Life Stuff

This summer is fleeting. No summer has ever felt so fast, so short. I’m not ready for the boys to go back to school!

We’ve been enjoying a good mix of fun, busy days and lazy days riding bikes around the neighborhood and hanging out at the playground. The boys have been playing with their friends a bit, and of course Julian is busy reading. He’s finished the first two books of the Wimpy kid series and is now on his third. He’s also still keeping his journal, every night. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about a day 30 years from now when I find his write-ups of our summer and our life together, and I smile.

IMG_8971IMG_8839

Last week we hit the beach with our friends. Beach days are my favorite.

IMG_8947IMG_8952

This week we went to Central Park. We had lunch at the Ballfield Cafe, where we were happy to see the waitress we met the last time we were there, a couple of months ago. She also remembered us and immediately produced a little drawing Arthur had done for her from her wallet. I love little reminders like this in our everyday life. Reminders that there are good people everywhere, that we are connected even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Look at these faces. There is good in the world.

IMG_9380

There’s been plenty of ice cream and bike riding. I just can’t say no to ice cream.

IMG_8829IMG_9028

We’ve hung out with friends, BBQed, eaten about a hundred peaches, and played plenty of Legos. I’ve been reading a lot. The boys are besties and spend most of their time together Ghostbusting, Ninja-ing and whatnot.

I’m sentimental for many reasons. The boys are growing up. This beautiful summer is flying by. This season in my life is so good. I wish I could bottle up some of these moments for darker seasons – or, you know, winter.

IMG_9231

A Perfect Day

Yesterday was just that. A perfect day.

In the morning we bummed around at home, meaning Arthur had speech, I did five loads of laundry (at the laundromat across the street), scrubbed the tub, changed the sheets. Glamorous.

Then, after lunch, we were Coney Island bound. We started our day with ice cream and a cold brew on the boardwalk.

IMG_8669

Then the boys and I spent the afternoon at the beach. We dug in the sand and splashed in the waves. The water is now bathwater warm. Julian read his new prized possession, the latest Narwhal book.

IMG_8393IMG_8670

Then I became sleepy and thought, “What are the odds these kids would nap now?” And I just said, “Boys, let’s just cuddle for a minute.” And boom! It was divine. A nap by the ocean has always been my favorite.

 

Then we bummed around on the boardwalk with a big order of funnel cake, waiting for Papa to arrive. Also, the boys got to pick out new t-shirts. Once Jeff got there, we had dinner.

329A4596

Here they are, in front of Nathan’s, with Nathan’s both in and on their bellies.

Next up, Go Karts. Totally my favorite.

IMG_8671

Also, look at this face. The boys were pumped!

IMG_8485

Then we hit more rides.

IMG_8529IMG_8667

At 9:30pm it was time for fireworks. I think this was Arthur’s first time seeing fireworks (other than one time when he was a baby), and he was pretty impressed.

329A4638329A4653

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

What made this day even sweeter was watching my boys together. They are just each other’s best. So many times when I looked over at them, I saw random moments of kindness. Arthur would put his arm around Julian’s shoulders while they waited for me on the boardwalk. Julian always made sure Arthur was buckled into all the rides and helped him get in and out. The way they always look out for each other is second nature, and it makes me so happy.

IMG_8668

4th of July Weekend – Round 2

On Sunday there was only one place we wanted to be: Coney Island! The boys’ cousins (and their parents) drove up from New Jersey to meet us for a day of fun at our favorite spot.

We started off strong with hot dogs for everyone.

IMG_5179

Then the usual: rides and beach time. Highlights were, as always, the Wonder Wheel – especially since I got to sit next to my main guy – and then the Spook-A-Rama. We were not scared! Just kidding. We totally peed our pants.

IMG_483419620611_10155759380501029_1826435992144705617_o

Also, one of the boys’ favorites, the Wild River. (I pretty much died.)

329A1516329A1517

The kids all had a blast. Of course, there was ice cream.

IMG_5178IMG_5166

Then the kids played in the water.

IMG_5177

The beach was insane! It was one of the most crowded we’ve ever seen it, but part of that is just so fun to me. It’s what I love best about NYC beaches: they ain’t fancy, but all it’ll cost you to get there is the $2.75 subway fare. Can’t beat it. Look at these crowds!

IMG_5170.jpg

We walked along the pier and saved a few crabs and then ended the evening over dinner at a beer garden around the corner (horrible music, mediocre food, but foosball!). Arthur finished a bowl of mussels – and half of Julian’s cheeseburger. No one fell asleep on the subway ride home, but everyone crashed hard upon our arrival at home.

Julian’s diary highlights all the most important points:

IMG_5180.jpg

On Sunday we decided we weren’t beached out yet, so we spent the day in Rockaway. Just a relaxed day spent playing, napping, eating popsicles.

IMG_5284IMG_5290IMG_5291

Also, these guys. I just adore them.

On the last day of our Five Day Run of Fun, we started out with homemade donuts. I’m particular psyched because these strawberries came from our small Brooklyn window box garden! Boys were psyched because donuts.

IMG_5339

After a sufficient amount of sugar, we were headed to Central Park. It was a perfect day for bike riding. Not too hot, just right. We had lunch at the Ballfield Cafe and then played for a long time at a lawn in the park. Then playground, then home. It was perfect!

Tired, happy boys.

IMG_5413

Beach, Beach, more Beach!

What a weekend! Jeff and I both agreed this morning that we needed an extra day to relax from all the fun we had. But alas, it’s Monday and back to the grind.

On Saturday morning we got on our bikes right away and headed to our favorite place: Coney Island! We made it to the ocean in an hour and fifteen minutes – not too bad for two middle aged folks riding two heavy bikes loaded with everything needed for a beach day. Oh, and two kids.

IMG_3112

We hung out on the beach for a few hours, ate watermelon, played in the water, and dug in the sand. The boys couldn’t care less that this isn’t the loveliest of beaches; they just have fun. And so did we.

Then we got hungry and needed hot dogs immediately. They were delicious.

IMG_3394IMG_3220

The rest of the afternoon was our typical Coney Island fun: Wonder Wheel, rides, ice cream.

IMG_3393IMG_3224

Then we rode back towards home. Right around Park Slope our legs were getting tired, so we decided to stop for dinner. We stumbled upon this lovely place, sat outside, and filled our bellies with meats & cheeses, pasta, and mussels. Arthur ate all my seafood, and I stole bites of his pasta. We were so happy and full – and very tired. We rode home as the sun was setting, showered, and fell into bed.

IMG_3395IMG_3396

On Sunday we decided we hadn’t had enough of the beach, so we headed to Rockaway. We wanted to try the new NYC Ferry, and so we rode the bikes to the Wall Street stop and took the ferry over. It was pretty smooth, but only because we got in line early. Many people who arrived after us had to wait for the next boat, which only comes every hour.

IMG_3265

We rode the bikes around Rockaway for a bit and then found us a nice spot on the beach. We stayed there all day, played in the waves, ate sandwiches, chips, watermelon. Beach life is simply the best. We all took naps, too. Delightful.

IMG_3329

Before we headed home we wanted to grab a quick dinner and randomly found this very strange place that has fast food and shakes on the menu – and an assortment of old toys in the yard.

IMG_3384IMG_3385IMG_3325.jpg

Hot dogs and shakes for life.

Then we made a mistake and rode our bikes around the boardwalk for a bit. It was so lovely out. Bands were playing, happy people everywhere. Except: When we arrived at the ferry dock, there were so many people in line already, and the ferries were so backed up that we had to wait for more than an hour. So that was fun. (Next time we’ll take the train again. The NYC Ferries are fun in theory, but so overcrowded it sucks the joy and convenience right out of it.)

IMG_3386

We killed time on the boat by drinking a beer, making silly hairdos, and playing games.

IMG_3387IMG_3388

We arrived home at 10pm. The kids were exhausted, although honestly not as much as we were. Today we all slept a little later, and even though I’m sure we’re all a bit tired still, we have made a bunch of unforgettable memories this weekend.

Mexico, Round Two

Mexico. What can I say?

We came back to Brooklyn and were hit immediately by a snow storm. So this has been us, mostly, for the past week:

IMG_9055

But in our minds, we are all still here:

IMG_8298IMG_8662

We had the best time. We tried a different hotel this time, about two doors down from where we stayed last year. Our hut was one of the ones in the back; you could see the ocean from our porch and hear the waves at night. And we could send the boys outside to play – a luxury we don’t normally have.

_MG_9807

We sat on our porch a bit, sipping wine, and talking when the kids slept at night. Or in between our beach adventures and going out to dinner at night.

_MG_9990

If you were to ask me how many tacos we consumed, I couldn’t tell you. Probably 50? We always started our day with breakfast at the hotel, usually fruit and yogurt and pancakes. And a huge chocolate milk for the boys. They drew so much during this vacation, and Julian has become a very confident if not correct speller, so that has made for some pretty hilarious artwork.

_MG_9818

We also played lots of Uno.

_MG_0996

After breakfast we chose a beach and spent the day bumming around, drinking beer, and playing in the waves. Also, I plowed through this book during vacation; I could not put it down.

IMG_8453IMG_8326

I worked on a really awkward suntan.

_MG_1439_MG_1316_MG_0802

One morning we checked out one of the Cenotes. It was cool! But the boys were intimidated, and it took us an hour to get them to come into the water – which was pretty cold. But they did it, and Julian actually ventured forth into the caves with Papa. We saw fish and turtles and were really hungry for tacos afterwards.

IMG_0183IMG_0159

In our hotel we met a friendly lizard. Just kidding, he was terrified of the boys, of course. But they were excited to meet him. The first time we saw him, Arthur ran inside to grab his toy lizard, his most beloved possession, and the boys followed the lizard around. Julian was convinced that the real lizard would eventually accept the toy lizard as his baby. (Spoiler alert: he did not.)

IMG_8496

We were not ready to come home, but we had to.

IMG_8910

Julian was sad about having missed math at school, and science, and we all know no amount of tacos and ice cream can make up for missing math. Not even if you add them all up. Until next time, Mexico!

_MG_1811

Central Park & Coney Island

Somehow, after a week of feeling sick, we were blessed with exactly what I needed: a lovely, warm, sunny NYC weekend. In February. I think every winter we get one or two of these days, just to tell us, “Don’t give up! Spring is coming.”

On Saturday we took the train up to Central Park. As always, for the boys “it’s not the destination, it’s the ride.”

img_7847

The boys got to ride their scooters, and we spent the day wandering around the park and trying to run into as few people as possible.

We stopped at a playground for a long time and hung out by the boat pond over sandwiches, beers, and rounds of Spot It. Also, my boys are natural “fake” smilers. (Arthur looks like he has a side tooth of some sort, but he just has a mouth full of goldfish.)

img_7843

Oh, Jeff Bridges was there, too.

img_7846

The boys played and climbed. Helmets came in handy.

img_7817img_7844

We looked for ice cream, but it was impossible to find in February. Someone didn’t get the memo. So we had Shake Shack milk shakes, and some of us passed out on the ride home.

img_7841

On Sunday the fun continued. It was another spring-like day, so we headed to our favorite place on earth: Coney Island. We started off with a couple of beers on the boardwalk and chatted with the a couple of local guys. Oldies were playing from the stereo, one of the guys was singing along loudly, and everyone was just so happy to be there. It was one of my favorite parts of a really perfect day. Also, these guys.

img_7880_mg_9423

Then we wandered around the boardwalk and took the boys to a magic show. They were kind of unfazed throughout the show, but afterwards wouldn’t stop performing little magic tricks for us. Except, when one of the magicians performed a trick, he wrote the word “special” on one of the cards in the deck. So naturally, Arthur kept saying things like, “Do you want to see another special? I have a good special for you!”

Here is a sequence of events where I did a magic trick for the boys, Julian broke into tears because he couldn’t figure it out, I tickled him happy, and then we walked together, after I’d revealed my “secret” to him. This is so Julian. He just needed to know. He can’t stand it when he can’t figure stuff out on his own. It drives him crazy.

IMG_7953.JPG

Of course, there were hot dogs.

img_7898

We spent a lot of time on the beach. Jeff took a bunch of wonderful pictures that captured our day together.

_mg_9521_mg_9551_mg_9536_mg_9656_mg_9694

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.

IMG_0186 (1)

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!

IMG_0071 (1)IMG_9984 (1)IMG_0501 (1)IMG_9780 (1)

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.

IMG_0153 (1)IMG_0459 (1)

Also: beach naps.

IMG_0502 (1)

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.

IMG_0504 (1)IMG_0505 (1)

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

IMG_0503 (1)

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…

IMG_0069 (1)IMG_0500 (1)

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

IMG_0499 (1)

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.

IMG_0498 (1)

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)…

IMG_0439 (1)IMG_0497 (1)

…and drank lemonades overlooking the beach.

IMG_0447 (1)

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.

IMG_0496 (1)

It was such a fun day.

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

IMG_0493 (1)

…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?

IMG_9920 (1)

Thanks, fam, for another great vacation!

14125491_10154848570786029_8964224000485789790_o

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.

IMG_8176

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!

IMG_8395IMG_8401

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

IMG_8399IMG_8396IMG_8398IMG_8402IMG_8405

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

IMG_8400

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

IMG_8404IMG_8403

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!

IMG_8406IMG_8407

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.

IMG_8408

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.

IMG_6943.jpgIMG_6963

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.

IMG_6964

We played Uno.

IMG_3584

…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.

IMG_3612.jpg

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.

IMG_6902

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.

IMG_6984

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

IMG_6983

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.

Viva Mexico!

We’re back in the land of cold, cold, and more cold. But at least we’re braving the freezing temperatures with a little tan and happy memories. Our week in Mexico was great. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a very happy time with gorgeous beaches, sunshine, lots of fish tacos (Julian), guacamole (Arthur), and margaritas (Jeff & me).

Traveling was so-so…the trip to Cancun was annoying. The kids were restless, and the airline (American Airlines) was horrible. I mean, horrible. Never again with that airline. On the way back we flew Jet Blue, and what a difference. Unlimited complimentary cookies! Enough said.

Once we arrived in Cancun, we had to wait forever to get our rental car, and Arthur screamed from pure exhaustion during the car ride to Tulum. He was done. He had gotten up at 5am and not napped at all, so – ugh. But overall the boys were good. Julian, in fact, was amazing. Almost five means you can take him places. He is patient and kind and such a good buddy to his brother. That is when he’s not bossing him around or taking sh*t away from him.

IMG_8556

We stayed in a little hotel in Tulum right by the beach and in walking distance to all the shops and restaurants.

IMG_8148

We had a similar routine every day: breakfast somewhere nearby or at our hotel (except one time when we drove into town and had breakfast at a German restaurant), then a day at the beach.

IMG_8155IMG_8546

Some mornings we slept in. And a couple of times we watched the sun rise:

IMG_8554IMG_8549IMG_8550

We basically just lived at the beach. We ate lunch there…

IMG_8127

…and snacks…

IMG_8553IMG_8551

…and ice cream…

IMG_8545

We swam in the ocean a lot. I went snorkeling one time. I saw giant turtles! And lots of fish.

IMG_8547

We drank lots of cervezas and read lots of Star Wars books. Arthur took his pants off. A lot. (not pictured)

IMG_8543

The boys were wonderful and fun and smelled of sunscreen and mango. There was sand everywhere, at all times, and in fact I think we brought quite a bit of it home with us. Along with two suitcases of dirty laundry.

After spending the day at the beach, we returned to our hotel for a cold margarita by the ocean and played some more.

IMG_8092IMG_8544IMG_8395

One day we checked out the ruins. But Arthur wasn’t feeling well, so basically I carried 40 pounds of child around the Mayan ruins of Tulum. We also played lots of Go Fish! and Memory.

IMG_8308

One day we hung out with Jeff’s co-worker and her adorable son. The boys had a great time shooting invisible monsters with invisible guns.

IMG_8542IMG_8534

We met another couple from our neighborhood (Tulum is full of Brooklynites), who had left their young kids at home with the grandparents. They asked us how it was traveling with the kids, and I told them, “Well, it feels like a vacation from our life at home! But it’s certainly a different kind of vacation than traveling without kids.” But that’s ok.

IMG_8555

I love that I can give my boys some of the same memories that I have from my childhood. Traveling to foreign countries, eating different foods, being tired and sandy and happy and listening to a mediocre beach band while drifting off to sleep with my parents sitting together over a glass of wine on the porch. That, or something like that.

We’re already plotting our next adventure!

IMG_8411