Avalon, Round 3

We spent the past week at the Jersey Shore at our annual family “beach retreat” in Avalon. This was our third year (year 1 and year 2) there; it’s so lovely to have this little beach town to return to each year. It’s familiar but yet such a change from our every day lives that it feels new and refreshing.

This year we rented a house with a pool – and we can probably never not rent a house without a pool again. We loved it so much.

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Here is Julian on the morning of day three at the beach house. He can swim!

Most days were very laid back. Lazy mornings, lots of rounds of Spot it! among the cousins, fresh donuts, and lots of coffee.

Then we would either dip in the pool or head straight for the beach. My brother-in-law and sis-in-law are beach pros and have all the equipment that made for a very comfortable beach camp for all of us. We were 9 adults and 5 kids!

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Arthur loved playing sports at the beach. We would set up a goal, and all he wanted to do was play soccer, catch or football all day long. We may have someone who likes sports on our hands…unfamiliar territory.

The rest of us were happy to be lazy, jump in the waves, and dig holes in the sand.

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Also: beach naps.

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One morning we drove into the neighboring town of Stone Harbor, had giant stacks of pancakes and waffles and let the boys ride their scooters around town. Another morning we borrowed our family’s bikes and went for a bike ride around Avalon. Julian got to ride on the street! He felt like such a big shot.

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And then of course there is Wildwood. We went twice, because Arthur wasn’t feeling well the first time around and was just miserable.

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That first day/night there, Julian got to ride his first proper roller coaster! He is hooked. He wanted to go again. And again. He has no fear.

We went on some rides…

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…and had dinner. Arthur fell asleep right after this photo was taken. His ability to sleep anywhere is both a blessing and a curse.

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So Jeff and I took him home and left Julian to roam around Wildwood with his cousins (and a couple of responsible-ish adults) way past bedtime.

But we felt like we needed a do-over, so we went again.

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This time around everyone was happy. We played games, went on rides, and ate our weight in corn dogs and fries.

We rode the ferris wheel (again)…

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…and drank lemonades overlooking the beach.

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Both Julian and Arthur went on proper roller coasters this time around, several times, and as I was screaming “Oh no! Oh no!” they both screamed “YEEEEEEES!” and wanted more.

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It was such a fun day.

Most nights the kids went to bed super late. We went for walks around Avalon, had ice cream…

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…and ended our nights drinking wine on the patio. We also got our family hooked on our latest obsession, “Stranger Things.”

After a week away, I am happy to sleep in my own bed again and to be in a house with no squeaky doors. Also, not having sand on every surface of the house is nice.

Just kidding. I don’t mind the sand. Being at the beach was awesome. Having family together was wonderful. But I think we were all a bit tired from late nights and early mornings and lots and lots of play. Right, kid?

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Thanks, fam, for another great vacation!

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Of Supermen, the Pool, and the City

What is happening? So much.

First of all: heat. It is so, so hot in the city right now.

What else? Survival, I guess. And some fun.

Oh, and Superman. The boys have decided to invest their lemonade stand earnings in some awesome cool Superman capes and shirts. This is their attire every day. I feel very protected wherever I go.

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Here they are playing their favorite game during brunch on Saturday.

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And here they are with Batman!

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On Friday, our friends had invited us to visit them at their beach rental in Long Beach. Except the kids had so much fun hanging out in the pool that we never made it to the beach. And look who is learning how to swim?! And oh! It’s Barbie-Elsa’s butt.

 

We ate pizza poolside, relaxed, swam, and ate ice cream all day. It was pretty much perfect. (Yes, ice cream flavor was chocolate.)

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On the way home, this:

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Nothing like carrying a 45 pound child and a 27 pound beach bag (yes, I weighed it) from train to train.

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We barely made our connection at Jamaica, but we totally did, and Julian and I high-fived each other once we were in our seats, just as Arthur woke up and asked, “When are we getting on the next train?” Go back to sleep, kid. I just carried you across Jamaica Station, thankyouverymuch.

On Saturday we took the boys to the Whitney. It was fun, and inspiring, and also kind of intense to have Arthur near so much meaningful artwork. We definitely needed a drink afterwards.

Yesterday the boys and I took a trip to Roosevelt Island with our friends.

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It’s a magical place to the boys, mostly because of the tram and because the fun day we had there last year. Yesterday did not disappoint!

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I hope these are the days the kids will remember one day. Days of hot summer fun, water, our city, friends, and ice cream. What else does one need?

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Today we decided to take the kids to Central Park. They played at the Ancient Playground for a while, and we ate lunch at one of their picnic tables.

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Then we walked around the park in bathing suits and “echoooooooo-ed” at every opportunity possible.

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Next up: Alice in Wonderland and boats!

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We’ve never rented the sailboats before, but we’ve watched them plenty. Today was the day! The wind was a bit slow, but the boys still loved it.

Afterwards we had lemonades and treats and beer for the mamas. We were all so hot and sticky.

But it was fun. Now I need a couple of days days to get stuff done. I need to get Arthur’s speech therapy sorted out for next year, return library books, keep my kids alive, and OH! … pack for our weeklong vacation in Avalon (2014 and 2105). Jersey Shore, here we come!

Victorian Gardens

Yesterday was another amazing day. So far the summer is everything I had hoped it would be – and then some. It’ll make the beginning of school even harder.

Julian, Arthur, and three of their friends (Mae, Lucy, and Eloise) took their moms to the kiddie amusement park at Wollman Rink in Central Park. There are the rides!

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We made sure to hit each ride at least once.

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I had to go on some of the rides with Arthur because he didn’t meet all the height requirements, despite Julian’s repeated measuring efforts.

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Highlights were this airplane ride, even though Arthur cried in the beginning because he had to sit next to his boring mother.

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Julian liked to give the ladies a ride. Lucy in the back is holding on for dear life.

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When these adorable twins sat down in the back of the jumping frog, I reminded Julian to make sure to drive safely and to look out for the backseat passengers. He said, very seriously, “I will, mama.” But then, whatever, hands up!

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Other highlights:

And then the moment when I promised the boys a ride on this carousel, after I’d seen their buddy, who is about Arthur’s height, ride it on her own. I am terrified of these carousels after losing a shoe on one once as a child. Also, too high and too spinny. Long story short, the height requirements were more strictly enforced in this round, so yay!

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I almost died.

But not as close to death as we all came when we realized that we had probably most likely put some cash into Trump’s pockets by giving our children a day of fun at Wollman Rink.

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It was so much fun. Next up: ice cream and popsicles!

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Then we rallied and walked over to the boat pond. Because we knew they’d have beer. We had enough kids for a proper “kids table,” and they all played happily while we relaxed for a moment. In fact, Julian and Arthur are so into card games right now that they played cards with each other for the entire time we were there.

And then we were homeward bound! Nothing like riding a crowded crosstown bus with 5 children 5 and under…

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…followed by an even more crowded subway ride.

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The boys and I met Jeff at Pier 26 and played and had dinner.

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We all tried to run against Olympic champion Allyson Felix. Needless to say she was much, much faster than any of us.

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But if I can tackle anything in life with just half of the boys’ enthusiasm, success should be guaranteed. Also, sorry, lady! No high five for you. Ouch!

P.S. Victorian Gardens last year!

Rock Rock Rockaway

We love Summer Streets and try to do it every year, but this year it was just too hot to truly enjoy it. Nevertheless, we rode up to Central Park, met Uncle Brian for brunch on the UES and rode back down along the West Side.

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After those hot, sticky 25 miles on the bikes on Saturday in awful humidity (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat this much in my life), we were all looking forward to a beach day on Sunday. Rockaway it was!

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It was a perfect beach day. The weather was lovely, the water was warm, and we all had fun splashing around in the ocean.

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There was ice cream. This photo is titled “Duuuuude.” Arthur was covered in vanilla by the end of this.

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Everyone (except Julian) took naps. Beach naps are the best!

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My favorite part about Arthur’s nap was that I could put his hair into a man bun. He normally won’t let me touch his hair, so that was fun. He didn’t ever realize it was there. Wink wink!

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We ended the night over margaritas, guacamole, and tacos. And everyone slept well. After Arthur sang around 25 renditions of “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones.

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Weekend Kick-Off

We have some fun things planned for the weekend, but we wanted to kick it off at our favorite place. We hadn’t been in a few weeks, and I’ve missed our lazy hours of lounging around, drinking beer, and watching the kids play. So Jeff left work a bit early, and we headed to Brooklyn Crab.

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We played corn hole, the kids played in the sand, and we played our new favorite game Spot It. Arthur hadn’t slept well was very tired and a little mopey. That’s the downside of no more naps for him, but he just won’t go to bed otherwise. Anyway, he hung in there.

So happy to spend some time with this guy in our fashionable lobster bibs! Crabs for him, lobster for me.

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Julian, who’s been known to cry at the sight of a lobster, is now a lover of all seafood. We shared shrimp, crab, and lobster. And he worked for his food, too.IMG_8148

After dinner we rode our bikes around the waterfront.

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It’s so lovely down there. Jeff and I always say that we’d be happy to live in Red Hook one day – well, if it wasn’t for the fact that we love our neighborhood so much and also for the lack of public transportation in Red Hook.

We followed the tunes of the ice cream truck and got these:

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Then we watched the fishermen at dusk on the pier, and Jeff snapped some photos. These boys!

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Sum Sum Summertime

This week the boys were lucky to get a lot of playtime with their friends.

Lorelei on Monday.

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Botanic Garden with Eloise on Tuesday.

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Drop-off playdate at Shirine and Lily’s house on Wednesday. No photos because did I mention that I was invited to DROP BOTH OF MY CHILDREN OFF at someone else’s house?!

Thursday more play time with Lorelei and her adorable baby brother.

It was such a fun day. The kids get along so well, and it’s nice to hang out with my (adult!) friend, too. The playground was awesome, we had a picnic, went out for coffee, and I got to squeeze a cute baby. Winning all around. Also, this. The last one kills me.

IMG_7918Additional highlights: a trip to Chinatown to buy mussels. We discovered a fun new playground. Also, took the boys to a fish shop, and it pretty much blew their minds. Live crabs! Lobsters! Giant fish! It was so fun. And great to be back on the bike now that the heat wave is finally over and it’s gorgeous out every single day.

At home the boys have been playing so well together. They are into Superman and Wonder Woman, legos, and space/jets. Oh, and Star Wars, of course. It’s so great to see how they bring out something in each other that I think might otherwise just not (yet) exist. For example, Arthur loves interactive, imaginative play, whereas Julian is more into vehicles and mimics what sort of sounds they produce. But thanks to Arthur, Julian is now actually playing, with dialogue and lots of pretending and imagination, and it’s wonderful.

As for Arthur, well, he basically functions at the levels of a 5 year old. Julian’s interests are his interests. He builds boats and space ships out of legos. He plays Spot It! and Connect Four and chases after all the bigger kids at the playground. He goes on drop-off play dates. When our UPS man asked yesterday which one was Arthur again, I said, “The little guy.” As we walked away, hand in hand, Arthur looked up at me and told me, with a frown, “You know, mama, I am not a little guy.” And he does his own worksheets, too. Clever cookie.

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Arthur has been so pleasant to be around in general. Gone (I mean, I hope?) are the days of constant meltdowns and hitting. We’ve dropped his nap, and even though he does get tired in the afternoon, he goes to bed without coming out of his room one million times, and he sleeps until 7 or 7:30am. It’s been the biggest achievement. I have my peaceful evenings and nights back! Well, most nights, anyway.

And Julian? I am getting seriously sad thinking about the fact that he will start Kindergarten at the end of the summer. I mean, it’s a good thing, I know. He is so ready. But oh man, will I miss him. He’s so lovely almost all of the time; he looks out for his brother, helps him, explains things to him, loves him to pieces. I seriously cannot picture a better big brother than Julian. Like the other day, we were on the bike, and Arthur complained he had a booger he couldn’t get out. Gross, right? Just wait. One second later Julian says, “No worries, mama. I got it out.”