Arthur Fun Day

On Fridays, Julian is in school until 5:30pm. He plays soccer after school, so Arthur and I have a very long day without him. I genuinely miss him, but it’s even worse for Arthur. He really misses his brother and friend.

I’m going to try to take him on adventures every now and then and make the day special for us. Today we went to Prospect Park.

We played “Superman” and “Octonauts” (omg that show!) at the playground. That outfit! Believe it or not, people still think he is a girl. It’s amazing.

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Then we hit the zoo. It was quite chilly today!

Arthur said hi to a peacock.

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We saw everything there is to see at this rather small zoo. It was lovely.

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My favorite was the petting zoo. Arthur talked to every.single.creature. “Hi guys! How are you today? What is your name? Do you want some food? Sorry sheep! We have no more! We’ll get more next time! Bye! I will miss you.” It was adorable.

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We had lunch at the zoo and on the way home, this.

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I’d say it was a successful morning.

About all that “free time”…

It’s been about a month since both boys have been in school. Of course, since Arthur only goes three days a week and October has been jam-packed with holidays and also some sick days for him, he’s only actually been to school for 10 days. Of those days, three days have been spent inside his school and the rest “forest school style” outside while they were waiting for one last permit.

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Anyway, the season of school has just begun, and I think we are still all finding our groove. Scratch that. The boys are fine. They run off in the mornings, Julian often hand in hand with a friend, and Arthur hurries off to greet his teachers. Usually I get a big goodbye hug, but on occasion Julian has just wandered off without saying goodbye, while chatting to a friend. Today Arthur did the same.

After school they are tired and happy. Julian tells me about his day in detail. Math is his favorite. He drew a spider for a Halloween picture. These are the friends he played with at the park. They sang a song about fall for other teachers and kids in higher grades (a performance!). He is seriously so chatty and provides so much information that I was asked to send updates to his friends’ parents because most of the kids say nothing.

Arthur, too, is following suit. Yellow and blue makes green! They learned a new song! They went to the playground, and he played police with his friend Leo and also a little bit by himself. For Halloween one of the boys will be Batman, and there will be two Elsas. He missed me after nap.

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This is how Arthur would greet me the first couple of weeks when I picked him up at the park. He would just fly into my arms! It was pretty much the greatest feeling ever.

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And while all this is going on, what do I do? All summer long everyone asked me what I would do with all my free time! I joked that I would do my nails and stare into nothingness. The truth is, it’s been a little bit different than I had envisioned. There just isn’t that much time!

The first day both kids were in school I went all out. I went for a leisurely walk and took myself out for a lovely lunch.

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Ever since then, I’ve been running errands, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning. It’s been extremely glamorous. To all the mamas who work and accomplish all the domestic things, I have no clue how you do it. I have three days to myself. Well, half days, really. I’m back from school drop off at 10am and have to leave again at 2:15pm. And those hours just fly by.

So while I haven’t gone to any museums or had my hair done or met Jeff for lunch, these hours are still special and somehow different. I do things at my own pace. Some days I go to the gym. Sometimes I walk slower or shop longer or eat my lunch on our stoop. I play the music that I like on the bike. I shower in peace. When I went to get my flu shot, I had to wait in the pharmacy for 10 minutes. Just sitting on a chair. It was so obvious to me what I wasn’t doing at that moment. I wasn’t telling my children “Don’t touch! Stop running! Don’t touch! Put that back! Did you just push him?!” I just sat there. I silence and with my thoughts. That was nice. And I get to run all of our errands without my sidekicks, which pretty much is a win/win situation for everyone involved.

So I guess if I could go back and answer the question about what I would be doing with “all my free time” again, I would say: The same stuff I would normally do. But also taking a deep breath every now and then. I enjoy hearing my own thoughts again after 5+ years of being drowned out by my two lovely, loud boys.

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Friends, Friends, more Friends

This is a good season. My kids are in school, at least some of the time, and I am getting used to the feeling of missing them and looking forward to seeing them again. Jeff and I have been going on dates and hanging out with friends, and it’s delightful. I feel like a proper adult again!

Last week Julian was off on Tuesday while Arthur had school. So I packed the day full of appointments…Doctor: broken finger has healed! Dentist: swollen gums mean two adult molars have grown in my baby’s mouth! Hair salon: shorter hair! Also, Arthur had speech with his new teacher (she’s great, but man do we all miss Katie), and we got to hang out with one of my oldest friends who stopped to see us during a road trip with her boys. We’ve known each other since my college days in Bamberg, Germany, where I babysat for her now 16 and 17 year old children. They were 1 and 2 then!

Here are my boys with her two younger boys. They were fast friends!

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Other than school, the boys and I have met up with friends, gotten flu shots and discovered Arthur’s future as a skateboarder. He and that board were a natural fit!

On Friday night Jeff and I went to see the New York Philharmonic (always good) perform at the Park Avenue Armory (amazing!) – but it was a weird, experimental piece that had us looking forward to dinner together afterwards. On the Upper East Side, which might as well be a different planet. But it was lovely, because of this guy:

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This weekend we took the boys to the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park. It’s always a magical ride.

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We’re so lucky with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. We were all so happy to be on a family bike ride again! We stopped by the World Trade Center and visited the recently opened Oculus.

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On Saturday evening we were invited over to our friends’ house. They had arranged for a babysitter to hang out with the 5 kids (our friends’ kids included) in their apartment while the adults got to hang out on the amazing roof with the most breathtaking view, wine, and pizza. Oh! And friends!

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I mean…this view!

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On Sunday we had one of Jeff’s work friends and his partner over for dinner, and even though our kids were overly excited (because clearly they don’t get out much…), it was so lovely to meet these guys and make new friends.

As we’re headed into a new week of chores and normal life, I’m so thankful for friends (new & old), for Jeff, and for my boys and the fact that they are loving school so much.

Bronx Zoo and other Shenanigans

There are several things I already miss about our long, lazy summer, and they are: no schedule! Day long fun outings! Bike rides forever.

But now that it officially feels like fall (someone please tell the mosquitoes; I want them all to die as soon as possible), we still use the bike every day, but not in a leisurely way. I take the boys to school every morning while blasting 80s Nena and singing from the top of our lungs. Oh, Nena. But it’s not the same as riding bikes all day all around the City.

Last week my friend Marte and I (and every other German in town) went to see Nena play at a concert venue in Manhattan. It was so much fun. I had pretty much no expectations, but oh man, Nena blew me away. It was such a heartfelt, sincere show and a really unique experience to be surrounded by so many happy Germans just having a good time.

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We had sort of a lazy weekend with walks around the neighborhood, Bloody Marys at home and chess games.

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On Saturday I was invited to brunch by someone I worked with when I first came to the US. It was so fun to see her and also my former boss, without whom I would never be here in the first place.

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Ha, I’m tall.

Saturday night we invited our friends over for pizza and wine. There were five boys in our house, age 3 to 8, and everyone played so peacefully until pretty late. It was lovely and relaxing. I read somewhere about the “new dinner party” – in which you don’t spend a ton of time preparing, cooking, or cleaning but rather order in, maybe make a fresh salad, and that’s all. It was totally delightful.

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Also, there was Reddi Wip.

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Today through Wednesday Julian is off school. Arthur goes tomorrow. They both go on Thursday. I just look forward to a time when both children go to school for most days of the week at the same time. It’s time for some routine.

Today my friends and I took our five kids to the Bronx Zoo. It was such a gorgeous autumn day!

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We loved seeing the animals, and the kids all had a blast.

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I think we all loved the sea lions the most; they were hilarious. The boys loved them so much that they had to hug them in poster form.

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Also, ice cream. I love how adoringly Julian is admiring his cone.

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On the way home everyone fell asleep. Including mama.

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Arthur’s off!

Tomorrow is the first day ever when both of my children will be in school at the same time.

Julian suggests I read the paper, and Arthur recommends I busy myself by playing with his toys all day.

But let’s backtrack a little. Julian has been in school for a month now. Actually, it’s been exactly one month tomorrow. Arthur’s school was supposed to start a week after Julian’s (why?), but they have been delayed by a few weeks because the school moved into a bigger and better building and have been battling with all kinds of permits and such, and nothing moves fast. It’s been kind of frustrating.

This week Arthur’s school has moved outdoors, German “Waldschule” style, which is better than no school at all, but also not as great as actual school, with, you know, a roof over the kids’ heads.

On Tuesday Arthur had his first day, and even though there were many tears from many kids, Arthur kept it together.

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I almost cried, because MY BABY! But I, too, kept it together.

Of course it was a holiday everywhere else, so Julian and I got to spend the day together. Over hot chocolate and a muffin.

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Then we came home and baked Arthur our traditional “first day of school donuts” – because that’s a thing.

Arthur was happy at pick-up and flew straight into my arms. It was the best reunion ever.

At home donuts awaited him, and that too was a success.

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This kid is growing up. What a difference to last year!

I’m so proud of our Arthur.