An Interview with Julian on his 4th Birthday

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What’s your favorite drink?

Spicy water

What’s your favorite food?

Spinach salad. Sometimes carrots. Also cookies. I have many favorite foods. Pancakes. Cheese.

What’s your favorite song?

Roar and All about that bass

Who’s your favorite singer?

Me (Julian)

What’s your favorite TV show?

Sid the Science Kid

What’s your favorite book?

Die Riesen-Birne

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play

What makes you laugh?

You. (mama)

What’s your favorite animal?

A lion

What’s your favorite toy?

M34 bus

What makes you happy?

You. (mama)

What makes you sad?

Nothing

Who do you love?

Mama, Papa, Arthur, Grammy, Grandpa, and Eloise.

What scares you?

Monsters

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Go to work

Who is your best friend?

Arthur

What do you want for your birthday?

A bike, M4 bus

What is your favorite playground?

Harry Chapin

What is your favorite museum?

Brooklyn Museum

What’s your favorite color?

Green, orange, yellow, blue, red, pink

What’s your favorite subway train?

The Z and J train

What are you best at?

Playing

What things do you take to bed with you?

Hoppel, flash light

What is your favorite fruit?

Grapes, blueberries, strawberries

What is your favorite snack?

Cereal bars

What is your favorite vegetable?

Spinach salad

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Being a train

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

Bronx, with the 2/3 train

P.S. Here is Julian’s birthday interview from last year.

Julian is 4

So this is four.

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I’ve been a mother for four years now. Julian has grown from a big, content blob into a curious, gentle, sometimes shy toddler and now into a confident, kind, and all around wonderful person.

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He makes me so proud every day. He makes me laugh every day. He tests my patience every day. He blows my mind every day with the things he knows and says and does.

Julian is always kind. Still, to this day, he has not once hit or bitten or pushed another child (other than a very rare shove for his brother). He has started to stand up for himself though, and he will ask other kids for turns or to get his toy back.

He is very silly. Some mornings he wakes up and says he is a horse. Some days he is a train or a bus or a shark or a narwhal. Sometimes he has a “spit train” in his mouth (no joke). And then, towards the end of the play, he announces, “Jetzt bin ich wieder dein Julian.” (“Now I will be your Julian again.”) I love all the other characters, and they make my life very colorful, but Julian is my favorite.

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A few months ago he basically taught himself how to read. I swear he learned it by reading the subway stations. So thanks, MTA. You win again. He’s not always in the mood to read, but sometimes when we’re riding our bikes he’ll read random words out loud. And he can definitely follow a finger and read slowly from a book.

Julian is not a social butterfly, but he seems to be a solid friend. He loves his friends and was very excited to invite his favorite people to his birthday party. It makes me happy to see him and his friends run around outside and overhear their little conversations.

Train Jokes

At night he will sometimes come out of his room for some nonsensical reason. I think he just wants to see what we’re doing. Sometimes his leg is itchy or he needs more water, but my favorite of all time is this one: “Mama, my hands are hot.”

Julian still loves everything about the subway and the transportation system in general. Long Island Railroad, Metro North, and city buses. He builds elaborate train stations and bus stops with Magnatiles and will play for hours. The edge of our rug is the yellow line. So don’t your dare step on it.

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Julian adores his brother. They play together all day long. They chase each other, race each other, or hit their heads in bike helmets agains poles and fences. Why? Because boys. Half of the things they do make no sense to me. But I have learned to just sit back and enjoy.

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As of late, Julian has gotten into “performances.” He will gather his audience (lucky us!) and place us on his bed or the couch. He collects tickets and hands out pretend popcorn (no popcorn with nuts for Arthur!), and then he has to find his imaginary microphone. It’s just never where he last put it. Then the show begins! Julian is usually Katy Perry, with an occasional appearance of Kelly Clarkson. We applaud like we mean it, because we totally do.

I am so excited for our summer together and to have Julian home all day to go on bike rides and have picnics and go to the beach. And then, towards the end of the summer, I know I will be ready to send him back to school for a few days a week. Speaking of school, I signed my kid (read: MY BABY!) up for school. As in real, actual school. For 2016. Because this is New York and you can never sign your kid up too early for anything. He talks about it already, and I know he will love it. And finally he will actually learn all the languages he is convinced he already speaks…

I couldn’t have dreamed up a cooler son. He is the most complex little person, never easy, always stubborn, and sometimes so very irrational it makes my head hurt. But I know where he gets it from. With all that is sweet and good about him I’ll gladly take his feisty side. Because they make the whole package, the whole Jules. My wonderful, good-hearted, smart, sweet son. My boy.

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Happy 4th Birthday, kid. You couldn’t be loved any more.

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All photos taken by the amazingly talented Jeff Weston. 

Biking FTW

When we’re out riding bikes with the kids, we get so many comments and looks, 99% of them positive. Of course there is the random kid who is offended because he shouldn’t be walking in the bike lane and says, “Yeah, that’s safe.” The truth is, it actually is safe. Our boys hurt themselves way less when sitting on a bike than while, say, walking. Because they can’t physically walk. They run. And then they trip. And fall. And so it goes. Anyway, back to biking.

Most people will say really sweet things and inquire about our bikes. Julian will tell them, “It’s a Dutch bike!” We have a little speaker with our favorite songs; we’re always well equipped with snacks and stop frequently to play or have coffee or munch on Graham crackers.

Yesterday we rode around Brooklyn…over to Jane’s Carousel and into Williamsburg.

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My favorite part about this whole bike riding thing? It’s actually a completely non-draining activity for us. Relaxing, in fact. Today we rode 25 miles. We started in Brooklyn, rode over the Brooklyn Bridge, over to the West Side, up to Central Park, around the park and up to the Harlem Meer, further up to 127th Street and back down on the West Side and back over the bridge and home. We left at 10:30am and returned at 7pm. We had sandwiches in the park, looked at boats and horses, and played a lot.

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We see so much. They boys are always entertained and seriously never complain, although today towards the end everyone was tired. But during the day, when they are tired, they nap. And I just love riding through our city. We see neighborhoods we normally might not explore, and each trip can take an adventurous turn. We can go anywhere.

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Anyway, my point is this: I woke up feeling crappy today. I had been awake for almost 3 hours in the night because of Arthur’s cold and Julian’s bad dream and my inability to fall back asleep. I have a cold myself. I woke up and felt like someone had hit me over the head. So I had two options: I could have been lazy today and let the boys play and hang around the house and probably get on each others’ nerves before long. Or I could suck it up and get on my bike and enjoy the day. I felt much better outside than I know I would have on my couch. Lazy days are amazing. It’s awesome to stay on the couch and watch movies and read a good book and drink tea. But once you have little kids and a small apartment, that is pretty much not an option.

So we enjoyed our day together.

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Pre-Birthday Love, 2015 edition

It’s birthday season, so that is probably the reason why I am increasingly thinking of the loss of babyhood as my babies are growing into people. In a little more than a week I will have a four year old and a two year old under my roof.

Julian is a smart, stubborn, musical, kind, funny boy. He loves bike riding, everything about trains, his brother, music, and his Mama and Papa. He loves going to school, and I can’t wait to hear about his day as we ride the bike home through Brooklyn. He is so much more talkative on the bike than on the subway, where my mere presence is an interruption, because: trains.

The other day, as he was playing in the kitchen, and I was telling him something or other, he said, “Mama, sometimes you get on my nerves when you talk to me so much.” Thanks, son. I wasn’t aware that you were a teenager all of a sudden.

This week everyone was sick. Julian brought a cold into our house, where it made the rounds. Of course Arthur was hit hardest, and his asthma really kicked up. Since the boys weren’t feeling well, I got a lot of extra cuddle time in. One night I was lying next to Julian after a bad dream or a coughing fit, and I was smelling his hair… It was a mixture of big boy smell who’s been running around outside and that very faint smell of baby. I stayed a little longer next to my boy than I really needed to.

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I’ve been thinking about all the things I will never do again. Swaddling a baby. Wearing one in a wrap. Nursing. Having one sleep on my chest. But I also think about the things I won’t miss as much. Baby food. People who can’t communicate needs in ways other than screaming. Poop up the back. … I’ll just leave it at that.

I have been getting up in the night again with Arthur now that he isn’t feeling well. When I go to him at night, he jumps into my arms and drapes himself around me like a heating blanket. He nuzzles his head of wild hair into the crook of my neck. Even though I miss my sleep and the feeling of waking up rested rather than grumpy, I do love those snuggles.

Arthur gives the best kisses. He takes my face into both of his little warm hands and pulls my face into his for a kiss. I’ll take those kisses for as long as he gives them, because I know that at some point I will talk so much that I will get on his nerves, too.

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I think four and two will be amazing. I think we will have so much fun. Julian is learning new things every day…about flowers, the world, space, how to read and balance and (soon) how to ride a real bike.

Arthur is navigating his way into the world of language. Slowly, but surely. He is still behind the curve with his language skills, but he has somehow found a way to make his every need and wish known. A request for a specific song (Uptown Funk is still going strong), book, toy, or showing us things he sees outside. He is such a sweet, gentle boy who strikes me as somewhat indestructible. He falls from scary heights and doesn’t even have the patience to let me comfort him, because “Mother, I’m fine. Just stop.”

The boys are are so wonderful together. They miss each other when Julian is in school, and they play together all day. Arthur always runs to Julian when he sees that he is upset at the playground or out & about, and Julian has started to stick up for Arthur, too. I love to hear them talk in their beds after we’ve said good night, or early in the morning sometimes.

The other day they were climbing up and down the slides at the playground, and I overheard Julian say to Arthur, “We’re best friends.” They truly are.

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While I miss some things about babyhood, I wouldn’t want it back. Kids are awesome, and I am so excited for this next year with my (almost) four and two year olds. The adventures we’ll have!

P.S. These were my thoughts last year.

Anniversary Weekend

It’s been kind of a not so great week on many fronts for many reasons, but the weekend more than made up for it.

Saturday was Jeff’s and my anniversary (4 years! And 7 years since our first date). We celebrated with an excellent bike ride to Coney Island. We made it down there in about an hour and 15 minutes, all the while listening to a song mix that included the kids’ favorites from Uptown Funk to Yellow Submarine and All About That Bass. It was so fun and such a gorgeous ride down Ocean Parkway. Look here! We made it.

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We immediately celebrated our arrival (and anniversary) with a beer.

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Then we took the boys down to the beach. They ran towards the water and basically never looked back.

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As time went on they shed some clothes and got dirty. Those are the moments we will never forget. Happiness all around; so pure and so contagious.

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Then we had a picnic on the boardwalk, and afterwards we hit the rides. It was the first time Arthur was old enough to go on them, and he was so excited. He wanted to ride them all.

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He was never once scared or tried to jump off a ride (which, if you know Arthur, is a totally realistic expectation). Julian, at this point, is a total pro and directed us towards his favorite rides. He also got to ride the Wonder Wheel with Papa.

After rides, this:

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Once we decided it was time to ride home, both boys fell asleep immediately and slept for a good 45 minutes on the bike. While we listened to music and enjoyed the sunshine.

We stopped at Lakeside in Prospect Park for some refreshments and kisses. It was a perfect, perfect day.

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On Sunday we took it easy. We just rode around Redhook, spent some time by the water and on a playground.

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Oh, and we spent around 2 1/2 hours at our favorite restaurant, the Brooklyn Crab. We ate shrimp and had beers and corn dogs and crab sandwiches. We let the boys play in the sand, played shuffle board and corn hole and lazied around in the sun.

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Then we rode to Fairway and had coffees while Arthur napped. And then we sat around some more.

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Seven years ago when Jeff took me to dinner at Morandi and we shared cannoli in Tompkins Square Park, I could have never dreamed up this life we live now. And even four years ago, when we got married and Julian was kicking around in my belly, I still couldn’t have predicted this.

Today I feel like the luckiest.

Spring weekend – finally

After months and months of snow, wind, and waiting for better times, it has finally arrived: spring. And with that: bike rides and ice cream.

We spent all weekend on our bikes. On Saturday we rode over the Brooklyn Bridge, covered Battery Park, Washington Square, the West and East Villages, and rode back home over the Manhattan Bridge. The boys were squealing with delight and also shivering from the gusty winds. But nothing some ice cream can’t cure…

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We saw helicopters, boats, firetrucks, and subways; squirrels, music in the park including a grand piano; we had sandwiches and coffee in the sun, played on playgrounds and were all around happy.

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Arthur napped on the bike while Julian played…

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These guys.

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Saturday night we had our dear friends over for pizza…

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…and lots of wine. The boys were so excited and acted like they don’t get out much, when in fact they had been out all day. It was a wonderful, late night full of good food and better company and lots of laughs.

Sunday, round two. A tour of Brooklyn. We rode a good 20 miles all over our lovely borough: Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Midwood, Prospect Park. We stopped at various playgrounds along the way. We saw the oldest farm house in New York, the Wyckoff House (built in 1652), and had lunch at the picnic tables next to the old farm. It was another perfect (and tiring) day. We all got some sun.

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We ended the day with a cold beer and a couple of power naps at Lakeside in Prospect Park. Yes, Jeff and I took turns sleeping in the sun. It was delightful.

There is nothing that I could possibly say that can adequately express how ridiculously happy bike riding makes us. We see so much, we’re outside, we get some exercise in, and we’re all together in the city that we love. It’s the best. Thanks, spring, for finally showing up. We adore you.

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Easter, suburban style

We spent Easter in Delaware with Jeff’s parents. It was a good Easter. The boys were happy, everyone was healthy, and we ate ourselves sick with candy. Thanks, easter bunny. We met the bunny, hunted for eggs, and pet some goats.

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Julian and Arthur loved having two dogs to play with. They took them for walks and chased them around the yard. Arthur spent a good amount of time barking at them and climbing in and out through the doggy door. Alright, you animal, we get it.

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One of my favorite parts of the weekend was Friday night: Jeff and I got to go on a date. The first date since….January? It was lovely.

My other favorite part was that Arthur didn’t love sleeping in a strange crib, so every morning when he would wake up way too early, I would sneak into the boys’ room and snatch Arthur out of his crib and lie in the empty bed next to Julian’s bed with him. He would drape himself around me like a heating blanket, with his hair in my face, and go right back to sleep. One morning, after we had woken up and Julian had gone downstairs to hang with Grammy, Arthur and I stayed in bed for another half hour. Cuddling, tickling, smooching. Every time I asked Arthur if he wanted to get up, he said no. So we cuddled some more. It was one of my favorite moments ever.

The boys loved running around outside. We loved sitting around in the sun with a cold beer in our hands. Also: eating lots of mini chocolate eggs.

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On Sunday, at the cousins’ house in New Jersey, Julian fell in love with a little bike with training wheels and rode it around the block a million times. Arthur fell in love with this car and his new hairdo:

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As Jeff and I were strolling around the lovely suburban neighborhood, I asked him if we were doing it all wrong. Look at this lovely suburban green grass and how happy our kid is riding that bike. Jeff reminded me that we are doing exactly the same thing. Julian gets to ride his bike every day. We just have more people around and less grass. And coffee shops on the way for coffee and treats. And a breathtaking view from the Promenade.

When we returned to Brooklyn on Sunday, it felt so good to be home. It’s always good to see how other people do things; it gives us a different perspective. But we know that until further notice, city life is the life for us.

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So we got our bikes out of storage and took them for a quick spin. We have been waiting for this moment for so long. Finally! Spring is here.

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