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 hand 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.

Interview with Julian on his 6th Birthday

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What’s your favorite drink?

Orange juice, water

What’s your favorite food?

Cake

What’s your favorite song?

Let it Flow 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Star Wars movies

What’s your favorite book?

Star Wars

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play Star Wars, do Math, say all the subway stops on my train map

What makes you laugh?

When mama tickles me

What’s your favorite animal?

Falcon

What’s your favorite toy?

Lego Star Wars

What makes you happy?

When I eat ice cream

What makes you sad?

When we get to watch TV for a long time and then have to turn it off

Who do you love?

Mama, Papa, Arthur, Shirine

What scares you?

Monster

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Drive the Q train

Who is your best friend?

Shirine, Marlowe, Marlo, Lorelei, Frances, Chase

What do you want for your birthday?

Gup A, Octopod, Annakin’s spaceship, new scooter

What is your favorite playground?

Mount Prospect Park

What is your favorite museum?

Museum of Math

What’s your favorite color?

I love all colors except pink.

What’s your favorite subway train?

4, 5, Q

What are you best at?

Math

What things do you take to bed with you?

Sometimes Gup X and Cpt. Barnacles

What is your favorite fruit?

Mango, banana

What is your favorite snack?

Breakfast bars

What is your favorite vegetable?

Cucumber on a sandwich, carrots, spinach

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play

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

The Bronx with the 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, B, D trains

 

P.S. Past birthday interviews with Julian: 2016, 2015, 2014

Half a Dozen

Julian,

From now on you’ll need two hands to count your age. Today, my boy, you are six.

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It seems like yesterday that I was nervously lying on a stretcher in an operating room at NYU, taken by surprise that a c-section was necessary to get out that baby I couldn’t wait to meet. Your Papa was whispering nonsensical knock knock jokes into my ear, trying to keep me from being too afraid. He was the first one to hold you, and he held your face close to mine so I could meet you. From the first flutter I felt when you were kicking in my belly, to that miraculous moment when I saw your face so close to mine – to now. In the blink of an eye. Even though I couldn’t imagine I could love you any more than I did that first moment I laid eyes on you, my love for you continues to grow and grow each day.

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You are amazing.

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At six, let’s see…

You love school. You love it so much. Any worry I might have had about you going to a new school, with new people, all day and every day, well, you showed me. I love dropping you off in the mornings, getting that one last hug and kiss, and then you happily skip down the hall to your classroom. You love math the most, and you are really, really good at it. I don’t know where you get it from, but math is totally your thing. Right now you are working on 2nd grade math books. Most of all, you love it. You also love reading, German, English, Science. Pretty much everything about school. Your reading is excellent. At night, you’ll read book after book to Arthur in your bed. Your spelling is hilarious. I mean…

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Your best person in life is your brother. You have good friends at school who you play with every day, but Arthur is totally your guy. You two are something else. I’ve never seen two people so connected, so in tune with each other, and so happy to be around each other as you two. You play together all day long. Even at bedtime you aren’t tired of each other and will beg us to let you read or play quietly in your room. You are Arthur’s advocate and protector – and of course no one knows how to push his buttons better than you.

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Your next big love, other that math and Arthur, is the NYC Subway. I mean, it’s no secret that you’ve always loved the subway. When you were two, you kept me from getting on the wrong train more than once. Now, at 6, you are teaching yourself all the stops of all the lines. Beverly Road? Sure, you can get us there. You know all the lines, stops, differences, sounds, announcements, quirks. Basically, when riding the train, conversations with you are impossible because you are studying everything at all times. At home, you’ll sit in front of your subway map and trace the stops one by one, learning them all. It’s kind of dorky and adorable.

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This year you’ve grown more into yourself. I think you’re becoming more comfortable with who you are. You know what you like and what you don’t like. You are strong-headed (very!), determined, stubborn, complicated.

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You are also sensitive, kind, strategic, super smart, and overall pretty down to earth and reasonable. You are just a person I like having around. I enjoy talking to you, hanging out with you, hearing your ideas and learning what makes you tick. You’re growing up so fast – and what an honor, what an absolute joy it is that I get to be by your side. It is the greatest gift, the most wonderful blessing in my life.

Happy 6th Birthday, my beautiful boy.

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My Birthday – and my Boy Arthur

I had a lovely birthday weekend. 37! No big deal, really, except this year it landed on a Saturday. And for the first time the boys were super excited for the day.

On Friday night, the night before my birthday, Julian hugged me goodnight, patted me on the back and said, “Mama, you are the best woman I know.”

Best birthday present right there.

This kid, I swear, is growing into a man-child before my very eyes. It is mystifying.

The next morning Julian and Arthur woke me up with songs and homemade cards and love notes.

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Then the boys, including my very grown-up boy, got to work and baked me a cake. While I laid in bed and read well-wishes and my book.

After a short while, it was time for this:

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It was one of the best cakes ever, made with so much love and everything delicious that goes into a boxed cake. I mean, I like to bake and all, but this cake is pretty much impossible to top. It had a layer, so naturally the boys called it a “sandwich cake.” Count those candles.

We had a super laid back day with lots of reading, down time, some shopping and brunch in Manhattan. As we sat over our sandwiches and beers, it had started to snow. We walked around amongst the flurries, and it was magical. My people were happy.

At night Jeff and I went out to dinner to this really wonderful place that we’d been to with friends a couple of years ago and that luckily Jeff had rediscovered recently with our Sicilian downstairs neighbor/friend/hair salon owner, Fabio. It just so happened that we walked in, random guys shook hands with Jeff and said, “You’re Fabio’s friend, right?” So we were in for a treat.

Afterwards, I posed on a deserted, snowy street. 37.

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To be honest, while this birthday was in fact one of my favorites, I’ve just been so full of worries. Worries about my baby and our nation. That just about sums it up.

Nation first: I am so excited to head to DC this weekend to show what this nation is all about: equality, empowerment, our future. The majority of this country stands behind us – this country that I’ve chosen as my home.

In other news, we need to make some changes in Arthur’s speech therapy, and I don’t yet know what that means. But he needs more help, or different help, than he is getting. While we understand him pretty well, and his vocabulary and thinking are way above average (I’m told), he has very little interaction with kids his own age who aren’t related to him (his brother). None of the kids in his school understand him, and it breaks my heart. So we’re figuring it out.

Meanwhile, this morning, I was asked to buy some second grade (“gifted & talented”) math books for Julian. (He already owns those.)

It was a day of very mixed emotions.

It’s so, so hard to see your kid struggle. I know in the grand scheme of things we’re dealing with something relatively “light.” I’m not worried about his life (as long as he’s not chewing on a walnut), but I do worry. I worry that he will shut down and will stop being ever so patient when repeating what he is trying to convey however many times it takes. I worry he will have a hard time making friends. I worry that kids will make fun of him (I’ve seen it happen).

I will do my damnedest to make the very best happen for this child.

Last night, after I came home from a lovely dinner date with Arthur’s former speech therapist-now-turned-friend, I kissed my boy’s sleepy hot cheeks and thought to myself, “Huh. He hasn’t interrupted my sleep in weeks. I kind of miss him.”

And that night he appeared next to my bed, the first time in weeks, and whispered something about monsters. I pulled him in, and he settled into the old comfortable nook of my arm, and for a moment everything in the world was as it should be.

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The Boys’ Birthday Party

It’s been a really long but also a really short week, in a sense.

On Wednesday (May 4th – May the Force be with you!) , the day Julian turned five, Julian got pancakes for breakfast, a green lightsaber, some Star Wars toys, and a space set.

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He requested a trip to the Manhattan Children’s Museum and pesto for dinner, so naturally that is exactly what we did. It was a lovely day with the boys, very happy and peaceful and fun-filled. Hey, it’s Luke and Han on a Tauntaun!

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On Saturday morning my three-year-old birthday boy jumped into my bed, and all of a sudden I didn’t really have a baby anymore. The birthday boy blew out his 3 candles on top of pancakes after he sang Happy Birthday to himself, along with the rest of us.

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Arthur got to open his presents (actually, presents came first, then coffee, then pancakes, because who are we kidding). He received a much wished for blue lightsaber, along with a big Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, some more Star Wars stuff, walkie talkies, and a hamburger and taco play food set. All were big hits.

After breakfast we took the boys for a walk and some lightsaber fights on the promenade and playground.

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Then it was time to prep for the party!

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Arthur requested a chocolate cake, and Julian a blueberry cake. What you can’t really tell  from the pictures is that these are three layers each and looked like tiny towers topped with sprinkles. We ate them all week, and they were delicious.

I didn’t take many pictures during the party because I was busy wrangling cake-eating children and making sure everyone was happy. The boys had invited six of their best (girl)friends; it was a cute group of kids. They ate cake, played, and did some arts & crafts. Towards the end there were some German party games (Topfschlagen!) and freeze dance.

Everyone was happy, especially the birthday boys. Jeff took some pictures of the birthday fun:

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We ended the night by playing Twister until 10pm with the boys, hoping they would sleep in the next day after so much fun and so little sleep – but obviously that didn’t happen.

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The nest day Opa arrived from Germany, so that will be round 2 of my blog catch-up…

So this is going on 40…

I’m no longer 35. As of Thursday, as so many of my friends enjoyed to remind me, I am closer to 40 than 30. So, yes, whatever. My birthday. Wasn’t it fun when you were a kid and your birthday was this magical day that was long anticipated and celebrated until you couldn’t eat any more cake?

Well, 36 is not like that.

Arthur got up three times in the night for nonsensical reasons I don’t recall…bathroom? I should put cream on his foot? I forgot to give him a hug? Who knows.

My husband had to leave extra early for work which didn’t leave time for a family breakfast. Or even coffee together. It left me the joyous task of getting the boys dressed and out the door in time for Julian’s school drop-off. Julian was unbearable that morning. The worst he’s been in such a long time. It was actually kind of mind-blowing how terrible and annoying he was behaving.

When I dropped him off at school, I quickly squeezed him and said “bye!” and tried to run out the door before anyone could greet me with a smile. I couldn’t even pick up the phone because I was in such a bad mood that I didn’t want to expose my lovely well-wishers to, well, me.

I dragged Arthur home and let him eat Cheerios on my bed while I just laid there and frowned.

My lovely friend took me out for coffee. When I learned what she and my other friend had gotten me for my birthday, I just started sobbing. Because it was the one thing that I wanted the most in that moment: time away from my children. On Monday, I’ll be visiting the Great Jones Spa. I am so excited. Bonus: The New York Times weekend edition for 12 weeks! In paper!

So that brightened the day considerably. As did my nap. The rest of the day was normal stuff…school pick up, speech therapy, kid shenanigans. Then three incredible flower bouquets were delivered to my door. One of them: a flower cake! Our lovely neighbor florist had made flower cake for me. Have you ever seen anything like it?

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Jeff came home early, with cupcakes and candles, and the boys serenaded me. They gave me lovely presents. And some love. And then the boys went to bed early, and Jeff and I went on a romantic dinner date in Manhattan.

So, while the majority of my first day as a 36 year old totally sucked, it was a great reminder that there is light everywhere. And I felt loved, although it was hard to feel it at times through all the yelling and whining.

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!