Monday, April 27, 2015

Someone Call an Exterminator

I was a little alarmed by the kids turning their dollhouse into a Hexbug infestation.

A video posted by Nick Turner (@sf_nick) on

But maybe they're just giving it some New York atmosphere.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Opening Day for Tee Ball

Today was opening day for tee ball on Roosevelt Island, and Elliot got his first taste of the venerable sport (well, other than this).


He also got his first hit. Unfortunately, the skill of actually running to first base hadn't yet been instilled. (He has run the bases at Citi Field, but that came with plenty of guidance.)


By pure luck, he was assigned to a team with Giants colors. (Given the state of the Giants season, Elliot might actually be a good prospect for them.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Is Summoned...and Answers With a Vengeance

You can probably blame me for our especially ferocious winter. I said in January that I was disappointed with the lack of snow, thereby guaranteeing we would be hit with blizzards and bitter cold until April.

As we waited for the weather to warm up, Kelly did what has now become a tradition: redecorating the house in honor of spring. She added leaves to our wall tree...


...and helped the kids draw flowers on the windows (with special washable markers designed for glass).




The real spring finally arrived over the weekend, bringing tree blossoms and temperatures in the 70s.

The transformation of Roosevelt Island's trees was so dramatic, people just stared at them agape.

Here's what one of them on Riverwalk Commons looked like...


People were so intent on taking their pictures in front of the tree, a line formed. It was like getting a shot with Elmo in Times Square (but less creepy).


I'm sure the novelty of spring will wear off soon enough, but it's nice to see people get this excited about trees.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Young People Playing a Game for Old People

Today the kids tried their hand at boules (better known as bocce ball). It turns out to be a pretty good game for the younger set. It doesn't require a ton of coordination, and the rules are easy to understand.



The main challenge was keeping Lulu from running away with the balls.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Earth Day Comes Early to Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island held its Earth Day celebration on Saturday, thanks to a great volunteer effort by the Girl Scouts and other groups.


I'm not sure how much the kids learned about environmentalism. But I'll smile when I walk by their flowers on my way to the tram.



Go, Earth.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Same Game: Different Perspective

I discovered tonight that Elliot wrote a story for school on last Friday's basketball game.

It's before encountering the foam finger, so we have no arms.

I'm not sure this will provide solace to Knicks fans, but his account of the 99-91 loss was titled "The Best Basketball Game Ever."
On Friday my dad took me to a basketball game. We took the train to the game. First we found our seats. They were 12 and 11. There was a big TV on the ceiling showing buildings from below. 
Then I got a cheesberger with water and watched the game. It was exciting. Then we got a blue foam finger. It was expensive. 
After we watched the game some more. Finally we got a ice cream with chocolate and vanilla, chocolate chips and MMMs [M&Ms]. It was deleshes. 
After a little more of the game they did a t-shirt toss. I did not get one. 
After that the game ended and we cot a cab.
Unsurprisingly, his memories were mostly about food. (There wasn't even a mention of seeing the star of "Hop.")

Ice cream sundae.

At least that's one thing the Knicks can control: keeping the "MMMs" stocked.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Introduction to Pro Basketball (and Giant Foam Hands)

My strategy for economically attending New York sporting events continues to pay off. All I do is wait for a professional team to fail miserably and then buy tickets on the cheap.

I've done it three years in a row with the Mets — patiently waiting until September to go to Citi Field with Elliot. Now I've used the same tactic with the basement-dwelling Knicks.


Elliot played basketball for the first time last winter, so it seemed like an opportune time to check out a pro game. I got tickets on ScoreBig (which lets you name your price), and we headed down to Madison Square Garden on Friday.


I myself haven't attended an NBA game since the '00s, and things have definitely changed.

There are a lot more screens, for one — high-res screens, touch screens, crazy ceiling screens that show a Knicks-inspired skyline.


Even with all this visual stimulation, Elliot seemed most excited about getting a giant foam finger. I made the mistake of saying he could buy any of the foam fingers available at Madison Square Garden. So he chose the one that costs $35.


It came in handy for reaching the giant touch screen.


The New York Times did a piece this week on how the Knicks have to rely on bread-and-circus distraction to keep the fans engaged.

This is true. There were near-constant reminders about the celebrities sitting at floor level — with jumbotron clips featuring Edie Falco, Aziz Ansari and Hilary Swank. (When James Marsden came on the screen, I nudged Elliot and said, "Look, it's the star of 'Hop.'" We don't have great cinematic taste in our family.)


The arena crew also came out every few minutes to shoot T-shirts at the crowd. This was another change for me: The last time I attended an NBA game, T-shirt cannon technology wasn't nearly as advanced. The guns have gotten smaller, lighter and more powerful. I feel like this is an underreported story.



Was this totally necessary? The fact is, the game was pretty exciting in its own right — until the second half. That's when the Knicks' opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks, pulled away.

Elliot was determined to stay for the whole game. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Knicks called a timeout and many fans began to file out of the arena.

"Why are they leaving, Daddy?" Elliot asked.

"Well, the Knicks are down by a lot. A lot of people are probably thinking the Knicks aren't going to come back."

"They aren't coming back?!" Elliot said, alarmed.

"I didn't mean that. The Knicks are coming back. They wouldn't leave in the middle of a game."

In the end, the Knicks lost. But they held the Bucks to less than 100 points. And while Elliot didn't get a free T-shirt, I hope he developed a lifelong appreciation for fast-paced sports where merchandise is shot at you from a cannon.

And even if he didn't...


...I can already tell that this family is going to get its $35 worth out of the finger.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

What's More Fun: Decorating Eggs or Breaking Them?

When you're the third-born child, you get thrown into activities without a lot of explanation. That's certainly the case with Lulu, who spent Saturday trying to figure out the art of egg decoration.

She didn't manage to decorate any eggs, but she did have a good time cracking them.



This video feels like a sequel to one I did in December: "The Ornament Thief."



The message: If you're struggling to figure out confusing traditions — whether it's Christmas or Easter — you can't go wrong with general mayhem.

Let's Paas for This Timelapse

While dyeing eggs on Saturday, Elliot and I created a timelapse.



I like that it makes Paas capsules seem like an alluring yet dangerous narcotic.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A Giant Looms in Our Midst: Part 2

Last May, I wrote about 432 Park Avenue (the nearly 1,400-foot tower under construction in Midtown) and how it was redefining New York's skyline.

Well, it's now topped out and I feel like this shot gives you a sense of its presence.


This photo was taken near 75th Street — almost 20 blocks north of the tower's location. And yet the building clearly dominates the scene.

No wonder. It's the third-tallest building in the United States, and by floor height, it's the tallest in New York.

I'm still not sure this has sunk in for the majority of New Yorkers.