Almost there…

Two more weeks until summer break! Arthur and I are excited! Julian, of course, would prefer school all day every day, but something tells me that he will get over it once we start hanging out at the beach or pool or play soccer all day. Because what else is there?

Arthur and I had our first taste of summer last week when his school was randomly closed for “Chancellor’s Day.” We met up with his best buddy, Jakob, and spent hours playing soccer and running around outside.

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Also, this:

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He was having a blast, and I was thrilled to be outside with no agenda whatsoever. Our lives are so busy lately that I think I might be anticipating lazy summer days more than anyone. I will be taking several weeks off work this summer to bum around with the boys, and they also have some summer camp planned. I think it will be a good summer.

Meanwhile, Arthur had a belt test at karate and is now sporting a yellow stripe! I love watching him learn and grow in confidence and discipline. He is such a wonderful creature, and I adore him so much. He was so proud of himself, too.

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Other than that we’ve been playing soccer as much as humanly possible and anticipating the World Cup, which starts TODAY!

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Oh, and playing HedBanz.

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Meanwhile, Julian and his class brought us back to 1993 when he performed the Macarena at his school’s art and dance show last night.

Sleeping With Wolves

Through work I found out about the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. They offer an overnight camping experience called “Sleeping with Wolves” – and we just had to give it a try. Mainly because we’ve never camped before, and this was a great introduction because the tents were provided. And also of course because of the wolves.

We arrived late Saturday evening and claimed our tent. This one right there in the front.

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For four people it was rather cozy I’ll say. But of course also exciting and different and all around fun.

We learned all about the wolves and how endangered they are. The Center is really doing amazing work.

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Then we met the ambassador wolves: Atka, Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai. They are the only wolves out of the 50+ wolves at the Center that people get to meet. All the others have a chance to be released into the wild. Many of the little packs just recently had pups, and we saw some roaming around in the distance.

After the presentation we got to meet the four ambassador wolves. They were amazing!

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Afterwards we all had pizza (only the humans) and then watched a movie about, you guessed it, wolves. Under the stars.

Next up: s’mores.

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All the while we’re of course running back and forth, visiting the wolves, checking out the porta potties, eating more s’mores, and trying to keep Arthur from petting any of the wild creatures.

Once we retired to the tent, the boys were both wired and tired. We read a couple of chapters from our latest obsession, the Magic Tree House series.

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The thing that surprised us all the most was how loud these wolves were. They howled us to sleep and were sure to remind us at 6am that it was time to get up. It was pretty special, I will say. This video will give you a good idea, and you get a bonus howl from Arthur at the end. (Can’t really speak to what Jeff is doing…)

The next morning we had coffee and bagels and hung out with the wolves some more.

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And then we were on our way, another adventure in the books.

Slice of Life

The days are creeping on by, but the weeks are flying. Life, I guess. Some days are so wonderful that I can hardly believe my luck, and some days I want to crawl into bed at 8pm, unhappy with myself for feeling inadequate and frustrated with my children for fighting non-stop. Yes, these children. Julian had brought a rose for his girlfriend, JJ.

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I have been sick for close to a month. I have zero energy, zero patience, zero drive and apparently zero immune system. But I’m powering through.

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On Saturday, the only day on Memorial Day weekend that Jeff didn’t have to work, we headed to the beach. It was magical. Just a few hours of jumping in the waves, playing sandy soccer and hearing my children giggle is really all I wanted.

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Later that night I went on a date with this handsome guy. We strolled along the Highline at dusk, marveled at all the new construction and brightly lit buildings, feeling lucky to be here in this city, our city.

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Other than that: Life. Appointments, soccer, bickering, never enough sleep, tasty dinners, school, work, play dates, friends, love, soccer, keeping it together.

 

 

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.

A Leg Up On Lunch

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.

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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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