Monday, July 31, 2017

What is it about 2-year-olds?

This is my two-year-old neighbor, E. (Her parents might not care if I use her full name, but I didn't ask, so I won't.) 

Every time I see her she makes me smile, and I stop whatever I'm doing to say hi and try to make her smile too, which she almost always does.

The pictures are her "walking" Kahlua. She "walks" Bailey too, but it usually ends with him pulling away and leaving her on the sidewalk on her tush. But she happily lifts herself up and skitters toward Kahlua instead, who isn't as fast.

Last week I was walking past a playground and saw E with her dad. I shouted, "I'm coming in!," then proceeded to play and chase and jump around with E for the next 20 minutes.

It was the highlight of my day.

I saw her again yesterday on the sidewalk and said, "Hey! Where do you think you're going??" And she giggled, and I said, "Whatever you do, don't come over here!" And she giggled again and lurched toward me, then giggled and ran back to her mom's legs. Then I said it again, and she did it again.

It was the highlight of my day.

I like people of all ages, but there's something about a two-year-old that's more magical than any other age. Human beauty peaks at age two. It's my favorite number for a person. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Brigsby Bear

We had a New York moment tonight. Ethan wanted to see a new movie called "Brigsby Bear," but none of his friends wanted to go.

So Samuel and I agreed to go see it with him. I scanned Fandango and said, "It's playing in Lincoln Square at 10pm, or in 45 minutes on Houston Street."

Ethan voted for now, so we headed downtown. The theater was so packed that we had to sit at the very front.

I could tell immediately why Ethan wanted to see it. It was very Ethanesque.

At the end of the movie no one got up from their seats, even after the credits ended. There were three director's chairs immediately in front of us, facing the audience, and suddenly the star and director of the movie were sitting down to be interviewed.

I whispered to Samuel and Ethan, "Glad you guys chose this showing. Only in New York."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Indoor rock climbing

It was rainy today, and it didn't seem worth it to rent a car, so we stayed in Manhattan. It was a toss-up between hitting golf balls at Chelsea Piers and indoor rock climbing. Samuel broke the tie.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ten Tiny Toes: the board book

The board book version of Ten Tiny Toes is slowly coming to life. My editor at Little, Brown asked if I'd like to approve the final version before it goes to press.

I said no, but send it anyway because it will make me smile.

It did.

For context, a board book is a smaller and sturdier version of a picture book. Think Very Hungry Caterpillar. A baby can chew on it without anyone freaking out.

Ten Tiny Toes was published in 2012 as a picture book. It was my second book, and I was more excited about it than my first book, because, I figured, anyone can get lucky and write one book. You gotta have at least two books to call yourself an author.

When I got the email from my agent that she'd sold Ten Tiny Toes, it was the first time I felt like, okay, maybe I'm actually going to be a children's author after all.

It was a big deal that Marc Brown illustrated it.

When asked in an interview about the inspiration for Ten Tiny Toes, he said:

"Well, I can't speak for Todd, although I do know that he has kids. And from what I can tell, he's a really good dad, because his feeling about babies and children and parenting comes through in such an honest and heartwarming way. I read it to a group of teachers out on the West Coast, and people were sobbing in the audience when I read it, they were so moved."

It was a big deal that I could literally walk into any Barnes & Noble in the country and see it.

But mostly it's meaningful to me because it's about Samuel and Ethan, and how much I loved them as babies, and how much I loved watching them grow up, and how much I will love them forever. It's my love letter to them, in a time capsule.

I'm anxious to see it as a board book, and I hope lots of babies chew on it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rye Playland 2017

It wasn't on the Summer Bucket List, but the weather was nice, it was close, and we hadn't been there in a long time.

We started on a twisty coaster called Super Flight that you ride standing up.

Then we braved the old wooden Dragon Coaster, which is only two years younger than the Coney Island Cyclone.

Ethan and I rode the Log Flume.

Samuel was traumatized on this ride at age three and has never gone on it since. Here's the traumatic moment immortalized on a Father's Day mug.

But we digress. We rode Starship 2000 (a spinning g-force ride), the Yo-Yo (flying swings), the SkyFlyer (an upside-down spinner), a haunted house ride, the Playland Plunge (just me and Ethan again), and one more trip on the Dragon Coaster before heading home. Fun to ride the big-kid rides, fun to see toddlers and little kids having fun (alternating with meltdowns), fun to eat chicken strips and cotton candy.

Despite being a hot, sunny Sunday in mid-July, the park wasn't that crowded. 

I love the fact that it's historic (opened in 1928) and that they've maintained many of the original buildings and several of the original rides. It's cheaper and closer than Dorney Park or Six Flags, and although it doesn't match those parks for thrills, it's a throwback to simpler times.

Speaking of throwbacks to simpler times...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A teeny little sliver of a smile

My heart is the emotional equivalent of Mosul. It's war-torn and full of wreckage and devastation and smoldering ruins.

But it had a teeny little sliver of a smile this week. I know that's a mixed metaphor. I don't care.

Who knows? Optimism and pessimism and an open heart and it's good to hope but don't hope too much and it all blends together and it feels kinda good in a teenage scary butterflies kinda way that overpowers the jaded, I-will-die-alone-and-unloved kinda way. A teeny little sliver of a smile that starts in my heart and makes its way down to my toes and up to my face and it sneaks out, peeks out to the world, and I'm not gonna try to pretend it isn't there and I'm not gonna try and squash it, because I'm pretty f-ing thankful to have a sliver of a smile in my heart right now.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Flowers in the window boxes...again

The Spring flowers looked magnificent, but they were more expensive than the building anticipated, and they didn't last as long as we hoped.

So our flower boxes sat naked for the past month while we came up with a new plan.

Voila. The new flowers were delivered yesterday. They look great. All is well again.

No, this is not about my life.

Okay, maybe the part about sitting naked for the past month.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk

Four down, four to go on the Summer bucket list.

Today we climbed the Labyrinth/Lemon Squeeze. It's a trail on the grounds of the Mohonk Mountain House, an old Victorian resort in New Paltz. The hotel is outrageously expensive, but they sell day passes for hiking the surrounding trails for $27. (Still not cheap, but less than $1,150/night for a room.)

The Labyrinth/Lemon Squeeze entails climbing over boulders, squeezing through narrow rock passages, and scaling occasional hand-hewn wooden ladders.

No harnesses were required, but it was definitely physically taxing.

Eventually we emerged atop a 300-foot cliff overlooking--well, everything.  

We feel more manly for having done it.

Even Ethan, king of the bedroom laptop, said, "That was fun! I'm glad we did that!"

Me too.

There is a lot I don't enjoy about being single. But I'm enjoying being a boy with my boys.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Forthcoming books update

Okay. Here are the latest release schedules for my upcoming books:

  • Ten Tiny Toes (board book), Little, Brown, Spring 2018
  • How to Become a Knight in 10 Easy Lessons, Sterling, Fall 2018
  • Three Grumpy Trucks, Little, Brown, Fall 2018
  • Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath, Two Lions, Spring 2019
  • Library Books Are Not for Eating, Random House, Summer 2019
A couple got pushed to 2019, which is probably for the best in terms of competitive separation. Although as a business school graduate, I could also make a case for maximizing shelf space.


In the meantime I'm plugging away at more manuscripts.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Brownstone Park

Well, we're steadily checking items off the summer bucket list.

Today it was Brownstone Park, an old rock quarry in Connecticut, where we went ziplining, cliff jumping, rock climbing, water sliding, and Tarzan swinging. 

You know how much I miss when the boys were small. But it's so much fun to do things with them that they couldn't do when they were younger.

You should've seen Ethan leaping off the 15-foot cliff into the water with no fear.

You should've seen Samuel scaling the side of a 70-foot cliff in about a minute.

We all rode the zipline from the highest cliff into the water.

Grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken strips, Dippin' Dots, and a milkshake on the way home.

Pretty much a perfect day with my two favorite boys in the universe.