Wonder Wheel Wednesday

We had no agenda today, so we decided to make a day of it in Coney Island. The ride over was fun. The boys love trains so much. With Star Wars now and the recently discovered appeal of Superman and Wonder Woman, it’s nice to see that their first love is still alive.

Look at these nutcases.

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We hit the aquarium first.

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There was a sea lion show at 11am. It was so fun to watch this show with the boys! It was something they didn’t know existed, and Julian especially was so giddy and adorable. “He can do THAT with his nose?!” “He’s clapping!” (Also the guy in the back. Hi guy!)

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And then the sealion danced to the boys’ favorite song (of last summer).

 

We looked at some more fish, while I tried not to lose the boys amongst the hundreds and hundreds of camp kids. Holy kids.

Then it was lunchtime, so naturally:

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Also, Arthur and his favorite animal: the jellyfish.

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Next up, of course!

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First, we went on the Wonder Wheel. The boys love the swinging cars, but truthfully they kind of scare me. Julian and Arthur promised to hold my hand, but Julian didn’t follow through and seemed embarrassed/annoyed when I tried to hold on to him for support. Thanks, kid. This isn’t actually to help you. It’s for you to help me. But never mind. I know mothers can be embarrassing.

 

The boys went on all the rides. Next up: ice cream.

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Then it was time to go. The boys asked to walk past the rides at Luna Park, just to see what’s there, you know. Of course they talked me into one more ride. And then we left for home!

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The ride home was unspectacular. Other than, you know, ARTHUR PRESSING THE EMERGENCY BUTTON unbeknownst to me, and the train driver coming out of his train driver box (we were in the first car) to yell at us me. All the rage put Arthur to sleep immediately.

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That’s the face of someone who is conflicted between really wanting to sleep and really loving his big brother who’s getting in his face very much.

What’s on the menu for tonight? Frozen margaritas and chips & salsa. And an early bedtime.

Slow Summer Days

These days everything is slow. We walk slow. I think slow. We don’t plan much.

Actually, let me rephrase. The boys recently discovered Superman and Wonder Woman, so they run everywhere we go with fists outstretched over their heads because they are “flying.” Why anyone would run in this summer heat beats me. So I just trail behind. Maybe it’s just me who is slow.

Most days we don’t do much. We do lots of art and coloring, stickers and playdoh. We read.  We play Uno, Go Fish!, Jenga, and – recently! – chess.

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We build legos. I listen to the boys play. We run errands. Occasionally we hit the pool. The boys ride their bikes. We play soccer. They play at our neighborhood playground every day.

We’ve been to dozens of playgrounds in NYC, some with fancy water features or magnificent slides, but my favorite will forever be the one that is closest to us: Pierrepont. It’s right by the Promenade, and you can watch ferries and boats when you’re standing at the right spot on the play structure. The playground is surrounded by tall trees offering shade. Both of my boys have learned to walk there. They took their first swing there and have learned how to fight their own battles there. I always meet a familiar, friendly face.

That said, a familiar, friendly face from this playground invited us today to venture out and play at a different playground. So we met at Union Square this morning and let our boys play. After our friends had left we stayed for a while longer and then went to Whole Foods to pick up some lunch. Then we ate under the trees in the shade. Next up for the highlight of the boys’ day: a trip to DSW shoe store. I mean, I think their minds exploded! So many shoes! But more importantly: so many mirrors! They just ran up and down the isles and had a blast. And I let them. Thankfully no one called me out.

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This afternoon, after playing at Pierrepont…wait…how many water balloons did I make today? Anyway. Julian got a hair cut. He is now officially 15.

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Long story short, I am enjoying our slow days. I guess it’s what summer is all about. Part of it is that we keep our weekends busy, usually, with bike rides and adventures. Also, I want my kids to know what it’s like to be bored. I am not an entertainer. They don’t need to be doing something all the time. Their minds and imaginations are enough.

That said, my friend inspired me to venture out just a bit. I’m thinking about a trip to  the aquarium in Coney Island tomorrow, complete with hot dogs for lunch and maybe a ride or two. Maybe.

Who am I kidding. Rides. All the rides.

 

Beach or Bust

Well, in our case: Bust.

On Friday Jeff took the day off work, and we planned a beach day at our beloved Sandy Hook. We managed to pack everything we needed for our beach day onto our bikes, which included: beach towel and a big beach blanket, Bloody Marys in a thermos and a cooler of beer, beach toys, sandwiches, potato salad and lots of snacks and water, and two trusty beach umbrellas.

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We had fun for maybe an hour.

But then the biting flies, who were mildly annoying initially, became just horrible. There were hundreds. Thousands perhaps? Arthur fell asleep, and we covered him with a light blanket. At any given moment there were 50 flies on him trying to get to an inch of flesh. I just spent most of my time in the water and trying to shoo them away from Julian, but at some point they became so bad that the boys just cried and we packed our stuff together while being bitten and bitten and hurried back towards our bikes.

Except. Except it was only 2pm on what was a very, very hot day, and the one and only ferry back to Manhattan wasn’t leaving for another 2 1/2 hours. So we just killed time in spots where flies were not as bad. 

We bought lemonades.

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We played Uno.

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…and we generally tried to keep it together. Except one time I cried. The boys, however, were total troopers. I mean, it was super hot, we were basically stranded and being attacked by flies – and they were so, so good and upbeat.

We rewarded them with very messy, tasty ice cream cones once we were back in Manhattan.

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Saturday and Sunday were delightful. We did mostly nothing. We spent some time at the book store, where we stocked up on new books and games. Julian can read these “My First I Can Read Books” all by himself! I’m so excited for him.

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Jeff and I played lots of chess. Julian/Kylo Ren loves to watch and is learning. I can’t wait to play with him some day soon.

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We had breakfast on our stoop before the heat of the day.

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The boys played Star Wars and built legos for hours.

We went out for brunch, I met an old friend for breakfast, and the boys went to a birthday party at Jane’s Carousel. It was all very laid-back and relaxing. One day I took a two hour nap.

I think once my legs stop itching from the dozens of fly bites, I’ll be able to laugh about our miserable time in Sandy Hook. Maybe.

But not yet.

The Truth about Lying

Well, we’ve made it to five without Julian ever telling a conscious, well-thought out lie. But now he’s discovered the convenience of lying, and it’s kind of hilarious. This boy may look 100% like his father, but he has his terrible lying abilities from his mother.

You may not know this about me, but I am a horrible liar. I can’t tell a lie even if it’s well intentioned or if it makes a situation easier. I mean, I can try, but no one would ever believe me. I am not convincing.

Julian, in this respect, takes after me. Two days ago the boys were playing kind of rough on my bed. Arthur cried out in pain, and I asked them what had happened. Julian immediately offered an elaborate story of how Arthur started falling and Julian pulled him by the arm and must have hurt him that way. Arthur looked confused and said, “No! He bit me!”

Shamefully, for an instant I didn’t believe Arthur. First of all because I’d never heard Julian tell me a lie, and secondly because he doesn’t bite. But then I realized Arthur doesn’t have the capacity yet to make something like that up.

So Julian stood in my kitchen, and I told him to look me in the eyes. “Did you bite your brother?” He averted his eyes and looked to the floor. “No.” That’s when I knew. He looked guilty. I had to ask two more times and then he finally caved.

Yesterday, in more disgusting boy-like events, we were playing together in the living room when Julian got up and disappeared into the kitchen for a minute. When he came back I asked him what he had been up to. He said, “I just looked out the window.” Right, kid. Nice try. I asked him two more times and assured him that whatever he could have possibly done was most likely not as bad as the fact that he was lying to cover it up. I was right. He had wiped a booger on my kitchen wall. Boys are so gross. And this one is an awful liar.

We’ve been having many conversations about the truth and lying. I tell him that even though he might get into trouble, he should always trust me, that I am always on his side, and that lying about something he’s done wrong just makes everything worse.

But a little part of me is getting such satisfaction out of him being such a bad liar. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

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Of Lemonade and Lobster

This week and weekend have been both fun and kind of trying. We’ve managed to do plenty of fun stuff, but the good times were intermixed with some challenging behavior, brotherly arguments, and motherly headaches. Oh, life.

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I had a babysitter two mornings this week, which was nice. She takes the boys to play soccer at the park or to the playground. Her name is Hope, and the boys call her “A New Hope,” naturally. I just went to doctors’ appointments, but it was still nice to get out by myself and not have to drag the boys from appointment to appointment.

Also, in other adult-life news, I went out with friends twice this week (!). That never happens. Hey, look how happy and kid-free we are!

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We also hit the pop-up pool again. The kids love it so much, and who can say no to jumping into a pool in this heat?! This guys can’t.

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This weekend the boys did their very first lemonade stand. That means, of course, that we I squeezed 40 lemons on Friday and also baked 40 cookies. The boys were so excited. They wrote on the signs, practiced how to count money and hand out change and how to be a polite and friendly salesman.

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It was a blast. We sold 100+ cups of lemonade/cookies. The kids actually made some money, after subtracting what change we started out with and what we spent on the lemons. Everyone in the neighborhood was so friendly and sweet. It was really adorable and made my heart so happy. In times where you read almost only bad news every day, it’s refreshing to have such simple pleasures that make you feel not all is lost.

Afterwards we went to a quick brunch to a restaurant on our street, where Arthur took a nap mid waffle. Selling lemonade is exhausting.

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Then we hurried home and tried to make our place presentable because our friends were coming over with live lobsters and a bunch of other delicious food. Michael, a who is a chef, took over our kitchen and cooked for us. It was such a treat!

Dinner was delicious. At one point one of my kids said, “Mama, if I eat another piece of lobster, can I have more mussels?” First world problems, kid.

Today we rode our bikes to Prospect Park. The boys played at a playground, and then we played soccer on the grass and had a picnic.

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Ever since the Euro Cup both boys have been obsessed with soccer, and Julian pretends to be a goalie Manuel Neuer the rest of the time, meaning when he’s not someone from Star Wars.

After we all played together, Julian went over to a bunch of 9 year old boys and asked to join their soccer game. Arthur followed suit. I am so impressed by Julian’s ability to make friends. Kids are so cool in how they don’t see what we see and how they don’t yet have the same fears of rejection.

Later on at Lakeside it was the same. Julian just played and played with a bunch of boys he’d never met before. For hours. He only came to join us when I lured him in with ice cream.

Then everyone crashed.

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Tonight we’re eating more seafood, shrimp and leftover lobster, and I’m already hungry writing about it. And then we’re off into another week with good intentions. More patience, more joy, less fighting. Per usual.

West Virginia

On Tuesday the boys and I went on a little trip to West Virginia. We visited one of my best friends in life of all time and her lovely family. Our kids met when they were up in NYC in March, and became fast friends. So we wanted to reunite them and also meet Baby Cole who was born about a month ago.

It was my first time traveling with the boys solo. This lady was terrified because I let the boys walk up the stairs by themselves.

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They were such good kids. Traveling with Julian especially was super easy. He was helpful and patient and all around good. Arthur was Arthur, but a very good Arthur. It helped that he fell asleep 10 minutes into the flight.

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Once we arrived, everything was good. Great, in fact. The kids were so happy to be together again.

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Here are some of the highlights:

Julian had his first experience with sparklers!

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There were bugs everywhere. (no pictures, thankyouverymuch.)

We went to a lake! The countryside in West Virginia is so beautiful. We played in the lake all day. It was lovely.

We played at different playgrounds…

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And then, one of our favorite things, we went on a hike. Nature! Amazing.

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We ended up walking in this amazing river. None of the kids busted any teeth, and all of them got wet.

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We found a crayfish. (“Look! A lobster!”) It was so amazing. I know the boys will remember this for a long time, and I will surely never forget. Such beauty with such wonderful people. And all happy hearts.

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After the hike the kids got to sit in a firetruck and police car. Clearly Arthur’s expression shows that he knows he kind of belongs in the back…

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We went to a great pool. It was almost empty, although I don’t know why. It was so nice. The kids played and played, and Julian is getting braver and better at swimming. Arthur is just completely fearless. And he’s great to have around in case you’re wondering what is not allowed at the pool: “No hanging on the rope, no climbing on the lifeguard chair, no hanging on the rail, no climbing up the slide.”

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Other highlights included hanging out on our friends’ deck with cold beers, South African accents, sitting in the kitchen after the kids had gone to bed, cuddling the baby, and delicious meals cooked by Carryn’s husband John. And last but not least, sharing a room with my boys. They had comfy air mattresses, and I had a big bed. They went to bed easily and slept well. At night I would hear them both laughing in their sleep. Sooner or later one of them would snuggle up next to me, and it was wonderful. And best of all, everyone slept in in the mornings. I mean…why can’t this happen at home?IMG_6510

Low points were the fact that I was sick as a dog all week which was particularly depressing because I didn’t get to smooch all over Baby Cole as I had intended to do. I was really, really sick with the worst cold in ages.

Also depressing beyond comprehension, the news. Ugh.

And last but not lest, driving. I know most people do it, in fact every day, but we are so not used to it. The kids get impatient immediately, and Arthur chimes from the back, “I hate riding in cars.”

But oh man, what a wonderful week it was. I loved seeing the kids together, to hear them play and be friends and argue. I loved seeing my friend and catching up and meeting her new babe. There is just something about these tiny, new, helpless humans. It’s so special.

How crazy and beautiful our lives have been…South Africa, Germany, South Carolina, New York, West Virginia. I can’t wait for the next chapter in this series.

(I can’t believe I did not get one picture of Carryn and me. So here we are, 10 years ago on July 15, 2006, in Coney Island. We kind of look the same now. Except with more wrinkles.)

2.4

 

Fun, fun, more fun!

Welcome to the endless recap of fun.

Because we’ve been having some fun lately. On Wednesday NYC outdoor pools opened for the season, so we went down to the Pop-Up Pool with some friends.

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The boys are total fish. Arthur especially is completely fearless and jumps in without me holding him. Julian is getting good at swimming, and I really want him to learn how to swim this summer. It was so much fun; we stayed for hours. We even snuck into a little local news segment!

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Bonus: The boys were so tired that they were in bed by 7:15pm. Winning all around.

Other than that we’ve been laying low, playing, getting stuff done.

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Julian has started to write. As in actually write. He’ll sit forever and write random words we come up with into his notebook. His spelling is pretty good!IMG_5868

On Friday Jeff was off work. We were lazy in the morning and then rode our bikes to Red Hook and played soccer with the boys at a playground. Then we hit Brooklyn Crab.

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We just love it there so much. The boys and I have been playing Uno; I love games that aren’t Candyland. Jeff and I read the paper. We smooched, and Arthur tried an oyster.

Julian took this:

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Then we rode around, unsure of when the thunderstorms would hit. So we hit the bookstore and picked out a new summer read for me, now that I am almost done with the four book series by Elena Ferrante. These books, by the way, were so good.

We decided to go see a movie. We took the boys to see “Finding Dory” – it was cute.

Saturday morning we headed to the park for a water gun fight. Yes, I finally bought the boys the much desired water guns. By accident I bought two that were way too big; so naturally Jeff suggested we keep them for ourselves. Our water fight was epic. We were all soaked, and the boys were in heaven to have all four of us playing together.

The rest of the day was dominated by soccer.

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Germany played Italy in the Euro Cup. We watched the game in a German beer hall in Manhattan. Uncle Brian joined us, much to the boys’ delight.

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Here is Arthur right before he fell asleep.

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Because what’s a better place to sleep than a noisy beer hall with hundreds of anxious/happy/frustrated/loud soccer fans?

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Anyway, we won.

Because of over-time and penalty kicks we had to rush home because we had a babysitter Saturday night. So Jeff and I got on our bikes and tried a new bar for cocktails before heading to Alma for some Mexican food and margaritas. And this view!

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We came home and found everyone cozy and asleep. Well, not the babysitter. She was still awake.

On Sunday we went on a long bike ride to the North end of Central Park, where we met Brian and Katherine for a picnic. We played baseball, frisbee, soccer – and had many water gun fights.

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Jeff also spent a good amount of time climbing trees…

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It was so fun. But oh man, towards the end of our ride home I was so tired. It was a solid 25 miles we rode that day.

Today was a day of rest. And packing! Because tomorrow the boys and I are headed to West Virginia to see our lovely friends. The boys are so excited to play with their buddies, and I can’t wait to hug my friend and meet her newest baby!