Thursday, August 29, 2013

Baby smile

On the way home from work this evening a mom with a baby got on the subway in front of me. I got on and stood a little bit behind them. I wanted to see the baby's face, so I leaned forward slightly and peeked around the mom's shoulder. The baby peeked around at the same time, our eyes met, and we smiled at each other.

Babies are just so great.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"What was the worst mistake of your life?"

Ethan asked me that question last night at 1am.

I should've bought Google stock. I should've bid higher on those original blueprints of Fallingwater. I should've convinced Jennifer to get pregnant one more time. With triplets.

But that's all little stuff. I never turned down a Rhodes Scholarship to work at a Wendy's with my meth-addicted girlfriend with the Guns & Roses tattoo on her butt cheek.

I told Ethan, "Great question. I'd have to think about that."

He said, "That's good, because it means everything turned out okay."

He's a wise soul.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Riding the Zip-Flyer at CBK Mountain Adventures

Back to Camelbeach today. This time with just Samuel--everyone else was water-parked out. Odd, I know.

The new adventure today was riding the mile-long zip line called the Zip-Flyer. It's a separate fee from the waterpark ($29 each), and entails riding the chairlift to the top of the mountain, strapping into a harness, and zipping all the way down at 60 mph.

The view from the top:

Last-minute jitters...

The review: Samuel gave it an 8 out of 10. I'd give it a 7.5--the 0.5-point difference in our ratings is due to the fact that my checking account is now $58 lighter.

It's a lot of fun to fly down a mountain at high speed, honestly. There's not a big "roller-coaster" stomach drop--just a small one at the beginning. It is awfully high, of course, so just walking onto the platform and getting strapped into the harness and looking down gets your adrenaline going.

Was it worth $29? I think it's the kind of thing we'll do once, or at most once a year.

But look at that smile.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Waterpark Hooky

Today was my annual "take a summer Friday off to go to a waterpark with my kids" day.

As you can see, we went to Camelbeach, and we took a couple of extra kids for ballast in the car.

Some observations:
  • It was nice having Elyse and Aaron along. We have known them for so long they are honorary family members. It was fun to watch the four of them bobbing up and down together in the wave pool.
  • Camelbeach's wave pool has stronger waves than Hurricane Harbor's. They hit you every five seconds with full force. Hurricane Harbor's are more gentle and rolling. We decided we like Camelbeach's slightly better.
  • Camelbeach played country music over the loudspeakers. Hurricane Harbor would never play country music, unless it was sung by the Beach Boys and featured a steel drum. Still, I gotta say, for a waterpark?--I'll take Beach Boys.
  • Aaron has been away most of the summer. His hair is longer and he looks like he could be a member of One Direction. But he is still sweet, shy, polite Aaron underneath the boy-band bangs.
  • At one point Ethan and Aaron were laughing hysterically about something. Aaron was practically snorting. God forbid Ethan should crack a smile in a photo and put his angst-ridden persona at risk.
  • Samuel's food intake today consisted of a bagel with butter and honey, a strawberry Nesquik, a waffle with chocolate sauce, a black-and-white milkshake, and--on the way home--another milkshake, from DQ.
  • Ethan's was healthier, as it at least included pizza and chicken nuggets.
  • Elyse spent the car trip telling us about her obsession with the actress from the Broadway show "Newsies" and asking us to analyze her dreams, most of which featured the actress from "Newsies." 
  • Ethan spent the car trip writing comic strips and trying to get Elyse to read them.
  • It is fun to be a dad. There is really nothing like seeing your kids happy. Really nothing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am more awesome than a janitor

The mark of status for stock traders is having an expensive wristwatch. For janitors, it's having a lot of keys on your belt.

For me, it's having season passes to multiple water parks in my wallet.

Last August we bought season passes to Six Flags/Hurricane Harbor, which were good for the remainder of the 2012 season and all of summer 2013. This past weekend we bought season passes to Camelbeach, which are good for the remainder of this season and all of summer 2014.

I am the official carrier of season passes. So for a brief, month-long window, I have all eight season passes in my wallet.

Deep breath.

It is a feeling of supreme power and awesomeness.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Iowa is my kind of place

I was at the Iowa State Fair last week--on business, no less. Which meant I technically got paid to eat bacon-wrapped corn dogs and ride carnival rides.

It's a beautiful world.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Blue Jasmine" and the whole Woody Allen thing

Three points to make here.

1. "Blue Jasmine" was a better movie than I thought it would be. I don't mean to damn with faint praise, but my expectations of Woody Allen movies have steadily declined since "Hannah and her Sisters." After "Shadows and Fog," I basically checked out.

You know, not every movie has to start off with a car chase and explosion. But does every movie have to start off with a talking-head conversation devoid of physical action? (After the obligatory plain white credits on black background?)

So when this one started I was thinking, "Oh, crap, why did Jennifer talk me into spending a sunny summer Sunday afternoon going to a Woody Allen movie?"

But it got better.

Woody Allen wasn't actually in it, which was a bonus. Kate Blanchett was great. Alec Baldwin played his standard character and picked up his paycheck. And the plot? Tennessee Williams trumps Ingmar Bergman in my book, so...check.

2. Woody Allen the person? I'm glad he's still with Soon-Yi. That sounds kind of random, but I always admired Woody Allen when I was a teenager (I went to NYU film school at least partially because I wanted to be Woody Allen vs. George Lucas). But, as with his movies, I kind of checked out on him after the whole Soon-Yi thing. It was just too weird.

But their marriage has lasted longer than most, and there's something to be said for that. You know, Mia wasn't exactly normal either. Just saying. Anyway, I'm not quite ready to invite him to join us at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, but I've come down from the moral high horse on his personal life.

3. Something really weird: the median age of the audience was about 75. Seriously, Jennifer and I were like the youngest people there, with the exception of the assistants pushing the wheelchairs. Is that Woody's current fan base? Or was it the neighborhood? (Upper East Side).

Below is a re-creation of the experience:

I'm going to be old someday too, so I'm not complaining. Several old folks came late to the movie and were shining their spelunker lights into the rows to find seats. And after the movie, just trying to get up the aisle and out of the theater was like the navigating through the Walking Dead. One old man started to stand up, and the person who was with him said, "You don't need to get up, you're already in your wheelchair."

Jen and I felt really, really young coming out of that theater, so that is a positive. (We were also happy to get to the other side of the park and see strollers again.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Road trip to Myrtle Beach

Every family should take one long-distance road trip. Here was ours:

Day 1: Rough start.

5pm: Outside of DC. The clouds parted for a two-hour pit-stop at Six Flags America, with its circa-1980s, low-rent version of Hurricane Harbor.

6pm: The rain returned, so we changed into our street clothes, waited a  bit, then rode a few rides with no lines before jumping back in the car and continuing south.

11pm: First sign of Southern culture, at a gas station in Virginia.

12:30am: Spent the night at a hotel in Rocky Mount, NC. Too late to swim when we got there, but we swam in the morning.

Day 2: Back on the road by noon.

2pm: Whoa. An actual Cracker Barrel. I have no idea why this was so intriguing. Perhaps just the idea of mingling with actual old people.

Ethan was excited that one could buy ten candy sticks for only a dollar.

3pm: Back on the road. Everyone wishing we'd taken a plane. Tired of Sirius XM '50s channel. Tired of Sirius XM '60s channel, and '70s channel, and '80s channel, and Hits channel, and Liquid Metal channel. Ready to be in Myrtle Beach.

4pm: Sudden torrential downpour. What the--?

5pm: At last...

We checked into our hotel just in time for that giant dark cloud to unleash another torrential downpour that flooded the entire parking lot.

Day 3: Hurray! Sunshine.


Day 4: Beach and pools. Carnival rides.

 Day 5: Myrtle Beach Skywheel. Nachos and milkshakes. Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Did I mention Ethan's fear of heights?

Day 6: Well, that was fun. Back on the road.

2pm: North Carolina. Discount cigarettes, cigars, and Bibles.

4:30pm: Authentic Carolina BBQ.

Day 7: Washington, DC.

 Okay, been there, done that.

Back in NYC by 9pm.

All in all, a good vacation. Lots of beach time, lots of family time, and best of all, we didn't kill each other during the 24 hours spent in the car.

I think we'll all opt for traveling by plane for our next vacation. But, you know? It was kinda fun.