A New York Minute

Sometimes you need to treat yourself to a $25 cocktail.

In New York City.

My kids and I love reading about New York. That does not mean we took them on our 10th wedding anniversary trip to the Big Apple.

But we thought about them a lot (but had fun without them.)  I had to take advantage and visit some places we had read about.

Upon arrival, after walking in the wrong direction for several blocks, we visited The New York Public Library. It was a thrill for me to see the Library Lions and visit the children’s section.

In the children's section of the NYC library, these Lego lions reign.

In the children’s section of the NYC library, these Lego lions reign.

Oh my Lawd, I also had to go visit The Plaza where Eloise lives.  (Read about her in a past blog post.)

We explored the magnificent structure and visited the Eloise gift shop where the shop attendant told me the parents are usually more excited to visit than the kids.

I found Eloise at the Plaza.

I found Eloise at the Plaza.

We then had that $25 cocktail. I sipped a pink cosmopolitan, so I could channel Sex in the City and Eloise.

Eloise lives in the tower with Nanny.

Eloise lives in the tower with Nanny.

I don’t know if Max and Calvin were that impressed that we visited the home of Eloise. They were mostly concerned with finding out what we bought them. (An Eloise highlighter and New York City bus for Calvin; a Lego Chrysler Building and Yankees hat for Max.)

I can’t wait to go back.

Here are a few of our favorite NYC books:

This is New York by Miroslav Sasek (I’ve mentioned this one a lot but we love it!)

Eloise by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight.

B is for Brooklyn by Selina Alko (Read a past blog post.)

The Wicked Big Toddlah Goes to New York by Kevin Hawkes (Read our thoughts on Toddie here.)

Statue of Liberty

Just for fun, here’s my shot of Lady Liberty.


California Love

Max and Calvin check out the cable car.

Max and Calvin check out the cable car.

Our first day in California, Max burst out singing Tupac Shakur’s California Love. “California, California…” (Disclaimer… he doesn’t know all the words.) People smiled at him on the street. He was expressing all of our excitement to be in the sunshine state of the wild wild west.

We traveled to California two weeks ago for a family wedding in Petaluma, north of San Francisco. We also spent a day in the city. Thanks to author Virginia Lee Burton, the boys were excited to ride the cable car.

I’ve always loved Burton’s classics The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. I’ve enjoyed discovering her other books with Max and Calvin. Her detailed illustrations appeal to the boys, especially Calvin who loves her drawings of traffic and transportation in Katy and the Big Snow and Maybelle the Cable Car.


Up and down Maybelle went.

Maybelle is a San Francisco cable car. She and her sisters have served the city for many years. With the advent of buses and cars, the city fathers are considering retiring the cable car. Even Calvin, who is a bus fiend, feels for Maybelle. Fortunately, the good citizens of Tupac’s home state vote to keep Maybelle so they can get up their steep hills. “I like it when they vote yes,” says Max.

The boys had a great time on the cable car although Calvin said, “He wished he could have ridden a bus,” and Max was too busy telling some strangers, “When my mom was 5, my dad was 14!”

Smiles all around on the cable car.

Smiles all around on the cable car.

Where to find the book and other info

Burton’s books span the 30s to the early 60s. You can find her books at most bookstores and libraries. Here’s a link to her books on  Powell’s.

Not only did Burton write children’s books, she was a textile designer, painter, and sculptor.

There’s a movie about her life: Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place. You can find more on this site about this talented woman’s life.

Batman serves barbeque out of a truck

I’ve been craving art projects since the boys arrived. When they were about 20 months old, I loaded them up in their wagon, wheeled them down to CVS and bought crayons and paper. We got home, set up shop on the front porch, and they chewed on the crayons.

Mark Todd's Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Mark Todd’s Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Now they like art and crafts but not always when I suggest/demand/beg to do it. You know when you daydream about something but the reality is different? That’s parenting. In my fantasy life, it was making pancakes on the weekends, cuddling, reading books, and making art. These things do happen but in between a lot of crying, whining, gross things having to do with the bathroom, and fights. And I’m just talking about myself.

You can imagine my delight when Food Trucks! by Mark Todd inspired an art project. My boys got it at the library, finding it an awesome combination of transportation, food, and signs.

We talked about the food trucks we visited during our Michigan vacation. (Petoskey/Walloon Lake/Paradise) Then we discussed how Dada loved barbeque. This evolved into a lovely Saturday morning, “let’s make a craft in our PJs” event. Using a superhero shoebox, we made a barbeque truck. Calvin was in charge of the signs – open, order, cash only, pick up – Max got out the superheroes for workers. Check it out – Batman is working it.

Batman gets to work.

Batman gets to work.

Each page of the book focuses on a different truck and includes trivia about food. The crazy facts appeal to my boys. They like being amazed by the size of things, for example, “the biggest falafel in the world was over 155 pounds.”

Of course they fought over the ownership of the truck later. And there was a skirmish among the workers. Superheroes and Lego people can’t work together. I guess it’s a different union.


This customer is getting impatient.

This customer is getting impatient.

Where to find the book and other info
We got our copy at the Clifton Branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Cincinnati bookseller Joseph-Beth sells it. Powell’s City of Books sells it.  Mark Todd sells it and other cool books on his website. Try Cincinnati bookseller Blue Manatee Children’s books and decafe.

This is my first post. Find out more about me in the About section of this blog.