My latest obsession

So here’s what I have to say after my first two weeks of being a gym member: Why didn’t I do this sooner? Because it always seemed impossible. For many reasons.

  1. I get intimidated by other people at the gym. (So far I’ve only almost cried once.)
  2. I was afraid to make a (financial) commitment when I can’t predict if I will continue to love it and/or manage to carve out the time to go.
  3. My kids. My attached, lovely boys, who are spoiled by my presence and sometimes sad to be without me.
  4. The pressure due to No. 3.
  5. The guilt due to No. 3.

But so, I did it. I talked the gym into letting me do a three month trial rather than committing for a year. And I just went for it.

We’ve been having a rough couple of weeks, sleep-wise and also temperament-wise (“Hold me, mama! At all times, and if my hand isn’t touching you anywhere on your body all the time every second I am awake, I miss you and I am sad.”), because Arthur has a man-cold and suffers tremendously. Sadly, he also fell on his face on Saturday and hit a metal bucket with full force – which left him with a banged up nose and a black/blue/greenish right side of his face.

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So I’ve been going to the gym, a lot. As Jeff will confirm, I never do anything half-way, and for now going makes me feel so much better than not going. I go to early morning classes at least three times a week, and (sadly?) I have not once had to set my alarm. I sweat for an hour and am home by 7am when the kids get out of bed. One time Julian came out of his room right at 7am just as I was coming in, heavy winter coat on and all, and he asked me in a surprised tone, “Mama, what are you doing?” I think he thought I was running away. My favorite part (other than feeling good that I went) is walking to the gym in the dark and coming home just as the sun is rising, and it feels beautiful and peaceful and probably everything that I could want from my early morning before my family awakes.

My favorite has been a martial arts class I’ve taken a couple of times. I get to put on big gloves and punch a bag. Pretty much everything about that is amazing. Although today I almost cried one time because it was really difficult to keep up with all the different movements.

I brought both boys to the childcare place at the gym once. They were happy to go and fine when I left, although I later learned that they both (!) cried off and on for quite a bit. I went to yoga and ran on a treadmill for half an hour. I felt amazing. And guess what? They were fine when I picked them up. The caregiver was reading Star Wars to them, they weren’t upset, and I felt so energized and happy that there was no room for guilt (I still made them peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes for lunch). Of course I’m not happy to hear that they cried, but it also didn’t get to me the way it has in the past. I kind of didn’t take them seriously (especially Julian!). (That’s probably bad, right?) They’re going back tomorrow, bam.

And best of all, my patience levels have been so much higher. Like night and day. I was a better, nicer, kinder person this week. Much less yelling.

And then there was that time when I bought us all chocolate donuts (with sprinkles!) and triumphantly carried them past the gym.

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Snowmageddon 2016

Did it snow, or what?!

This weekend was so much fun. We had more than two feet of snow! We started the weekend with waffles and Bloody Marys, and then we bundled up to go exploring outside. Did I mention that Arthur hates hates putting on his winter gear? He hates it. A lot.

Once he realized that he was all dressed, he was hit in the face with, you know, a blizzard. He cried for about a block, and then Jeff took him home. Julian and I headed down towards the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and sledded down a small hill a few times. He loved it. But the wind was brutal.

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Last night we had our friends over, including Julian’s best friend, and if they are to be trusted his future spouse, Shirine.

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The kids had a blast, Jeff made three amazing pizzas, and we drank lots of red wine. Julian and Shirine on their pizza date:

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But oh man, four kids four and under in a small apartment is no joke. The noise!

This morning we bundled up again and headed out. It was gorgeous! The wind had stopped, and the snow was just beautiful. We spent hours sledding in Fort Greene Park.

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We brought brownies and hot cocoa (chocolate to wash down chocolate, you know)…

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Then Arthur determined that it was nap time. Right then and there. We had just come down the hill, and Julian made a snow angel. And then this:

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He slept for a good 30 minutes. Then we went and had burgers, pancakes and pastrami sandwiches at Junior’s. Arthur had some of that, but mostly he had amazing hair.

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Now we’re all tired. So tired. Jeff and I were supposed to be at a Bruce Springsteen concert tonight, but sadly it was postponed because of the weather. Such a bummer. But at least we’ll get to go to sleep early! Sledding is exhausting. And so much fun!

A work (out) in progress

I’ve been a stay at home mama for four years and almost 9 months now – because that’s how old Julian is. In that time, I haven’t done a whole lot for myself. I’ve worked out at home every now and then, I go out with friends occasionally, but overall I don’t spend much time on my own. Actually, almost never. Yesterday I was treated to an afternoon at a spa by my friends, and on my way home I had a one second panic attack because for a split second I thought that I had left my backpack somewhere – which I didn’t bring in the first place because there was no need to carry around coloring books and tissues and toy trains.

My children’s needs are changing. We’ve been done nursing for more than a year now, no more diapers, no more babies. The boys are growing, they are big, loud kids, but also still kind of needy.

That said, I just signed up for a gym membership. It took quite a bit of convincing from myself to myself on behalf of myself, because after years of never carving out any space for myself, I don’t know how to do it anymore without a lingering feeling of guilt.

And that’s ridiculous. Other women go to work every day, and they are good mothers. Others hire babysitters and sit in a coffee shop, and they are good mothers. Even in writing these words, I’m justifying my decision to do something for myself. It’s a little crazy.

But I’m excited! Arthur did fine in the gym’s childcare facility. He cried off and on, but the caregiver read all three Star Wars books to him that I had packed, he had a snack, and when I picked him up he told me in a very level-headed way that he was “just a little bit mad” that I had left him there. I’m sure it’s a work in progress. And maybe it will even help him ease into pre-school later on this year. We told Julian about the play space, and he is now begging to go, too.

I’m so excited about this new chapter. Bring it, 2016!

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To gym or not to gym

Today it snowed for the first time this winter. Although it didn’t stick, the boys were excited to witness the flurries from the window.

It’s been a good weekend. It’s funny how in the winter months we find our groove to a slower rhythm. There is more reading and cuddling under blankets, more movie watching and Go Fish-playing. Yes, even Arthur has gotten into playing that game, and it’s kind of fun. Although we do say how much we miss our bikes at least three times per weekend. We just miss being outside all day and being sun-kissed.

Yesterday we went to the Brooklyn Museum in the morning to check out a Coney Island exhibit. Also, these guys:

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The exhibit was fascinating. We just love Coney Island so much, and it’s crazy to see how much it has changed over time. I wish I could travel back in time and spend a day in the magical Coney Island of the early 20th century.

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Then we went out for brunch, and I was hit with the notion in this exact moment that it does get easier. People say it all the time, and it keeps proving to be true. The boys can sit on their own, there is no screaming, and they can self-entertain while we are entertained by Bloody Marys and adult conversations. At least for part of that lunch.

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Afterwards we stopped by Target without needing to buy anything, but of course they have tons of Star Wars stuff, so now the boys have lightsabers and a small Millennium Falcon and TIE fighter. For the rest of the weekend they have been playing with these things almost exclusively.

Today we were invited to a birthday party at New York Kids Club in the morning. It was fun – once the boys got over the fact that there was a little bit of organized games and cheerful cheeriness from the girls who entertained the kids. It is so not Julian’s cup of tea. He gets visibly uncomfortable, and I actually caught him biting his nails at one point – something he hasn’t done since last October! It’s hard to see your kid so uncomfortable, but I just held his hand and told him he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to do. Once the organized fun was over, both boys had a blast running around and jumping on everything in the kid gym.

Speaking of gym, I went and checked out our local Equinox today and am contemplating signing up. It would be nice to do something for myself, away from the kids that’s also good for me. But I’m also afraid to commit. So there’s that. Who knows what 2016 has in store for us, but at least I’m starting the year with some good intentions…

On Tidying Up

One of the gifts I received for my birthday was a selection of new books. One of them, this. I had heard so much about it, and I have to say that just by owning it, I’ve been inspired to get rid of my clutter. I’ve read about half way through it, and these are the two things that stood out to me so far. 1. Does this item spark joy? If not, get rid of it. 2. Don’t feel guilty to get rid of stuff. That Christmas card you received 2 years ago? It’s fulfilled its purpose in making you feel thought of and special in the moment you received it. That was the purpose of the card, not to sit in your drawer for many years to come. Same with that gift you received and never used. It was supposed to make you feel something in the moment you received it, and no gift giver would want you to keep something out of a sense of obligation, even though you have no use for it.

Living in a Brooklyn apartment, we have very limited space to store things, and come to think of it, to live in. So we constantly re-evaulate what we keep and use, but not enough.

Yesterday we didn’t have any plans, and after a morning of playing and errand running with the boys, I got busy. I started with our bedroom and sorted through our closet and drawers. The first thing I did was to get rid off every single wire hanger. During that process I handled so many items and got rid of so much. A giant garbage bag filled with clothes to give away. I re-folded everything.

Then I moved on to the kids’ art, puzzle and game cabinets. I went through all the art supplies and discarded dried up markers and stuff I bought or was given and never used. The thing is, if you haven’t used it until now, you never will. It’s such a liberating thing to get rid of stuff.

And then, for the grand finale of the day, I went through a cabinet of “Frauke stuff.” Old letters, photos, Christmas cards, thank you cards to my children from friends they no longer remember, lots of old bank statements and paper, paper, and more paper. Two giant bags full of paper things. It was so freeing. And I was so happy to find quite a few gems. Such as this! Did this spark joy when I saw it? Definitely yes. It’s a keeper.

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Anyway, this is probably a boring read for anyone who isn’t me, but it was such a freeing and empowering process, and I am not done yet. There are more projects to tackle and more stuff to get rid off. Maybe 2016 will be the year of living clutter-free?

So this is going on 40…

I’m no longer 35. As of Thursday, as so many of my friends enjoyed to remind me, I am closer to 40 than 30. So, yes, whatever. My birthday. Wasn’t it fun when you were a kid and your birthday was this magical day that was long anticipated and celebrated until you couldn’t eat any more cake?

Well, 36 is not like that.

Arthur got up three times in the night for nonsensical reasons I don’t recall…bathroom? I should put cream on his foot? I forgot to give him a hug? Who knows.

My husband had to leave extra early for work which didn’t leave time for a family breakfast. Or even coffee together. It left me the joyous task of getting the boys dressed and out the door in time for Julian’s school drop-off. Julian was unbearable that morning. The worst he’s been in such a long time. It was actually kind of mind-blowing how terrible and annoying he was behaving.

When I dropped him off at school, I quickly squeezed him and said “bye!” and tried to run out the door before anyone could greet me with a smile. I couldn’t even pick up the phone because I was in such a bad mood that I didn’t want to expose my lovely well-wishers to, well, me.

I dragged Arthur home and let him eat Cheerios on my bed while I just laid there and frowned.

My lovely friend took me out for coffee. When I learned what she and my other friend had gotten me for my birthday, I just started sobbing. Because it was the one thing that I wanted the most in that moment: time away from my children. On Monday, I’ll be visiting the Great Jones Spa. I am so excited. Bonus: The New York Times weekend edition for 12 weeks! In paper!

So that brightened the day considerably. As did my nap. The rest of the day was normal stuff…school pick up, speech therapy, kid shenanigans. Then three incredible flower bouquets were delivered to my door. One of them: a flower cake! Our lovely neighbor florist had made flower cake for me. Have you ever seen anything like it?

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Jeff came home early, with cupcakes and candles, and the boys serenaded me. They gave me lovely presents. And some love. And then the boys went to bed early, and Jeff and I went on a romantic dinner date in Manhattan.

So, while the majority of my first day as a 36 year old totally sucked, it was a great reminder that there is light everywhere. And I felt loved, although it was hard to feel it at times through all the yelling and whining.

Sunday Funday

Jeff had to work on Sunday, so I decided to take the boys to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It was a rainy, gray day. I put the boys’ mud pants on, and we made sure to hit every puddle on the way there and back.


They played on a nearby playground for a while, but the slides were so slippery that I was worried someone would break a tooth or limb.

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The museum itself was fun. It always is. (Except when it’s not and I’m stressed, but today all was good.)

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The boys shopped in the pretend grocery store, made lots of felt pizza, drove the bus, played in the water and sand. But the majority of the time, I’m sorry fellow museum visitors, they spent banging tiny drum sticks against metal drums – making the maximum amount of noise possible. They were in a band, you see. I was just so thankful that these performances weren’t happening in my home, where, you know, we have neighbors. (Those poor people.)

On the way home, this:

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If anyone ever wondered why this child falls asleep on the subway (at 12:30pm! Not even past nap time!) or in the middle of a loud movie or just about anywhere else in life, here is why. This is how Arthur goes through life, pretty much, all day every day. Watch at your own risk, or please don’t watch at all if you’re sensitive to noise or obnoxious children:

In the beginning, Arthur yells, “Thank you for your patience.” You’re welcome, kid.

City Day

It’s been nice to get back into our normal routines this week, with school and speech therapy and work. Arthur has finally started to sleep through the night again after getting up at least once a night for months to go to the bathroom (or occasionally to ask for help in finding his “frog” – which no thank you, kid, I’m sleeping). This interrupted sleep thing…it was getting really, really old. So every day this week I got up at 6am to work out for 45 minutes and shower in peace. By the time the boys get out of bed at 7am and our most hectic hour of the day begins, I feel like I already accomplished something.

On Saturday we had a solid NYC day. We spent some time at the Museum of Natural History and explored the planets and our universe. We took the boys to the Hayden Planetarium for a movie on the universe. It was loud and bright, so naturally Arthur fell asleep on my lap 20 minutes into it. He slept while being carried through the museum for another 15 minutes. I’ve always admired his ability to sleep anywhere he pleases.

Then we stopped for a Mexican lunch. The boys stuffed their faces with fish tacos, chips, and guac. The food was delicious. As were the margaritas.

We stopped by Soho to look for a new lamp and then settled for coffee and brownies instead. It was a great day. The boys were troopers. We didn’t bring a stroller, so Arthur walked for the majority of the day. I think we’re pretty much done with strollers; he never wants to sit in one. How will I carry all my stuff from now on?

I took zero pictures all day, except for this one of my Star Wars obsessed boys on the subway ride home:

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Last but not least, I’ll leave you with this… We had our first very cold day this week, and Arthur and I had some errands to run. I bundled him up (he was still offended/shocked by the cold temps) and snapped a photo, and then later recalled I had taken a very similar one the year before. And as it turns out the year before that, too. My baby!

 

 

Hi, 2016!

This year’s Christmas season sort of flew by, and before we knew it, we took our tree down and boxed up the Christmas decorations. Hello, 2016!

On the last night of 2015, we made mac and cheese with bacon and sat around the dinner table talking about our favorite moments of the year.

There was my ski trip, a visit from Opaour stay upstate at our friend’s lake house, Avalon, our trip to Germany, and many, many, manymany, many trips to Coney Island and other beaches. Lots of summer fun. And some more. Julian learned how to ride a bike! And of course life in between, play time with friends, and lots of adventures at home in our city. It was a good year. A great year.

Now we’re excited for the new year and have lots of fun things to look forward to…Bruce Springsteen, a trip to Mexico (!!), the boys turning 3 and 5, a visit from Opa, and endless summer fun – and then the beginning of school for Julian and pre-school for Arthur. Oh my. We’re excited!

Most importantly, we’re together, healthy, and happy. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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The Force is Strong with These Ones

This Christmas we introduced the boys to Star Wars. I’m not sure what I expected, but whatever reaction I thought they might have, what happened in reality far exceeded anything I could have ever imagined. It was probably naive of me; after all, I am married to a man who at heart is still a seven year old boy who went to see Star Wars for the first time with his Dad.

For almost a full week now we’ve been talking about Star Wars every day, for the majority of the day. Jeff lets the boys play with his vintage 1970s Star Wars figures. Empty paper towel rolls turn into lightsabers, sheets are capes, my baking pans are space ships, the bunk bed often functions as the Millennium Falcon. Julian is always Princess Leia and Arthur is always Darth Vader.

The other day we went to the Library and found a treasure: a Star Wars book.

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The boys only made it down the steps and had to stop to look at it. Then they fought over who got to carry it.

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The boys have been living, breathing, dreaming about Star Wars. This morning Julian drew TIE fighters (left) and Millennium Fighter and Death Star (right).

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Part of me mourns the days when they didn’t know what a gun was (like a week ago from today);  especially thinking about Arthur, who is only 2 1/2. He was showing all the characters in the Star Wars book to his speech therapist the other day and then said, “And this is the Death Star.” Her jaw dropped and he immediately followed up, “But it’s not real.” It is what it is, and I have to admit that I totally enjoy learning all about this new world along with them.

I’ve always been a little sad when thinking about my babies growing up, turning into big kids who need me less. But I have to say that it is awesome. It’s fun to talk about things that aren’t boring to an adult mind (space! planets! geography! math!) such as Thomas and his trusty friend, Percy. Later choo-choos, we’re dealing with intergalactic problems now. (Except of course you NYC subways, you are here to stay. The boys’ love for you shall never end.)

I’ll leave you with a few words from Arthur on his new favorite friends: