Monday, August 29, 2016

Deja vu all over again


Samuel returned from his 4-day freshman backpacking trip late Thursday night. He and Ethan hung out in their bedroom on their laptops all day Friday and Saturday. Then, on Saturday afternoon Jen said, "Do we want to do anything tomorrow?" It is, after all, the final weekend before Samuel leaves for college.

I meekly floated the idea of Hurricane Harbor, which was met with a tepid but not negative response. 

So we did it, and it was a nice way to spend our final pre-college weekend together. The lazy river was closed for "maintenance" (vomit? diarrhea?), so the wave pool was crowded and the lines were long. But it was together time, and I'm thankful for it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ethan is home, Samuel is gone

Ethan is home from summer camp, but Samuel is now off on a four-day backpacking trip with some of his new college classmates. 

We spent Saturday together at a mall in Nyack. Samuel and Ethan both wanted to go there. Manhattan is so dull compared to a suburban mall, after all.

Everyone's favorite part of the day was an interactive adventure at a place called 5Wits. Samuel was totally in his element. 


Ethan had friends over last night, and Jennifer and Samuel were up late packing, while I worked on a manuscript. This morning Jennifer drove Samuel to Connecticut and dropped him off for his backpacking trip.


I had a storytime reading at a bookstore in Brooklyn.



The bookstore was great. The turnout was small. How small? Let's just say I made three new friends: Dash (2), Greta (1), and Max (1). Dash is my new favorite two-year-old, and I think "Beep! Beep!" is his new favorite book.

I read "Beep! Beep!" first. Dash was the perfect age and temperament for it. Then I read "Ten Tiny Toes" for the babies and moms. It's still hard for me to read that one out loud because it reminds me so much of my little boys.

We sold three books, so the store made a $30 profit, and I made $3. Storytime economics are daunting. Never do the math.

Jen met me at home around 2. I decided I'd go to Hurricane Harbor for the afternoon before dropping off the rental car--to take advantage of a paid-for rental car and paid-for season pass. Ethan had a birthday party to go to. Jen had no interest.

As soon as I got in the car and turned on the radio I heard, "Thunderstorms are expected within the hour, continuing until midnight."

Crap. Well, nothing I can do. Keep driving and hope I beat the rain.

I got to Hurricane Harbor at 4:15. The guy at the ticket booth said, "There's a thunderstorm coming." I said, "I know!" and hurried past him.

I went full-body into the lazy river so that at least I could say I got wet. Then I ran to the body slide. The line was about 20 minutes, and just when I got to the top level of the tower...a raindrop. Then another. By the time I was second in line it was raining lightly and I was sure they were going to close the slide right before my turn.

Then an amazing thing happened. They didn't.


The rain fell, but the slides didn't close. People left the park in droves. The lines were short.

Over the next two hours I rode 11 slides. Walk up the steps. Wait behind one or two people. Go down the slide. Repeat.

I made friends with the 10-year-olds who ran up the stairs with me. "Which one are you doing next?" "The orange one!" "Me too! Did you do blue yet?" "No! Next!"

I am who I am. #noapologies, #nojudgments.

I'm home. It's late. I'm tired. I'm going to take the dogs out with Ethan, try to finish the first draft of that manuscript, miss Samuel, and go to bed.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Water weekend

Last weekend when Jen and I were dropping off Ethan at camp, Samuel stayed home because he was invited to Splish Splash waterpark with friends. He was supposed to meet them in Queens, but he took the wrong train at Penn Station, ended up in Secaucus, NJ, and spent the day home alone.

So, helicopter parent that I am, I took Friday off and took Samuel to Hurricane Harbor. (He realized on Thursday night that he was supposed to babysit LJ on Friday afternoon, so we took him with us too.)



We had a great day until the thunderstorms rolled in.

Jen requested a beach day on Saturday, and we had a rental car, so we went to Jones Beach.

It's the first nice, wide, clean, glass-free beach to the east of the city. It was developed during the Depression using WPA labor--the showers and concessions buildings, the parking lots, even the highway from the mainland. Say what you will about Robert Moses, he did a nice job with Jones Beach.




Today, feeling the end of summer nearing, Samuel and I decided to do another sprinkler trek through Central Park--every playground sprinkler from 100th Street to 81st Street.








We added the Ross Terrace at the Museum of Natural History, since it is our favorite water play area on the Upper West Side.


We've decided to officially name it the Central Park Sprinkler Trek, Upper West Side version. It takes 90 minutes from start to finish--beginning and ending at a milkshake comfort station. We are going to invite more kids next time.


I vowed to finish a manuscript this weekend and I've written about one line so far, so I'd better get to it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Busy day

This morning we dropped off Ethan at camp in rural Pennsylvania. It was his idea, even though he's never been to sleep-away camp, he hates bugs, and he has never been without his cell phone for more than a day.

We'll see him in two weeks. Not expecting any letters.


Diner cheeseburgers on the way home.


Followed by a roadside DQ about twenty miles later.


Followed by an evening with McCartney at the Meadowlands.


"Let It Be" with 50,000 points of light:


Saturday, August 6, 2016

We're less poor

We got four checks in the mail this week:


$5.60 from Prudential. They were my life insurance carrier until I forgot to pay the premium for two consecutive quarters. But apparently I'm still a "stockholder," so I still receive teeny checks from them every so often. I'll take it--it's a black-and-white milkshake. (I have no idea who my current life insurance provider is; I should probably find out.)


$7.70 from Penguin Books. This was a royalty check for my first book, which was published six years ago and apparently continues to sell at least seven copies a year. Worth a cheeseburger from Shake Shack.


$59.31 from Banana Republic. Jen opened a BR credit card about a year ago and set up a monthly auto-pay of $59 through our online checking. When I got a new job in January I paid off the balance, but I can't figure out how to turn off the auto-pay. So we continue to make monthly $59 payments to them, followed by receiving $59 checks in the mail a few weeks later. But psychologically it seems like we're making $59 every time.


$333.33 from the State of New York's unclaimed funds office. This was the big windfall of the week, and it would've seemed even bigger if this hadn't been the week we made Samuel's first tuition payment to Trinity College. 

Apparently when I worked for AMC Networks ten years ago I submitted an expense report. AMC apparently cut a check but then forgot who I was or where I lived. And I apparently forgot I had submitted it. Incompetence all around. 

They eventually sent it to the state's unclaimed funds escrow account. I discovered it out of curiosity about six months ago when I went to the site and typed in my name. Lo and behold.

Jen and I are not great money managers. Have you noticed that? I like to say that we focus on the big picture, not the minutiae.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Central Park sprinkler challenge

The challenge: run through six playground sprinklers on a hot summer day in under an hour.


The competitors: Todd and Samuel, the two oldest living kids on the Upper West Side.


Sprinkler 1: 100th Street Playground. Great playground with pyramid and climbing structures. Water area had fountains and mist. This is where everyone was today.


Sprinkler 2: 96th Street Playground. A little quieter. Samuel said he used to come here a lot with his friends after school. Small water area with water jets in a circle. We let the kids spray us.


Sprinkler 3: Wild West Playground at 93rd Street. It was revamped last year, so everything is new. It has two water spray areas connected by a tiny canal filled with toys and plastic shovels and toddlers' bottoms. I could've stayed for an hour or two...but we were on the clock.


Sprinkler 4: The Safari Playground at 91st. We've always called it the Hippo Playground, because of the sculptures embedded in the ground. But there's not much to do here, it's completely in the shade, and it was virtually deserted.


Sprinkler 5: 85th Street Playground. We always called it the "Big Kids Playground" when the boys were growing up--to differentiate it from the "Little Kids Playground" a block away. It's in need of an update, but there was a decent crowd here because the Little Kids Playground is closed for renovation.


Brief detour across the monkey bars at the Diana Ross Playground at 81st Street, the final stop on our challenge.


Sprinkler #6: The boys spent a lot of time at this playground over the years, as it's closest to our apartment. The wooden climbing area is great but getting a little long in the tooth. There's a big, round water area with steps for sitting, but only a small fountain in the middle.

Good enough for a diapered toddler. Good enough for us.



Almost forgot--reward for successfully completing the challenge: a black & white milkshake...


It's nice to spend a summer afternoon with my college-bound little boy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Our refrigerator is kaput

It was here in 1998 when we moved in, so we can't complain.



But it's time for a new one.

I once said I didn't want a life in which I owned refrigerator magnets shaped like fruit. I am skating precariously close.



To be fair, the rooster and Cocker Spaniel magnets are not mine. They were brought into the apartment by someone that I love enough to tolerate little stuff like this, even though rooster magnets are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I contributed the DeLorean note pad.

I was pushing for this retro refrigerator as a replacement. I thought it would look really cool--it would make us look really cool. You could cover it with rooster magnets and it would still be cool.



I told Jen it was the only one I could find online that would fit the space in our kitchen. But it was $2,000, and I had the misfortune of recommending it on the day we got an email alert from Chase that our checking account was overdrawn. Jen found an alternative for $700 that should fit just fine.

Life's little compromises.


In the meantime, we've put ice in the freezer--a makeshift ice box, like the '30s--and pared down to the bare essentials.



And life will go on.