Sunday, July 31, 2011

Impulse control

Okay, so I bought the toddler dress.

Now I just need a toddler to wear it, and the world will be a better place.

I'm paying for it from the advance of my third book. Which I've not yet sold, so technically that money doesn't exist. But my plan is to give the dress to the 1-year-old daughter of my agent, thereby incentivizing her to close the book deal. I've managed to get this far in life with ass-backward thinking like that, so I think it might work.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can someone please loan me a toddler... that I can buy this dress that's in the window of Granny-Made? It's pink and yellow with little butterflies pinned all over it, and it makes me smile to think of a 2-year-old with chubby cheeks and little chubby legs wearing it to a tea party and saying, "It's my butterfwy dwess."

In related news, my wife and kids are convinced that I'm gay.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ethan's dream fruit

Ethan: "Pomegranate was my dream fruit. I always wanted a fruit that you could open up a layer and there'd be tons of seeds that you could eat. And when you'd open up the seeds there'd be another layer of seeds. When I found out a fruit like that actually existed, I said, 'Yea!'"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Handbook of Children and Media

The newly revised edition of "Handbook of Children and Media" came out today. It's a thick textbook with chapters on the impact of media on children by two dozen leading academics.

And me.

I contributed a chapter called "Children and New Technologies."

I was a grad assistant for the editors at Yale back in '91-'93. I wasn't even a Psychology student, but I found children's media research interesting, and they let me work for them, and I took to it. Lo and behold, I managed to get an invite to write a chapter in the first edition of the book, in 2001. Ten years later, I was asked to update my chapter.

Meanwhile, all the other contributors, who were already leaders in their field in 2001, have all advanced their careers another ten years and are now like a Who's Who of children's media researchers.

And then there's me--no PhD, no scholarly articles. Hell, I barely manage to stay employed.

So it looks suspiciously like I hacked into the publisher's computers and inserted a chapter by me as a prank.

But stay with me--it gets funnier.

I have an Amazon Author's Page (as a result of "How About a Kiss for Me?"), and so this book shows up on my Author's Page, and I show up on the book's page.

But apparently none of the other contributors has an Author's Page.

So if you go to Amazon it looks like I'm the sole author of this landmark academic book on children and media.

Oops. Heh-heh.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Drive-in Movie!

Last night we went to the Midway Drive-In in Sterling, Illinois. The boys had never been to a drive-in, and Jen and I hadn't been to one in at least 25 years. We managed to track one down.

I believe it was named Midway for its proximity to the middle of nowhere. We passed three dead skunks on the way, and the cicadas and bullfrogs were freaking Ethan out.

It was definitely an authentic relic, from the ticket booth... the snackbar.

They replaced the old car speakers several years ago, so now you listen to the movie on the radio. Lots of people brought folding chairs and sat in front of their cars.

It was very Norman Rockwell, right down to the buzz-cut blonde kids running around. We even heard one dad calling his kids to come back from the play area: "Jeremiah! Jedidiah!"

I told Jen, "Just think if we'd given our kids Bible names. They'd be Cain and Judas."

Magic Waters

I don't know if I'd say "magic," but it was definitely water. And on the hottest day known to mankind, it felt good.

The best part about Magic Waters is that it only cost $10 to get in--a Thursday special we didn't even know about.

The worst part about it is that it's in Rockford, Illinois, which, once you factor in airfare from NYC, rental car, hotel, and fuel...calculate, calculate...well, let's just say you don't really come out ahead.

Also, everyone from the entire state of Illinois happened to show up on the day we were there, per the picture below. (The butt cracks and cellulite in the background kinda make the photo less appealing, imo, but you can't really ask people to move their butts out of your picture. Suffice it to say this photo will not be making an appearance on any holiday cards.)

All in all, we had a good time.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I'm hunkering down for my second night at the lovely Days Inn in Rockford, Illinois. It's $45 a night. That tells you everything you need to know.

I have business in Chicago tomorrow, but Jen and the boys were visiting her parents in Prophetstown, so I came out early to meet them halfway for a day.

Last night I went to a Wal-Mart to buy a notebook so I could do some writing.

The cashier was complaining to the customer ahead of me: "He said he'd raise taxes, so I didn't vote for him. Folks have enough troubles right now without raising taxes. I have $17 held out of every paycheck, thanks to him."

The customer laughed in agreement, and the cashier rang up my notebook. It came to 22 cents.

I said, "22 cents? Are you sure?"

The woman behind me in line, who looked like a midwestern mom, said, "Yep, Back-to-School. It's not even August yet!"

Then I had dinner by myself at a Steak'n'Shake. I ordered cheeseburger sliders. They were $3.50--plus 39 cents for the cheese.

Basically, a dollar goes a long ways in Rockford, and folks are friendly. But you can't tell anyone you voted for Obama.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Freezer cleaning

Jen and the boys left for Illinois today to visit the grandparents. I'm flying out tomorrow evening, so I took advantage of my night alone by--wait for it--cleaning all the crap out of our freezer.

Jennifer packs our tiny freezer to the gills, and I honestly don't know why. It's not like we live in rural Montana and don't have access to fresh meat. Zabars, West Side Market, Fairway, and about 400 other places that sell meat are located within a few hundred yards of our apartment. I'm quite confident I could secure some meat for my family within approximately 4 minutes--8 in a raging blizzard. And it would taste better than the frost-covered stuff in our freezer.

Don't get me started on the fridge. There was an unopened package of bacon with an expiration date of mid-July, on top of an unopened package of bacon with an expiration date of mid-June, on top of an unopened package of bacon with an expiration date of mid-May.

I found a couple of items from 2010 in there.

Have I been laid off so often that I've caused Jennifer to have a fear of starving? Is it the early stages of hoarding? Are we going to be featured on an A&E show next year? Wouldn't the money we waste on uneaten groceries be better spent on a DeLorean?

Maybe I'm the crazy one for being so anal-retentive that I can't wait to have the apartment to myself so that I can furiously throw crap away before the rest of the family gets back home.

But it feels so right.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long Beach (New York)

The only time I'd been there was about three years ago when the boys and I tried to see how fast we could get to a beach and back--we rushed off the train, touched the ocean with our toes, then back to the train.

Today we needed a beach that was nice, close, and reachable without a $200 weekend-rate rental car.

Coney Island is closer, but littered with glass. Jones Beach is less urban, but takes two hours to reach.

We played in the waves, had cheeseburgers and corn dogs on the boardwalk, and built the biggest sand castle on the beach. 90 minutes door-to-door. No glass.

Four thumbs up.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


"I don't get why people have trash cans when they could just have giant vats of lava."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Red Belt

My sweet littlest boy is asleep in our bed. He's been going to Tae Kwon Do camp every day this week, and he's exhausted. He wandered into the bedroom when I was on the computer and just fell asleep next to me.

This morning when I walked him to camp we walked hand in hand. This will be the last year for that, I'm sure, and I savor those moments. He's the greatest little boy. I worry about him in this world of crazy, homicidal psychopaths. I can't protect him forever. But right now he's asleep in our bed, and I'm going to let him stay there all night. Tomorrow he can go back to being a Red Belt.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer bucket list

Here are 7 things I want to do before summer ends:

1. Visit five waterparks. We've been to two (Camelbeach and Mountain Creek). Sigh. So many to enjoy, so little time.

2. Universal Studios Orlando. Planned for August! Samuel's original dream was Universal Studios Japan, which has the last remaining "Back to the Future" ride. That's on hold pending lottery win.

3. River tubing. Penciled in for August.

4. Camping. Ethan's idea, although I reminded him that there are bugs in the wilderness. He then suggested camping somewhere on the Upper West Side. Requires further discussion.

5. Go down a natural waterslide. My idea. This just sounds cool, doesn't it?

6. Go to a drive-in movie. My idea again. Hey, if not now, when??

7. See the in-laws in Illinois. Jen's idea. Keeping Jen happy makes the rest of this list possible.

This list doesn't include important basics like staying employed.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks over the West Side Highway

We went to Mountain Creek water park today. We were planning on stopping at some small town in New Jersey on the way home to watch fireworks, but we got too tired and just decided to head home.

We were half a mile from our exit on the West Side Highway when traffic came to a standstill. The Macy's fireworks had started over the Hudson River, and after a few minutes everyone just got out of their cars and watched.

A New York moment.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We're the only ones in NYC

At least it seems that way. All of our snobby neighbors must be in the Hamptons for the long holiday weekend.

We spent the afternoon at the water terrace at the Museum of Natural History, where the boys and I played in the fountains with toddlers (hint: bring chalk) while Jen crocheted in the shade.

This evening we ate seafood sandwiches and Happy Meals on our roof terrace.

Then we capped it off with frozen yogurt at 16 Handles.

Even Kahlua and Bailey enjoyed a night out.

Who needs the Hamptons?

And btw, is Jennifer not the hottest 45-year-old you've ever seen?