Camp Mama

This summer the boys and I have had a couple of weeks (one more to come at the end of August) to just be. We had no agenda, no plans, no schedules. It was bliss! I feel so lucky that I had this time to just hang out with them.

We packed a lot of fun into those two weeks, but we also made sure we had plenty of time to be lazy. We slept in, played endlessly, took naps, read books, practiced instruments. Julian diligently worked through his homework packet in these two weeks (Summer homework? Really? I can’t believe that’s a thing!).

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At some point this summer it occurred to me that the boys have been spending an intense amount of time together. Ever since their last day of school, they have been together all day every day – until this week, when they are apart for some parts of the day in different camps. Book Club for Julian, Theater for Arthur. When I ask them about their days, the first thing I hear is, “We ate lunch together!” or “We played soccer together in the park!” It just makes my heart explode.

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Do the kids explode? Yes. They blow up, occasionally. As any person who spends all their time with another person would. I am in fact surprised they haven’t killed each other yet, but quite the opposite, they seem to be in sync 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time are very annoying for everyone.

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What else did we do? Lots of stuff. We went to the pool a lot, hit the beach with our friends, played lots and lots of soccer, went to the Transit Museum, ate our weight in ice cream, played lots of card and board games, went to the movies, skateboarding, and Julian decided to get a hair cut.

We also spent a weekend in Delaware, where the boys played soccer in 500% humidity in the yard with their cousins, but the ultimate highlight was when we all went tubing down the Brandywine Creek. The water was so clear, so refreshing, the cooler so full of beer, and the kids so very happy. Photos courtesy of disposable cameras which, shockingly, are ridiculously expensive, crappy in quality, and difficult to get developed.

Also, the boys tried out for another Brooklyn soccer team, because the one we had our eyes on at first couldn’t get themselves organized unfortunately. So they made this other team as well, and we have committed to soccer practice two afternoons a week as well as a game on weekends, occasionally. What can I say? They just live for soccer.

The last weekend before I headed back to work we spent a day in Central Park. It was Summer Streets, so Julian got to ride his bike all the way to the park and back. Arthur, too, rode his bike over the bridge, but we locked it up in Manhattan and picked it up at the end of the day. Kid on bike with no gears and tiny wheels just can’t keep up.

We spent the day in the park – picnicking, zoo-ing, soccer-ing, boat-ing.

Yesterday I returned to work and the boys were off to camp, happy as can be. Well, for the most part. In the morning Arthur had had a change of heart about theater camp and said something to the effect, “What am I supposed to do all day? Just stand there and juggle?!” As if we had booked him into Clown Camp. Maybe next year, son.

When I picked him up, he happily declared that it was “the best theater camp ever!” (Also the only one he’s ever been in.) Julian loves books and is happy in his Book Club. As for me? I’m happy to be back at work and also very happy to have another week of summer fun with my boys to look forward to before school starts.

Coney Island Adventures

We’ve been to Coney Island many times, but Friday may have been my favorite time yet. The boys and I left for Coney in the afternoon…

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They went on one ride (their current favorite), we had ice cream and played on the beach.

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Then we went to the aquarium. We saw the sea lion show and checked out all the fish, sharks, and other sea creatures. The boys bought new stuffies, because we need more stuffed animals in our house.

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Jeff met us after work, and we had hot dogs for dinner. It started raining, and a double rainbow appeared!

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The boys said they had never seen a rainbow, especially not a double rainbow!

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After dinner we went on the rides. I went on the Wild River with the boys, which is honestly pretty tame, but I am so scared I screamed and embarrassed the boys the entire time.

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Next, Arthur and Jeff went on a ride they’d never been on (it’s new), and it goes upside-down! Arthur loved it so much, that the first word out his mouth afterwards was “Again!”, so he, Jeff and Julian went on it again. While a terrified Mama looked on.

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After rides, I convinced Jeff to sing karaoke on the boardwalk. Naturally “Careless Whisper” by Wham! was his choice.

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The crowd loved him. As did I. The boys were a bit underwhelmed by his song choice, and particularly miffed because Papa was wearing a cool Iron Maiden shirt and yet chose such a “lame, not-rock-like song.” Still, I thought he was amazing.

To conclude our evening, we bought funnel cake and margaritas and plopped ourselves down on the beach and waited for the fireworks to begin.

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We got home at midnight, everyone tired and happy. It was a perfect day with my little family.

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A Little Piece of Heaven

What had a perfect week upstate. Lovely weather, wonderful lake, great s’mores, lots of soccer games. The boys were in heaven. And so were their parents.

We didn’t stray much from our daily routine, which was something like: breakfast, soccer, lake for hours, soccer, BBQ, s’mores, going to bed late.

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We went on a hike one day (beautiful, lots of bugs!)…

visited an alpaca farm…

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ate our weight in ice cream…

and stopped by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the site of the original Woodstock Festival).

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Personal highlights for me were the food, obviously.

And Arthur picking flowers for me.

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On our last night we went out for pizza to this lovely outdoor pizza place. We were seated next to a young couple, and as we started talking to them, we learned that she was German and that they met in a bar in the East Village, just like Jeff and me back in the day. The woman asked what it was like raising bilingual kids. I said, “Oh, you know, it’s a hot mess.” An answer that was sort of all-encompassing. Ten minutes later we were caught in a downpour, taking shelter under an awning, eating our pizzas standing up and making friends with the pizza baker. Not planned exactly, but one of my favorite moments all week.

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We drove home, blasting Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden, singing along at the top of our lungs. We spotted (and scared) a bunch of deer on the property and were then surprised by fireworks somewhere near by. What a perfect last night upstate!

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I am so thankful to our friends for letting us visit this place every year and for the opportunity to make new memories.

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For sh*ts and giggles, here is a look back at our past trips to Shandelee: 2014, 201520172018. Just thinking back about this past week, and every year we’ve visited, makes me so happy. We are very lucky.

My Week in the Motherland

Last Friday evening I said good-bye to my boys for a week. I’d bought all the foods from Trader Joe’s, all the fresh fruit and vegetables available in Brooklyn, prepared little notes of love and M&Ms for my boys, who were eagerly anticipating a week of soccer camp and a visit from Grammy. She would help us out that week by picking boys up from camp and buying $20 fancy ice cream cones right before dinner. As Grammys do.

I had an amazing, intense week in Germany. I started the week with my parents.

There was a giant street festival happening in their town, and my dad and I stayed out late over beer and some intense German cover music (featuring, among others, the band “Still Collins” dedicated solely to songs by…well…you can figure it out).

The next day I saw my sister and beautiful nieces!

I mean. Can you even with their cuteness?! They had prepared messages of love for me, showed off their rooms and jumped on the trampoline with me. I just adore them.

On Monday I spent the morning shopping with my Dad and saw my dear friend Nicky and her daughter/my goddaughter in the afternoon for what was my third spaghetti ice cream in as many days.

The only thing Germans love more than sausages is beer, and the only thing they love even more are french fries (Pommes!) and highest on the list of loves is, of course, ice cream.

The next day I left for Munich for a few days of work. I met one of my best friends in life, Pia, at the train station in Mannheim, thanks to the unreliability of the Deutsche Bahn.

She was also headed to Munich to reunite with her besties, Karolin … and ME!

We had the best time. The three of us, together again, after so many years. What joy!

We stayed out until the wee morning hours, talking, reminiscing, laughing, hugging.

The next three days were focused on work. I met wonderful new people, made new friends, and rode all around Bavaria in a giant double decker bus, visiting projects our climate engineers had worked on and marveling at the genius of engineering and progress.

There was limited down-time, but I managed to squeeze in some more time with my girls as well.

I should also note that I am lucky to work with a bunch of extremely lovely people. There were evenings by the river with freshly baked pizza (for 60+ people, no small feat), nights over beer and laughs and my favorite, a trip to Augustiner Biergarten on our last night there.

What a whirlwind of a week it was. Filled with so much love and so little sleep, I honestly think that it was the love and joy that kept me going, because it sure as hell wasn’t sleep!

I need to plan a trip home with all of my boys. They need to experience the love and enormous amounts of Spaghetti ice creams for themselves.

Our Minute of Fame

Perpetually playing catch-up here. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about how on that one hot day in July I took a day off work and decided to take the boys to camp late. Because we had a parade to attend!

Celebrating the World Cup Champions was such a positive, empowering experience for me. Female fans are amazing! No rowdy bs from the crowds, no obnoxiousness, just positive vibes and uplifting conversations. Everyone loved our signs:

Julian ended up on the Sports Illustrated website with this great shot:

And the next day I find out we’d found our way into the New York Daily News!

Such fun and such a positive experience all around for my boys, learning about equality and cheering on female success stories.

Sh** My Kids Say

We’re preparing for Jeff’s birthday. Arthur is painting a picture of a sunset for him.

Julian: “What could I draw? What does Papa like?”

Me: “Guitars? Music? ME! He loves ME!”

Arthur: “No, he doesn’t like you. He told me.”


Arthur, shucking corn: “It’s basically like I’m the hair salon and I’m hair salon-ing them.”


I’m finishing the last page of a very moving book, and I have a couple of tears rolling down my face.

Julian: “Oh no, Mama! You are sweating a lot!


Julian: “Sometimes they build entire buildings just for one commercial! It’s such a waste!”

Me: “What? I really don’t think so.”

Julian: “No, it’s true! See? On this building it says: ‘In Progress: Residential.’ And on some buildings it says: ‘Commercial.’ It’s for commercials!”

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Summer Break Has Begun!

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Summer break has officially begun! The boys brought home excellent report cards, and we celebrated with an overpriced soft serve ice cream and a trip to Hamilton Fish Pool on the Lower East Side.

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It was so fun to splash around with the boys, and it was a perfect afternoon to kick off our summer together. After swimming we met Jeff for dinner at Clinton Street Baking Company, and the boys had a big stack of chocolate chip pancakes. For dinner, of course.

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We had lots of plans for our first day of summer break. We met the boys’ friends in Brooklyn Bridge Park for some soccer playing in the blazing heat, followed by playing in the water park, a picnic lunch and some playground time. I mean, no temps are too high for a good soccer game, amIright?

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Then we met different friends to watch a bit of World Cup soccer. In the late afternoon I dropped Julian off at the Path train station in the Oculus, from where he was headed to New Jersey to watch a soccer game: Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire together with 10 other boys from his school. One of the other boys’ mom had won an auction item at the annual school gala.

Arthur had to stay behind, and he was a little bit sad. I had offered to buy two tickets for him and me to also watch the game together in the stadium or to go on a dinner date together, and he chose the date. My little charmer. As we said goodbye to Julian, Arthur hugged him really tight and said, “Have so much fun.” He has the biggest heart.

So Arthur and I headed out to dinner. We went to an Austrian place and shared a giant Schnitzel and mac and cheese, Arthur’s favorite. We strolled around lower Manhattan and later picked up Jeff for an ice cream and a walk through our neighborhood.

Julian came home close to midnight. Tired, happy, and a bit disappointed, too. Apparently the soccer experience hadn’t been everything the boys had been promised, but overall he was just glad to have spent an evening with his friends.

On Saturday we had some of Jeff’s family visiting. We spent the day showing them around Brooklyn. Arthur dipped into his piggybank and bought a flower for his grandmother. This kid might be a lot of work, and incredibly loud, but he really knows the way into anyone’s heart.

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On Sunday we celebrated Pride, of course. We met the boys’ friends who had invited us to walk in the parade with them, but in the end we just watched for a couple of hours and headed home. It was taking too long for our turn to walk, and the kids were breaking down. But watching the parade was so much fun!

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After this full weekend I headed back to work, and the boys started camp on Monday. They wanted to do camp at their school this year and seemed very happy to go yesterday and today. It’s with teachers and kids they know. At least Julian wasn’t hovering in a corner with a stack of books like last year at the YMCA camp!

Coney, Soccer, and the best of Brothers

This weekend was a winner. We kicked off the weekend fun with a Friday night trip to Coney Island. Someone from the boys’ school had arranged this outing for everyone who wanted to join, and so we found ourselves surrounded by school friends, hot dogs and popcorn at a Coney Island Cyclones game.

We stayed until almost the end, at which point everyone except for Julian was ready to go. He was so mad.

But a pit-stop by the beach to watch the fireworks and a long hug by the ocean helped turn his mood around. We had to wait for a long time for the fireworks to begin, and just when they started, Arthur had to … drumroll … go to  the bathroom. Ah, parenthood.

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On Saturday morning Jeff left for Delaware to help out his mom, who had broken her wrist (again, but this time the other one). The boys and I had a productive morning at home doing chores. (I decided to step up the kids’ game. They just love vacuuming and dusting and taking off bed linens to be washed. Who knew how fun all this could be?!)

The boys practiced their instruments and set up the most intense soccer stadium with magnatiles and legos, which occupied them for hours this weekend.

We spent Saturday afternoon picnicking and practicing skateboard at Squibb Park and then rode our bikes through Brooklyn Bridge Park. The boys played soccer, I took a nap, we had beer and ice creams and more playtime on one of the big playgrounds at Pier 6. We came home tired and sweaty, and I made a mediocre pizza (that’s usually Papa’s thing) and we settled in for movie night.

It was a perfect day where everything flowed right. You know those days? They don’t happen a lot, but when they do, you’re like, “Wow! This is what life with two boys can feel like!” They were just so lovely together. They were kind and had so much fun together, and at countless moments throughout the day I found myself thinking about how lucky they are to have each other. How amazing it is that they are not only close in age but also close in everything, that they get each other, that they forgive and love each other every day.

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Arthur asked me the other day, “Are Julian and I more like best friends or more like brothers?” Both, kid, both.

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The next day was ruled by soccer and friends. I gave in and let the boys try out for a soccer travel team, knowing full well that either of these will be our options moving forward:

a) Both boys make the team, and our future will be ruled by soccer practice and games and two very happy kids.

b) Only one of them gets in and will leave the other one devastated.

c) No one gets in and disappointment will take over the household.

We shall see. I tried to keep expectations real, especially when I saw the other 50 eager, very talented and much more experienced young soccer players who showed up with the same goal in mind. But of course all my talk about all possible scenarios went in the one ear and out the other. After try outs, Julian said, “I have never played better soccer in my life than today.” At bedtime he couldn’t fall asleep because he was so nervous about the notification email that will tell him about his fate. Should be an interesting 72 hours…

After try outs, we met school friends in Prospect Park, where the boys played soccer with their friends for the next 6 hours, non-stop. They only stopped to have a drink of water or to beg for an icee. I lounged around, drank ice-cold beers, and chatted with my friends. It was a delightful Sunday.

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Jeff came home in time for a family dinner and to read Harry Potter for the family.

One more week of school! (Camp starts promptly on Monday. Such is life.)

Weekend-ing

The problem with the boys right now is that

  • They want to be around each other all the time!
  • They fight! About nothing at all!
  • They want to play soccer 24/7 (which is impossible. I think.)

I am sort of ready to get rid of all of the boys’ toys. The only stuff they play with still are things you can build with: magnatiles, tinker toys, legos, cardboard boxes. And all of their 500 stuffed animals. They are very loved. The trains, toy cars, etc. just sort of sit around and collect dust.

They love to be creative, to draw, make music together, and to run around outside.

Julian had a sleepover at his friend’s house on Friday, so we had Arthur to ourselves. It’s always such a changed dynamic when one kid isn’t there. We enjoyed our time with our youngest, who of course he missed his brother (as did we), but – according to Arthur – “not as much as last time.” Julian, meanwhile, had a blast with his friends. He is so big now. It’s really bittersweet.

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On Saturday we took Arthur skateboarding and then met up with Julian and his friend (and his parents) at Fort Greene Park for a concert by a couple of very talented school friends. Then we went on a bike ride to Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. And, of course, played soccer.

On Sunday we stayed in the first half of the day – even though it was gorgeous outside and we’re usually itching to be outside. But Julian needed to do some work for a school project, and Arthur had a guitar lesson with his new guitar teacher, who also conveniently lives at our house: Jeff.

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While Jeff worked with the boys individually on their things, I played games with the other. Mastermind with Julian, and lots of Uno, Clue and Checkers with Arthur. It’s really remarkable how different their personalities can be when spending time with one of them alone.

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I’m glad they have each other, and I love the bond they share. Watching them grow up together, the love they feel for each other, their companionship and deep understanding of each other, are better than anything I could have dreamed up. The fact that they each have a brother to walk alongside them, to challenge and inspire them, to help them grow and learn, to play with, to talk to is really magical to me.

But catching them alone is also really important. They are very different from each other, and while they would never voluntarily request a break from the other (the notion of separate bedrooms is inconceivable!), I think it is healthy to spend some time with them each alone. I know that I really enjoy it.

We spent the second part of the day yesterday on Governors Island. It was sort of empty and thus really enjoyable! The weather was perfect. We had ice cream, did some zip-lining and … played soccer.

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We ended the day over pizza and beers/lemonade at Fornino’s and later let the boys run around the piers while taking in the views of our glorious city.

Sh** My Kids Say

The other day we were watching Bruce Springsteen live in concert. I quizzed the boys on the names of the E Street Band members.

Arthur: “Little Stuart?”

Julian: “Garf!” (Max)


Julian: “Wow! You really hate my imagination, Papa!”


Arthur kept running away from us while at Brooklyn Bridge Park the other night. It was a game that was funny, mostly to Arthur. But at some point we’d had enough of chasing him and said it was time to go. He ran away again. Jeff and I decided to “leave without him” – and Julian broke into tears.

“Now I won’t have anyone to play soccer with anymore!”


Jeff was explaining taxes to the boys.

Jeff: “So that is why the city takes a certain amount for every dollar I make. For mama, on the other hand, …”

Julian: “Oh, is this about the the pay gap?”

Me: “What?! How do you even…?”

Julian: “We learned about that in social studies. Many women don’t earn as much as men even if they do the same work.”


Me: “Do you know what karaoke is?”

Arthur: “Yes! It’s like yoga!”


Me: “You know that I married the handsomest man in NYC?”

Arthur: “No! That’s Uncle Brian!”

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