Thursday, March 17, 2016

Red Roosevelt Island: a Photo Essay

Here's a fun activity if your kids are driving you crazy: take them outside and have them photograph things of a certain color. (Hopefully they don't break your camera or phone in the process.)

We did this recently — and since we live on Roosevelt Island, which has a signature color — we chose red. Here is the result.

I put together the video and did some minor editing on the pictures themselves, but the kids took all the photos. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

How to Get Your Drone Out of a Tree

I've been pretty remiss about updating this blog the past few months, but I figured I should close out the year on a strong note.

Here is the least-helpful how-to video you'll ever see. It documents attempts by Elliot and me to pilot a drone, which got stuck in a tree within about 20 minutes.

Fortunately, it has a happy ending.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Good Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Patch, in the Shadow of Manhattan Towers

The kids had a great time at the Manhattan Park pumpkin patch on Saturday.

It's nice to know that — even while growing up in a high-rise apartment — they're learning valuable agricultural skills.

For instance, laying claim to a pumpkin and fighting off other children to protect it.

I assume this is something country kids do.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pin the Face on the Princess

Once again, Kelly has reinvented the "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" game.

For Lulu's third birthday last week, she did "Pin the Face on the Princess."

It got Picasso-esque pretty fast, but it was a big hit.

Previously, Kelly did "Pin the Tutu on the Ballerina" for Alice...

And "Pin the Rocket on the Planet" for Elliot...

At this point, the kids have never actually played "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." So that might seem like an interesting twist on the genre to them.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

'We Are Family' on Roosevelt Island

I was excited to discover today that the 1979 video for Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" is set on Roosevelt Island.

It was filmed at Southpoint Park, which was quite a bit different back then (the skyline is a lot less crowded as well).

The kids know "We Are Family" as the ringtone on their Grandmama's phone, so they were pretty excited to see this too.

(Hat tip: the Roosevelt Islander blog.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Visiting New York's Oldest and Newest Transit Stations

On Sunday, Elliot and I decided to visit New York's newest subway station — 34th Street-Hudson Yards — the 7 train's farthest outpost on Manhattan's West Side. The terminal just opened this month, and it's the city's first new station since 1989 (that was the year that an obscure patch of New York called Roosevelt Island got subway service).

But we wanted to give our visit a twist. Before going to Hudson Yards, we'd try to find New York's oldest train station.

It wasn't easy. Many of the original subway stations have been abandoned or replaced. After some online sleuthing, I figured out that the oldest remaining "transit structure" is located at or around the Van Siclen Avenue station on the J-Z line in Brooklyn. Now, this isn't a technically subway station; it's an elevated platform. But the structure is roughly 130 years old.

Courtesy of the NYC Subway site:
The portion of the el from Pennsylania Avenue (3 blocks east of Alabama Avenue) to Van Siclen is unrebuilt, mostly cast iron el structure dating back to 1885, the oldest remaining transit structure in the city. Van Siclen was the terminal of the original el; remnants of a three-track terminal/turnback portion of el is visible just east of the station. The following section, from Van Siclen to Crescent Street, dates to 1893.
So Elliot and I took the F train to the L, and then got off at Livonia Avenue. I figured we could walk from there to our destination. Unfortunately, I got my Van Siclen stops confused (there are stations by that name on the 3, the C and J-Z). So we walked a good distance through gritty East New York before I found the right spot.

At last, we reached the J-Z Van Siclen station, which may or may not be New York's oldest transit station (it's at least adjacent to the oldest stretch of track still in use). As I photographed the scene, a guy shouted the F-word repeatedly. (Ear muffs!) I'm pretty sure I was the only transit tourist in the neighborhood.

There's not a whole lot to recommend the Van Siclen station. It looks like most el stops in Queens or Brooklyn. It does have some attractive stained glass, but I don't think that dates from the 1800s.

We took the J back into Manhattan, switched back to the F and then to the 7. Along the way, Elliot saw a beer-swilling man throw up in the train.
"Maybe he's allergic to something, Daddy." 
"You could say that."  
Finally, we reached the sparkling new Hudson Yards terminal. It's an impressive sight, especially after hanging out in a rusty el station across town.

The station is gleaming and white, with touchscreen displays and gorgeous mosaics decorating the ceiling.

Most amazing: It has a functional bathroom! (Okay, the paper towels were already gone, but at least it didn't smell like urine.)

Elliot's verdict (and mine): The newest station in New York trumps the oldest.

Score one for progress over nostalgia.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Alice Is Four: A Belated Birthday Tribute

As you know, I've sworn to create a video for each of my kids' birthdays (until they turn 18 or tell me to stop, whichever comes first).

But I might not always be prompt. Our desktop computer broke several months ago, robbing me of my preferred video-editing tool. So I'm only just now posting Alice's birthday recap from last winter.

It's amazing how different she was just eight months ago — when apparently she thought becoming a fireman or a grown-up were two separate career paths.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A First, First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school for New York kids, and it marked a special milestone for our family: Alice's first day in public school.

Thanks to the city's new universal pre-K program, Alice is going to school full-time at no charge. What's not to like? (Other than saying goodbye to your sister each morning.)

Elliot, meanwhile, is an old-hand and knew what to expect. I couldn't even persuade him to wear a collared shirt.

"All the other boys will be there in their top hats and tails," I said.

"You know kids don't really dress like that...right, Dad?" (He seemed genuinely concerned that I did not know this.)

Once again, I commemorated the special day with a 15-second recap — my new favorite film genre.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

How to Do a Lego Party: Part 2

Here's the video of Elliot's Lego party, which celebrated his 7th birthday in style.

The kids designed their own vehicles and then raced them...and by that I mean they slammed them against a wall.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

How to Do a Lego Party

Elliot asked for a Lego-themed birthday party.

So Kelly created two block-style cakes (one dairy-free)...

...and party favors that looked like Lego man heads.

They're made out of marshmallows covered in yellow frosting, with an M&M on top to create the bump.

Everything is awesome!

Monday, August 31, 2015

New York Is Getting More Expensive (for Baseball Fans)

Ever since we moved to New York, I've taken Elliot to a Mets game once a year. And every year, I've had a strategy: Wait until September — when the team's prospects are hopeless — and then buy tickets on the cheap.

Well, that strategy failed miserably this season. The team is in first place, and getting tickets to a weekend game is no easy feat. I had to pay three times as much as normal to see them play on Sunday (it didn't help that they were hosting the Red Sox, which drew a larger-than-typical crowd).

Our tickets were in the last row at the very top of the right-field seats. But I learned a couple things from sitting in the nosebleeds: (a.) Like AT&T Park and other modern baseball stadiums, Citi Field really has no bad seats. (b.) A nice breeze blows through when you're sitting with your back to the open air.

Alice joined us this time, and she was excited to get her first taste of professional baseball ("taste" is the operative word here since mostly it was the food she was excited about).

We started off with a bag of peanuts. I told the kids this was the only time they were allowed to litter, which made it seem pretty thrilling. But Alice couldn't manage to crack the shells without help. Soon she realized that the shells were salted and began licking them without actually eating the nuts (this sort of thing is a running theme in our family).

Later on, the kids moved on to another venerable tradition: eating ice cream out of mini batting helmets.

Alice did her best, but she couldn't manage to consume the ice cream fast enough to keep it from overflowing. Helmets may not be the most practical container for a 4-year-old.

Finally, Alice wanted a baseball cap. At this point, I've made peace with the kids sporting Mets merchandise (even though I'm still a loyal Giants supporter). But I at least tried to steer Alice away from the pink section.

I was unsuccessful.