That’s a Wrap

Birthday week is over. I now have four and six year old boys. One of them has a wiggly tooth. Both of them seem to have grown over night.

On Sunday Arthur woke up and was four. He let us know right at 6am, when I found him wandering through our living room with his hands covering his eyes as not to see his presents. He whispered, “I saw my new bike!” And with that the family was up.

We had our traditional pancake breakfast.

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After the boys had played with their new Star Wars lego guys and space ships, we took Arthur for a spin on his sweet new ride. He takes biking very seriously!

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Look at this big kid! I can’t take it.

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Arthur got the hang of it pretty quickly. I was so proud of him!

For later in the day we’d planned a little party for Arthur and Julian with family and close friends at our favorite spot, Brooklyn Crab. But the weather didn’t cooperate. Our family was already on their way, so we celebrated with them at home.

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The boys were excited to see their cousins, and I whipped up two batches of Arthur’s favorite food, mac & cheese with bacon. We played, ate, and then took the kids for a quick walk.

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At home we had cake and played some more.

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Until next year, boys!

Interview with Arthur on his 4th Birthday

IMG_0882What’s your favorite drink?

Hot chocolate

What’s your favorite food?

Cake

What’s your favorite song?

99 Luftballons

Who’s your favorite singer?

Prince

What’s your favorite TV show?

Star Wars

What’s your favorite book?

Star Wars

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play with Lego Star Wars

What makes you laugh?

“I will tickle you until you pee in your pants.”

What’s your favorite animal?

Tiger and lion and leopard

What’s your favorite toy?

Lego Star Wars

What makes you happy?

When Mama & Papa give me kisses and hugs

What makes you sad?

When Julian hits me

Who do you love?

Mama & Papa & Julian

What scares you?

Tigers and lions

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Drive the subway 4 train

Who is your best friend?

Julian

What do you want for your birthday?

Gup C, a bike

What is your favorite playground?

Mount Prospect Park

What is your favorite museum?

Transit Museum

What’s your favorite color?

Red, blue, yellow

What’s your favorite subway train?

All of them!

What are you best at?

Climbing

What things do you take to bed with you?

Books, lizard, Wuffi

What is your favorite fruit?

Mandarin oranges

What is your favorite snack?

Breakfast bars

What is your favorite vegetable?

Carrots

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play Star Wars

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? (and how would you get there?)

Delaware – with a car! Or a bus!

P.S. Last year’s interview with Arthur.

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Arthur Baby,

Today you are 4.

You are insistent that you are not my baby anymore, but I assure you today – and every day – that you are and forever will be my baby.

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But you are also totally a kid; I get it. You’re a very capable person, and you’ve had an amazing year. You’ve come so far and worked so hard, and I am so, so proud of you.

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I mean, last year we tried to put you into pre-school, and you just cried and cried – and we gave you another year at home. This year you walk into school, kiss me good-bye, and you’re on your way. After school you grab my hand and tell me about everything that happened that day. That little walk from your school over to Julian’s school is one of my favorite moments with you – because you’re always happy and full of stories.

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You are a solo kind of guy. You’re very independent. Many times you yourself are company enough. You play well by yourself. You love Star Wars so much. You play with Legos, lightsabers, and most of all using your incredible imagination. And you’ve got your facts down. At 4, you officially know more about the Empire than me. The other day we were looking at one of your cousin’s books and you – who can’t read yet – correctly labeled about a dozen lightsaber holders. This included, for example, Ki-Adi-Mundi – and I’m pretty sure he was not a major character. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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You are something else, Arthur. You can drive me crazy while simultaneously holding my heart in your hands. You are wonderfully sweet and intuitive, a lover of animals and all creatures, and you are also the most defiant, stubborn, and complicated person. Life with you is never dull. Never.

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You work incredibly hard at your speech. Three times a week you sit down with your speech therapists – and you make it very known that it is not your favorite thing to do. But you power through, you work very hard, and you have made incredible strides. We are so proud of you. You’ve always been such a lovable, happy, outgoing kid, and despite your struggles you have stayed true to yourself. You don’t shy away from conversations, you share your thoughts, your feelings, and your fantastic sense of humor. You make up the most nonsensical jokes and make me laugh like no other.

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You are so cuddly. We still sneak the occasional nap together, you and I, even though I know I have to pay for it come bedtime because you won’t go to bed. But it’s worth it. Those sleepy, warm snuggles with you are everything. You still fit into my arms perfectly. Your head rests on my shoulders just so. And your hair in my face is something I can totally tolerate – other than my own hair in my face, which is just annoying. You are so loving, so sweet, and hugging you will solve almost any problem. You just need that hug. You need to know it’s all ok. And it is.

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I’m extremely emotional when it comes to you and ridiculously protective. But I am learning to watch you grow and stand up for yourself and maybe to let go a little. Maybe. You know what you want – but whatever it is, you’d gladly give it up for your brother. Whether it be the preferred color of a lollipop or a turn with a toy…you would probably give your right arm for your brother. You adore him so much.

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One time this winter you and I were in Prospect Park playing in the snow. Another little boy and his mom were also there, and the boy climbed up on a small pile of snow and proclaimed, “I’m bigger than you!” You didn’t think twice and replied, “Maybe. But no one is bigger than MY BROTHER.” So that pretty much sums up how you feel about Julian. I honestly don’t think I could dream up a better pair of brothers.

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Thank you for all the joy you bring into our lives. We all adore you so much. Arthur, even though I sometimes want to bang my head against a wall, I want you to know that I love you just the way you are, that you make me happy and proud and that you are exactly what our family needed. You keep doing you, my clever boy, and I will support you always. I love you so completely.

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Happy Birthday, my sweet baby.

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May the Fourth…

…be with us all.

Last night I foolishly allowed the boys to sleep in my bed. Jeff is away for work all week, so I had the space – or so I  thought. Let me just say: Arthur snores like an old man and moves around like a monkey on steroids. Suffice to say, it was a restless night (for me).

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At 6am Julian woke up and said, “I’m 6!”

And so he is. There was no time to waste; he had to open presents immediately.

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Also, pancakes.

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Arthur screamed intermittently from 6am to 9am (when I left him at his school) because it was not his birthday. Damn you nature (i.e. planned c-section) for making his birthday be three whole days later. Being the younger brother is hard sometimes (all the time?).

Anyway. Julian brought a cake to school.

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He said his classmates sang to him four times (apparently that’s a huge deal). He was beaming when I picked him up from school. Him, and 8 of his closest friends. Because who doesn’t like to be in charge of a bunch of sugar-hungry 5-6 year olds?

Also, I was that person with a bunch of balloons on the subway. No one even looked at me twice. I love New York.

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Traveling in style, me and my trusty grocery cart.

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(I’d dropped off the piñata and 40 juice boxes in our giant beach bag at school the previous day. But the boxed wine needed to be chilled, because priorities. So that’s why I needed the cart.)

Once some other brave moms and I made all these children safely cross Eastern Parkway, they all ran loose at the park. I’d thought up a bunch of games, but they immediately started playing soccer. And that was just as well. Then there was the piñata:

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Also, the aftermath. Only about three children cried because they didn’t get enough candy. It was mostly the kids who were smart enough not to roll around in the dirt. Note: my kids were not among them and went diving in.

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Meanwhile, I put my friend in charge of pouring wine.

Then, because 4 pounds of candy wasn’t enough, there was a donut cake. Which is just a bunch of donuts piled on top of each other. It’s genius because a) no baking required b) no plates required c) no clean-up required d) children insanely happy.

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We sang happy birthday and devoured a bunch of fried dough.

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Then the kids ran around, climbed some trees, and rode their scooters. Julian got a new scooter for his birthday, but of course I didn’t take a single picture of it.

In fact, I didn’t take any pictures. Because my phone died. But when I came home I had received emails from from probably six or seven moms and babysitters who had all sent me their photos. And that made my heart melt. Also the fact that we have found this amazing community of kids and families. What a blessing and what a joy to see my children run around the park with their good friends, and how lucky for me that the moms are equally amazing.

Julian wished for fish tacos for dinner, so I took the boys across the street to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Then we came home, opened more gifts, and crashed. As in, I’m sitting here with the rest of the boxed wine and a bag of M&Ms.

I’m tired. Birthdays are a lot of work. And this was only 50%! Arthur’s is on Sunday.

That said, when I put the boys to bed tonight, I said to Julian, “I hope you felt special and loved today. You’re so lucky to have such good friends.” And he said, “Thank you, Mama, for everything you did today.”

And that is all I needed to hear.

Birthday Week

Oh my. Our birthday marathon is over. We now have a four and a two year old living under our roof! So far four has been whiny and quite a bit of work, and two (for the one day that he has been two) has been sweet. We’ll see how it plays out for the rest of the year.

We celebrated a few days early so that all of the Delaware/New Jersey family could make it. The boys got to invite a handful of friends, but with siblings and family we ended up having 14 kids under our roof. We adore all of those kids so much. The kids played and decorated/ate cookies, and everyone had a good time.

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We sang for the boys separately this year because I was still guilt-ridden by the Happy Birthday song at their first joint party last year when Arthur turned one….”Happy birthday to Julian! …. and Arthur.” Arthur was so happy this year (not that he cared at all last year), and I totally shed a tear. My baby.

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Oh, also, there was cake.

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Julian got a bike and the M4 bus for his birthday, as requested he had wished for. He is in heaven. Arthur got (Julian’s old – sorry second kid!) balance bike, a kid vacuum cleaner (huge hit), and a truck from us. He is also pretty pleased.

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Julian got to celebrate his birthday in school with his friends, and he brought cupcakes.

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After school we took him to the playground of his choosing, treated him to strawberry lemonade, and ended the night eating pizza and playing with friends in their backyard. It was a perfect day.

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Not to be outdone, Arthur also had a terrific birthday. We went for a bike ride in Prospect Park, hit a playground, and had a picnic. The boys got filthy playing in the dirt and climbing and jumping and doing boy things. Just as it should be.

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Then we went to our favorite place on earth, Brooklyn Crab, where we spent a few hours eating peel & eat shrimp, fries, ice cream, and drinking beer. It was so relaxing. Arthur agreed:

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I think our boys were plenty celebrated. Now on to the most important day of the year: Mother’s Day!

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(If you’ve made it the end of this, woah. Holy birthday shenanigans. Thanks for reading!)

An Interview with Julian on his 4th Birthday

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What’s your favorite drink?

Spicy water

What’s your favorite food?

Spinach salad. Sometimes carrots. Also cookies. I have many favorite foods. Pancakes. Cheese.

What’s your favorite song?

Roar and All about that bass

Who’s your favorite singer?

Me (Julian)

What’s your favorite TV show?

Sid the Science Kid

What’s your favorite book?

Die Riesen-Birne

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play

What makes you laugh?

You. (mama)

What’s your favorite animal?

A lion

What’s your favorite toy?

M34 bus

What makes you happy?

You. (mama)

What makes you sad?

Nothing

Who do you love?

Mama, Papa, Arthur, Grammy, Grandpa, and Eloise.

What scares you?

Monsters

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Go to work

Who is your best friend?

Arthur

What do you want for your birthday?

A bike, M4 bus

What is your favorite playground?

Harry Chapin

What is your favorite museum?

Brooklyn Museum

What’s your favorite color?

Green, orange, yellow, blue, red, pink

What’s your favorite subway train?

The Z and J train

What are you best at?

Playing

What things do you take to bed with you?

Hoppel, flash light

What is your favorite fruit?

Grapes, blueberries, strawberries

What is your favorite snack?

Cereal bars

What is your favorite vegetable?

Spinach salad

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Being a train

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? (and how would you get there?)

Bronx, with the 2/3 train

P.S. Here is Julian’s birthday interview from last year.

Julian is 4

So this is four.

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I’ve been a mother for four years now. Julian has grown from a big, content blob into a curious, gentle, sometimes shy toddler and now into a confident, kind, and all around wonderful person.

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He makes me so proud every day. He makes me laugh every day. He tests my patience every day. He blows my mind every day with the things he knows and says and does.

Julian is always kind. Still, to this day, he has not once hit or bitten or pushed another child (other than a very rare shove for his brother). He has started to stand up for himself though, and he will ask other kids for turns or to get his toy back.

He is very silly. Some mornings he wakes up and says he is a horse. Some days he is a train or a bus or a shark or a narwhal. Sometimes he has a “spit train” in his mouth (no joke). And then, towards the end of the play, he announces, “Jetzt bin ich wieder dein Julian.” (“Now I will be your Julian again.”) I love all the other characters, and they make my life very colorful, but Julian is my favorite.

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A few months ago he basically taught himself how to read. I swear he learned it by reading the subway stations. So thanks, MTA. You win again. He’s not always in the mood to read, but sometimes when we’re riding our bikes he’ll read random words out loud. And he can definitely follow a finger and read slowly from a book.

Julian is not a social butterfly, but he seems to be a solid friend. He loves his friends and was very excited to invite his favorite people to his birthday party. It makes me happy to see him and his friends run around outside and overhear their little conversations.

Train Jokes

At night he will sometimes come out of his room for some nonsensical reason. I think he just wants to see what we’re doing. Sometimes his leg is itchy or he needs more water, but my favorite of all time is this one: “Mama, my hands are hot.”

Julian still loves everything about the subway and the transportation system in general. Long Island Railroad, Metro North, and city buses. He builds elaborate train stations and bus stops with Magnatiles and will play for hours. The edge of our rug is the yellow line. So don’t your dare step on it.

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Julian adores his brother. They play together all day long. They chase each other, race each other, or hit their heads in bike helmets agains poles and fences. Why? Because boys. Half of the things they do make no sense to me. But I have learned to just sit back and enjoy.

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As of late, Julian has gotten into “performances.” He will gather his audience (lucky us!) and place us on his bed or the couch. He collects tickets and hands out pretend popcorn (no popcorn with nuts for Arthur!), and then he has to find his imaginary microphone. It’s just never where he last put it. Then the show begins! Julian is usually Katy Perry, with an occasional appearance of Kelly Clarkson. We applaud like we mean it, because we totally do.

I am so excited for our summer together and to have Julian home all day to go on bike rides and have picnics and go to the beach. And then, towards the end of the summer, I know I will be ready to send him back to school for a few days a week. Speaking of school, I signed my kid (read: MY BABY!) up for school. As in real, actual school. For 2016. Because this is New York and you can never sign your kid up too early for anything. He talks about it already, and I know he will love it. And finally he will actually learn all the languages he is convinced he already speaks…

I couldn’t have dreamed up a cooler son. He is the most complex little person, never easy, always stubborn, and sometimes so very irrational it makes my head hurt. But I know where he gets it from. With all that is sweet and good about him I’ll gladly take his feisty side. Because they make the whole package, the whole Jules. My wonderful, good-hearted, smart, sweet son. My boy.

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Happy 4th Birthday, kid. You couldn’t be loved any more.

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All photos taken by the amazingly talented Jeff Weston.