Too much!

I can’t keep up. The weather’s been so nice, and we are never home. This is my favorite season. Everything is blooming, the sun is shining, and we get to ride our bikes all over Brooklyn.

Mother’s Day came and went. It was a good one. Sometimes these days can be disappointing (such as this one!), because of all the expectations. But this year was lovely. Coffee in bed. Many cuddles.

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The boys drew and wrote in my Mother’s Day book. We went for a morning walk/bike ride with the boys’ bikes, played at the playground. Then we took the big bikes for a spin and went to our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab.

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After that: key lime pie on our stoop.

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It was a really lovely day, and I was thankful for my people – as I am most days.

Other than that our days, and nights, have been busy. Jeff and I went to see a couple of bands perform. Here we are at Kings Theater, waiting for Father John Misty. It was fun!

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I went out with some of my best friends to a restaurant in Williamsburg, Maison Premiere. It was a happy dinner for a sad occasion, because one of us is moving away.

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Then there was a school performance and some very important sign holding…

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….and the annual school gala/fundraiser. We got fancy! And we danced. A lot.

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The kids are busy with play dates, ice cream, bikes, soccer, legos.

Most afternoons after school we all gather at the playground at the park across the school, and bit by bit many of the kids and mamas arrive. We hang out, chat, read, enjoy the sun. The kids roam around.

On Friday night, after soccer practice, we drove to New Jersey for our niece’s communion the next day. For that occasion the boys got fancy!

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But then they very quickly took off their shirts and ties and put back on their soccer uniforms. Boys in their more natural habitat.

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So that pretty much sums up our last two weeks. I’m so happy it’s finally spring, and on some days it’s felt like summer even. I can’t wait for the pools to open and for our many weekend bike adventures! This is our happy season.

Bike Season Opener

This weekend consisted of a so-so day, and a great day. Saturday was rainy and chilly. We had an appointment early-ish, and the boys behaved horribly. It ruined everyone’s mood and led to several conversations afterwards.

Later that day we hung out on our street for a street festival for Earth Day. Unfortunately it was rainy. Damn you, Earth!

Anyway, we were at a booth planting some basil, like one does, and one of the women from the local CSA commented, “What polite boys you have!” I almost choked. It was such a stark contrast to just a few hours before when they were everything but polite. Ahhh, parenthood.

We wrote things we’re thankful for on this “gratitude tree.” Julian said, “My school.” Arthur said, “Ice cream and chocolate.” Priorities.

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We spent the afternoon with popcorn and a movie (Star Wars Episode IV) and then went on a quick walk to a BBQ restaurant around the corner, where we stuffed our faces with way too much food.

Today, we slept in. As in, Arthur and I. At 7:30am, the time we’ve deemed acceptable to be woken up on weekends (weekdays it’s 7am), the boys crawled into our bed, and Arthur went right back to sleep for another two hours. This makes me hopeful for the future when at least one of my children might be happy to sleep in, and the other one will be happy to solve complicated math problems or work on the Rubik’s Cube (looking at you, Julian).

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After a breakfast of waffles and more waffles, we hit the road. Our first family bike ride of the season!

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We rode over the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped for a beer in Battery Park. Exhibit A:

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This right here means it’s a good day. Bikes, beer, children who are always hungry, many rounds of Uno, and my lovely, somewhat goofy husband.

We let the boys play for a long time at Nelson Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. It’s such an awesome playground. Jeff went go to get us sandwiches, and we ate in peace and read the paper while the boys played.

Then we rode up the Westside and over to Washington Square Park.

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Then over to the East Village, coffee break, and more playtime.

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Then we were tired and headed home. I’m so happy that spring has finally sprung, even though it’s not warm yet. The city is glorious with all the tulips and cherry blossoms, and riding around on our bikes makes my heart so happy.

Bike season has begun!

This week reminded me of all the good things: iced coffee on a park bench in the sun. Watching my boys speed away on their bikes.

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Sitting on our stoop with the paper while the boys “shoot” innocent passersby.

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And now … the best of all! Our first bike ride of the season.

Last year our first ride was in April. This year, since the winter was so mild and spring seems to have come early (fingers crossed!), we took our bikes out of storage earlier than usual. We had big plans…a ride into Manhattan, a day of exploring and playing. Except…my bike didn’t seem to appreciate being unused for a few months, and none of the gears were working. We took it into a shop around the corner from our storage in the Navy Yard, and they had to keep it there for the weekend to get fixed. We were so bummed. Then the mechanic came outside and offered to loan us a bike for the day. So yay! Off we were.

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Instead of a big ride into the city we decided to stay in Brooklyn and rode into Red Hook instead. We had lunch at our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab (photo by Julian).

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We played by the water…

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…and then the boys fell asleep on the bikes as we rode home.

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The rest of the weekend was kind of underwhelming. Jeff worked mostly and was stressed. I cleaned and straightened up and rearranged and tried to bring spring into our home with some new plants and flowers.

The small glimpse I got yesterday into the spring and summer that’s ahead of us made me so happy. The feeling I have when we’re on our bikes, Jeff and I together, with our happy kids on the back, singing along to the songs from the speaker – it’s truly my favorite.

It’s so easy to get stuck in every day stress things. Like shopping and carrying stuff and whining kids and tired legs and the constant begging for snacks/food (are everyone else’s kids constantly asking to be fed?!), the CONSTANT lightsaber fights that are really getting on my nerves (I keep hiding the lightsabers, but they just fight with anything else they can get their hands on. Today we were making colorful noodle necklaces, and naturally the red, blue and green noodles turned into lightsabers in a matter of seconds. Gahhh, Star Wars. Gahhh, boys.) Anyway, I digress. On the bike, because that is what I wanted to talk about…when we’re on the bike, I feel none of that. Never. I don’t think about what’s next or who needs what or where we should be or need to go or what we need to do – none of that. Everything I need is on those bikes, we’re exactly where we should be, the wind in my face, music playing, children happy, my husband/best friend by my side.

I guess what I’m saying is that I like spring and summer so much better than winter.

Autumn trip to Coney Island

Saturday was probably the coldest day we’ve had this season, so naturally we decided to go to Coney Island. Because as any proper German will tell you: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. The weather actually was fantastic, sunny, gorgeous. But it was a bit chilly, and this proper German is kind of embarrassed to admit, but we were slightly underdressed.

Anyway, the ride down to Coney Island was blissful and lovely. We stopped for a snack.

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And then we rode on…

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Once we got there, we had the obligatory beer and lemonade on the boardwalk.

We let the boys play in the sand for a bit…

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Next, it was time for hot dogs.

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This here is a photo of happier times, where each boy had their beloved hot dog. What’s not pictured is the damn, fearless bird who stole Julian’s hot dog the second he decided to focus on french fries instead. Oh, the tears. Thankfully it wasn’t the last hot dog in the history of Nathan’s hot dogs, so we just went and bought the poor child another one.

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And then we hit the rides. They never disappoint.

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Afterwards, we took the boys to the aquarium to admire the fish. Highlight: SHARKS! I don’t have any pictures of the fish, but I have this instead:

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On our way out we saw that they were playing a brief Sponge Bob movie in 4D, so we decided to give it a try. I mean, it was a stupid movie with no plot whatsoever, and either way I think Sponge Bob is a bit past his prime, but Arthur thought it was hilarious. Julian was terrified and cried when the objects came “flying at him.” Yay for 3D. Jules was not a fan.

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After one last stroll on the boardwalk, we decided it was time to head home.

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The boys fell asleep immediately on the bikes, and Jeff and I decided to take a break somewhere halfway between Coney and home and headed to Di Fara‘s pizza joint in Midwood.

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We ate our pie, happily, but I must say that even though many say this is the best pizza in NY, I much prefer Juliana’s.

On the ride home, everyone was tired. And cold.

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Julian’s look says it all. “Oh, parents, how you’ve failed me yet again.”

Hey! A list.

It’s time for a list!

1. School. Due to all the holidays, the boys have only been to school for two days so far, Thursday and Thursday. Ha. Arthur happily stayed until lunchtime last week, and this week he will stay the full day until 2:45pm. On Tuesday. Because Thursday is yet another holiday. While the boys were in school last week, I sat in the park. At first I wrote some emails, and then I read my book. And then, here comes the shocker, I sat and stared at the trees. For about an hour. It was amazing. I closed my eyes, and then I stared some more. It was the first time in months years when that has happened. Oh man. The peace. Mind blown.

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2. Other big boys things-that-are-happening. We turned Arthur’s crib into a toddler bed, and holy freedom. There have been many, MANY additional “night nights” and some early morning visits to my bed. I secretly love my morning cuddles, but I miss my extra sleep.

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3. A date! It seems like we haven’t seen much of each other lately, and due to kids and too much work and not enough sleep, well, anyway. It was nice to hang out and eat dinner at a restaurant without having to bring small toy cars, animals and/or trains.

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4. This!

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We went to the German Steuben Parade on Saturday, and I met the former Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit. He was mayor for 13 years, and one of the only and first openly gay politicians at the time. It was great to meet him. And we had so much fun at the parade, waving flags and hands and catching gummy bears.

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We spent the rest of the day bumming around Central Park and the West Side.

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We found a cool old train and some geese.

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We ate burgers and rode our bikes home in the dark with a chill in the air. It was a lovely day.

4. Rainbows!

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Have a wonderful week!

Home

As much as I loved our vacation, it’s been so nice to be back. As we were driving through New Jersey and saw Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, I said to Jeff, “I still can’t believe we live there.” And it’s true. Just like I sometimes can’t believe that I am responsible for caring for the well-being of two to three people every day of my life, I sometimes can’t believe that I get to live in what I consider the greatest city on earth.

Was it nice to have a deck while we were in Avalon and to have so much space that we didn’t see the kids (but could still hear them and knew/guess they were safe)? Yes. But at this point in our lives I wouldn’t trade our lives for any of it. We’re so happy living in the city and all that it has to offer us on any given day. But the one thing I will say is that experiencing something so different from our urban existence really amplifies how beautiful nature is. One morning in Avalon, Jeff and I set our alarm and got up early to watch the sunrise on the beach. It was magnificent. The way the sun slowly rose and drenched the ocean and the sky orange and purple and red and blue – I’ll never forget it. Diving under powerful waves and digging our feet in the sand – so amazing.

But a week away from our city also amplifies its beauty. Yesterday morning we rode our bikes over the Brooklyn Bridge. Riding towards the Manhattan skyline with the wind in our faces and our Brooklyn home right behind us – that’s magic right there.

We spent yesterday doing city stuff. We took the boys to an amazing playground near Chelsea Piers.

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Then we walked the Highline. We met a friendly drummer named Arthur who gave the boys balloons. They chased them up and down the Highline.

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Until one popped. Holy drama.

Then the boys napped by the Hudson River.

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After naps we kept riding and stumbled upon more fun playgrounds.

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We rode down to the Battery and checked out the new “Underwater Carousel.” It looked so fun. But the one hour long wait did not. However, hot dogs and brats did.

Then we took the water taxi to Redhook. A total highlight for the boys who are way into boats right now.

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We played and ate shrimp and drank beer at Brooklyn Crab and returned home way past bedtime.

Today we stayed local and let the boys ride their bikes/scooters/whatnot.

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Then we ate bagels on our stoop and talked to our neighbors.

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Tomorrow it’s back to business and every day life. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s good to be home.

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Sandy Hook

When Jeff and I were dating, before the kids and our life together in Brooklyn, we had a happy place. It’s called Sandy Hook.

We would get up early on a weekend morning, take the ferry to Sandy Hook (Bloody Marys in hand), ride our bikes around and spend the day on the beach.

We haven’t been to Sandy Hook since 2010, but now that we are pros at packing everything we need for a day at the beach on our bikes, we decided to give it a shot. We had to leave the house at 7:15am to have enough time to pack the bikes and ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and to Pier 11 to catch the 8:15am ferry.

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The boys were beyond excited because a) bike riding b) the prospect of a boat ride and c) a day at the beach!

We had muffins, croissants, and bananas, and possibly Bloody Marys on the boat. Here is Arthur looking cool:

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We brought blankets, towels, two umbrellas, a cooler with beer, lots of food and snacks and beach toys. Oh, and two children. Our bikes seriously are like a mini van. A small mini van.

Everything was perfect. The ride to the beach in Sandy Hook was lovely. We heard a million crickets and looked at rockets still displayed at Fort Hancock. The boys were in heaven.

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We played on the beach all day.

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We had lunch, played some more, and then we all napped. Beach naps are the best. One of my earliest memories as a child is the feeling of pure exhaustion and falling asleep to the sound of the waves, feeling all sandy and salty and warm from the sun. I’m so happy that I can give my boys the same memories.

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Before catching the 5:45pm ferry back to Manhattan, we stopped for ice cream.

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We ended the night at Smorgasburg at South Street Seaport, where we were quite likely the only non-tourists. We had grilled cheeses, pulled pork sandwiches, lemonade, and beer – and it’s pretty safe to say we were all exhausted on our ride home.

It was such a great day. Jeff and I have such fond memories of our summer days spent in Sandy Hook, young and falling in love with not a care in the world.

We definitely came with more baggage this time around, but also with much fuller hearts.

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Rock Lobster

It was another great weekend. On Saturday we decided to ride our bikes to Central Park. But before we did that, we wanted to get bagels at Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side. They have the best bagels in town (hence, the world), and Jeff and I were craving them. We used to get them all the time when we lived in the East Village, but we had never taken the kids – avid bagel (yay! carbs!) lovers.

This picture was taken just mere moments after Julian dropped his salmon cream cheese bagel on the LES side walk and I carefully wiped it down and removed any visible schmutz. Then Arthur proceeded to bathe me in cream cheese while simultaneously taking orange juice showers.

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That’s why we can’t have nice things, not even nice bagels. But oh my, were they delicious.

Then we rode up to Central Park and took the boys to the amusement park at Wollman Rink. Our eyes went wide when the ticket seller said, “Two adults, two kids…$70 please.” Yay NYC.

The boys loved all the rides. Arthur barely made the height requirement to ride alone, so they kept measuring him at almost every ride, and we made sure he kept his hat on, which seemed to add the needed extra half inch. What he may have lacked in height, he certainly did not lack in stamina. Arthur even went on a ride that Julian was slightly intimidated by, and look at that stoic composure:

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The boys hit all the rides, so in as much as you can get your money’s worth when you spend $70, they did.

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Later on we had a picnic in the park with Jeff’s brother and his wife, and then we all napped.

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We had dinner in Tribeca and got home at around 9pm. It was long, good day.

On Sunday we stayed in Brooklyn. We let the boys ride their scooter/bike to get croissants in the morning, which we ate on the Promenade. Then we kind of kept walking. And walking, and walking. We went into Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge Park and walked (in the blazing sun) from Pier 1 to Pier 6. We stopped for cold drinks and read some books at a little pop-up library cart in the shade. And then we gave up and took an Uber car home.

Everyone took long naps, and then we met our friends at Brooklyn Crab. The kids played and we ate some peel & eat shrimp. Then we had dinner. Arthur devoured clams (after he’d shared the shrimp with us), and then “helped” me with my lobster before eating his corn dog and fries. I can’t believe I have a seafood-lover child.

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So. The lobster. Julian was sitting next to me, and I had assumed he had seen the lobster when it first arrived. Right before I dug in, I picked it up and held it up for him, thinking it was funny. He immediately burst into tears. He was terrified, covering his eyes, crying. Needles to say, Julian did not try the lobster.

We rode our bikes home through Brooklyn Bridge Park, looking at the lights of our gorgeous city. Full, happy, and (mostly) cured from fear of lobsters.

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A good one

Let me just preface this by saying that yesterday was not a good one. Day, that is. There was lots of screaming and tantrums and a glass of wine at 4:30pm. Because I was celebrating that I had made it that far, and everyone was still alive.

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Today we had no plans, so I decided to try and make it a fun day. We left in the morning and rode the bike to Prospect Park and around the park. Just by riding around, listening to music and being surrounded by trees we all felt good.

First item on our list was the zoo.

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We checked out all the animals; it’s a rather small zoo. Perfect actually for a 4 and a 2 year old. Julian loved the sea lion, and the boys both loved feeding the animals at the petting zoo.

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We had a snack…

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….and then made our way to the carousel.

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Next up: lunch. We rode over to Lakeside, where I bought myself a sandwich and a beer, and we all ate happily.

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And then we played.

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It was so much fun. When I am on the big bike on my own, I always pack light because there is no storage space other than the front basket. So I didn’t bring water shirts or hats or towels, but I did pack lots of sunscreen. Anyway, we just dried off over lemonade and another beer.

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Arthur fell asleep almost as soon as we got back on the bike, so we found a nice, shady spot for a nap. Julian didn’t actually fall asleep, but we cuddled for more than an hour, and it was lovely. I may have dozed off…

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I truly felt like we needed to reconnect and make up after the day we had yesterday. It was ridiculous how bad yesterday afternoon was. Today more than made up for it. Julian was so sweet and good all day.

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We finished the day with ice cream, naturally. On the ride home, Julian fell asleep.

It’s funny how a really crappy day is almost always followed by a really good one. I think it’s because everyone involved needs it. I got so much love today from my boys, so many hugs and kisses and smiles and laughter. It was a welcome (and needed!) reminder that I am doing something right. That not every day needs to be great in order for us to succeed. Today was as good as it gets, except of course we missed Papa!

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Happy Birthday, Baby!

I would have written about my husband’s birthday weekend much earlier, but he decided to update and “reboot” (?) my computer, so it’s been doing computer things for days now, hence the delay.

Anyway. We spent Saturday in Prospect Park with friends. Julian, his pre-school buddy Shirine, Arthur, and Shirine’s little sister, Lily, had fun splashing in the water at Lakeside. The cute thing is that Arthur and Lily will be the only new children admitted to Julian’s pre-school next year, and they will be the only two year olds. Luckily neither of them, being younger siblings and all, care much for children their own age.

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After water fun, we had a picnic and let the kids (mostly Arthur) frolic in the grass. He actually got to run around nekked for a good while, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen him happier.

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Afterwards, because this wasn’t fun enough already, we took the boys for a pony ride. Did I say this was Jeff’s birthday weekend? Just kidding. Once you have kids nothing is about you ever again. Congratulations.

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Then we stopped for ice cream. Which required some concentration.

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Because clearly we hadn’t provided our children with enough stimulation. Julian showed his appreciation with a meltdown of epic proportions.

But none of that matters, because that night we had a babysitter, and Jeff and I went out for a lovely dinner. And a midnight bike ride through Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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The next morning Jeff got a special breakfast of bacon and eggs – and cake.

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Then we got on the bikes and took the ferry over to Governor’s Island to the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party.

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We love going and looking at everyone in their fancy, oldtimey outfits. We had a picnic and tried not to let the boys annoy us with their bickering and jumping into the guacamole. Some days they are the best of friends, like 6 out of 7 days, but that one day. That one day. I have no pictures of the picnic. The boys were crazy. But here are Julian and I listening to 1920 tunes. Or were we checking out the the swimsuit competition?

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Anyway. Since it was Jeff’s birthday, we decided to go to our favorite place on earth to share a pitcher of beer: Brooklyn Crab.

We had the boys go to bed early (or on time?) and ordered Five Guys for dinner.

I can’t speak for Jeff, but it sounds like it was a pretty good birthday weekend. If you’re under the age of 5 – or closely related to someone in that age rage. That’s us! Yay!

Happy Birthday, baby. We couldn’t love you any more!