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.

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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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.

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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.

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We played Uno.

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Coney Island – We’re Back!

After yesterday, I am trying to get back into a happy mind frame. So let’s talk about the weekend, shall we?

We left early-ish Sunday morning on our bikes and rode 10 miles to Coney Island, our happy place. Due to Jeff’s work schedule and the weather it was our first trip to Coney this year.

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We let the kids play on the beach for a while.

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They love the beach. So much. I love it, too, but Coney Island beach is not the greatest. We found tons of glass there yesterday. It didn’t prevent Arthur from doing this:

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Holy clean-up. It was probably the only not great part about yesterday. Also, I was mildly embarrassed when I discovered more sand in his ear at the doctor’s office yesterday. Despite several attempts at de-sanding Arthur. Oh well.

So the sand isn’t so great at Coney Island, but thankfully it has many other things to offer that make it the happiest place on earth for us. Like hot dogs. Which is what we had after beach time.

Then we checked out the mural art exhibit:

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Next up: Wonder Wheel!

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Julian agreed to sit next to me, but he made it clear it was more of a favor. He would not hold my hand. So I laugh-screamed without hand-holding. Fine, kid. So you’re tougher than me.

Afterwards we let the kids ride some of the kiddie rides. They loved it. And then we wanted to try the water ride. We’d never been, but the kids were eager, and so was I. What was thinking? I’m not sure. Jeff announced very last minute that he wouldn’t join us and offered to hold my bag (thanks, babe). Anyway, it was fun, and I thought we would all die only twice. The kids just laughed and loved it. This is the only picture we have where I don’t look too frantic and am not clutching my laughing children as if their lives depend on it.

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After we survived this ride, the boys wanted to go on the swing carousel. Thankfully Jeff offered to go with them right away, which was great, because ever since I lost a shoe on one once as a child, I have refused to consider going on one again. Arthur didn’t meet the hight requirement, so he had to bring his “guardian” with him anyway. Jeff promised me he would sit Arthur on his lap. Because we all know he is the kid who would try to stand up in his swing just to see if it’s possible. This was the exact moment I learned that Arthur was, in fact, sitting in his own swing.

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He survived. We rewarded the kids with ices.

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And then it was time to go. Julian’s face says it all:

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He was not pleased.

The ride home was lovely, but also exhausting. This view though!

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We rode home under the Verrazano Bridge and stopped for a quick play at Owl’s Head Park. Then we had tacos in Sunset Park and finally made it home in time for baths and to…you know…crash.

Weekending

This weekend was such a good one – although (or because?) we totally did the opposite of what we had previously thought we might try out: and that’s taking it easy. Last Sunday was so nice; we did nothing. This weekend we didn’t spend any time at home. In fact, each night we barely made it home for bedtime. We are all very tired. Happy, but tired.

On Friday our friends invited us over for a South African Braai, but it was a braai-turned-taco-night, so that was extra yummy. The kids just played and played, and we sat on our friends’ terrace with cold beers, good conversation, and a new baby to cuddle (theirs, not ours, obviously). Also, this. Those faces.

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On Saturday we had a picnic in the park, went to one of Julian’s friend’s birthday party at the nature playground and then hit Lakeside to cool off. It was humid and muggy! The boys had a blast. I think we will spend a lot of time here this summer!

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We stopped for seafood at the Kittery and sat outside over mussels, wine, and lobster rolls. It was lovely and delicious. And the children were so well behaved. In fact so much so that a couple commented on them as they were leaving. Amongst all the recent public complaints I’ve heard it was very refreshing.

Today was also really awesome. We rode our bikes into Manhattan and took the boys to the Intrepid. Last time we went was Mother’s Day 2014; Julian was scared, and Arthur was a baby. This time around it was so much fun! (And also so expensive!)

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The boys were in heaven. Jets! Spaceshuttle! Things to touch!

Afterwards we hung out at a shady playground for a bit…

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…before the most important part of the day: Germany’s first soccer game in the 2016 Euro Cup. We watched at a huge German restaurant in Midtown and had a great table. Arthur fell asleep on the bike and slept for the first half of the game. He takes his sleep so seriously. Except, of course, when we really want him to sleep. Like, say, at night.

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Julian was mostly entertained by the game, play-doh and a giant pretzel. He was also really concerned every time I yelled at the big screen. “Mama, what? What happened?” “Oh nothing. Just A GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLL!” Anyway, we won.

Afterwards more bike riding and fish tacos for the boys. Because nothing says German soccer victory like a fish taco.

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Then ice cream…Look at these happy faces! It’s my favorite to watch them together and hear them make each other laugh.

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And then, because it was a soccer-dominated day, we tried this:

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We rode home catching a glimpse of this beautiful view:

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We get to take one of these bridges home after a day filled with fun, family, and friends. We are so lucky.

Opa’s in town! (Alt. title: We ate a lot.)

Well, actually, he was in town, and I am playing catch-up.

My Dad arrived on Sunday around noon and stayed until Sunday evening of the following week. We packed a lot into the week, but also had plenty of time to be lazy (and read Star Wars books).

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Highlights included our day together on Monday. Julian was at school, but Arthur, my Dad and I took a leisurely stroll into Carroll Gardens. Arthur played at the playground, and we all had a lovely and delicious lunch outside at Frankies. It’s been so nice to see my youngest and my Papa develop more of bond.

On Wednesday, we went on a bike ride to Prospect Park. My Dad, at 70, rented a bike from his hotel, and when we arrived at the park, he said, “That was it?” He is in such good shape.

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It was such a beautiful day. The boys played and made friends with random kids. We ate lunch at Lakeside.

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Then we played ball and took naps on a blanket in the shade.

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Ice cream at Ample Hills, along with a crazy confrontation between my dad and a random guy on the street (“I will kill you!” – a lady called the cops on the crazy guy) completed our day. We ate dinner outside on our street. How cute are these two?!

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The next day, Arthur and I took my Dad to lunch at Juliana’s – very good pizza place here in Brooklyn. Now that I think of it, this is basically a report of what we ate when, but that is my life, and I’m not complaining. Cheers to that.

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Additional highlight: a lovely day wth my Papa in Manhattan on Saturday. An extended, you guessed it, lunch, along with some shopping and wandering around. Without pesky kids demanding things.

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On Sunday then, our last day together, we started the day with a waffle breakfast at home. Because, food.

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Then we wanted to take the bikes to Brooklyn Bridge Park to fly kites and then to Brooklyn Crab for lunch, which is pretty much what happened. Except: we got caught in a hail storm (in May?!), and Jeff got a flat tire just as we arrived in Red Hook.

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So after lunch at our favorite spot, Jeff went to get the bike fixed – while we sat around and watched Arthur sleep.

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Then we killed some time at Fairway (aka as we ate cookies and sat on shelves)…

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… and then the bike was fixed!

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I think my favorite parts of this visit were that my Dad got to see a new side of Brooklyn, that he was able to ride bikes with us, and that the boys are getting older and will be able to remember more.

We also had many trying times with my challenging children, some moments of embarrassment, helplessness, and frustration – but it’s always like this when the kids sense something other than their normal routine is happening, and also when someone as special as Opa is coming to visit. It is what it is. We packed a lot of fun into the week, a lot of food, and lots of quality time with Opa. Until next time!

Our Day at the Botanic Gardens

We live so close to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, really just a short bike ride away, and yet I somehow manage to miss the much anticipated and celebrated cherry blossoms almost every year. This year I was determined to see them!

Julian is on spring break this week, so we’ve had more time to just be and less sticking to schedules…This morning, after Arthur’s speech therapy, we headed out. I packed a lunch and many snacks, because somehow my children are always hungry and begging for food.

When we arrived, Arthur was sound asleep on the bike. It was 11:30am. The line of people trying to get in was endlessly long. But! I remembered my fancy NYC ID card, and I got myself a free membership to the BBG without having to stand in line. Success!

We headed towards the cherry blossoms. They were gorgeous. Look, children, how beautiful! I took you here on the bike so we could enjoy this!

Children were grumpy. Julian was wearing his hood, hands in pockets; he was cold. Arthur was tired, also known as “Mama, please carry me.”

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So, I decided we needed lunch first in order to function. I emphasized how their sandwiches and big bowls of fruit were giving their bodies energy. Because….right?!

It kind of worked.

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But then!

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We started wandering. And once I got over the cherry blossoms and adjusted my expectations (but also took a few moments to just look around and feel at peace and forget about my children, because nature is beautiful! Even cultivated nature in the Botanic Gardens) – everything was fine.

We found rocks to climb on.

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There were sticks to play with, many many sticks. And then we found the kids discovery area. Naturally, Julian and Arthur pretended that everything related to Star Wars (“Don’t fall in the lava!” “This nest looks just like the Millennium Falcon! This is the gun bay.”). But within their imaginary world we did lots of exploring. We saw fruit trees, smelled flowers and herbs, and did some of this…

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We did a big loop around the gardens. The boys walked a lot. We spent a lot of time watching the fish and turtles at the Japanese Gardens. And then it was time to head home. But not before we had some of this:

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(It looks like they are excited to be eating ice cream. In reality, they just saw a boy wearing a Darth Vader sweater.)

And then we rode home. Julian fell asleep on the bike, and I carried him upstairs. A week before he turns 5, it was a sweet reminder that he is still my little boy.

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One for the Books

It’s been a good great past few days. On Friday we met with friends at our local playground, and we ended up staying for four hours. We stayed through lunch and past nap time, and I have no idea what we even did. Some of this:

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Julian mastered the monkey bars. And the boys just played and played. I read the paper and chatted with other parents. But I was also really hungry, because I’d only brought some post-gym snacks for myself, whereas the boys of course had a full lunch. Also, I was in my workout clothes for much longer than I would have liked. But sometimes it’s just fun to do what you want in that moment, and we just wanted to be outside.

On Saturday I took the boys to Prospect Park. We brought bagels with cream cheese and lox (their favorite), and they played at the playground for a long time. My favorite is how they are almost always together, giggling and laughing, but also seeing how they make friends with other kids.

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I’m so happy to be adventuring on our bike once again. Yay for spring! After the playground we went to a little nature area. The boys always love playing and exploring there. Arthur wore his fancy taco shirt!

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After some bubble blowing and lollipops we decided it was time for ice cream. The boys ate their chocolate with sprinkles cones, and I inhaled my coffee. Then Arthur sat on my lap, and two seconds later, this:

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Saturday night the kids got to stay up late, and we all waited anxiously for Jeff to walk through the door. There was Prosecco and Thai food and some very excited boys who were ecstatic to finally have their Papa back home. Me too.

On Sunday we took the bikes to Battery Park City and had a fun day there.

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Sunday night was the 8th anniversary of Jeff’s and my very first date, so we went back to the restaurant where we first dined together all those years ago, as we try to do every year. It was a delightful, lovely dinner.

And today, on Monday, (Jeff’s and my 5th wedding anniversary!) Julian got to stay home from school, and Jeff took the day off. We took the bikes to Central Park.

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It was a fantastic day playing out in the sun, picnicking, drinking beers and lemonade.

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It was the best way to celebrate our anniversary weekend. And now we eat leftovers and rest our tired legs.

Day what of 13?

Who cares. Jeff is coming home Saturday night. I don’t know how people do things on their own. Actually, correction: I know how to do things well on my own. But I miss my husband’s company! I don’t really miss the help around the house, but I miss his face at the breakfast table in the mornings and telling each other stories about our days at night. I miss him rubbing my feet while watching a silly show on TV, and most of all I miss hearing my boys’ excitement when he walks through the door each night.

Overall it’s been a good two weeks. I really can’t complain much, except about the fact that I have not slept well for ONE SINGLE NIGHT. I don’t know what it is, but each night there is a new drama. Arthur falls out of his bed (never happens), Julian has a bad dream (never happens), Arthur comes to me to apply cream on his eczema and because “mama, can I cuddle” (happens all the damn time).

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We’ve had a visit from Uncle Brian, but the boys were so out of control and over-the-top excited to see their Uncle that it was actually kind of stressful. I totally burned my arm while trying to bake pizza for everyone.

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I was harassed by a stranger for letting my kids run down the sidewalk, and he informed me that I must “not care about my kids at all.” So…I don’t even know where to start. These guys! They are pretending to be trains.

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They use The Force on each other:

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Oh! Yes! That’s my children wearing NO JACKETS outside! Amazing, right? I guess it’s finally spring. That is to say, I am super excited. And also either over-dressed or under-dressed.

This morning I took Julian to school on the bike. It was actually kind of chilly, and when we had almost arrived at our destination, Julian informed me that he was no longer cold. He was frozen. Whatever, kid. Winter jackets are gone until next year.

Arthur and I went for a ride…

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…and played at the playground.

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Everyone commented on how cute my little daughter looks. I think it was the scarf that I let him borrow, because usually he can get away with his hair and leggings just fine.

Then we went for bagels and chicken noodle soup at the diner. Just me and Arthur. We sat next to each other in a booth and talked about his upcoming birthday. Holy 3!

After school we ran errands, which also included this most important of errands:

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The one really good thing that happened in Jeff’s absence is that I have been reading, reading, reading. At night I can’t wait to sit down with my book. And that’s partly because I really like my book, but also because I am done watching House of Cards and Game of Thrones hasn’t started yet…