One Of My Favorite Dates

Each week I get Arthur to myself on Fridays. We run around the city for appointments, go to speech and OT, and do our weekly laundry. But there is also some cuddling and playing, usually a treat of some kind, and lots of laughs. I also get Arthur to myself every day when we walk from his school to Julian’s. That’s 30 minutes of pretty undivided attention.

With Julian, however, I never spend any one-on-one time. So I had the idea to take him out on a date; just him and me for some much needed time together. So last Friday the two of us went on a little adventure. We started with a lovely subway ride, because that is still Julian’s favorite thing.

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We walked through Chinatown and had dinner at Noodle Village.

 

We ordered too much food, Julian got to drink a soda (!), and we talked and talked. Julian was so chatty and sweet, funny and charming. He complimented the waitress on the food: “This is so delicious! I just love this food!” and she was beaming. Julian had never had Chinese before because Arthur is allergic to sesame.

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After dinner it was dark, and Chinatown looked even more intriguing. We got ice cream from the “Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.” I kept telling the sales guy “Only one scoop please! Only one!” And he gave us this, claiming this was one scoop.

 

Then we stepped outside the ice cream shop and wondered around Chinatown, hand in hand.

On the subway ride home we learned everything about the old City Hall subway station and made a plan to visit it soon.

My date with my first-born son was perfect. I loved talking with him over noodles and dumplings, listening to his stories about school and friends, and I vowed to do it again soon.

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Birthdays And The Never-Ending Sickness

On Wednesday night of last week we spontaneously decided to take a quick bike ride to Brooklyn Crab, our now completely overpriced and commercialized former favorite hang-out. Dinner was great, but towards the end I noticed I had a sore throat and was hit with the very strong notion that I was getting sick.

 

I had a terrible night and woke up sick the next day. I spent the day in bed nursing a 102 fever and sending Jeff on a frenzy of last minute birthday errands. Because the next day our firstborn was going to turn 7!

In the end everything got done. Julian woke up, blew out his candles, and opened one present.

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That afternoon after school we gave him his big present: a new bike!

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And of course a couple of smaller presents as well. There was a cake (store-bought this year) and more candles. Then Jeff took Julian for an hour long spin on his new, 24″, super big boy bike with gears! Julian did so well. I can’t wait to go on a ride with him next!

Meanwhile, I spent another day in bed.

The next day, Saturday, was the boys big party. They put on their birthday presents from Oma & Opa, one of their favorite gifts ever: Bayern Munich soccer uniforms.

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We had invited some 20+ kids to the park. The weather was perfect, and other than a quick break to devour cupcakes, the kids were off playing soccer for hours while the adults hung out near the wine and beer. It was a super relaxed party, and the boys were in heaven. Because: soccer.

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On Sunday I was so sick that I started crying on the couch. Julian said, “Mama! I don’t want you to die.” That’s when I knew I had to man up.

On Monday it was kid no. 2’s turn to have his big day. 5! Arthur woke up to pancakes and a song and got to open one present.

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The others waited for him after school, along with the desired ice cream cake. Does this guy look happy or what?

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We spent the rest of the day playing with new toys, and for dinner we did as Arthur, our birthday boy, commanded: We had an indoor hot dog picnic. The best.

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So now I have a 5 and a 7 year old. I can’t take it.

On Monday I went to work but was pretty miserable all day. On Tuesday I stayed home sick again. Since yesterday I can tell that I am finally better, and today there are just the annoying remnants of what was the worst cold ever (an annoying cough and snot galore).

All is good. We survived the week. No one cared that the cakes were store-bought or that the cupcakes were from a box. The boys were happy, surrounded by friends and love, and that is all that matters.

Interview with Arthur on his 5th Birthday

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What’s your favorite drink?

Orange Crush

What’s your favorite food?

Ice cream

What’s your favorite song?

The Touch by Stan Bush 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Dragons Race to the Edge

What’s your favorite book?

Dragons Race to the Edge

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play

What makes you laugh?

When I fall down

What’s your favorite animal?

Snake

What’s your favorite toy?

Magnatiles

What makes you happy?

When Mama isn’t sick (* I was sick when we did this interview.)

What makes you sad?

When Mama is sick

Who do you love?

Mama

What scares you?

Nothing

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Be a subway driver

Who is your best friend?

Jakob

What do you want for your birthday?

A pick-up tool to pick up rubber bands for my rubber band ball while riding a bike

What is your favorite playground?

Mount Prospect Park

What is your favorite museum?

All of them

What’s your favorite color?

All of them except pink

What’s your favorite subway train?

All of them

What are you best at?

Sound effects

What things do you take to bed with you?

My lizard 

What is your favorite fruit?

Pineapple 

What is your favorite snack?

Cookies

What is your favorite vegetable?

Carrots

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? (and how would you get there?)

To Uncle Brian’s house on the Q

A Handful – Arthur is 5!

So, it’s kind of obvious, but I totally don’t have a baby anymore. Arthur has been telling me for years, but I guess I’m finally getting the message.

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Where to begin? With Arthur, of course. Our birthday boy.

It’s been a big year for Arthur. A year in which he has worked incredibly hard, has learned and grown so much, and has tested our limits beyond belief. But never our love, of course. That remains steady and strong and pretty powerful all around. Just like Arthur.

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Arthur keeps working at speech and occupational therapy four times a week. He has made such amazing progress this year; hard-earned. And he still has a long way to go.

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He is very ready for Kindergarten in the fall. He does basic math up to 10 and sometimes 20 and can sometimes read a few basic words. I say “sometimes” because Arthur’s dedication and effort greatly depend on his mood.

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He is incredibly clever when overcoming his speech delay. He will translate, demonstrate and lately will give us the first letter of the word he is trying to say. To say he is smart would be an understatement.

Arthur is also a nutcase. He is wild, loud, disobedient, spontaneous, hilarious, energetic, kind, unpredictable. He is always in motion, and when he’s not moving he is thinking up a new idea. He’s always creating something. And when he’s not doing either of those things, he is pretending. Arthur’s imagination literally knows no limits. It has worked wonders for Arthur’s very “head-y” brother.

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In every way imaginable, most people don’t believe Arthur is 5. He is super tall and functions as a 6 or 7 year old on many levels. He’s had years of practice following around Julian and his friends, like most younger siblings tend to do.

Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond Arthur’s angry, screaming, tantrum-y face, to understand his loss of control and inner struggle and to see the sweet, strong boy that he is. He is so tough. And so loving. I can honestly say that Arthur makes me feel loved every single day, and that is such a gift. I hope I can give him the same gift in return.

I have started giving him long back rubs, which is the only chance I get to have Arthur lie down with me and stay still. I love giving him these back rubs because he relaxes, and we connect. It’s sort of a continuation of our Friday naps together. Of course naps haven’t happened in forever in our house.

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I’m so excited for Arthur and for this next year for him. I have no doubt he will continue to be the most loyal brother, solid friend, and sweet son, and I am especially happy that he will start Kindergarten and will be in the same school as his brother. It’s pretty much his wildest dream come true. As usual, I expect he will throw us a few curveballs to keep things interesting.

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Arthur, happy birthday, my little wild child. My sweet boy. You are a fresh breeze in our lives, and we would be so lost without you. We love you forever.

And lest you forget: You will always be my Baby “Attu.”

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Interview with Julian on his 7th Birthday

What’s your favorite drink?

Orange Crush

What’s your favorite food?

Tacos

What’s your favorite song?

Love Me by Justin Bieber

What’s your favorite TV show?

Dragons Race To The Edge

What’s your favorite book?

How To Train Your Dragon

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Work

What makes you laugh?

Funny stuff

What’s your favorite animal?

Snake

What’s your favorite toy?

Twinferno

What makes you happy?

When I laugh

What makes you sad?

I don’t know

Who do you love?

My family

What scares you?

When somebody from my family is gone

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Drive a train!

Who is your best friend?

JJ

What do you want for your birthday?

A bike!

What is your favorite playground?

Pierrepont

What is your favorite museum?

Museum of Natural History

What’s your favorite color?

Green

What’s your favorite subway train?

Q

What are you best at?

Math and script

What things do you take to bed with you?

My stuffed animals

What is your favorite fruit?

Every kind of fruit

What is your favorite snack?

Crackers

What is your favorite vegetable?

Salad

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? (and how would you get there?)

Take an airplane to Russia to watch the World Cup

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Julian is 7!

Today my baby, my first born, turns seven.

Nature Boy

I am somehow not at all prepared for this, and yet totally ready. I’m not prepared because my life is so much busier than it was for any other birthday. This is my first (double!) birthday execution since going back to work. Plus, I’ve been sick in bed with a fever and didn’t get to run many of the birthday prep errands. Thankfully the men in my house are reliable: Arthur had a secret card he’d made for Julian at school neatly tucked away in his lunch box. Jeff ordered a cake. We are in good shape!

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But guess who is ready for the big 7? This kid.

On The Stoop

Julian is the most mature, calm, reliable, gentle-natured boy I know. He is such a gift to our family, with his sensitive nature, wit, and incredible smarts.

Where Can I Find Some More Water?

What’s he been up to this year?

He’s lost two teeth.

He’s read probably around 60 books, if not more.

He’s become a very decent chess player.

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He excels in school. Math is still his favorite, but he has also written some incredible books, is working on his cursive and has been a good friend to all. His best friend in school is JJ. Sometimes I watch them play after-school soccer together, and whenever their team scores a goal, they fall into each other’s arms as if this one goal was the most important thing that has happened in their lives to date. These two plus some other kids from their school have started making a movie together, and Julian is the director. He takes his job so seriously, like he does everything in life.

At home he’s been into magic tricks and “witchcraft.” His firm belief in his super powers almost has me convinced.

Julian loves soccer. He is stoked for the World Cup and loves playing at school each week and basically every chance he gets. It’s an obsession I can totally get behind.

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He hates confrontation and is incredibly intuitive when it comes to other people’s feelings. For example: One time I was scolding Arthur, and he laughed at me. I became even angrier because laughing at a disciplining mother is just not cool. Julian disappeared and returned with a letter in hand, which explained that he understood my feelings and that being laughed at is not a good feeling. I asked him who had made him feel that way, he he said that his class had laughed at him when he wasn’t able to skip properly. Mind you, at this point he had already been skipping for months. He had bottled up that story and produced it in a moment when he thought it would make me feel better.

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He hates it when we argue as a family. It’s even worse when he says something he didn’t mean in a moment of emotional distress, like “You’re not my friend anymore!” – to Arthur. He becomes so upset over his choice of words and the damage he might have inflicted onto someone else that his hurt moves to the background.

My boy is such a solid person. He’s a good friend, a great brother, and the best son I could have ever dreamed up. We’re all so thankful to have him in our lives.

My goal for this next year and all the years to come is to treat my boy gently, with kindness, and to never take his beautiful mind for granted. We lucked out with this kid, and I am so excited for all of his and our adventures in his 8th year of life.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

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Opa’s Back in Town!

Well, he was. We just spent a full, happy, loud, exciting, lovely week with my Dad/Opa. He arrived on Friday and left 10 days later, today. We had so much fun!

Highlights included:

A soccer game at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls against Chicago Fire, including no one less than Germany’s very own Bastian Schweinsteiger. I loved it! The boys loved it! We all did. Opa explained all the rules to Julian; there was a lot of popcorn and overpriced beer.

I got to explore the city every day with my dad, and the weather was finally spring-like and perfect. I worked fewer hours than usual, and he picked me up from work every day. We had lunch and wandered around. On Sunday Jeff hung with the boys while my Dad and I walked all around the West Village. It was such a beautiful day.


We spent the rest of the day with Jeff’s family who all came to hang out with us.

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We played lots of soccer, watched a soccer game at a German restaurant, and talked about soccer whenever possible. Also, we are spending every waking minute with our Panini soccer sticker book. Soccer for life.

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On Wednesday night, we watched Julian in his spring school performance. He was adorable.

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Also: this view! Another visit to the World Trade Center.

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We took Arthur to speech together, to Karate, to the Transit Museum. A 10 day visit allows for a glimpse into our real lives with all its joy and hustle and occasional fighting. The boys loved having their Opa around so much.

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The last day was spent in Central Park. It was a perfect ending to a perfect NYC week.

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The boys will miss Opa!

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And so will I.

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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.