Inaugural Bike Ride

Did everyone enjoy the two days of spring we got last week? We did!

Jeff got the bikes out of storage and had them tuned up for spring. On Friday he gave them a good cleaning and put on Arthur’s new big boy seat.

On Saturday we packed our bags and we were off. Coney Island bound!

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It felt amazing to be back on the bikes! Look at these happy faces! Sunshine, music, bikes, and the prospect of a day outside, together.

We were cruising down the boardwalk in no time.

We had lunch and then played on the beach for a bit.

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Jeff took the boys on a walk down to the pier, and I took a glorious half hour nap on the beach.

The boys got to go on the rides…

We had ice cream…

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Arthur and I watched Julian and Jeff go on some of the rides we opted out of. Like this one:

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I mean, that’s just too high! Arthur seemed more cautious than usual; maybe he was tired, maybe it is residue from his traumatic experience earlier this week. Either way, I enjoyed having him by my side.

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On the ride home the temperatures dropped significantly. Spring was over! I wrapped Arthur in a scarf, secured it with a sandwich bag clip (because I’m crafty like that), and he promptly fell asleep. Julian is such a good big brother; he held Arthur’s head the entire way.

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We stopped for tacos in Lefferts Gardens, and that was it! A full day of fun – and now we’re back to wearing winter coats.

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Never A Dull Moment

Arthur has been attending a theater after-school class on Tuesday afternoons while Julian has soccer class, but yesterday he didn’t have his class for whatever reason, and I was excited to spend some time with my boy over coffee and a treat at the coffee shop down the street from his school, where we hang out often.

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Arthur chose a piece of lemon cake, a choice he’s made many times before – of course nut-free. Pretty much right away he said his mouth hurt, but he’s kind of been having a rash around his lips, so I thought that’s what it was. I looked inside his mouth, and everything looked fine.

On our way home Arthur complained about a belly ache and was overall a bit mopey, but I still didn’t really think too much of it. Once we got home, Arthur started coughing and basically couldn’t stop. I heard some wheezing. I should have given him an EPI right then, but I picked him up and ran-walked to urgent care right around the corner. Two hours after he had eaten the cake we were sitting in the waiting area, and I noticed one hive on each eyelid. That’s when I knew for sure what was going on.

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He was given Benadryl, steroids, and a breathing treatment. This was 15 minutes later, right before he was given an EPI injection. He was royally pissed at this point.

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That’s when five rather big firemen from our local firehouse walked into the room. “Hey kid. What’s your name?” and “How you doin’ Ahhhhthuuuuh?” My boy was utterly unimpressed. As it turns out, whichever emergency responder is closest has to show up at the “scene” and wait until EMTs arrive. Even though we were already at an urgent care clinic. So we hung out with the firemen.

Then the EMTs arrived, checked him out, did an EKG and we were on our way to  the hospital via this fancy ride:

None of this was even remotely interesting to Arthur, not even the sirens. As soon as we arrived at the hospital he made sure everyone we encountered knew how boooooored he was.

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Jeff and Julian met us at the hospital, and Arthur remained under observation until 9pm. Upon seeing Arthur on his little hospital bed, Julian said, “Wow. I will never forget this.”

I will spare you the pictures of his full body rash and the fake abs he had colored all over his belly the day before. I heard some of the nurses whisper about “the kid with the six pack…how cute!”

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Jeff made a pizza run, and the boys got to watch Ghostbusters.

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Arthur was fine. Arthur is fine.

Of course I slept next to him all night and was just so comforted to have him near me.

Last night as I was trying to process it all, I just felt so sad. Sad that this happened, that he had to go through this, that I couldn’t prevent it, couldn’t protect him. Today I am angry. I’m pissed off that my kid has to live with this constant threat to his wellbeing and, well, to his life. I’m pissed that despite being careful and mindful and asking questions, this still happened. We don’t know how exactly it happened. A nut, presumably a walnut, somehow must have snuck onto his plate, or his cake was close to another cake. We don’t know. The guy at the coffee shop almost cried when I told him what had happened this morning.

Anyway. Arthur went to school today; he is his bouncy, loud, silly self again. I’m the one who can’t shake what happened to him. But we’ll take whatever learning we can from this and hold him just a bit closer yet. Even though he’s continuously trying to wiggle free.

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Hiking, Coney – And More Snow!

I suppose it was overly ambitious/optimistic of me to sort through our winter clothes last week and form a neat pile to be taken to storage at our earliest convenience. Because today, this:

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April Fool’s Day was yesterday! Come ON!!

Aside from this Monday morning ridiculousness, we had a wonderful weekend. I had the urge to get out of the city and spend some family time together outside, so on Saturday we took the Metro North, well, north to a small somewhat hippie town called Beacon. We went on a hike and climbed the local mountain, Mount Beacon. The trail isn’t too long, but it’s very rugged and steep and made for some adventurous balancing and falling into mud puddles.

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It was glorious! The boys were total troopers. Our expectations were pretty much non-existent since the only hiking we’ve ever done was in a forest in Queens and maybe a longer walk through the woods of the Poconos. But this was a serious hike. The boys were amazing! We were seriously so proud.

 

 

At the top we admired what was at the bottom: the Hudson Valley. Also: casino ruins and the remnants of some sort of old mountain tram.

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Once we climbed down (why is climbing down harder than up?), we met an old college buddy of Jeff’s at a local pub for beer and burgers. Jeff was excited!

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Afterwards we walked around town, stopped for ice cream and let the boys play at a park.

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The walk back to the train was kind of intense – many tired faces and sore legs.

Arthur and I promptly fell asleep as soon as we sat down on the train.

On Sunday the Easter Bunny made an appearance early in the morning. The boys went on an egg hunt in our apartment and ate their weight in chocolate. We played for a bit and hung out and then decided that we wanted to pay a visit to our favorite place on earth, Coney Island.

We started off at “Magic at Coney” – some pinball, beer, and battleship while we waited for the show to begin.

 

Julian was pretty immediately selected as an assistant. He was adorable; his belly laugh cuts straight into my heart. It’s funny when you know someone so intimately and then see them on a stage and look at them perhaps in a way an outsider would, and oh man. What a gift that child is.

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I also got to assist with one of the tricks. Maybe I have a future in magic?

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Next: Nathan’s Hot Dogs. They never disappoint.

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It was a bit chilly, and we were slightly underdressed, so the boys shared our African kikoy to keep warm.

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We stopped by the beach for a minute and then hit a few rides.

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It was breezy on the Wonder Wheel!

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A quick funnel cake, and we were headed home.

And then the most amazing thing happened: we got on the Q train, first car per the boys’ request. Shortly thereafter the train driver got on and unlocked the door to the driver’s cabin. The boys got up, said “hello” to him and kind of peeked inside, and I fully expected the train driver to close the door and go about his business. Instead he invited them inside, showed them all the controls, answered all of their questions, and even honked the horn! He was so kind and patient and totally made the boys’ day. Julian has loved the subway for all of his life. He knows all the lines, stops, trains and is currently designing the high speed train he will “create” when he is a grownup – complete with maps, tickets, different ways of paying, logo etc. What a NYC moment this was for my NYC-loving boys!

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* Photo credit for most of these images goes to my amazing husband.

See ya, winter!

Let’s hope this week’s snow storm, ringing in the official beginning of spring, was the last one until next winter. One can hope, right?

I have a pretty severe yearning for sunshine and bike rides. I think I’ve been patient with winter long enough, I’ve been tolerant and somewhat understanding, I’ve put up with very slow children who have to touch each individual bit of dirty city snow, I’ve been hit in the behind by more snowballs than I can count, I’ve been cold, I’ve had my glasses fog up, I’ve felt claustrophobic in my big coat on an overcrowded subway – but now I think we can all agree that it’s enough. Enough winter! Spring, you’re welcome to make your appearance any day now. We are ready for you. We can’t wait to get back on the bikes and ride all over our glorious city.

Meanwhile, that one (last) snow day was alright. I worked from home and somehow managed to keep the children alive for 13 hours straight. We squeezed in some snowy fun.

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Yesterday the kids played on the playground in the melting, wet, old snow – and they loved every minute of it.

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Other than yet another winter storm, life has been pretty normal. Jeff and I have been on a couple of dates; one to see our dear friend Joe Giglio play jazz in a lovely restaurant on MacDougal Street – and I ate one of the most delicious pizzas, ever. I ate the entire thing. It was so good.

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We also got our country on and saw Lee Ann Womack perform at City Winery, which was great and a bit odd, since we had to share a table meant for two with another (somewhat standoff-ish) couple.

On St. Patrick’s Day we were invited to a boozy, delicious brunch at our friends’ house, complete with rainbow bagels and eight nutty children to entertain each other.

The boys are constantly walking the line between loving each other and wanting to spend every waking and sleeping minute together – and trying to kill each other by all means necessary. They share Arthur’s bottom bunk on non-school nights; they read and chat until they eventually fall asleep. Of course a later bedtime does not mean that they will also sleep in late.

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But they also fight a lot more. Julian spends so much time on random projects – book writing, working on cursive, drawing, reading. All of it stuff that Arthur can’t really be a part of, and the little brother is feeling it, I think. He misses his playmate. Julian, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly more impatient with Arthur’s occasionally irrational behavior and is just sort of over it. But overall, they are still best friends and best brothers. Also, this:

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A Perfect NYC Day

Saturday started out strong with our brand-new Karate Kid, Arthur. I just love watching him in this class. He is super focused and truly does his best. At the end of the class, the kids all got to kick a board, and of course Arthur nailed it.

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The rest of Saturday was spent driving each other insane. It was windy and cold and we could not agree on anything fun to do. Then I started having massive back pain and laid in bed for a good part of the afternoon. Spirits and patience levels were pretty low.

On Sunday we knew we had to do something. So we packed up the kids and strolled around Soho, before having a delicious brunch on the Lower East Side.

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Afterwards we stopped by a few shops in the East Village, and much to Arthur’s delight we bought him this melodica-type instrument that he insisted would contribute in many great ways to the performances of his band, “Alice.”

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We let the boys run loose at Tompkins Square Park playground and enjoyed being out in the sun.

Then it was time for ice cream…

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We stopped by a Japanese toy shop and Jeff bought the boys these little Transformer guys. They were in heaven.

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Right before we got to the train stop, Jeff said, “Should we have a beer at McSorley’s?” We felt a bit odd walking in with our boys in tow, but as it turns out they were not the only kids there. Our waiter was so lovely and even brought them little muffins for dessert.

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It was a perfect NYC day.

On our way home I asked the kids why they thought this day was special, and they said “Because we had so many treats!” and “Because you bought us new toys!” but really we all agreed it was special because we are the luckiest people who live in the greatest city on earth, and we get to enjoy everything it has to offer without any big effort on our part. Or I should say “one of the greatest cities on earth” as Julian and Arthur pointed out, because after all many European cities have streetcars and New York City does not.

Karate Kid

Long time, no write. I’m tired of writing about how down we feel, so I was waiting for happy times to come along. Yesterday was a happy day.

A few weeks ago I had the notion that Arthur should start karate. For numerous reasons: body control, coordination, and strength (all things he works on in occupational therapy), confidence, respect, learning something new. Also, I wanted him to have something that is all his own and something his older brother hadn’t already done before him. In true Arthur fashion, stubborn to the core, he proclaimed until the minute he arrived at the karate center that he “hates” karate and doesn’t want to do “anything.” When his new teacher showed him around, Arthur just mumbled in a slightly annoyed tone, “I know that already.” Clearly he knew none of it. It’s just something he says; I think it makes him feel better somehow.

His teacher was very patient and all around wonderful. He gave Arthur a 30 minute introduction, which included breathing, some movements, and a story of persistence and obedience about a little boy who wanted to learn karate.

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Arthur was invited to stay for the class, and at the end he passed his white belt test.

I was over the moon proud. And so was he.

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The rest of the day was fun-filled. We had our friends and their kids (Arthur’s best friend from school and his little sister) over for Saturday brunch. It was so peaceful and fun. Everyone got along, we ate our weight in bagels and lox, bacon and eggs, with a side of orange juice and Bloody Marys.

Later in the afternoon we met Uncle Brian and Aunt Katherine in Dumbo. The boys rode their bikes.

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Going up a big hill, Arthur said to me, “Mama, I already learned this in karate: Never give up!”

The boys got to ride the carousel, and then we hung out at Superfine.

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Such a fun evening!

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The boys were exhausted and were happy to go to bed. This morning I overheard them in the bathroom, and Julian whispered to Arthur, “Let’s let Mama and Papa sleep a little while longer.” Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

Bits of Life

It’s Friday. That means I don’t go to work. Instead, Julian takes the bus to school, and I wash 5 to 7 loads of (industrial size washing machine type) laundry. Then I take Arthur to speech and OT, and this afternoon he has a play date. It’s a full day, but I also like this day with him.

He’s not the easiest person to be around these days. He is really angry and sad and will hit, cry, scream, kick and shove on any given day. But when he is done with his rage, he is just sad and apologetic. The other day, after a fit of rage, we had a bit of a breakthrough moment. In tears Arthur said things like “I’m so dumb. I make so many mistakes all the time.” It was really hard to hear, but I was glad that he could articulate a bit of what he feels. I think it must be tough being Arthur. He is the youngest, the slowest, the smallest (not for long I’m sure). His (very mature) big brother is his idol. Arthur is afraid of the dark, of being alone in his room, and he hates being last. Yet he is usually last.

I’m trying to wrap him in kindness and love. He loves back scratches, and just like my grandmother used to do to me, I scratch his back for as long as he wants me to. I try to hug him instead of yelling at him. But it is frustrating. It’s hard to see your one kid kick his brother (it goes the other way around, too).

Yesterday Julian had a friend over, and Arthur was over-the-top excited. So much so that he was too loud, too eager, too wild almost all of the time. By the end of the day I just wanted red wine and dumb TV.

BUT. But there’s also lots of beauty. So I will leave you with 10 fun things:

  1. Last weekend we went ice skating (for the first time ever) with Julian’s 1st grade.IMG_8137
  2. Julian’s been having lots of fun play dates, and I’m so happy he is making friends with lovely kids. His teachers told me that he is often a source of peace and calm for his class, which I think is wonderful. This was our disco dance party last night. Less peace and calm there. IMG_8315
  3. Arthur was in his first theater performance as the wolf in the Three Little Pigs! He did awesome, and I am so proud. Here is my kid who gets speech therapy three times a week, standing in front of a bunch of parents, teachers, and siblings, and no nerves at all! And that bow at the end! 

  4.  We went out to dinner this week celebrating our first “Country of the Month:” India. Yummy food!
  5. Jeff and I went to see Glen Hansard in concert, and on Saturday we’re seeing Jason Isbell. I love all three (including Jeff)!
  6. We get to spend more time with Jeff every day!
  7. Arthur is really into helping me in the kitchen and also smoothies. Both are good things!IMG_8117
  8. I started working out again after a long hiatus.
  9. I dreamed about my grandmother last night, and I felt so close to her when I woke up.
  10. Ghostbusters. Always ghostbusters.IMG_8174

The Struggle is Real

How to start? What to say?

When anyone asks me how we’re doing, I respond, “Oh, we’re great. Just fine.” Which is true. We’re fine. There is so much joy, and overall I feel like we’re some of the most fortunate people around.

But there is also some struggle, and lots of worries. Jeff’s Dad passed away on November 30th. Ten days later, and two weeks before Christmas, Jeff lost his job. It was a bit of a shock to our system, and I think it took us a month to start digesting, and now we’re still digesting. It is what it is, as I always say, and that’s true. We’re fine, we’re healthy, the kids are doing well, but Jeff still has nightmares – and of course we both worry a bit.

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While the Holidays were delightful and sort of a break from real life, I think the cold temperatures caught up with us in the end. The boys have been fighting more with each other and sort of bouncing off the walls (of our small Brooklyn apartment). My patience has been a wee bit stretched (this would be a euphemism), which ultimately just leads to me feeling inadequate and sort of rotten.

Also, we’ve been in a bit of a honeymoon phase with our children where we had no major things to worry about. Arthur works hard at speech, Julian excels in school. Arthur is taking a theater class that he loves, and we are all so excited for his performance next week. In fact, Julian said he would skip soccer practice so he won’t miss out on Arthur’s play. On the other hand, our days are packed with therapy sessions and running back and forth. Arthur has to work really hard. He’s made tremendous progress, but this is not easy for him. Just imagine you had to work so hard at something that just comes naturally to everyone else, and it is something as essential as being understood by others. He is very aware of the fact that this is work (not fun!), and it’s difficult to keep him motivated at times. So of course I worry, but I believe we are doing our best, and that is literally the best we can do. Arthur keeps us going with his free spirit, hilarious jokes, and midnight cuddles. How I ever got so lucky to be able to raise such a special creature – I don’t know.

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Julian, in the midst of a successful year in first grade, has been surrounded by (but thankfully not directly exposed to) some behavior from other kids I don’t love – and it just opens up a whole new realm of concern. You know how they say “Big Kid Big Worries?” (Is that actually a saying? Also, parents of teenagers feel free to laugh at me, it’s fine.) It’s definitely true. Jeff and I always say, we can’t just wing it anymore! These are real issues and Julian will remember stuff that’s happening, and potentially everything we do or don’t do will shape him into the man he will become. Sort of stressful, no? That said, he is a true delight. He is at the top of his class, an avid reader, story-teller and math wizard, subway lover, patient big brother and truly lovely son. I guess the pressure’s on us to keep it that way.

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So overall, we are fine. I enjoy my work, life is going its course. Right now there a few speed bumps along the way that are making us hit the brakes every now and then, but we’re still going strong.

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Bring it, 2018

Well, this Christmas break we did a whole lot of NOTHING!

And guess what? It was amazing. For a week straight we laid around, read books, played Gameboy and Atari, played cards and board games, and watched movies.

The boys had their sleepover at Uncle Brian and Aunt Katherine’s place, and they loved it. First sleepover for both. Of course they got to watch TV until 11pm, and when the tacos that Brian had ordered were too spicy, he ordered pizza. And then for breakfast he ordered french toast. So naturally, they didn’t want to come home.

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Jeff and I, however, enjoyed having our place to ourselves. We went on a lovely dinner date and woke up the next morning hearing imaginary little feet on our hardwood floor stomping their way into our bedroom, but there were no such little feet in our apartment. What bliss! There was coffee in bed instead.

This was Julian on the way home from his first sleepover. He was exhausted!

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The next day Julian had a sleepover at his friend Henry’s place. From that, too, my son did not want to return to his home. He stayed for almost 24 hours, which included his favorite dinner (pesto pasta), spaghetti ice cream, Star Wars, audio books, and lots of cuddles.

To soften the blow for our “only child” Arthur that night, we ordered hamburgers and hot dogs and watched the Star Wars episode of his choice (Episode 1 – we must truly love this boy). When I tucked him in that night and cuddled with him for a while, he whispered, “Mama, I don’t know if I am brave enough to sleep alone in my room.” In that moment it occurred to me that my 4 1/2 year old son has never ever spent a night alone in his whole life. Turns out he was brave enough, and tired enough, to sleep a full 12 hours.

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We rang in the new year the only way we know how: with party hats and homemade pizza.

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The boys made it until 10:45pm, at which point our party looked like this:

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And now it is back to school. For one day, that is, as it was just announced that schools are closed tomorrow because of an impending snow storm. These lucky kids. Truthfully though I might be the most excited of us all: I can’t wait to go sledding!

As for the New Year?

Our New Year’s resolution last year was to see more live music, and I think we did:

  • The Decemberists
  • Father John Misty
  • Jason Isbell
  • Aimee Mann
  • Conner Oberst
  • Roger Waters
  • The Shins
  • Alison Krauss
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Joep Beving

We don’t have any huge resolutions for this year. On the top of my list is to stop yelling. Completely. Julian wants to become a better listener, and Arthur wants to stop biting his nails. Jeff is obviously already perfect the way he is. As for our family, we are embarking on a new project: It’s called “Country of the Month.” In this new adventure we will pick one country per month (the boys have the choice). We will learn about the customs, food, and culture. At the end of the month we go out to a restaurant to enjoy the cuisine of said country. First on the list is India. Next up: Brazil. I’m pretty stoked!

New Year’s Day we had our lovely friends over. We had brunch together; the kids played.

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Then we put on a movie for them and sat talking on the couch for hours. It was so relaxing and so lovely. What a great way to start the new year!

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Bring it, 2018. We were not sad to see 2017 go. We had lots of good times and made some very happy memories, but overall – for this country and the world – it was a very bitter, depressing year, and for us as a family it ended on a sad note. Onward!

Christmas 2017

We started off Christmas break with watching the new Star Wars movie together. Honestly, for the kids the scariest part were the previews. The movie itself was great, and we were all so excited!

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We spent the weekend being cozy inside. Lots of playing, cookie-eating and movie watching.

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On Christmas Eve, we went to see Santa! We go to Macy’s every year (Santa 2014Santa 2015, Santa 2016). This year’s Santa was kind of fierce and gave both boys the “Santa stare.” But for whatever reason they *believed* he was real. In fact, Arthur has been outraged this year, telling everyone who wants to listen that there are people out there in the world who don’t believe in Santa! They think the parents give all the presents! These people must be nuts!

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After Santa time we had lunch together and checked out the train show at Grand Central.

That night we had a lovely dinner at home and got ready for Santa.

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And imagine this! He came! The boys were stoked. He brought them the Rescue Bots station and Rescue Bots they had asked for.

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Mama and Papa gave a few new games, books, and Ghostbuster utility belts.

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Jeff and I gifted each other things from the 70s and 80s…this Springsteen poster, an Atari game console, a Gameboy (my childhood dream come true!) and a couple of (contemporary guitar pedals). We were all so happy and spoiled!

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We had breakfast at home and then packed our bags to head to New Jersey to spend the day with family. When Jeff called the garage to let them know he was coming to pick up our Zipcar (the ONLY one available on Christmas Day in NYC), he was informed that the car had a flat tire. So our collective mood plummeted. The boys were in tears. They really wanted to see their cousins.

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Jeff was in an even worse mood and became increasingly stubborn and refused to consider alternative ways to get to New Jersey. So I made a decision and made him change direction, and we made it work. So off we went on the Subway, the PATH, and New Jersey Transit. We played cards, napped, and listened to music. Our brother-in-law picked us up in Trenton, and in the end all was well.

We were together.

Later that night we exchanged gifts and sang karaoke. I mean…Endless Love forever, right? I’m not embarrassed.

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Yesterday we were happy to come back home and continue playing with all of our new toys.

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I look forward to a week at home with my guys. We don’t have any big plans, but the boys were invited to a sleepover at Uncle Brian’s house tonight! They are super excited.

So thankful for everything we have this Christmas.

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For kicks, Christmas 2014Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2016.