Get on the Potty Train!

I have recently potty-trained my three year old son. For anyone without kids or with a gross factor higher than, say, two: please stop reading here.

Julian has been showing zero to no interest in the potty. I bought a seat adaptor for the big toilet. Then I bought a Thomas the Train potty that goes “choo-choo” or plays the Thomas theme song if there has been a, shall we say, successful potty attempt. Not that we would know from actual successful attempts. Julian discovered the button on the bottom after the thing had been in our bathroom for about 30 seconds, and Arthur used the potty as storage for his tooth brush or a cracker or a train. Also, it took up valuable space in our small Brooklyn bathroom. Basically it was a success all around.

One by one all of Julian’s friends ditched the diapers. Then kids younger than him did the same. Peer pressure didn’t work at all. Julian remained unimpressed. He’s never been a follower and has not once done anything because someone else did it, too. Which is awesome if he’s still like that as a teenager. But for now? Oh well.

I read a bunch of stuff on potty training. The consensus is to not rush things, boys are slower than girls, and they will tell you when they’re ready. Well, that didn’t work. Julian never told me much of anything, other than “no thanks.”

Then one day I just decided that was it. Time to put the Thomas the Train underpants to use. And so we did. Julian protested. And then he went into the bathroom, closed the door, did his thing, dumped the “success” in the big toilet, flushed, and came back out. We have since added washing hands and a treat (!) to the routine. And we haven’t looked back. After one week he got to pick out a special new toy. I promised him anything he wanted from our local toy store. He chose a $6 train (sigh of relief).

We’re about 8 days in now. We’ve had a few accidents, but all at home. I don’t even care. He’s doing so well, and I’m proud. And relieved.

What have I learned?

  • With some kids, such as mine, don’t bother waiting for a sign. Just go for it.
  • There will be pee everywhere. Maybe it’s a boy thing? And we haven’t even conquered peeing while standing yet. I’m sure that will be a whole new adventure.
  • Public toilets are gross. And to every mother of a girl who will say, “At least you have a boy, they don’t need to touch anything” – hear me out. They touch EVERYTHING. What’s this? A plunger? Yuck. Also, they aren’t really tall enough to pee standing up without a step stool. Which means sitting down, which means no difference at all to girl bathroom fun times.
  • Underpants on boys basically means that their hands will be busy below the waist at all times.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, thanks. It’s been a big week at our house. I look forward to many years of colorful superhero-rocketship-dinosaur-train underpants.

Ice cream for all, every day

Today was a good day that ended on a not so good note. But then at the very last minute it turned around again and ended lovey. Not lovely. Lovey.

I had no patience at dinner time. Then there was some potty drama (yes, that’s happening, lord help us) and Arthur’s hands busily playing inside of the potty while I tried to save the Mater (Cars, anyone?) underpants. They couldn’t be saved. Arthur’s hands, however, could. Also, Julian sat at the dinner table for more than an hour, nibbling on his broccoli (because look mama, I’m eating it! Just very sloooooowly!) and making plans for all the fun to be had after he was done. When I broke the news to him that nothing other than going to bed would happen after this never-ending dinner, all hell broke loose.

We made up later lying in Julian’s bed together. This is by far my favorite thing about him having a toddler bed, although I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve actually laid there with him. Tonight we snuggled up and whispered sweet nothings to each other until Julian told me I had to go to my own bed now. Sweet dreams, mama.

These boys. We were on such a high this afternoon. Everything went smoothly, everyone was happy and kind to one another, there were juicy peaches and swings and a breeze – and OMG no one fell or got hurt, and that never happens.

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Arthur leaned in for a kiss, but he just opens his mouth and sometimes, if we’re lucky, sticks out his tongue, so Julian smooched him on the nose. And it was the most adorable thing I had seen all day. Also, for the rest of the day, they both smelled like peach.

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Then Julian said, “Mama, I have an idea! After this playground we should go to the ice cream truck and eat a delicious, cold ice cream. That is my idea.” And because a) it was a perfect day and b) this kid and his big blue eyes waiting for my answer and c) I WANT ICE CREAM, we all had ice cream. I literally cannot ever say no when he asks if we can have ice cream. Then Arthur starts clapping in anticipation as soon as he gets wind of what’s happening. “I want chocolate dipped today” is all I heard as Julian was riding his bike down the Promenade. And so it was. Chocolate dipped for all.

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Coney Island-bound

We were back in Brooklyn for about 12 hours when we decided, spontaneously, on Saturday morning, that a trip to Coney Island was in order. So we packed our bags and headed out the door after breakfast.

It was warm but not hot and slightly overcast. It was perfect for us. We’ve been to Coney Island on many hot summer days, and it sounds great in theory, but when you’re there sweating on the boardwalk, yeah…not so much fun. Saturday was perfect. We walked down the pier and admired the young, ambitious, RIPPED life guards in training run up and down the beach. Ok, perhaps it was mostly me who did the admiring.

We played on the beach for a while, in the sand and on one of the playgrounds. Climbing, jumping, digging, sliding, repeat.

Then we stopped for some Italian ices and checked out Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Let me just say that we had very low expectations. Last year Julian was brave enough to go on one of the rides, but he got so upset that the ride had to be stopped. This year, there was a new Jules in town. He hit every single ride. Firetrucks, trains, horse carriages, airplanes, flying elephants, monster trucks. He couldn’t get enough. True to his nature, he barely cracked a smile, but when our cheering on the sidelines got embarrassing enough for him, he would glance over and give us a proud sideways smile and I knew he was having the time of his life. And yes, I totally shed a tear. No one asked me if it was ok for him to grow up so quickly. All of a sudden I have this kid who stands in line by himself, climbs into the ride and buckles himself, and basically never looks back. I was proud and sad at the same time.

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When all of the ride tickets were used up, we went to Nathan’s and had hot dogs and french fries and very large beers.


And then we hit the Wonder Wheel, just Julian and me. We chose to sit in one of the swinging cars…have you been in one of those? Ok, so maybe I’m a chicken, but when they swing forward and you are all the way on top overlooking Coney Island and also the rusty parts of the ancient Wonder Wheel (built in 1920…almost 100 years old!) – it gets a little scary. When our car started swinging, I grabbed Julian as much out of instinct to protect him (from what? gravity?) and to just have someone to hold my hand. Julian was laughing and pushed my hand away. Saying he didn’t need my hand. But I needed HIS, goddamnit! Anyway, we had a blast. It was one of my favorite moments ever.


We all left tired and elated. It was a perfect Brooklyn day. I can’t wait to go again.

I have visions of walking the boardwalk with my boys when they are teenagers, embarrassed by my company and sheer existence, wanting nothing to do with the kiddie rides at Deno’s or holding my hand, begging me to go on roller coasters that haven’t been built yet. Hopefully somewhere, edged in Julian’s memory, will be the moment where he laughed with his mama on top of the world.



Oh Shandelee

We spent a delightful week upstate at our friend’s adorable lake house. Well, delightful isn’t actually the right word. More like crazy, exhausting, refreshing, blissful, insane, happy, and nature-y. This has been our third stay at the lake house. We went when Julian was 4 months old and then again when he was around 16 months. This was our first time with two kids, and most importantly our first time anywhere with Arthur since he’s learned how to walk. And lemme tell ya…

But let’s start at the beginning. Arthur woke up on Monday morning with a fever of 103, and we started debating whether it was a good idea to leave at all. But as our pediatrician had said the week prior (when Julian was sick with presumably the same virus): it doesn’t really matter if your kid is sick at home or on vacation. So Jeff decided to get the rental car, just as Arthur projectile vomited all over himself and me. Long story short, we cleaned up the vomit and left. Arthur slept for most of the car ride. We only stopped once to give him more cherry-flavored Ibuprofen…cherry-flavored. Red. Red. You haven’t lived until you see your kid gargling blood-colored liquid, screaming, and then vomiting everything back up. Why they make it red I have no idea.

Anyway. Arthur was fine a day later. But he was not quite himself all week; very clingy, wanting to nurse all the time, and fussy. But that didn’t stop him from running. He runs faster than his feet will carry him. Which means he falls. Constantly. He is currently sporting bruises on his forehead, above his eye, on both knees, his chin, and good god, pretty much everywhere. My goal was for him to not knock out a tooth, and I succeeded. I did, however, look up the nearest hospital as soon as we arrived in the Catskills. Just in case.

Our friend’s house is right by a beautiful lake on a huge piece of land. There are deer, foxes, grasshoppers, ants, and many, many spiders. Also: rocks to throw, sticks to poke people and things with, nature stuff to climb on and lots of room to run around. Pretty much a boy’s paradise. And our boys saw it as such.

As soon as we arrived it was determined that pants were optional. When we got down to the water, Julian stripped and declared that he wanted to be a “Nackedei” – and that was it. The boys spent hours on end running around with their naked bums, playing on the grass and in the water. We went on canoe rides, kicked the ball, had picnics by the lake, BBQed every night, ate our weight in popsicles (popsicles weigh next to nothing, so you do the math), and made s’mores.

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(Totally not wearing pants)
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We visited a farm where a lovely girl from New Zealand showed us the pigs, chickens, turkeys, and baby chicks. Julian got to feed the pigs, try to catch a chicken, find chicken eggs, and hold a baby chick. Wow, that’s a lot of chick. Later that day we went to another farm where the boys got to sit on a horse. Well, Arthur got to sit on a horse. Julian wasn’t into it. He led the horse by the reigns, brushed her down, gave her a sponge bath, and pretty much did all the labor without the joy of riding the damn thing. But whatever floats his boat.

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One of my favorite things about our stay upstate were the mornings. Jeff made delicious country coffee, the house smelled of bacon and pancakes, and we would step outside to say hi to all the critters and walk through the dewy grass. There was a chill in the air. The lake was perfect and peaceful. And so were we.


I loved being by the lake and seeing my boys so happy. I loved the extra cuddles I got from Arthur, my child who is usually too busy to sit with me for more than one second. I loved BBQing and drinking a beer guilt-free at 10:30am. Because, hey, vacation. I loved beating Jeff at playing darts and listening to old Barbra Streisand records. I loved being together. I didn’t love waking up at 3am thinking a spider just crawled into my ear. Or the fact that Arthur kept hurting himself. Or being too scared to go into the deep water of the lake. Because OMG. Fish. Lake-y underwater grass things. Slippery funny things under my feet. Gahh. I was weirded out by how quiet it was at night. The only thing I heard was a chipmunk that got lost between the walls of the house. Didn’t love the spiders. But they were kind of cool. Loved how delicious the corn tasted up there. Watching the boys eat their s’mores. Loved how the horses smelled and how beautiful the countryside is.

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And I love that we were all happy to come back home. I love that I am so content with our city life. A break like this is wonderful and so refreshing. But I came home thinking that we don’t deprive our children by living here in Brooklyn. This is exactly where I want to be.

Although I have to say I do already miss our mornings by the lake…




Before I had children, I always dreamed about having a little boy one day. A blond little boy. That was my dream. I know many women dream about having little girls, but I always wanted a son. And then I had one, and my dream had come true. I had this perfect, chubby, blond little creature that smelled so good and was so delicious. And then we wanted another one. And we both were hoping for another boy.

When I was pregnant with Arthur, every.single.person said something to the effect of “Oh I really hope this one’s a girl.” One person even expressed disappointment when I said he was a boy and stated, “This one should have been a girl.” So then Arthur came along, and it’s tough to imagine that he should have been anything other than Arthur.

So all of a sudden I had two perfect little boys to chase after. And when I didn’t think it could get any better, something else happened: my boys were brothers.


At first that didn’t mean much more than mild curiosity about “Baby Attttttuuuu.” But as Arthur became more mobile, they started interacting more. And now that he is a toddler with opinions and a sense of humor, I can see the most amazing thing of all happening: They are becoming friends.

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I will never forget the first time that notion occurred to Julian. Arthur was tiny (well, relatively speaking) and could just barely sit for a little while. Julian was playing with a school bus and handed another one to Arthur. And for a second it seemed as if they were playing together. Julian said, “Arthur is my best friend.” I wiped a tear from my eye.


And now at 14 months and 3 years old, they truly are best friends. They hold hands, tickle each other, laugh together, and most importantly: they chase each other. Julian sings, Arthur claps. They dance together until they get dizzy. They seem to want to be around each other all the time. Which of course means they fight. They need the same toy, Julian pushes Arthur, Arthur yanks on Julian’s shirt. And so on. But it all comes together nicely in this package called brotherhood.

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It’s all I ever dreamed of for our little family.

Yay ‘Murica

We had a great Fourth of July. Mostly because Jeff was off for a super long weekend (four days!) and also, yes, Germany made it to the semi finals. Also, happy birthday, America! We celebrated by being lazy, watching soccer, and letting the kids run wild. And then we rode our bikes to Redhook and had dinner at our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab.

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For dessert we shared a banana split the size of Arthur and then let the kids play for a while outside in the sandbox. Just to see how well sand sticks to faces covered in ice cream residue. Fairly well, in case you’re wondering.

Then we rushed home so we could get them to bed before the fireworks started. Our neighborhood was overrun with spectators. There was no way we would even attempt to go near the Promenade. So the kids went to bed, and Jeff and I headed to our roof and watched the fireworks from there. It was loud and smoky and kind of cool.

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Like We Used To

Remember sleeping in and then slowly getting up and wandering around NYC with your guy (or girl), brunching, shopping, laying around on the grass? Because I do. Everyone without kids nevermind. Enjoy your uninterrupted lunches and daytime drinking.

Today we spent a day sort of doing what we used to do, but really not at all. It was the kid-version of our old Jeff and Frauke life. We had brunch in the East Village with Jeff’s brother and their parents, who are in town. And then, after coffees and mimosas, we did some playground hopping. Ever tried it? You’d be surprised. It’s fun. First we rode our bikes over to a playground in the West Village. Julian took a nap on the bike while Arthur frolicked in the water. Then we all played together.

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Next up: Washington Square. I think we spent close to three hours there. Arthur napped, we ate ice cream, Julian bathed in the fountain (“Let’s go back to the water park!”). And then we played, danced, ate some sand. You know, the usual stuff. No one got hurt, no one was cranky, there were plenty of snacks and just overall a generous amount of happiness.

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Around dinner time we headed back to the East Village and rode around our old neighborhood. We had dinner at Veselka. The boys stuffed their faces with pierogis, potato pancakes, and sweet potato fries. And then Julian wanted to see where we used to live before we moved to the only home he’s ever known. We stopped at Ten Degrees and showed him where Mama and Papa met. And then, conveniently located around the corner, where we used to live together before we had our babies.

Then we rode our bikes down the East River Park as the sun was setting. I think Jeff and I were thinking the same thing. We were thinking about the many mornings we would ride there on our way to Sandy Hook. Our first summer together. Riding bikes, holding hands, kissing all the time.

And while so much has changed, so much also remains the same. I love that we still ride our bikes all the time. The freedom I feel when on that bike is indescribable. And sticky little boy hands and slobbery baby kisses ain’t so bad, either.

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