What’s worse than stepping in sh**?

When your kid steps in sh**. The dog variety, of course. Honestly, if there is one thing I am so over, it is people not cleaning up after their dogs.

But let’s start at the beginning: That moment when Julian stepped in dog sh** was pretty metaphoric for how our entire day went yesterday.

In the morning I took both boys to school on the bike. They were excited. We sang our “We’re going back to school today” song that we creatively made up. Spirits were high. Arthur was happy to say good-bye. I felt like such a winner, riding my bike home with the empty kid seats behind me and Bruce playing from the speaker, with the entire day ahead of me. Plans included terribly exciting things such as changing the sheets and vacuuming, but also running errands in Soho and a lunch all by myself.

That’s when my front tire went flat.

So I wasted 40 minutes waiting for the bike shop to open, then had the bike fixed, then rode home. Spirits at this point were slightly less high.

Then I changed the sheets. And vacuumed. And then the boys’ school called because Arthur was crying. We agreed to wait another 30 minutes and if he was inconsolable, I would pick him up. What followed were a couple of slightly-less-calm-than-I-would-have-wished phone calls requesting I retrieve my child immediately. So off I went.

When I got there I could hear Arthur screaming from across the street. He was sitting in a chair with a bowl of goldfish in front of him, screaming his head off. His eyes were red, and his face was blotchy. He calmed down immediately when I picked him up and said that he was crying because he wasn’t allowed to play with one thing or another. In speaking with Julian later, we think it happened when everyone was supposed to sit down for circle time and Arthur had a hard time following the instructions. But it is kind of amazing that I have to get that sort of information from my 4 year old, rather than from the teachers. On the way home Arthur just hugged me and said he missed me. Which…I mean….sad. I think we overestimated his sense of independence, which is so strong, but in reality he’s never been away from me, ever, so this is a difficult transition for him.

So we went home, had lunch, and he napped. When Julian came home from school (he tagged along with one of his friends so I didn’t have to make the trip again), we went for a bike/scooter ride and, you know, stepped in dog sh**. But whatever.

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Today was significantly better. We had speech therapy, which is totally a happy time for all of us (the boys ask about the teacher a day in advance and sit at the window calling her name…in fact, this morning Julian said, “Today is the day I get to see Katie!”).

We met our friends for play and lunch. We rode our bike. We jumped.

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On the ride home Arthur briefly fell asleep on the bike for about a minute, and for some reason that counted as his nap, and he spent an hour in the boys room playing witch and whatnot with his brother. While I napped. And then we did some of this.

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After not napping and fooling around, we had some ice cream. And played and got dirty and even more tired.

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So. All I’m thinking is that tomorrow won’t be as bad as yesterday but may not be as good as today, and that is totally fine with me.

Hey! A list.

It’s time for a list!

1. School. Due to all the holidays, the boys have only been to school for two days so far, Thursday and Thursday. Ha. Arthur happily stayed until lunchtime last week, and this week he will stay the full day until 2:45pm. On Tuesday. Because Thursday is yet another holiday. While the boys were in school last week, I sat in the park. At first I wrote some emails, and then I read my book. And then, here comes the shocker, I sat and stared at the trees. For about an hour. It was amazing. I closed my eyes, and then I stared some more. It was the first time in months years when that has happened. Oh man. The peace. Mind blown.

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2. Other big boys things-that-are-happening. We turned Arthur’s crib into a toddler bed, and holy freedom. There have been many, MANY additional “night nights” and some early morning visits to my bed. I secretly love my morning cuddles, but I miss my extra sleep.

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3. A date! It seems like we haven’t seen much of each other lately, and due to kids and too much work and not enough sleep, well, anyway. It was nice to hang out and eat dinner at a restaurant without having to bring small toy cars, animals and/or trains.

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4. This!

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We went to the German Steuben Parade on Saturday, and I met the former Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit. He was mayor for 13 years, and one of the only and first openly gay politicians at the time. It was great to meet him. And we had so much fun at the parade, waving flags and hands and catching gummy bears.

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We spent the rest of the day bumming around Central Park and the West Side.

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We found a cool old train and some geese.

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We ate burgers and rode our bikes home in the dark with a chill in the air. It was a lovely day.

4. Rainbows!

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Have a wonderful week!

Visiting the World Trade Center

It’s the time of year where I wish I could pack these last few weeks of “weather that’s warm enough to wear shorts” and move it to February or March, aka the months I resent more than everything in life and then some. I’m ready for fall now, for light jackets and long pants and a fresh chill in the air.

To accommodate my sentiment I overdressed my children all weekend. Who cares if they sweat; this is the new fall collection.

On Saturday we hung out in Prospect Park with a bunch of Germans for the boys’ school “welcome to the new school year” picnic. Everyone brought some sort of a baked good; I brought peach cobbler. About 30 minutes in Julian and Arthur had eaten enough carbs to last all week, and that’s saying something. No one brought meats & cheeses, so I’m not sure how German anyone really is, including myself.

On Sunday we’d had enough of a) being lazy and b) our children bickering over absolutely everything – so we spent the day outside, and everyone, per usual, was happy.

We rode our bikes into Manhattan and had breakfast at this nice French place in the Financial District that we dared to set foot in despite white table cloths and the children we had in tow. The boys got to eat oven-warm chocolate croissants that left at least one of their faces covered in chocolate (not looking at you, Arthur).

Then we went on an adventure we’d been talking about for a while. We went to the observation deck of the World Trade Center. I still want to call it the Freedom Tower (because that is what the boys call it) or the “new” World Trade Center. But it is what it is: One World Trade Center.

The timing was, obviously, kind of appropriate. On Friday we stood at our dining room window and looked at the top of the World Trade Center and at the Towers of Light that went up into the sky. Julian was in Jeff’s arms and asked all the questions. Why did the airplanes crash? Why did the firemen not get away fast enough? Can that happen again to this World Trade Center?

I tried to keep busy during all of this and only listened with one ear, because I think otherwise I would have cried. It was one of the moments that have recently become more frequent…some of the loss of innocence and growing up that I know lies ahead for our boys. Just over the last month or so Julian has been asking questions about death and what happens when we die.

So, visiting the World Trade Center at this moment in our lives was kind of appropriate. The boys were very excited. Arthur kept pointing up and shouting “Freedom Tower!”

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We spent a lot of time walking around and looking at boats and tiny taxis and the bridges and the city and Brooklyn and New Jersey. We tried to find our house, but couldn’t.

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It was an amazing, amazing sight. It literally took my breath away. We looked at all the paths and roads we’ve ridden our bikes on and reminisced about the summer and the adventures we’ve had.

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We looked down at the World Trade Center memorial water fountain. We told Julian that this is where the original buildings stood.

When we went down and looked at the fountain up close, Arthur kept requesting to bathe in the water, so at that point it was time to move on. I think everyone needs an Arthur in their lives, just to keep things in perspective and for hearts not to get too heavy.

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We spent the rest of the day riding around Battery Park. We spent some time sitting by the water with beer, lemonade, and hot dogs – while the boys jumped on a foot-sized xylophone.

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We hung out on a playground…

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…until it started to rain. We had coffee and treats at a coffee shop in Tribeca. And then we headed home.

These moments with the boys are so bittersweet. On the one hand I want to protect them always and keep their hearts pure, but on the other hand I know it’s just not possible. Julian has proven to be very sensible, inquisitive, and smart when approaching some of the more serious subjects of life, although we’re still working on compassion on every day matters when his brother is lying on the floor, crying. Arthur, however, knows nothing about the turmoils of the heart, but he will drop everything right then and there to rush to his brother’s side when he’s upset and hold him.

So it all evens out in the end, I guess.

Night Cuddle

Yesterday was a big day for Arthur. Sometimes it’s easy to brush over these things with the second kid and with the business of life.

But after I took Arthur home from school around lunch time and had him nap for a bit, I had to wake him up again because it was time to pick up Julian. I put Arthur in the Ergo; he is so tall now that his face is at the same level of mine. He wrapped his arms around my neck and rested his head on my shoulder. After a while he was awake enough to start chatting, and during the subway ride over to the school we talked. His face was so close to mine, and it was lovely. I have to resist the urge to kiss his cheeks at all times, but sometimes it’s hard. It was the first moment in months that I had alone with Arthur, and I hadn’t even realized it.

Arthur was amazing during his speech therapy session yesterday – just when I had feared that he would be too tired after school and all the impressions of the first day. But he was incredible.

Papa was stuck in the Midwest for another night due to weather, so I had the big bed to myself. At around 11pm, I snuck into the boys’ room and stole Arthur. I laid him down next to me, and we cuddled.

At 1am I had a foot on my face and returned him to his crib. He woke up for a second and complained that I hadn’t read him a book. Haha, nice try, kid.

While he was lying next to me, I studied his serious sleeping face. I was thinking of everything he is and everything I hope for his future. His bright spirit and silly sense of humor, his adventurous bravery and inability to ever be still, his kind heart and compassion. I renewed my promise to always hear him, to protect him, and to kiss his cheeks 100 times a day.

He just woke up, just before 9am. He’s singing in his crib. Time to go kiss those cheeks.

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Back to School!

Well, after many weeks of summer fun, it was finally back to school for our boys. It was a much anticipated day; the boys were very excited.

I wasn’t too nostalgic, definitely not as much as I was on Julian’s very first day two years ago, when I couldn’t have told you who of the two of us was more anxious. It was hard for me to send my baby off to school then, even though I was so excited to have some time with Arthur, who was barely four months old then!

And now he, our actual baby baby, was off to school, too. The boys go to a small, German Montessori school here in Brooklyn. They have all ages in the same “class,” so Julian and Arthur are together. I think it will definitely help Arthur to ease into his new routine to have his brother by his side.

This morning I was mostly nervous about getting everyone fed, dressed and out the door by 8:20am. After our lazy summer hours, this seemed almost undoable, especially with Jeff being away on a work trip. Of course everything fell into place perfectly, and it was a very relaxed morning. The boys even had time to play and do puzzles before they headed off.

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Look at these big boys!!

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And off they went…

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Today I stayed with them for most of the day. I did say goodbye for a brief moment, and Arthur was very happy to say goodbye. But then I guess he had second thoughts and started crying, just as I had sat down with a latte and a croissant at a coffee shop around the corner. In an effort to make his first school day a positive experience, I was asked to return and hang out some more.

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Arthur had to leave before lunch time, as part of the phase-in. He was not pleased. He had a pretty solid meltdown and kicked and screamed when I carried him out. He wanted to stay, but truth be told probably only if I stayed also. On the way home he kept saying, “Jules? Miss Jules.”

I know today was the first day, and overall I am happy with how it went. Even though it sucked making Arthur leave when he seemed to want to stay. Julian is now one of the oldest kids there, and Arthur is one of the two youngest. I hope that they will each find their place and keep growing together and independently from one another. I hope that Arthur will soon learn to trust his teachers and make new friends.

And now I can’t wait to pick up Julian this afternoon! Arthur and I will both be so happy to have him back. We may have to celebrate with donuts.

P.S. Just for kicks, this was our “back to school” last year.

The struggle is real

Yesterday I took my children to the playground and offered them a special morning snack, graham crackers. They each got one, and then – when they came back begging for more – they each were given another half. Julian threw a fit that he didn’t get another whole one, so I made his half disappear really quickly. Julian tantrumed (this is a new verb, by the way) all over the place. Arthur, meanwhile, ate his cracker in silence and then broke the last little bite in two and tried to give one to his brother. I intervened, because said brother was still screaming at the top of his lungs, and no way in hell will that screaming mouth get a cracker.

This morning we had a hard cardboard roll that was leftover from the boys’ easel drawing paper. I offered to turn it into a rocket ship for Arthur, because our blessed first child already has a fancy cardboard roll rocket ship. What followed was, of course, a massive meltdown because of all the holy injustice in the world.

My poor, cardboard and graham cracker deprived child.

This morning – because yay it’s a new day! We ran errands. I was hungry and wanted a croissant, and because the boys were so good and I am a goddamn pushover, I bought them each a small cookie at the bakery. Julian immediately said he’d also like a piece of my croissant. Because SHARING is CARING I gave him a piece of my food. And then I ate the rest. When he realized there was no more croissant leftover for him, he trantrumed. All over the grocery store. He screamed so much that I just stopped talking to him and pretty much didn’t acknowledge his existence for a good while.

As I was running groceries up our stoop, Arthur sat next to his crying brother and started wiping away the tears. It was a sweet moment amidst all the drama. A stranger stopped to inform me that “girls are so much worse.” I told him that I have a hard time believing that.

Anyway. Tomorrow is the first day of school, and I will celebrate by eating many WHOLE graham crackers and croissants while playing with cardboard spaceships.

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Saturday Fun

Jeff only got to hang out with us one day this Labor Day weekend: Saturday. So we made the most of it. We spent most of the day hanging out on Governor’s Island.

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We played on the different playgrounds but really spent most of our time laying around on a picnic blanket. We had salads (fruit and veggie), almond butter, banana & honey sandwiches, popcorn, and beer.

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We played soccer, and the boys played with sticks and trucks and trains. Jeff and I both took naps. The boys went exploring and played in the moat of Fort Jay. No pictures of that because I was sleeping.

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We took the ferry back and rode our bikes over to Brooklyn Crab. Arthur fell asleep on the way over and stayed asleep while I carried him around into the back, where Julian played and had an ice cream (psssst…don’t tell Arthur), and Jeff and I had a beer.

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We went upstairs to eat dinner, and Arthur stayed asleep for an additional 20 minutes. He’s amazing. Then he woke up and looked confused.

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Julian is totally terrified of crabs and lobsters and doesn’t even want to be near them. Jeff was accidentally brought the wrong “steam pot” with much scarier-looking crab legs than the ones pictured above, and Julian literally refused to sit down until they were removed. The real steam pot with the tiny little crabs was thankfully deemed less frightening, and so we could eat in peace. Arthur ate his weight in mussels. We couldn’t get them out of their shells fast enough.

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On our way home we stopped at Brooklyn Farmacy for ice cream.

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We rode home in the dark, with the cool wind in our faces and music playing on the speaker. It’s those moments where I can’t think of anything that should be different or better or anywhere else I’d rather be.

Additional highlight from earlier this week:

We met Julian’s school friend and her Papa for playtime and a picnic. When I looked away for one second, Arthur had run through the sprinklers. Fully dressed, of course. The look on his face was so priceless, because he knew he had done something mischievous, and it felt so good. Julian shortly followed suit, and they had so much fun.

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Last Days of Summer

One more week until school starts, and three more weeks until the official beginning of fall. Help me.

I’m not ready to let this summer go. It went by too fast, and even though I know we had so much fun and many adventures, I’m just not ready for it to end.

So we’re trying to enjoy it while we can.

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We’ve been spending lots of time outside with visits to the pool and sprinklers.

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I love loading up the bike, bringing a picnic, some bubbles and sidewalk chalk, and a couple of trains or cars and see what happens.

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Two things we’ve been working on lately:

Julian has been struggling a lot with how to deal when he is losing control. When things don’t go his way, he loses his temper to the point of no return. Once he is in that state, there is literally nothing I can do or say. And that has been very hard. It’s hard for me not to lose my patience because that behavior is so infuriating. It drives me insane when he acts that way. Yesterday he fought Arthur over a stupid Matchbox car and got into such a rage that we had to leave the pop-up pool prematurely – which sucked and was unfair to his brother, and his mother. But I just can’t tolerate a meltdown of such epic proportions in public, complete with sand-kicking and utter defiance. So, we spoke about it a lot yesterday, and we agreed that next time he feels that feeling of rage rising inside of him, usually when he is confronted with a problem he cannot solve on his own, he has to come to me for help. Today that happened twice; and the first time I had to stop him in his tracks and make eye contact and ask, “Is there something I can help you with?” And that did the trick. The second time, he stopped himself – just in the moment when I saw it on his face that he was about to lose control. And he said, “Mama, can you help me with this?” We solved the problem together. For the record, the “problems” here are usually a toy he had and that Arthur took, or a toy that Julian wants and Arthur is playing with, or some other very important hugely significant thing that, you know, only matters to a four year old. OMG. Kids are insane.

The other thing, on a more upbeat note, is hurray! We have a potty-trained two year old. Not even three weeks in, I consider this thing done. The beach probably set us back a few days, just because Arthur was so busy playing in the sand, and I wasn’t paying very much attention because I was stuffing my face with hoagies and pretzel chips. But now that we are back to normal life, that kid means business. I am super impressed; he’s exactly one year ahead of Julian at the time. So yay for no more diapers.

Anyway. Tonight, after a fun-filled day, I took the boys out for hamburgers and ice cream to a restaurant on our street. It was lovely to sit outside with a cold beer and my crazy boys and to talk about our days. Here’s to the summer that I wish could last forever!

(And oh, hm. I just had a feeling I had already used this title here before, and turns out I had. Exactly one year ago to the day. Just re-reading those words almost makes me cry, because it feels like yesterday. I can still taste those chocolatey eclairs.)