Four boroughs in one day

No fear of heights for Hurricane

For those unfamiliar with New York City, it is made up of five boroughs – Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. They are all pretty massive cities in their own right and when put together total nearly 9 million inhabitants. To give you an idea of population density, NYC is 303 square miles (780 square km). Auckland is 1090 square km, with a population of about 1.4 million. So in NZ our biggest city covers an area 40% bigger, with one-sixth of the population. Crazy really.

Anyway, my parents have been here the past couple of weeks so we’ve been showing them around. A good way to get a feel for exactly how packed this place is, is to get up one of the big buildings. I hadn’t done that yet, so figured I’d get the olds up the Rockefeller. The views were pretty awesome. Hurricane loved it. Chaos not so much. BB has done the Empire State at night and rated that as well.

North view

We covered a fair amount of territory on the ground too, a chunk of it not exactly intentionally, and because of that we technically set foot in every one of the five boroughs while the parentals were here. On one particularly big day we set out to see Brooklyn, get some pizza, and then walk the bridge back to Manhattan before heading across to Ground Zero. That part went swimmingly well. It was the getting home again part that didn’t quite go to plan.

Unfortunately the blame lies entirely with me. Most subway stations, especially the big ones, are set up so that even when you’re in a middle platform with tracks both sides, the trains run in the same direction. So even if you did jump on the wrong one it’s not too big a deal to switch out a few stations on. But as I’ve now learned, to rely on such an assumption is foolish.

It had already been a long day. As we descended the stairs the express A train pulled in and I thought great, we’ll grab this and then switch to the 1 at 168 street. Faster train, quicker trip home. Yeah, well, by the time I realised we were heading in the wrong direction, we were in Queens. What should have been a 30min train trip turned into 2 hours. Hurricane had a great time (it was the favourite part of his day). Chaos, well, she tormented us for nearly all of it. She had fallen asleep for the Brooklyn portion of the trip so was fully energised. You’d have better luck inviting a vegan to a steakhouse than convincing Chaos to sit still.

But we survived that and on our final day with the folks we jumped on the Staten Island ferry before (on return) walking up to Chinatown to feast on dumplings and noodles. No joke, you get five dumplings for $1.25. BB, Hurricane and myself managed to put away about 35 of them while Chaos got stuck into the roast pork noodle soup. Didn’t even break a twenty. The benefits of having a child army for a production line…

Anyway, it was an awesome time. The kids loved it. Plus I got daily adult conversation and a pile of Whittakers’ chocolate. Mum and Dad have flown off and are now back in Moldova till December. Six more weeks and then BB finishes up and her parents arrive. We are in sight of the end.


Fire in the hole

I meant to write this post last week but season 2 of Sneaky Pete turned up on Amazon Prime so I got somewhat distracted.  Then today Hurricane did something that reminded me that I need to tell you this story before I forget it again. So here it is.

Thanks to Nana (BB’s mum) we have a membership to the Manhattan Children’s Museum. It’s not really a museum per se but more of an interactive play space that is mostly occasioned by little people of the age I roam with. We tend to go once a week, normally on a Thursday. It’s how our routine runs.

Most parents in that place tend to hover over their kids, as I had to to start with, but a few of us regulars have reached the pinnacle where we can now sit and merely maintain an awareness of the general areas our offspring are in as they happily play by themselves.

On this particular day I managed to secure the bench – a coveted spot in the middle of the third floor that means your kids, no matter where they are, can’t escape the room without entering your field of vision. It is the holy grail of surveillance locations. Competition is fierce for that spot. We all hang around pretending to be ambivalent about it, but we keep a closer eye on movement from the bench than we do from our own kids. It’s like musical cheers with eight players and two seats where the incumbents don’t have to move until they want to leave.

And when they do leave you don’t want to be the desperate parent that runs for the seat. It needs to be casual – appear to be a stroke of fortune. Right time right place. So it pays to be good at reading departure signals – a shuffle in the feet, check of the pockets, putting the phone away. All key signs. You don’t want to be continuously doing fly-bys because you look like an idiot. It’s an art form to know when to start your walk.

Sometimes it’s only one seat too. There was a very pregnant woman who would quite deliberately nail down the centre and dare anyone to tell her to shift over. I considered testing her out one time but I think she sensed my plan and promptly farted. Any woman who is prepared to fart in public to protect her patch deserves respect. I liked her immediately.

Anyway, it had been a couple of weeks since I had last seen pregnant fart lady so I guessed baby had arrived. I was sitting on the bench thinking about just that when my bench-mate at that moment got up to leave and her spot was immediately taken by a newbie – and a pregnant one at that. Not an about to burst one, but a solid 30 weeker going by profile.

We sat quietly for a while, and then she shuffled uncomfortably and gave a sigh. It seemed like an invitation for conversation, so I asked her how she was getting on. Bloated she said. Her third child. The first two (girls), were really different so she was guessing this one was a boy and he was already farting up a storm inside of her. Highly probable, I said. Might as well get used to it.

Then for some reason I told her the story about the pregnant fart lady protecting her patch. And she turns to me and reels off a description of said lady and her children, which I of course confirm, feeling a little guilty that she knew who I was talking about. Only a little guilty of course, because it was funny.

And then she said the words I should have known were coming.

“Yeah that’s my sister”.




Can I hide in that hat with you bud?

I should have done the honourable thing and just got up and walked off at that point. Given up the throne. But I didn’t. I burst out laughing. At which point she burst out laughing too. And I told her how when her sister farted she had looked straight at me as if to say ‘imagine what I’m prepared to do if you take a step closer’, which only compounded the laughter.

And then she farted too.

Just a little one. A warning shot. But it vibrated the wooden bench enough for her to know I knew and then the full on giggle fit kicked in as she realised that a complete random stranger from New Zealand had now been farted at by two sisters in the exact same spot. I told her I was open for a dinner invitation if she wanted the extended family to have a crack at me. Of course that only made the giggling worse, and the bench took another rumble. My new friend clasped her hand to her mouth to try to prevent the full on hysterics taking over and drawing even more attention our way.

Hurricane chose this moment to rock up and tell me he wanted to go to another floor. So I stood to leave while farty friend stayed seated and tried to control the laugh crying. I offered her a high five which she gladly accepted and then I was on my way.

Then Hurricane turns to me and says: “Why was that women crying daddy?”

She was laughing too hard buddy.

“Why was she laughing?”

Because she farted.

“It smelled.”

Did it?

“I think so.”

And the reason I remembered this today was because when the kids clambered into our bed this morning I dropped a ripper that BB was not very pleased about, but which sent Hurricane into a fit of giggles. And then Hurricane gave me a high five, which made BB even more displeased and only compounded the laughter.

Farts are funny. They just are.






Cooking for kids #2 – Herb crumbed roast pork loin with apple sauce

Ohhhh just look at that moisture content…

I’ll be honest, when I make this particular dish it’s mostly for me. The bonus is that the little people will sometimes take as much pleasure in it as I do – if the apple sauce meets their high standards of course. But here it is for you.


  • 1kg (2lb) boneless pork loin
  • Bread crumbs (mix of panko and normal is very nice)
  • Paprika
  • Herbs mix (oregano, basil, coriander)
  • Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large apples (throw in a pear if you have one)


Preheat oven to 175deg C. Pat the pork dry and give it a bit of a season with salt and pepper. Mix some flour and paprika together on a plate or dish or whatever. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Mix the herbs with the breadcrumbs in another dish. Roll the pork in flour, dip it in egg and then crumb it. Drizzle it with a little bit of olive oil, chuck it into a baking pan uncovered and into the oven it goes. Give it a check at 60mins and if it’s a bit of a fat piece you might need to give it another 10.

In the meantime peel and slice your apples and throw them into a small saucepan with a little bit of water. Put it on low heat and cover. Throw in some cloves if you like, and a little brown sugar if the apples are quite tart. Pear and bit of lime juice is a winner too. I would tell you what apples are best but that would suggest I care enough to know. Just whatever is cheap from the supermarket.

Once the apples are broken down into a nice sauce (you might want to mash them a bit to help) then just set them aside and reheat when the pork is done.

I like to serve this particular dish with whatever I have available. Maybe some potato (roast or mashed), beans are good. Broccoli even (for the kids, not me). Roast some carrots maybe. A salad isn’t really the ideal partner but well if that’s all you’ve got then sure.

On this particular occasion it was roast potatoes and yams, corn on the cob, broccoli and tomatoes.

First impressions

Hurricane and Chaos in unison: APPLE SAUCE!!!!!!!!

Final impressions

They ate all the apple sauce and smashed the corn. Managed a few pieces of pork, and had a good graze of the rest too. You might even call it a win-win. They ate enough, and I ate heaps. There was even a little bit of apple sauce saved for BB when she got home.

Plus leftovers!





I watched Black Panther in Harlem and it was hilarious

I took a night off dadding duties this week and headed to the movies in Harlem. I hadn’t really planned what I was going to see, I was just cruising. But the options were Black Panther, Peter Rabbit or 50 Shades of something I would rather get a circumcision sans anesthetic than sit through. So it was a very easy decision, and a good one.

The movie itself was decent enough. It suffers a bit from being over-hyped, so if you do want to go see it then temper your expectations a touch and you’ll be better for it. It’s good, but not really any better than the other Marvel films in terms of story and execution. Though I’m a straight white male so what do I know.

The audience however, they took the film to the next level. It was my first time in a US cinema, let alone one with a hyped up crowd like this one. We New Zealanders tend to be a fairly placid lot, so movie-going is an observational affair back home. Sit and watch. Laugh when appropriate. Maybe gasp if you’re of a certain sensibility.  In Harlem it was all on.

My favourite member of the audience was the woman in front of me on a date night with her husband. Her go to reaction was ‘Ohhhhhh damn those ladies are fierce’ whenever the lady warriors kicked off, which was fairly often. And then proceeded to slap her husband on the knee and tell him that it’s just like ‘when I take charge in bed’. Gold. Poor guy must have some wounds to show for it if it gets that vicious in there. There was plenty of hooting and cheering throughout, but obviously the climactic clash brought out the best of it, followed by hearty applause to wrap it up.

I would give the movie a 7/10, but thanks to the audience the experience was a 9. Good times.


Tag you’re in

I broke the kids’ stool the other day. You know the kind – those little plastic things that small people need to stand on to reach the sink or clamber onto the toilet with. Hurricane and Chaos were having a bath fight at the time. Not the playful kind. The kind where a lack of intervention would lead to either blood being spilled or one of them discovering they can’t breathe underwater.

Stoolie McStool Face got the boot

When they get like that my go to tactic is to make a loud noise to get their attention and freak them out a bit. Except on this occasion I had too much confidence in the structural integrity of a $5 stool and simply booted a hole in it. Worked though. They stopped fighting. Now they like to tell everyone that I kicked their stool and broke it. Guilty as charged. BB can’t comment though, she’s worn through at least one coat-hanger that lost out to the side of a door.

That’s the other beneficial side of making a loud noise. It helps to relieve some frustration. I like whacking the fridge. It makes a nice slapping sound. The table is just a dull thud, so it’s no good. A good loud clap can work too, but it’s not very satisfying. Yelling doesn’t do jack. They ignore yelling. They expect it.

Hurricane and Chaos don’t fight very much, but when they do it escalates very fast. A poke turns into a pinch, which turns into a scratch and turns into an eye gouge. Or sometimes it just starts and ends with a bite. They can be ruthless.

Today was a fridge slapping day. I could’ve slapped that silver beast for most of the evening actually, except much of the drama occurred right next to me at the dinner table. The tomato sauce was meant to be beside the wedges, not on them, you see. The little people are easily triggered when they’re not on form and it made for a painful conclusion to the day. At these times I like to play a game in my head where I predict the number of steps there are to the front door so that when it opens I can immediately march out, tag BB in and run away. Of course practicalities mean it doesn’t quite play out like that, because I have to grab my jacket first. But you get the picture.

So I got a nice 30 minute stroll tonight while BB put the terrors to bed. I didn’t get an ice cream though as in my desperate bid for freedom I forgot my wallet. By the time I realised I was already at the supermarket drooling over the Haagen-Dazs selection. Just wasn’t my day.  Still, the fresh air was nice.

Uh oh, Chaos just woke up. Tag!


Cooking for kids #1 – Slow cooked beef quesadillas

Back in the day, Hurricane would eat anything we made him. It didn’t matter if it was chicken nuggets or fish curry, he smashed it. Chaos was not quite as adventurous, but she wasn’t fussy either. Oh how I miss those days.

As much as possible, I try to get the little people to eat what we eat. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it doesn’t. It’s an absolute lottery really. For example, lasagne was a winner for a long time. Until it wasn’t. And then it was again. And then it wasn’t. So basically, now I just serve up and if they don’t like it they end up eating peanut butter sandwiches or yoghurt (also known as yogurt in the US and Canada). Or both. Though on occasion I just tell them to eat or go to bed. They have called my hand and opted for bed on more than one occasion. Very annoying.

Anyway, I will start putting up some of my favourite recipes and the result for your enjoyment. Here is the first.

So so good


  • 1kg (2lb) chuck roast (any slow cooking beef will suit – chuck, gravy, casserole etc)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 mushrooms (optional)
  • 2tsp smoked paprika
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp garlic powder (garlic salt or crushed garlic would probably do)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Large tortillas
  • Cheese
  • Jalapenos (optional)
  • Sour cream, guacamole, tomato salsa to serve


Preheat the oven to 220degC. Slice the onion and mushrooms however you like. I don’t have a slow cooker, so I just chuck them in the banana bread tin. Pour the stock in with them. To prep the beef first give it a rub with salt and pepper. Mix the spices and garlic together with a little bit of oil and massage it into the meat (if you like some heat then add chilli flakes to the mix). Place it on top of the onions/mushrooms, cover in tin foil (poke a couple of holes in it) and put it in the oven. After 15 minutes drop the temperature down to 150deg and leave it for 4 hours.

Once it’s done test it with a fork and the meat should simply fall apart. If you have a reasonable fatty piece of beef, which you should, then you’ll want to pour most of the oily fat out of the pan before shredding the beef and giving it a good mix with the onions and mushrooms.

Then you just need to make the quesadillas. My preference is to use one large tortilla, put it in a dry skillet and spread grated cheese across the whole thing. Add a decent serving of beef to half of it (throw in jalapenos on top if you like them) and then fold the cheese half on top, let it cook till the bottom is brown then flip it and repeat before removing. Cut into four triangles, serve it up with some guacamole, sour cream and salsa (or sriracha hot sauce ie the good stuff).

First impressions

Hurricane: Thanks Daddy! Yum!

Chaos: I don’t want your dinner.

Final impressions

Hurricane: Ate one whole piece and then decided he didn’t like ‘the black stuff’ aka the meat and so picked off the cheese from the rest of them. Happily ate the sour cream and tomatoes and then asked for some yoghurt.

Chaos: Ate her guacamole and then climbed across to take Hurricane’s too. Started out eating the sour cream but changed her mind and used it to paint the table. Didn’t even take a bite of the quesadilla. Had a peanut butter sandwich instead.

End result

I ate a whole pile of quesadillas. They were delicious.





In recovery – I hope

Feeling better-ish

Not long after I wrote that last post Chaos went downhill. She was so crook she looked like she was suffering withdrawals from a meth addiction. The poor wee lady was very sad. The only words she would use were “I need you”, repeated over and over in a near delirious state. Her flu had morphed into an ear infection, which required another trip to the doctor and a round of antibiotics.

But the good news is she’s better now and so is Hurricane. BB and myself are rather wiped out, but functioning. Well mostly functioning. BB did fall asleep on her table in the study room today. And I’m so rundown I have a cold sore that I fear is actually some form of flesh eating bacteria considering the damage it is doing to my lower lip. Charming I know. Accidentally got some lime juice on it too and nearly passed out. Brutal affliction it is. I’d show you a pic of it but it would ruin your appetite.

There is at least some light peeking through the curtains now. For starters I have become quite good at building duplo houses. Multi-story complexes too. Hurricane and I like to use every single piece we have in our creations, which means finding a place for the farm animals on the rooftop.

I also managed to get out and see a college basketball game – the first time I’ve traveled beyond the supermarket in two weeks. Though in my excitement at escaping the house I failed to realise that the MTA had shut down my local train line for the weekend and I ended up exploring some new parts of uptown Manhattan in an effort to find a way home – in a snow storm.

It was a more difficult task than you might think, as I happened to get a bit stuck in what you might call a Hispanic neighbourhood where English is not the dominant tongue. And my phone was dying. It had enough juice for my mate Muz back in NZ to Whatsapp me the Spanish for ‘where can I catch the number 7 bus from?’. It worked too. Some street charades directed me three blocks up and two to the right. Nailed it.

So yeah it snowed again, but the sun came out today so we were able to get the kids to the park to have a play. The weather here is a bit schizophrenic at the moment. It’s forecast to get to 19deg (Celsius) on Tuesday – it was a high of 3 today. Might just be a warm front coming through from the south, but I’m really hoping it signals the end of winter. You can stick a fork in me as I’m done with this miserable season. These past four weeks have been the most exhausting I can recall in my short life. Worse than having a newborn (for me anyway – BB may disagree).

I feel like maybe the worst is over. But I’ve been wrong before. So I don’t want to get my hopes too high just yet.


You make me better now please

They have sad little voices when they’re sick. It’s really cute, but in a heartbreaking kind of way – imploring you, as the adult, to find a way to fix them. It would be easier to fix them if they slept, of course, but they don’t, and we don’t. It’s a self-destructive vortex that sucks the whole household down.

Post spew bug Hurricane picked up a chest cold with a nasty cough, which turned into a fever, and he has since passed it on to Chaos who is battling a bit at the moment. We are heading into week 3 of the sick house now. Man it blows. So far BB and I have stood firm and refused to fall to this latest infliction, but we all know that sleeplessness weakens the immune system so we are on borrowed time.

I just realised there are probably a few readers of this blog who were thinking of having children and may be reconsidering that idea. It will be different for you I promise. Your kids will be perfectly healthy all the time and they’ll definitely never refuse to go to sleep unless they’re stuck to your chest like a sweaty little oyster that has to be peeled off in the night with a spatula. And then wake up every hour to reattach. That’s just us. We’re special like that.

All of this means my mental faculties are a bit fried at the moment. I often forget what day it is. They all look the same right now anyway, so it doesn’t really matter what day it is. We’re not going anywhere. My only forays out of the building over the past 4 days have been solo missions to get food and medicine. My social interaction has been limited to confirming whether I’m paying with cash or card. It turns out that can be quite a confusing question when on an empty sleep tank, as there was one occasion when I thought the checkout lady was telling me to ‘pash it hard’. Luckily I was already holding a twenty in my hand so it at least looked like I understood her properly. Or maybe I had and she was disappointed with the cash. Who knows, some people like the unshaven hollowed out eye socket look mixed with the whiff of unwashed track pants. It’s called the Billy Bob Thornton effect.

Anyway, it’s just better not to speak much in this state. Or write too probably. I’ve forgotten the point of this post anyway. There probably wasn’t a point.

Oh yeah, I remember now that I was going to start doing posts about the fun of cooking food for kids that they probably won’t eat and sharing my favourite recipes. Something for you to look forward to.


The half-yearly report

We’ve officially crossed the six month mark.

For longtime readers of this blog you will recall that I had set some goals that I reported against in my first quarterly report. Some were achieved, others not so much.

I knew that the December to March period was going to be tough. I had been mentally preparing for it – convincing myself that being stuck in an apartment with two kids over winter was normal life for millions of people in the world. Now that I’m halfway through this period I should empathise with those who have to live this every year. And I would but all my empathy is needed for myself.

So recognising this, I narrowed my list of goals to try and make them achieveable.

Get the budget under control

Fail. It blew out over Christmas/New Years, despite BB losing her wallet on the bus. Then I decided I had little choice but to get a membership to the local Kidsville (a kind of play centre) so the kids had somewhere indoors to burn up their energy and see that there are other children in the world. The problem with New York is that you can barely walk out the door without spending $20. Keeping to a budget basically means doing as little as possible. Not helpful for cabin fever.

Stay under 100kg aka don’t get fat

I’m pretty confident that Chaos bringing home the vomit bug has helped me achieve that goal, especially since it messed with my appetite for a week after so I’m only just returning to normal now. At one point I think I even saw the outline of some abdominal muscles – haven’t seen those since university days before I got a job at Nandos and binged on chicken and chips. Though I was seriously dehydrated so sadly it hasn’t lasted. Normal coating has resumed.

Don’t go crazy

Well that’s harder to judge. I was in the shower the other day when I started singing the Octonauts theme song. Then it morphed into a rap remake. I think I was in the shower for nearly 30 minutes trying to perfect it. It could have been longer. I just know I walked into the bathroom when the clock had an 8 in front of it and I came out and it had a 9. Actually a 9.25. The kids had used the opportunity to take their art skills to the wooden floor. Cleans off easy though. So not a bad result. If I recall correctly my Octonauts rap remake was pretty good too. Solid beat to it. I should record it and send it to the producers. See if I can get me some cash. Could solve the budgeting problem.

I think I can claim a 1 out of 3. Anyway, I’ve scrapped all goals now and settled on a single mission. Survive till March 6. That’s when my parents arrive for a visit. I should have built up a repertoire of children’s cartoon theme song rap remakes by then.

But anyway, it’s Super Bowl Sunday today so I have to go eat a pile of chicken wings.