Bruce and boys

The week was off to an amazing (and incredibly tiring) start. Jeff and I scored (nosebleed) Bruce Springsteen tickets to see him at Madison Square Garden! It was a make-up show for the one he cancelled due to a snow storm in the winter. It was Jeff’s and my 5th show together – and probably my 15th? I’ve stopped counting.


Did I mention we had nosebleed seats?


There was literally no one behind us. There were people in upper sections above us, but this was definitely the farthest I’ve ever been away from The Boss. Definitely a far cry from this. BUT: It was amazing. The thing with Bruce is that it doesn’t matter how far away you are or how much your tickets cost – it’s worth your while. Bruce is pretty much the only religion I will ever commit to, and I could go on and on and on about him (and I did in 176 pages in my college thesis), but suffice to say that I felt all the feels. Love, joy, fear, sadness, and more joy. In three hours of bliss. The show was amazing. (We’re going to see him again in a few weeks at Barclay’s Center.)

We came home at 1am. Our babysitter had her coat on – hint hint.

I’ve been tired – and happy – ever since.

Other than that we’ve been doing normal stuff. Yesterday Julian had a playdate with his friend Shirine after school, so I didn’t see him until 5:45pm when I went to pick him up. And I missed him. Arthur did, too. But he and I had a great day. Arthur is literally the funniest person I know. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for him. He has imagination beyond anything I’ve ever seen and a free spirit that makes him put on two different shoes (socks, too)…


After Julian’s playdate I took the boys out on a pizza date. They were good – and adorable.

Today, after speech therapy, we went into Manhattan. I wanted to get prescription sunglasses. The saleslady commented on how well behaved the boys were. What she didn’t know (actually, she did, because I told her), was that they were occupied with their sandwiches, and also I had scolded them so hard before we left because they were being horrible.

Anyway. After I picked out new glasses, we bought a donut.


Then we took some photos…

…and played at a playground.

We skipped nap time, and I paid for it hard. Arthur has been a mess all afternoon. He fell asleep while I read the boys a book, and then again wrapped in his towel after bath. He won’t go to bed at night if he naps, but when he doesn’t, we all suffer.


The Return of the Papa, and Easter

So my week flying solo came and went. We’re bracing ourselves for two weeks without Papa in about a week. We miss him when he’s gone!

But we had an overall good week. We saw some friends…


…we played some music…


…we did this:


On Thursday Arthur and I accompanied Julian and his school friends on a field trip to the Botanic Gardens. It was so sweet to see all the kids together. Afterwards Arthur and I headed to Prospect Park on my bike and spent some time on a playground.


Then Arthur fell asleep on the bike and we cuddled and napped together on a park bench for almost an hour, under a blanket, trying to stay warm. Arthur was so, so sweet.


Julian’s been drawing something other than subways, and that’s so fun to see.


Today was Easter, and also Jeff’s first day back home, but somehow his return was overshadowed by the visit of the Easter Bunny, who – to Julian and Arthur’s shock and surprise – knows Star Wars!


The boys played all morning with their new Star Wars lego figures. We ate our weight in chocolate and jelly beans and hunted for eggs in our apartment. Then we ate some more: #bunnyfail


We played at a playground and went for a long walk down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.


I mean, look at that cheek dimple!


Then we went to an overpriced prix fixe brunch and ate our way right through nap time. On the way home a lady on the subway asked Arthur what his name was, and he said, “I’m Darth Vader.”


Highs and Lows of Parenting

True story: On Saturday I came home from running an errand to a sobbing Julian. I asked him why he was crying but couldn’t get a coherent answer, so Jeff filled me in. Julian was missing his new friends Jack & Kate, so he decided to draw them a picture. Then he looked at it and realized he missed them even more than he thought. And he cried.


This is so totally my boy.

(In the end he couldn’t part with the “original drawing” so we had to make a copy and send it to his friends. He might be a good and loving friend, but selfless…maybe not so much.)

Jeff left yesterday afternoon for a week-long trip to California. Then he’s back for a week, and then gone again for two.

I thought I’d ease into solo parenting by throwing a party in Mama’s bed. After dinner the boys and I got cozy in my bed with popcorn and a movie.


It was sweet. At 7:45pm no-nap-Arthur was out. At 8:30pm Julian requested I turn off the movie because he was tired. Such party animals!

I went and binge-watched “House of Cards” in the living room and binge-drank some wine. Then I snuck back into bed, which I remembered as cozy and sweet, but instead my throat was killing me and I was hot and then cold and the children were making me even hotter, and then Arthur kicked me in the back and then the head and then stretched his limbs all across me.


I grabbed my pillow and tried to lie down in Arthur’s bed at 2am. He came to see me at 2:05am, because mother where are you, I must kick something right now and air does not suffice. So we cuddled for a moment in his bed, and then I snuck out and back into my own bed where I continued the “Party in Mama’s bed” with the other child who was slumbering peacefully.

Today I woke up feeling hungover and like someone had kicked me in the back. Then, I took the boys to the Children’s Art Museum in Manhattan.


Crazy chairs, as Arthur likes to call  them.


Also, art.


Low point-then turned medium point:

Clay Lab. Last time Julian went to the museum (with Papa), he made a rat out of clay – his total pride and joy. Today’s theme was “First Day of Spring” and the children were encouraged to make a garden. We had to wait 45 minutes for an available spot at the Clay Lab because every goddamn other parent in NYC had the great idea to take their kids to the Art Museum on a Sunday. Bam. So we killed time with more art, even though we were kind of arted out and hungry at this point. Then it was Lab time, and Julian froze. Pouty lip. “Mama, I don’t want to do this.” I told him to sit down and shape up. We didn’t wait here for nothing. Go make your garden and ENJOY IT!

After a brief period of pouty lip and young-boy-attitude he warmed to the idea and had fun in the end. As it always is. Here is the result:


Garden with roses, water, a giant ant and a bird that looks like a hen. He was proud, and so am I.

Then we left, fully starved and over-tired (because SOMEONE spent all night kicking their mother in the back). And yay! No downtown 1 trains today! So we had to go uptown and then downtown, and oh man. So the latest thing with Arthur is the most typical of all toddler problems ever:


Mama, my cup is the wrong color. I wanted that plate. I wanted to put on the tooth paste myself. I didn’t want these shoes. I wanted to sit in the other spot that’s already taken by a STRANGER on the subway. These are all real-life examples from this morning. The last one, acted out in an Oscar-worthy performance by my second-born son on a crowded subway car. The seat he wanted was not available. Next best option: Screaming. Throwing himself to the filthy subway floor in utter despair. More screaming. Hitting his brother for no reason whatsoever. Kicking a stranger (by accident). Sweating sweating sweating and some rage-y red cheeks. Oh, son.

I held him and kept my cool. Actually, I restrained him. It was a great workout. I spoke very quietly to him, and then I didn’t talk at all and just let him scream. I couldn’t look at anyone at all on the subway. I had no idea what people were thinking. What a spoiled brat? What is wrong with him? Poor woman? She’s a failure of a mother? That’s happened to me too? I don’t know. No one said anything, and I felt like I was in an awful, scream-y vacuum. One stop from our destination Arthur was so exhausted he almost fell asleep. He promptly put himself to bed after inhaling a sandwich once we got home.

Oh, boy. (Picture from happier times.)


Epic Friends…

…make for epic times.

This week we’ve had one of my dearest, bestest friends come to visit. She brought her husband, 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter along with her – and another son in her belly. We hadn’t seen each other since Julian and Jack were infants. But with certain friends you pick up right where you left off. Except with less partying and more kids.

This week has truly been one of the best. Our kids hit it off right away and have become inseparable. So much hand-holding and hugging and playing. Side note: my children are such bad posers.


On Monday night we hung out at our house, ate risotto and pie and shocked Kate when we sprayed whipped cream into her mouth for the first time ever. That face!


On Tuesday Julian got to stay home from school, we cancelled Arthur’s speech therapy and played hooky all day. We took our friends to the Promenade with bikes and scooters, to the playground where we spent hours, to the diner.


At night, the kids all got to make their own pizzas.


Then we stuffed them in the tub…


…and let them watch TV until way late while the grown-ups ate Thai take-out.


On Thursday Julian got to play hooky again (his teacher was concerned that he was sick, but no, the kid is just out having fun). My friend Carryn was in meetings all day, so her husband John and I took the kids into Manhattan, where I had a doctor’s appointment on the UES in the morning. It was our friends’ first time on the subway!

Then this brave guy took four kids to the playground while I went to my appointment.


We spent a couple of hours at the playground next to the Met. It was sunny and lovely, and the kids had fun.


Next up: ice cream. The first of the season!


Then we got on the train to Brooklyn. A random lady was chatting to us on the subway and asked, “What is it like raising kids in the city?” And I said, “It’s great!” That’s when my 40 pound babe fell asleep in my arms. On a crowded subway car. It was sweet and at the same time totally torturous.


I’ve seen my boys make friends with many kids. Julian especially has become so outgoing over the last few months – but the sort of love I saw between these kids I don’t recall having seen before. They were friends immediately, but the kind of friends who won’t stop talking about each other when they are a moment apart. They held hands and hugged and laughed at each other’s jokes constantly. In all the time we spent together this week, with two 3 year olds and two 5 year olds (rounding up and down a bit), there has not been one single fight between them. Not one. They must have felt how much their mamas mean to each other. Or they really really liked each other.

Tonight, after our friends had left, Julian and I both cried for a moment. It was sweet and sad, and very hard to say goodbye. There are some friends, few and far between, but you know they are for life. These ones we will keep. For life.

There was so much love in our house this week. Even more than usual.

In other news, Arthur has been having plenty of daytime adventures lately and a much easier bedtime. Also, he’s been falling asleep like this:

Bike season has begun!

This week reminded me of all the good things: iced coffee on a park bench in the sun. Watching my boys speed away on their bikes.


Sitting on our stoop with the paper while the boys “shoot” innocent passersby.


And now … the best of all! Our first bike ride of the season.

Last year our first ride was in April. This year, since the winter was so mild and spring seems to have come early (fingers crossed!), we took our bikes out of storage earlier than usual. We had big plans…a ride into Manhattan, a day of exploring and playing. Except…my bike didn’t seem to appreciate being unused for a few months, and none of the gears were working. We took it into a shop around the corner from our storage in the Navy Yard, and they had to keep it there for the weekend to get fixed. We were so bummed. Then the mechanic came outside and offered to loan us a bike for the day. So yay! Off we were.


Instead of a big ride into the city we decided to stay in Brooklyn and rode into Red Hook instead. We had lunch at our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab (photo by Julian).


We played by the water…


…and then the boys fell asleep on the bikes as we rode home.


The rest of the weekend was kind of underwhelming. Jeff worked mostly and was stressed. I cleaned and straightened up and rearranged and tried to bring spring into our home with some new plants and flowers.

The small glimpse I got yesterday into the spring and summer that’s ahead of us made me so happy. The feeling I have when we’re on our bikes, Jeff and I together, with our happy kids on the back, singing along to the songs from the speaker – it’s truly my favorite.

It’s so easy to get stuck in every day stress things. Like shopping and carrying stuff and whining kids and tired legs and the constant begging for snacks/food (are everyone else’s kids constantly asking to be fed?!), the CONSTANT lightsaber fights that are really getting on my nerves (I keep hiding the lightsabers, but they just fight with anything else they can get their hands on. Today we were making colorful noodle necklaces, and naturally the red, blue and green noodles turned into lightsabers in a matter of seconds. Gahhh, Star Wars. Gahhh, boys.) Anyway, I digress. On the bike, because that is what I wanted to talk about…when we’re on the bike, I feel none of that. Never. I don’t think about what’s next or who needs what or where we should be or need to go or what we need to do – none of that. Everything I need is on those bikes, we’re exactly where we should be, the wind in my face, music playing, children happy, my husband/best friend by my side.

I guess what I’m saying is that I like spring and summer so much better than winter.

Julian at almost 5

I could fill pages and pages about Arthur and how he is stretching me to my limits, how he screams when he doesn’t get his way and slams his fist on the couch, saying “I’m SO mad!”

But what I really want to write about is the other kid, Julian. The one who doesn’t scream in my face. The one who looks like such a big kid theses days. Sometimes when I watch him when he isn’t looking my heart breaks just a little. Why is he so big?

Lately, the boys have been obsessed with this song. And by obsessed, I mean obsessed. Julian knew all the words after a few days…

It has a bad word in it, holy sh*t, and after he’d said it once (in the middle of a busy diner!) I corrected him and said it says “holy ship.” As in spaceship. Makes sense? Except the song has subtitles, and Julian informed me the next day that “Mama, it says sh*t. With a ‘t’.”

Anyway. Julian is into Star Wars and lightsaber fights and less into trains. Although it’s still impossible to hold a conversation with him on the subway because he pays such close attention and says all the announcements out loud.

He is kind to his brother and a good friend. He is so well liked in his school, and it warms my heart.

And at almost 5, he is what I would call reasonable. As in he understand what I tell him and accepts things for what they are, for the most part. There is very little whining, if any. Usually he just says, “Ok, Mama.”

He’s inquisitive. How do things work and why are they the way they are? I’m always relieved when I can answer correctly.

He puts up with an enormous amount of ship from his little brother. Lots of screaming and being annoying and lots and lots of loud singing and talking until way past bedtime until Julian just falls asleep – while Arthur chatters on. But as much as they fight at times (although that actually happens rarely), they are solid gold to one another. And that’s more than I could have ever hoped for.

Julian has a job now every day. He empties the dishwasher, and he is very diligent about it. He earns a quarter every day, and so far he has saved $6. He might be saving for a toy or candy – depending on the mood he’s in.

Overall, he is just so much more easygoing than I had anticipated he would ever be. He’s excited about starting Kindergarten in the fall. I spoke to his teacher the other day, and the words she used to describe him were “less serious, more flexible, well-liked, happy.” And “very strong, smart, and academic.”

He’s really into drawing and arts & crafts. He loves his Star Wars workbooks and surprises us with his math, writing, and reading skills. He loves playing restaurant and singing.

I enjoy spending time with him almost all the time. I never feel like I need a break from him anymore, and I truly look forward to having all summer to spend together.

And best of all, he’s not too old to give me all the kisses and hugs and cuddles. Almost 5 year olds are quite lovely.



This weekend – and week – would be filed under “eh” or, at times, under “OMGWHY.”

First of all, weather, why are you still so cold. We’re done with snow and cold, please warm up, thank you.

Secondly, Arthur’s cold. Which can either be traced back to our sucky weather and germs in general or to his obsession with pushing all the subway elevator buttons as many times as possible, which also means: germs germs germs. Result:


Why does he look so tiny and miserable? Because he is. We’d been avoiding the nebulizer all winter, but now that spring is two weeks away, here we go. Yay, steroids. They have such an insane effect on Arthur. (He was actually feeling pretty badass after I pointed out that he looks like Darth Vader. Hence his firm grip on the lightsaber.)


On Friday we picked Jeff up from work and checked out his (relatively) new office. Afterwards we went to dinner in Hell’s Kitchen. Arthur could not sit still for more than 20 seconds. He was fidgeting non-stop. Until around 10:30pm when I had lost my patience more times than I care to admit and was filled with guilt and exhaustion, I lied down next to him in bed, and he finally calmed down. Except his little feet kept shifting and moving until after he had gone to sleep. He is a very active boy to begin with, but these treatments really turn him into a maniac. I’m happy to say his cold is on its way out/has moved on to his brother. Gahh.


On Saturday we split up kid duty. I spent my morning at the gym and shopping in our neighborhood, while Jeff took the boys to the Children’s Art Museum. I hung out with them at home in the afternoon while Jeff went shopping in the city.

That night we went on a date. Arthur screamed his head off when it was time to leave him and Julian with the babysitter. I left with a huge cloud hanging over my head.

Dinner, however, was delicious.


We’ve been trying to go to places we wouldn’t usually go to with the kids – mostly because of Arthur’s allergies. Two weeks ago Chinese, and last night this Arabian French bistro in the East Village. Sesame, tahini and nuts for all eternity. Sorry, Arthur. It was so good.

Afterwards we quickly stopped by the bar where Jeff and I met 9 (!) years ago. We hadn’t been back in probably 6 years. The same guy was still checking IDs at the door and, when he glanced up at us, said, “Hey, it’s been a long time.” It felt nice to be remembered. But the place was so overcrowded that we went to a dive bar around the corner instead.

On Sunday we laid low. Lots of this (Kristoff, Elsa & Anna on a spaceship)…


…and this…


Playing, reading the newspaper, and – the best part of the day – NAPS. Also, trying not to kill each other.

Two highlights from this week I don’t want to forget:

On Tuesday, Arthur stayed at the daycare at the gym for the first time happily and without a single tear. (Of course he made up for it when we left him with the babysitter Saturday night.)


On Thursday, the boys were invited to one of Julian’s friend’s birthday party. She turned 4 and had invited some of the girls from Julian’s pre-school and my two boys to celebrate with her. It was the quintessential German kid birthday party, with homemade waffles and whipped cream and German party games that brought me back to my childhood. We all had a blast. It was so adorable.


And after a weekend of loud, sick, and disobeying kids and lots of bickering between Jeff and me, I feel lucky to have a husband who makes spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and can always (well, almost always) make me laugh.