Sick of winter and sick in general

Last week was pretty ridiculous. But I want to start off on a high note. On Friday evening, when Jeff came home from work, we all went out to dinner to a BBQ restaurant in our neighborhood.

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The food was good, and the children behaved. A band played country music and Julian was enthralled and basically looked at the musicians the entire time. They talked to the boys and let them touch their guitars. It was pretty awesome for them. And for us? It almost felt like a date. Yes, the little people were there, but we were celebrating the end of a long week. When Jeff asked me to dance with him right there in the middle of the restaurant, where no one else was dancing, I said yes. And for a glorious minute or so it truly felt like we were alone. Until, of course, Julian wedged himself between our legs and danced with us.

Other than that, well, the last week has been a bit rough. Let’s see.

  • There was a stomach bug. Julian woke up two nights in a row having vomited in his bed. He was so sick for 2 days. He just laid around, slept, didn’t eat, and let Arthur and me pet his head and back.
  • The day after Julian was better, Arthur came down with a cold. That meant: getting up with him every 30 minutes to an hour for 2 nights in a row. Rocking him. Singing to him. More breathing treatments. General sadness. Then, on night 3, when his cold had subsided somewhat and his breathing had improved, he was so irritable from his eczema that he couldn’t fall asleep. He was so tired that he would nod off, only to wake himself 30 seconds later and scratching himself raw. At 11pm I trimmed his nails, lubed him up in steroid cream, and for the first time ever gave him an antihistamine.
  • Jeff worked non-stop all of last week. On Thursday, the day of before his meeting, he came home at 2:30 am. So that was technically actually Friday.
  • This morning I took Arthur to his allergist, where we were lucky to get a last minute appointment. We got a bunch of new prescriptions and ideas on how to make him more comfortable and prevent the constant itching. Also, yay! Wait for it….blood draw. Arthur was pissed and then sad. Thankfully a lollipop and the firetruck outside the doctor’s office made him forget his woes for a minute.

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  • Last but not least: What is up with this spring? What is happening? Where is the sun? We are ready for our first bike ride, so come on, winter! Move along already. We have had enough.

In between all this annoyingness, I’ve been trying to eat food that made me happy.Image-1

And despite everything, we’ve been having fun. The boys are awesome and make us laugh. They are sweet to each other. They are so loud.

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They are narwhals and unicorns.

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They fight over trains.

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On this one day Arthur gave me hope that there will be a time when he will be able to hold my hand without trying to run away.

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They humor me for hoodie selfies.

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The jump!

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They love.

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Just another (Satur)Day

Some days are just perfect. I mean, not perfect as in perfect, but perfect as in an optimal representation of our lives.

Such as today:

We were invited to a party at Build-a-Bear. Which, in theory, sounds like fun. But. If you know us and have met my children, you might say, “Huh. Really?” So we went. It was the day after yet another snow fall (also: happy first day of spring, everyone!), so it was a nice thing to do on a Saturday morning. In theory. Of course Julian hates any and all organized activity, and Arthur’s goal in life is to run away. So we had one kid who was acting as if we’d brought him to a two hour long doctor’s appointment (including shots!), while the other kid tried to get away on the elevator. The stress factor was high for two hours solid.

This picture pretty much says it all: Julian is in the corner pouting because his parents had the audacity to bring him to a commercial funplace such as “Build a effing Bear” and Arthur is only stationary in that place for one second because it took him a moment to figure out how to get down without breaking his neck.

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So that part of the day was annoying. But then we left, and magically our children were transformed again into the people that we know. They were chatting and laughing and getting sleepy for naps. I took a nap, too.

After naps we decided to go for a walk. But not before the boys fought and cried over who got to ride which scooter. Tears. Drama. Once we were outside: happiness. Scooting. Speed. Fresh air. Rosy cheeks. Then they ran around at the park, beating snow piles with sticks, chasing balls and each other, and climbing up and down stairs for all eternity. While Jeff and I sat on a sunny bench and watched. Or not. These moments are the moments that make up for all the Build a Bears and scooter fights and pushing and screaming. The moments where I see friendship and caring and fun times between the boys. The moments where I can sit on a bench with my favorite person and hold hands.

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It was the golden hour, and the light was perfect, and my boys were happy, and so was I. I have no pictures to prove it because it was so nice to just sit there.

Living with two irrational creatures (i.e. children) and one husband (who OMG shaved his beard, finally, thankyouverymuch) isn’t always peachy, but it is what I would choose over and over and over again. We won’t be back to build a bear any time soon (read: ever), but I know that everything else in life balances out. The screaming is redeemed by peaceful playing. The feeling of being drained is redeemed by a quick nap (or a cup of coffee). The not-obeying is redeemed by a wonderful bedtime story – one that Julian tells me. He’s gotten into telling me stories. Stories of animals and friends and subways and busses. They get ice cream and get lost in the woods and sometimes there are witches and wolves. It’s my absolute favorite. A glimpse into the mind of an almost-four-year-old.

Anyway. The kids are in bed. Jeff and I are eating Five Guys for dinner. All is good in the world.

Arthur at 22 (months)

Arthur. I feel like it’s time I write a little bit about Arthur. Our funny, sweet, blond whirlwind of a boy.

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These days there is very little baby left in Arthur. In less than two months he will be two years old. Where those two years have gone, I simply don’t know.

Arthur is very much into trains. Shocking, right? He lies on the floor next to his brother and plays forever. When we’re going for a walk, he pretends to be a train. He stops and smiles up at me, his little tongue making the air brake sound, and he says his word for train. It’s a word that actually sounds nothing like train, in either language, but it means train and he uses it for nothing else. And then he runs and stops while making train sounds. Up and down the streets of Brooklyn.

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Arthur’s favorite song is “Uptown Funk.” Hands down. We listen to it on repeat for as long as I can take it. His second favorite song is “Shake It Off.”

Arthur’s favorite animals are a moose and a horse. He calls them “Mmmmmm” and “ho ho ho.” He also loooooves his Olaf. Olaf and Elmo get to sleep with him every night, along with an assortment of books, toys, and his trusty flashlight. Buzz Lightyear watches over him as he sleeps.

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Arthur’s favorite person is Julian. These two are still not tired of each other. They play and run and dance and color. All day long. I think Arthur secretly thinks he will be turning four in May, not two. He can jump and do somersaults, and he rides his scooter at lightning speed.

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Arthur’s favorite food is an egg. He will eat anything as long as it is served with egg. Broccoli, spinach, sweet potato egg. That’s totally a thing.

Arthur is very determined, and when he doesn’t get his way he stands in front of me with both hands slapping his thighs in mad despair, while he screams “Ja Ja JA!” Like that will change my mind. Nice try, kid.

In general, much less fazes me about this kid. The joy of being the second one, I guess. Arthur still isn’t much of a talker. But somehow he manages to make most of his needs very clear. Julian and I are both experts at speaking “Arthur.” He’s also started to sing. La la la!

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Arthur is learning his letters and numbers thanks to the NYC subway system. He also thinks every restaurant with an “A” rating is named after him. Because A is for Arthur!

Arthur does his breathing treatments very diligently every day. We snuggle on the couch together and watch a show. His favorite is “Frozen”, “Super Why” and YouTube videos of subways, Metro North, and the Long Island Railroad. They are all pretty much over his head, but he doesn’t mind, because like I said in his mind he is a four year old kid.

Arthur is very lovey. He won’t sit still for very long, but he loves to read and snuggle on the couch. And he loves giving kisses and hugs. Arthur is the first one at the door to greet his Papa every night, and my favorite is when Jeff gets him out of bed in morning and Arthur comes flying into the kitchen and into my arms faster than his legs will carry him. “Hier kommt Dein Arthur, Mama!” says Julian.

When Julian is hurt or upset, Arthur will literally drop everything and run to his side. He’ll hug him until Julian is comforted. I love that they can comfort each other. It makes my heart so happy.

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When I ask Arthur if he is a big boy or a baby, he insists he is a baby. But everything about him says otherwise. Anyway, I have two more months of him being one, and maybe after that we can start talking about being a big boy. Maybe.

Be who you are, kid!

People always seem to be full of “helpful” advice: “Your baby is cold/hungry/tired.” “Your child needs gloves.” “You should strap your kid in (his stroller). You are a terrible mother!” (True story)

But what a random passerby on the street said to me yesterday took the cake.

It was a sunny, brisk, almost-spring morning, and Arthur and I were enjoying ourselves and going for a walk. He was happily pushing his Olaf in the stroller.

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A random guy stopped and said, “Is that a girl?”

I replied, “Why? Because he is dressed in all blue?”

I was so caught off-guard. It was a dumb response to an even dumber question. I responded with a stereotype to what I knew was leading to a ridiculous follow-up from the guy.

“You’re making him gay, you know.”

Here is what I should have said: “And? So what?”

Instead, feeling the fire rise inside of me, getting angry at the ridiculousness that was in front of me, I berated the man. For his narrow-mindedness. For everything that he said and didn’t understand. I felt an urge to defend my happy kid pushing his goddam stroller.

Another man stepped in and told me to stop arguing with the guy. That it didn’t make any sense. That I didn’t know him and what he was capable of. That I should protect my child.

So. Arthur and I kept walking. He was oblivious, of course. I still felt such rage inside. But I saw his happy cheeks and smile and just paused to kiss his face all over, and then we moved on.

But it made me think. It made me think of all the better things I could have said. It made me think of everything I want my boys to have and feel and be. Mainly: themselves.

With everything they have ever done, we have taken their lead. When we bought Julian his first train set, we didn’t know that it would take on a life of its own. His obsession with subways is entirely his own. But he also loves dressing up as Queen Elsa with Arthur as Princess Anna by his side, singing “Let it go” from the top of his lungs.

The boys love rocket ships, firetrucks, and dinosaurs. But they also like to color rainbows and draw and sing and dance. Some days Julian’s “bestest” color is green. Some days it’s pink.

I want the boys to be the best people they can be. I often say to Julian, in a difficult situation when he is acting out, “Are you being the best Julian that you can be?” And that is truly all I want. I want them to be the best people they can be.

Julian and Arthur will always be loved for who they are. I take great comfort in knowing that they will grow up with gay marriage being an option. That’s a fight neither of them or their friends will ever have to fight. I love the fact that they will have friends who have two dads or two moms. Or one of each. Or a grandma. Or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Seeing the blank canvas that their mind was when they came into this world, I know that any prejudice anyone has ever felt is taught.

Whoever taught that man on the street that pushing a stroller equals being gay (not even mentioning the fact that you can’t make anyone gay), must have known very little about real life. And I feel bad for that man.

What’s right in front of me is what matters the most: two happy, healthy boys. Two boys who have the liberty to be anything they want to be. Two boys who couldn’t be loved more and who will always be loved just the same no matter who they love or what their favorite color is or what job they choose. All I ask is that they are the best people they can be.

And that’s something I strive for every day. Being the best mother I can be, the best wife, the best friend, the best neighbor (sorry, downstairs neighbors!!), the best daughter, the best person. Some days I fail, but the intention is good. And that’s really all anyone can ask for.

Now go ahead, Arthur, and push that stroller.

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Friends

When Julian was a baby, and really all through his toddlerhood, I was fortunate to have a great network of fellow moms in my neighborhood who were all in the same boat. We went through the early stages of motherhood together. The sleep deprivation, the demands, the challenges, the joy. Our kids saw each other every week, sometimes every day.

But then we all got busy. And our kids weren’t babies anymore. They had started to make their own friends. And most of us moms had given birth to another baby in the meantime. All of a sudden we were busy times two. There was school and schedules and nap times, and all of a sudden it was much harder to get together.

In the meantime, Julian has made his own friends. I’m not necessarily friends with all the moms, but with some I am. And it’s kind of cool. I’ve actually made my own friends through the friendships my kid has formed on his own.

In school, there are three girls in particular who Julian adores. Two of them, we’re told, fight over him sometimes to the point of tears. We’ve had one of his friends over a few times to play recently, and she is like a pint-sized babysitter. I never see much of them. They are all happy to play together; of course Arthur is right there in the mix.

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Sometimes I wonder what they’re talking about when they stand or walk together and I can’t hear. Other times, when I’m right there, it’s just so adorably strange. Like when Julian asks his friend, very seriously, if she hears the differences in brake sounds on the subway. And his buddy, sweet as she is, has no idea what he is talking about and smiles and says of course she hears it!

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So now that it’s no longer freezing outside, we’ve been spending every waking minute outside with our friends. It’s so lovely to be around people again outside. It’s been a long winter.

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Arthur doesn’t have many friends of his own, but he’s always so happy to play with Julian’s friends, and they are all sweet to him. He just follows along with the big kids, even if there is a younger sibling around. Big kids is all he knows and cares about. And of course there is his best buddy always within reach. The Elsa to his Anna. The J train to his A train.

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Opa’s back!

Opa’s in town! He arrived on Saturday. Of course it is still the absolute worst month of the year (scratch that, I just remembered it is March, but oh man, hello snow, so whatever). We haven’t been up to much. But the boys are super excited to have Opa around, and so am I. We just play at home, read, drink beer and lots of coffee, and you know, moments like this.

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We made playdoh. We painted. Arthur went nuts. Towards the end he started coloring on the chair, his legs, the walls. Note there is actually no paper in front of him. I had just given up.

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I stuck him in the bath and wanted to take his shirt and diaper off before he sat down, but oh well. Also note the look of guilt. (Just kidding. This child has no remorse.)

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But hey, it’s nice to have my Papa around. I just wish the weather wasn’t so crappy. Julian keeps asking, “What is San Diego?”

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Mama Moments

On Friday we picked up Jeff from work, an event that had been anticipated for a few weeks. Most of all because the boys get to ride 13 stops on the subway (plus 1 transfer!) from Julian’s school to Columbus Circle. Oh, the excitement.

Here are the boys holding hands on the train. Because…I don’t know why. Love.

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Since we got there early, we bought two face-sized cookies and killed some time running around Time Warner Center.

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Everything was great, until the moment Julian said he had to go to the bathroom, so I had to strap Arthur in the stroller (SCREAMING) and rush everyone off to the nearest bathroom. Where Arthur and his lungs made sure everyone knew we had arrived. When I heard the automatic flush on the toilet I rushed in the stall just in time to see Julian’s expression of pure terror. I’d forgotten about the automatic flush, and he didn’t know it even existed. So. Somehow his underwear got soaked from the water. Julian was on the verge of a meltdown. Meanwhile: Arthur was still screaming and had also has managed to almost wiggle himself out of the stroller straps. So we ran to H&M and bought cool Star Wars-themed underpants. Because: awesome. And then, amidst the annoyed 20-somethings shopping at H&M, I changed my son in the dressing room. While the other son still screamed. Nothing I did could console him. So I asked Julian to hold his hand, while I did something really important…like dab the sweat off my forehead or try to not make eye contact with anyone near me. And then this happened:

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Total silence. Kisses for Arthur’s hand. And Arthur just calmed down and looked adoringly at his brother. Amazing. Finally one of my kids is coming in handy.

Jeff offered me a beer immediately when we arrived at his work. And Julian elaborated on Papa’s duties at work: listening to records, saying hi to his friends, and drinking beer. Spot on, kid.

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We watched the sun set up from the highest floor of the Hearst Tower. Just in this moment Arthur spotted (or imagined seeing) a horse and jumped up and down making his horse sound/word combination. Ho-ho-ho!

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