a rainy-day activity boys can get behind

My boys were quiet in the kitchen. TOO quiet.

“What are you doing out there?” I yelled. No response. 
So then, certain of a disaster, like Miss Clavel, I ran fast and faster.

They were hunched over the kitchen table together, giggling and scribbling.

“Uh… what are you guys doing?” I asked gingerly.

“We’re ruining people’s faces!” Connor crowed.
And indeed they were:

I like the Yoda / Bob Dog from Mister Rogers thing happening here:

And this guy is saying “Hello” backwards, sort of a REDRUM homage, if you will. 

Not sure what the “pkep” on his shirt is about though.

Ruining People’s Faces! The next time your kids are fighting, throw them yesterday’s newspaper and a couple of markers. Hope they enjoy it half as much as my kids do.

the Easter Bunny: hard to believe in, but let’s keep trying

When the Easter Bunny finally showed up at our Easter Egg hunt this past weekend, even my three-year-old could see through him immediately. “That’s a costume!” she bellowed to the toddlers in line. “I can see his hairy arms,” she added to me, sotto voce, and indeed she meant not the furry bunny arms, but the hairy and gold-braceleted man-arms sticking out from the too-short sleeves. 

I shushed Maggie, telling her she shouldn’t ruin things for the little kids. “I just telling them he’s not the real Easter Bunny,” she explained. “The real Easter Bunny is home getting ready.” 

“Yeah, where is the Easter Bunny’s home?” my six-year-old asked, as if he’d been meaning to ask that very question.  I rolled my eyes, because the Easter Bunny backstory is just so patchy I don’t know where to begin the backfill. (For more on this, please read my sister Mollie’s hilarious and scholarly exploration about “the total failure of imagination that is the Easter Bunny.”)

8-year-old Connor piped up: “Some people say there is no Easter Bunny! And no Santa Claus either! I’m starting to think Santa is Mom and Dad!”

I froze. This wasn’t the first time he’d thrown this grenade into a Santa/ Easter Bunny conversation, but in the past, he’d seemed eager to re-believe once I established that sure, there are kids who don’t believe in such things– but that’s because Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, or whoever, only visits the homes of those who DO believe. I went through all that again, for the benefit of his two younger siblings, but not for Connor. He knew. I could tell he knew. 
It was time to confirm his suspicions. 

When we got home, I sat him down on my bed. 

ME: So what do you think?
CONNOR: I’m not sure.
ME: Do you *want* to be sure?
CONNOR: (biting his lip) Yes. Is Santa really you and Dad?
ME: Yes.

He didn’t seem as crushed as I had feared.

ME: Did you already kind of know?
CONNOR: Yeah. Pretty much.
ME: You’ll still get presents.
CONNOR: Okay, good.

That seemed to settle it. 

ME: Do you… have any other questions? 
CONNOR: Yeah. Where DOES the Easter Bunny live?

So, to recap:
Man in red suit from North Pole? Fond fantasy. 
Giant bunny who fits candy for every child in the world (and their baskets) in one giant basket of his own? Apparently, still going strong. 

Wacky Wednesday: great for those who are already bizarre

This week was W week in kindergarten M, and Wednesday was “Wacky Wednesday,” which is (it seems) celebrated by putting the blocks on the coloring table, and hanging the weather calendar upside down, and by all the kids coming to school totally wacky! Because I am a terrible mother, and because my email filter likes to prevent me from getting whatever messages my kids’ teachers send that way, the first time I heard about “Wacky Wednesday” was when we arrived at school on Wednesday morning. All the other kids were running around with socks on their hands and witch hats. One even had a tam-o-shanter. 

this is a tam-o-shanter, although not a kindergartener

I was pretty sure this was going to be a real problem. Seamus has a real hair-trigger on his sobbing reflex these days, and being unprepared for such a momentous event as Wacky Wednesday was sure to ruin his day. And mine. I proceeded carefully.

ME: Seamus, I’m really sorry I didn’t know about Wacky Wednesday.
SEAMUS: (sighs) It’s oh… kay… 
ME: I wish I had something wacky for you to wear. Do you want me to make you a head wrap out of my scarf?
SEAMUS: (eyes downcast) I don’t need anything.
ME: Okay, sweetie. Have a good day.

I give him a quick kiss and start to move for the exit before he decides to melt down.

SEAMUS: Well. I’m a little wacky.
ME: You are?
SEAMUS: I do have two pairs of pants on. 
ME: Huh?
SEAMUS: I have two pairs of pants on.

I check. He does. Two pairs of Gap khaki-style pants. 

ME: Seamus, did you put on two pairs of pants because it was Wacky Wednesday?
SEAMUS: Nope. I forgot.
ME: So… why are you wearing two pairs of pants?
SEAMUS: You said it was a little cold outside.

(By a “little cold,” I had meant 58 degrees. Grab-a-sweatshirt cold. Not ice-fishing cold.)

I encouraged my son to remove his extra pair of pants, for comfort’s sake, but he wore them happily all day long, right up until bath time after dinner. Takeaway: Wacky Wednesday can be a great holiday, even if you’ve neglected to officially observe it, as long as you’re the kind of kid who is always doing something really weird anyway. Hoo boy, that is my child. 

Thanks to all of you who are helping me spread the word about the paperback release of When Did I Get Like This? this week! There are currently three, yes three, giveaways running where you can win a copy: at Short Fat DictatorWonder, Friend, and The Well-Read Wife. If you buy a copy and would like a signed bookplate for Mother’s Day gift-giving– or for yourself– drop me a line at amy at amy wilson [dot] com. thanks! 

it’s paperback publication day!

Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?

My bouncing baby book, When Did I Get Like This? (The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget Buyer, & Other Mothers I Swore I’d Never Be) is out in paperback today. Rumor has it that it will be on the “New Releases” table at Barnes & Noble through May 2, and of course your local indie can get it for you lickety split as well.  

Giveaway alert! My friend Missy is giving a copy away on her blog Wonder, Friend, and there’s an interesting conversation starting over there about whether moms discuss their less-than-stellar moments with each other or not. Here’s what I have learned since the book first came out a year ago: we all have moments when we wonder when we got “like this,” when we feel deeply inadequate. And because most of us don’t ever talk about it, we think we’re alone in feeling this way. But we are most certainly NOT alone. Although we are way, way too hard on ourselves.

If you purchase a copy of the book for Mother’s Day, I’d love to send you a signed, personalized bookplate to go inside- just leave me a comment below with your email.

If you already read the book (and hopefully, enjoyed it!) here are a few ways you can help me launch the paperback out of its nest during these extremely-limited-budgets-for-book-marketing times: 

–“like” the Facebook page for When Did I Get Like This? 
–link to the Facebook page for When Did I Get Like This?  on your own Facebook status
–send out a Tweet linking to bit.ly/whendidi-paperback or #whendidigetlikethis

If you do any of these things I’ve got a little somethin’ for ya. Okay it’s a refrigerator magnet. And it’s adorable:

Wouldn’t that be some nice mom-bling for your fridge? It’s kind of like the “stop pigging out” magnets our mothers had back in the day.  Only it’s not macraméd. And, yes, it doesn’t oink when you open the fridge. But mine’s not nearly so judgmental.

Leave a comment with whatever you did to shout-out and a magnet is yours, or a bookplate, or my everlasting gratitude. Your pick!

weather-related air traffic delays: a blessing in disguise

A travel tip: if one airline cancels your flight because of bad weather– and another airline says screw it! we’ll get you there!– it might not be as good an idea to buy that ticket as it seems in the moment.

(A secondary tip: don’t read this while eating.)

I was flying home Saturday evening from the absolutely fabulous Mom 2.0 conference in New Orleans, where I met tons of other bloggers and parenting professionals and walked Bourbon Street after 11 p.m., which is decidedly not recommended.

I was exhausted and ready to get home by Saturday evening, and of course it was only once I got to the airport that the FAA announced a four and a half hour delay into JFK airport because of the crazy storms passing through. Sighing, I got a boarding pass on the 6 a.m. flight out the next morning, and was trudging out of the airport to go find a hotel when I passed the always discerning A-List Mom

ME: Can you believe it? Want to share a cab back in to the city?
A-LIST MOM: What are you talking about?

Turned out she was also flying to NYC, but on a different airline, into LaGuardia, with no delay at all. Then it turned out that a walk-up ticket on that flight cost less than two taxis and another night in a hotel would have. I couldn’t believe it! My Sunday with the kids was saved! I skipped down the jetway and boarded, caring not that I was in a middle seat of the narrowest row I had ever seen. I was on my way home, and after a slightly cramped two hours, the pilot intoned, “We have about 20 minutes till we land. It might be a little bumpy. Flight attendants, please be seated.”

You know those old wooden roller coasters that hurl you from side to side in a way that is really not all that fun, it kind of hurts, and their ricketiness starts to frighten you a little?
Imagine riding one of those. For NINETY MINUTES.

For the first half hour, I sat there with my eyes scrunched shut, saying Iwillnotthrowup Iwillnotthrowup Iwillnotthrowup. Then my seatmate, who had been gripping her armrests all this time, said “wait a minute! The airport was right there and now we’re flying up again!” and I couldn’t wait any longer. Clearly it was going to be a while. I lost my lunch. 

I felt better afterwards, if a little awkward, sitting there with my airsickness bag. I rolled it up carefully, not sure what else to do with it,  and pulled out my iPhone- if I couldn’t read or look at anything, I could at least listen. I put on The Longshot Podcast, my absolute favorite, sure to have me laughing and forgetting my woes. And it did, until about ten minutes in:

GUY ON PODCAST: So, I was at Ikea? And you know how they have those meatballs? Man, those meatballs are disgusting. And they’re right by the exit so you have to LOOK at them. And they just smell so disgusting.

I pull off my headphones. Too late. I vomit some more. Take a deep breath. Wait until that topic of discussion will have passed. Put my headphones back on.

OTHER GUY ON PODCAST: …those meatballs really ARE disgusting. That freaking gravy? It’s like…

Pull off the headphones. Yak a little more. Wait ten seconds. Put headphones back on.

GUEST: Wow, that’s an interesting question… what are my favorite kind of disgusting meatballs. Hmm…

I pull off the headphones for good, and sit there for the rest of the flight, between two strangers, with my big bag of vomit. We circled the city for another white-knuckled thirty minutes before landing in the hardest rain we had seen yet.

Still, my flight experience could have been worse. Mamabird Diaries was on that same flight, and she thought she was going to die. I didn’t give that too much concern- I was more focused on what would happen if my airsickness bag wasn’t sufficiently reinforced. Oh, and being grateful that I didn’t have my kids with me (again, not because they’d die, but because no way they wouldn’t have hurled.)

Lots of hooting and hollering when we landed. There’s no place like home.

The paperback version of When Did I Get Like This? hits stores tomorrow! You can pre-order here if you can’t wait even one more day: bit.ly/whendidi-paperback.