, but the truth is, that doesn’t compare with how cranky it makes me. You may hate your naps, but I really, really like them. You might be ready to give them up, but I’m not. So until you learn the timeless childhood art of pleading, “But Jimmy’s parents don’t make him nap!”, you’re stuck with a daily snooze.

Seriously, kid. Start comparing notes. Jimmy’s got it a lot better than you do. A LOT.

2. Most of your artwork is garbage.

garbageOK, that sounds a bit harsh, but don’t take it too hard. I only mean it literally. As in, that’s where I put most of it. In the trash.

You know that picture you drew just for me, that you worked so hard on, that I swore was a masterpiece I would cherish forever? Well, five seconds after you went to bed, I crumpled it up and buried it deep, deep in the kitchen garbage can so you would never find it.

I know you won’t remember it tomorrow, and frankly, you make me way too many masterpieces, more than I can ever hang on the refrigerator or even store in an archive. I know you were especially proud of that dog dragon you drew me, but frankly, it wasn’t your best work. Sure, I took a picture of it before I dumped old coffee grounds and that half-eaten cup of yogurt on top of it, but don’t expect it to show up as my desktop wallpaper or anything.

Oh, and when we moved, Daddy and I threw away about five garbage bags full of your stuffed animals. You know why you didn’t notice? Because of the ten garbage bags full that we kept. Many of the things you love are garbage to us. I like that you have enough love in your heart to spread out among every crappy plush knickknack you take home from the Everybody Wins booth at the carnival, but the space in your heart is bigger than the space in our house, so some things just have to go.

3. We’re Going to Disney World!!!

You know how you’re constantly asking us if we can go to Disney World, and we respond, “Maybe someday”? Well, guess what, suckers? Someday is coming next February. We made the reservations, booked our flights, requested time off from work, reserved a dinner with Cinderella and even bought those Secret Guide to Disney books so we can make this the most awesome trip of your childhood. If you think we’re telling you about it anytime soon, though, you’re crazy. We planned this trip six months ahead of time.  Do you know how long that is in kid years? Of course not, and that’s the point. But in grown-up years, it’s six months of “Is today the day? Is today the day?”, and Daddy ain’t havin’ that.

Oh, and don’t take this to mean that “maybe someday” is always code for yes. When you ask us for a puppy, “Maybe someday” is our way of ending the conversation. But that one’s a definite no. Not someday, not ever. Sorry.

4. If I ever played a game against you at my full ability, I would whoop your sorry ass.

See anything you need? Oh, come on!

See anything you need? Oh, come on!

You really think you could beat me on a race to the tree and back? I know I’m not Jesse Owens, kid, but seriously, if I ran as fast as I could, I would mop up the front yard with you. The same goes for when we play Zingo, that kiddie version of Bingo you love so much. There are only nine squares on the board, but when Kite comes up, I’ll sit and wait like two whole minutes for you to realize you have Kite in your center square.

Hello! I have two kites on my board, but I’m not going to swipe that tile away from you, because I guess the whole point of this is to get you to learn about image recognition or spatial relationships or something. I don’t know what the point is, but whatever it is, it’s something I already know. I don’t need the validation, so I’m going to let you have it. Let’s just move it along, OK?

Honestly, though, the bigger secret is that sometimes you win fair and square. Want to know how to tell the difference? When I’m smiling, that means I let you win. If you actually earned your victory, you’ll notice me quietly giving you the stink eye.

5. When daddy and I spell things, we’re usually talking about you.

In fact, we’re usually talking about either nap time, Disney World, how I smoked you at Zingo or how soon we can throw something of yours away after you go to bed. I don’t know what we’re going to do when you guys learn to spell, because Daddy and I have really come to rely on our secret code. Maybe we’ll start learning Russian or something.

*****

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Who is Funny, According to Sutton

funnycup“Daddy, some people are funny, and some people are serious. Daddy’s funny.”

“Am I funny?”

“No. You’re serious.”

“Are you funny?”

“Yes.”

“Is Bennett funny?”

“Yes.”

“So I’m the only serious one?”

“Yes.”

“What about your teacher?”

“She’s serious.”

“Oh, good. So it’s not just me.”

“But sometimes she’s funny.”

“Am I funny sometimes?”

“No.”

“Who else is funny?”

“Um… the cup.”

“The cup is funnier than me?!”

“Can I play with the iPad now?”

Scary Mommy’s Thanksgiving Project

Scary Mommy Nation

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers who are insightful, hilarious, awesome and all the things you aspire to be. Few people fit that description as well as Scary Mommy, whom it’s been my pleasure to get to know this year.

Well, it turns out Scary Mommy is also (who knew?) a good person. After a bunch of moms anonymously confessed on her site that they were having trouble feeding their families, she started her own charity to treat them to Thanksgiving dinners. She’s been doing it for the last two years and feeding hundreds of families.

Because I am far too lazy to organize something like this myself and arguably not as good a person as she is, I am simply linking to her Thanksgiving Project here. It’s a good cause, it’s tax deductible and for $50 you can help feed an entire family. If you don’t have that much to give, then give what you can and let someone else chip in the cranberry sauce. It’s all good.

Or if you need help yourself, she’s also taking applications.

Good luck with the project, Jill!

An Open Letter to the Muppets, From a Little Girl and Her Dad

Rockin'_RobinDear Muppets,

One of the best things about having kids is getting to introduce them to the things you loved when you were young. One of the worst comes when they don’t see those things quite the way you always did.

I was really excited this morning when my 4-year-old son, Bennett, raced up to me to say he’d just seen the greatest YouTube video ever — and it starred the Muppets! I love the Muppets! I’ve even written about them before on this blog! Bennett started describing it to me in his adorably excitable way.

“Daddy, you won’t believe what they were sitting on… BRANCHES! Isn’t that CRAAAAZY? And there were BIRDS! They were going, ‘Tweet, tweet!’”

“Wait a second, dude,” I said, in my older, excitable way. “Was this song called ‘Rockin’ Robin’?”

“YES!!!”

“I REMEMBER THAT!!!”

“WOW!!!”

“LET’S WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

“OK!!!”

I grabbed Bennett’s twin sister, Sutton, and the three of us ran to the iPad. As the video played, Bennett and I giggled and sang along. Sutton just watched.

“Daddy,” she said, about halfway through, “there aren’t a lot of girl Muppets.”

Cue the record scratch here.

I’m not going to pretend that this was news to me. Sure, everyone knows Miss Piggy, and any true Muppet fan is aware of Janice, who in fact, sings lead vocals on “Rockin’ Robin.” Other than her, though, it was a total sausage factory on those branches, the same way it is in the Muppet Theater, the Muppet movies, the Muppet TV specials and everything else Muppet-related.

camilla

The 3rd most popular “girl Muppet”

Think about it. After Miss Piggy and Janice, what other female Muppets are there? Camilla the chicken?

I don’t want to play up this moment too much. It’s not like my daughter burst into tears or stormed away declaring she didn’t like the Muppets anymore. She was just making an observation. And that is exactly why I’m so upset.

At 4 years old, my daughter has already figured out that sometimes, there just aren’t a lot of girls. Some people create entire realms of characters where women are an afterthought or a token, where one or two females can represent every feminine characteristic they intend to portray. The boys come in endless varieties, each with their own lovable quirks. There’s Kermit, the avuncular optimist, Fozzie, the goofy vaudevillian, Swedish Chef, the, well, Swedish Chef… and then there’s Miss Piggy, the girl.

What really hurts about this is how otherwise inclusive the Muppets are. Muppets come in all shapes and species, all colors of the rainbow, some have different accents or dress in a unique way. The only blind spot the Muppets seem to have is the one that covers, you know, roughly half of the entire world’s population — and 100% of my daughter.

I realize this isn’t a new thing. The Muppets have always been a boys’ club. What’s changed, of course, is that I have a daughter now, and I want her to feel as welcome and included in this fun little fantasy world as I do.

suttonanddolls

Sutton and 1/1,000,000,000th of her stuffed animal collection

I could very easily steer her toward other pop culture choices. Believe me, she knows about princesses and Strawberry Shortcake, properties that were created specifically for her gender and where girl characters typically outnumber boys. But she wants to like the Muppets, and I want to share them with her without her feeling like she needs to sit on the sidelines while her brother and I geek out over their videos.

The Children’s Television Workshop has done a good job of integrating new female characters, like Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Rosita. There’s no reason the Muppets (who are owned by Disney and operate as a separate entity) can’t do the same.

Come on, Disney. This is on you. I know you know how to market things to little girls, so let’s get on this, OK?

I am not wagging a finger at you so much as I am waving dollar bills in your face. My son owns about half a dozen stuffed animals, including Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. My daughter owns about nine squijillion. Many of them are your characters. If you make some new girl Muppets, we will buy the toys. We will buy the original doll, we will buy the “young” version of the doll, we will buy the Classic Animator edition of the doll, the Barbie version of the doll, the pillow pet of the doll, the miniature figurine of the doll. The last time I counted, I believe Sutton had six Rapunzels, and she’s never even sat all the way through Tangled. Whatever you churn out and squeeze onto the shelves of the Disney Store, we will charge on our Disney credit card and take home with us. You will have us on the hook for years and years, for hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

What I am begging you for is the opportunity to make you considerably richer. If that’s not win-win, I don’t know what is.

Look, I realize my timing is terrible. The next Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, comes out in March, and from what I’ve seen, it’s just as testosterone-heavy as all the other Muppet films. No new girl Muppets, although there is Tina Fey — who, by the way, I’m pretty sure will be with me on this.

It's almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two women before the time runs out.

It’s almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two female characters before the time runs out.

Maybe you can squeeze in a few reshoots or CGI in Beaker’s mom or something. Bring back Skeeter if you want to. I’m not picky. At the very least, you’re probably in development on the next Muppet movie after this one. (I hope so. I hope there are a hundred more Muppet movies on the way, ones both my kids will want to see with me.)

If you’re still in need of ideas, here’s one for you. After we watched the video this morning, I told Sutton she should create her own girl Muppet. Then at preschool, that’s exactly what she did. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she couldn’t wait to show me her drawing. Her name is Rosada.

EPSON MFP image

Rosada, according to Sutton, is nice, quiet and as smart as a bug. She likes Milano cookies, her shoes and her bag that her mother got her. She is not a ladybug.

A four-year-old came up with this. What have you got?

Sincerely,

Jerry Mahoney

Good News For People Who Preordered My Book!

booksellersAnyone who preordered my book from Amazon is covered by their preorder price guarantee, which means that you’ll only pay the lowest price posted between now and when the book is released. As of the moment I’m publishing this post, the book has been discounted to $19.60, so no matter what you agreed to pay when you bought it, that’s all you’ll be charged when it ships… unless, of course, the price goes down again, in which case you’ll pay even less!

If you haven’t preordered, you can take advantage of the sale price here (for as long as it lasts).

More good news — the book is now up on Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Book Depository and Powell’s. More to come, so if it’s not showing up on your favorite bookseller yet, just enter it in their search bar 500 times a day until someone over there takes notice. (I’m guessing that’s how I got on Barnes & Noble.) And for those of you who asked, yes, there will be an eBook, but that may not be available for preorder until closer to the release date. I’ll be adding a separate page here for book ordering when I get a chance.

There’s also a page for it on GoodReads, where Viktor has already marked it as “Want to Read”. Thanks, Viktor!

Finally, I apologize for incredibly lopsided ratio of book pimping to original material that’s been going on here lately, but I’m hoping to have something new up next week.

Grateful Man: How I Went from Self-Promoting Author to #1 Best-Seller*

BestsellerNo1I almost started writing this post too soon.

I tried not to get my hopes up too much about my Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk, wherein I brazenly begged everyone who would listen to me to preorder my book, 7 months before it’s even released, so that I could make a big splash on the Amazon sales chart. I had no idea what kind of difference a stunt like this could make, but it felt good going into it ranked #403,253. The only way to go was up!

Or so I thought.

So many people, from close friends to readers of this blog whom I’ve never even met, shared my link and tried to get others to sign on. At noon sharp, I started tweeting, Facebooking, emailing and basically squeezing every bit of juice out of all the social networks I’ve built up over the last few years to hype the presale. Then I sat back to watch my book coast up the charts.

I couldn’t wait to write this blog post, the one where I told everyone how much all their help paid off. I only wondered what numbers I would be able to boast about. Hey, I made it to #1,486 in the rankings! Hooray, I cracked the top 900! Oh my God, I’m outselling Catcher in the Rye**!

At 12:01, I hit REFRESH. No change. At 12:01 and 5 seconds, I hit REFRESH again. And again. And again. Hmm… maybe these charts didn’t update as frequently as I thought.

Finally, at 12:49, I saw a new rank… 409,937.

Huh?!

I asked everyone I know to buy my book, and it was actually going down in the rankings? This can’t be right. REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH!

At 2:17pm, I saw another new rank…

420,449

Now I was panicked. My chart twerk had been going on for 2 full hours, and the book was still plummeting like a Saw sequel the week after Halloween. What if Amazon didn’t rank preorders the same way as books that have been released? What if this didn’t work the way I’d led people to believe it would? What if I’d cashed in all the good will I’d amassed my whole life FOR NOTHING?

REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH…

By 5:00 I’d pretty much given up hope. I was composing an email to Drew asking him what I should do. Apologize to everyone and tell them to cancel their preorders? Change my name and leave the country?

Right before I was about to hit SEND, I refreshed one more time. That’s when I saw this:

Rankings1Just as I was staring at the numbers, my phone rang, and I knew right away it was the one person who was probably hitting REFRESH as much as I was.

“DID YOU SEE IT? HOLY SHIT!”

“I was just sending you an email,” I said, as I immediately deleted everything I’d just typed to him.

Just like that, my book shot up 420,083 places, to #366. As in 0 million, 0 hundred thousand, three hundred sixty-six.

Holy shit, indeed.

Even better, it was #15 in Parenting… and #1 in Gay & Lesbian Memoirs and Biographies!

I didn’t stop refreshing. At 6:43, the book was up even more… #260! Still #1 in LGBT memoirs and now #9 in Parenting. I was ahead of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child!

I giddily looked up some other books. Eat Pray Love? #3,070. Pfft! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? #1,068. Ha ha! Sure it was just for one brief moment in time on one retailer, but I was outselling J.K. Rowling!

The book popped up in Hot New Releases for Gay & Lesbian Biographies. It ranked #2 on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers chart (based on a sales surge of 98,150%). Best of all, if you searched for my book, it popped up with a sticker that said “#1 Best-Seller” because of its placement in its category chart.

Admittedly, part of me felt guilty. I was gaming the system, after all. There was no way my ranking would hold, and I’d displaced authors who’d earned their sales the hard way. Still, I couldn’t feel too bad because I was too busy feeling something else instead…

An overwhelming rush of love and gratitude.

I have the best friends, family, followers and blog readers in the world. I am silly with affection for you guys right now. The rank may have been inflated, but there’s no way I could overstate how loved I feel at this moment. I was moved to tears when I saw what you did for my book, and it’s ultimately not about selling a book as much as it is feeling like I’ve done something right with my life. I’ve surrounded myself with amazing people.

There are too many people to thank individually here, but two bloggers really went above and beyond in helping me promote this, so the least I can do is point you toward their awesome blogs. John Kinnear and Miceala Shocklee, you guys rock.

With seven months until the book comes out, I’m not sure what comes next. I’ll probably talk to my publisher about how we can garner some more attention out of this, and I’m sure they’ll have plenty of marketing schemes to implement as my book comes closer to being released. But even if my book never reaches these kinds of numbers again, this already seems like a win.

My book is about how I became a dad, so it recounts some of the happiest moments of my life. Today, you gave me another one, which goes in a new chapter all its own.

… a figurative chapter. Don’t worry, I’m not setting you up to buy another book already.

—–

* Gay & Lesbian Biography & Memoir category

** That never happened. But I slaughtered Franny & Zooey.

One More Day to the Chart Twerk for My Book! Thanks for Spreading the Word!

For no good reason, a picture of my children getting along.

For no good reason, a picture of my children getting along.

Are these book preorder updates getting obnoxious?  Here’s the deal: You indulge me with these self-promotional shenanigans for a couple of days, then we go back to normal here for a while, at least until a few weeks before the book comes out next May, when all bets are off. OK? Thanks…

I just want to thank all of you who have posted about my Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk on your Facebooks, Twitters and what have you. (You have Keek? Great, thanks for Keeking me, whatever that is.)

The awesome Miceala Shocklee of the Quill even created a Facebook event to promote my thing. And I’m not even paying her!  Feel free to jump into her party here. I also created a Facebook event through my Mommy Man page, but Facebook only showed it to 90 people. Rumor has it this is how they get people to pay to promote their posts. The few times I’ve seen bloggers do that, their post shows up like a hundred times in everyone’s feed, and we all just get annoyed. So I’m not going to do that to you, not this time at least.

So if you’re on board with preordering my book tomorrow at 12pm EDT and helping me make a big dent in the Amazon sales charts, set your alerts. Join Miceala’s thing. Sign up for an email reminder by requesting one in the comments below. Follow me on Twitter. Subscribe to this blog. If you do any of those things, you’ll get a reminder when it’s time to buy.

Amazon seems to be the only retailer that has the presale up as of now, which is why I’m asking everyone to do it there. It should be available just about everywhere eventually, and I’ll provide that info on my site when I have it.

It’d be nice if Amazon discounted the price to coincide with this, but remember, they have a preorder price guarantee, which means if you order tomorrow, you’ll only pay the lowest price they offer it at between now and the release date. So you can’t lose, and that’s a very good reason for ordering early.

Thanks again!