Weekend Edition

This weekend was another good one.

On Saturday I had the urgent need to buy a basketball. So we did.

Then we had brunch at Alma, one of our favorite spots.

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Then we had to work off all that delicious Mexican food by playing basketball in pretty humid temperatures. It was so fun! But then we were thirsty. So we headed to Brooklyn Crab for beer and lemonade.

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It pains me to say it, but I think Brooklyn Crab is over. At least for us. It’s been our favorite spot for years, but now it seems to also be everyone else’s favorite spot, and that makes it too crowded and annoying. So we need a new secret spot!

I started Sunday with a morning run. Over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown, and back home over the Manhattan Bridge. It felt so good! Perfect weather, too.

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Then we were off on our bikes. We headed to Astoria. After 10 miles on the bikes, we arrived at Astoria Park Pool. We’d been wanting to check out this giant pool for years, and yesterday we finally made it. It’s New York’s oldest and largest pool!

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After all this activity we were hungry. So we headed to the Astoria beer garden.

Then we let the kids play in Astoria Park while we did this…

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After ice cream, we snuck home on the ferry.

It was a good day! A good weekend!

Each day ended like this: my boys reading in bed. Not much makes me happier than that. Julian has recently discovered the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Last night he read a good 50 pages, and I had to tell him to turn off the lights. I love that so much.

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Meanwhile, Arthur cuddled up next to me and asked, “Mama, why didn’t you want me first?” I was confused…but then I realized, he meant why wasn’t he born first. I told him that he was already such a big boy and how he fits so perfectly into our family, but he replied, “But Julian is always bigger.” And so it is. Sometimes it’s hard being the littlest, I suppose.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Next up, Go Karts. Totally my favorite.

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

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Then we hit more rides.

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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.

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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.

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This and that and more of that

It’s been about a month since I last wrote (not counting an update on our trip to Mexico). We’ve just been busy. And sick. And just doing everyday life things. And just feeling kind of meh, all around. But now it’s officially spring, and even though it’s still cold outside, I know the sun is out there, and the days are already longer, and that makes me happy.

Lately, after school and if the sun’s out, we’ve been heading to the playground near the boys’ schools, and one by one people will trickle in, and the kids will play for hours while the parents hang out together. It’s been nice. I love that everyone plays together at Julian’s school, from little siblings to the 4th graders.

We had another parent teacher conference, and the teachers basically looked at me and said, “Julian ist ein Traumkind. Do you have any questions for us?” I was out of there in 5 minutes.

The boys have been growing closer and closer, while of course routinely pushing each other’s buttons. But they are definitely each other’s number one. They play with each other all the time, and we’ve had a couple of instances where Julian had a play date alone at a friend’s house but came to me and confided that he just missed his brother.

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It has also happened that only one of them was invited to a birthday party and refused to go without his brother. I certainly encourage them to foster friendships with other kids, and they do, but they always have this other person as a real safe bet, and I think that is kind of amazing.

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At night, after we’ve read a book and put the boys to bed, Julian will read to Arthur for another 30 minutes. I love hearing his little voice working its way through the pages, and I love that Julian enjoys reading so much.

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Today I took Arthur on an adventure day. We’ve been kind of sluggish for weeks it seems, stuck inside, running errands, doing laundry. So today I took my boy to the Natural History Museum, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

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It’s always fun to spend time alone with one of the boys. I don’t do it enough.

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After the museum, we met Papa for lunch at a diner by his work.

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A good kick-off to the weekend!

A Proper Snow Day

What’s the best part about a snow day? Obviously getting kids dressed in weather-proof clothing.

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Obviously I’m kidding.

The best part about our snow day was a slow morning and then snow fun in the afternoon. After morning coffee, I made us warm oatmeal and baked peach muffins. Because food is the most important thing. Right?

The boys played for hours and watched the snow.

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Jeff headed into work, although we all wished he could have stayed home with us.

After lunch the snow wasn’t falling so hard anymore, and it was time to put on some layers!

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We built a small snow man outside. Hey! It’s Mr. Potato Eyes.

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We played for a bit.

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Then I pulled the boys for what felt like 35 miles to the nearest sledding grounds, the dog park.

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The first time I sent Julian down the hill, I basically pushed him straight into a fence. All the other parents gasped and looked at me. I just said my usual, “You’re fine. Get up!” – except in a harsh, foreign-sounding language, which is an added bonus, always. And he was fine, because they usually are.

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We went down the hill 148 times, or so I think. Julian loooooved it. Arthur loved it. But not quite as much.

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At least he still allowed me to ride down the hill with him a couple of times. Julian just looked at me as if I was mad when I asked him if we could go together.

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We had hot cocoa and graham crackers and a snowball fight.

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Then Arthur wanted to go home, and Julian wanted to continue sledding forever, so I did the only sensible thing a mama can do, which is err on the side of sledding with a side of extra loving for the kid who didn’t get his way.

The rest of the day was spent with snow day things: TV, wine, tickling, train tracks and passing out on the couch at 6pm.

P.S. Snow fun from last year and the year before!

Another Week, Another Protest

…in both small and big ways.

Let’s start with the smaller one. On Wednesday the sun was shining, so we decided to go to a playground near the boys’ schools with two of Julian’s friends in the afternoon. It was a nice, chilly afternoon, and the kids were playing tag. When Julian came over to me, looking unhappy, I thought something had happened to him. I asked him if he was ok. He replied, “I’m ok. But Arthur’s not!” I thought he had fallen, perhaps, and hurt himself. But no. The other Kindergarten boys, Julian’s school friends, were calling Arthur “a baby.”

Arthur was a little mad and a little unfazed. I just told the boys to ignore such a ridiculous comment. I mean, just look at him. Clearly not a baby, right?

Ten minutes later one of the boys called Arthur a baby again, and this time Julian didn’t think twice about it and tackled his friend to the ground. Julian was red-faced and furious. I told him to stop, that’s not the way, but inside I was feeling proud. Julian walked away from everyone and sat on a bench, and tears started running down his face. I asked him if the boys were teasing him, too. He said, “No! They are mean to Arthur.”

Julian wanted to leave, and so we did. Truthfully, Arthur was fine. Julian was the one who was hurt and angry. But as soon as we turned our backs on the playground, my boys started laughing and running, and I knew all was good. And all will be good. At least for them. They have each other.

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Now on to protests in bigger ways.

On Thursday afternoon, thousands of Yemeni business owners closed their delis and bodegas across the city to protest Trump’s immigration ban. The rally was right outside our house, so naturally we had to be there. When I picked the boys up from school, I explained to them about the protest and why we had to go to support our neighbors.

I may have explained it to them in Star Wars terms: we are the resistance, the rebels so to say, and you can all figure out who the Evil Empire is. Julian was way into it and was chanting “We are the resistance!”

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We met so many lovely people.

When everyone started praying, the boys just watched. They were fascinated. The foreign language, the singing, the movements. It sparked so many conversations and questions I was somehow ill prepared for – given that we are non-religious. What is praying? What is God? But I think I managed fine. In the end, Julian said that it was a dumb ban, and if Trump keeps saying stupid things, we should just go live elsewhere.

On Friday, Julian had a puppet show at school, and all the kids were so excited. Not as excited as all the parents, however!

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The kids were adorable. They also received their midterm “report cards.” Julian is “very ambitious, focused and precise and follows the rules well.” He should work on being more self confident. We are very proud.

Today we’re lazing around. Julian is now reading entire books, and it makes me so happy. He’ll whisper quietly to himself, and sometimes he’ll read a particularly funny part to me. He’ll read chapters to Arthur, but only behind closed doors in their room. For some reason he won’t read to me, but I’ll take what I can get. Sitting next to him, each of us reading our own books, is pretty much all I ever wanted.

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Speaking of “reading”… this guy.

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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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Halloween 2016

This year the boys made up their minds months ago about their costumes. Once they had decided on Wonder Woman and Superman, there was no going back.

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Halloween was, of course, highly anticipated. Both boys got to show up to school in costume, so off we went on our Super Bike. I didn’t take any pictures of Wonder Woman and Superman on the bike, but we did give Arthur’s buddy a ride over from the big kids’ school to the pre-school, and that was cute. Batman and Superman!

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After school Jeff and I took the boys trick or treating. Brooklyn Heights gets extremely busy on Halloween, but the older the boys get, the less overwhelming it becomes. Literally the first treat they got was an apple each, which was considered highly offensive and also unnecessarily heavy to carry around. (Unlike Halloween 2014 when I thought my children were broken when they chose to eat an apple over candy.)

One of the highlights was our house, which was so amazingly decorated by our friend Estela, who runs the flower shop, as Julian says, located “in our basement.”

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It’s always so spooky and awesome. This year, in hot pursuit of the holy candy, Arthur even dared to step inside – something Julian has not been willing to do since The Big Scare of 2013 when he almost died when a “monster” jumped out at him from behind a flower pot. But we love Estela, our very favorite witch. Last year, she and Arthur matched!

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Trick or treating was a success. We ran into a bunch of friends along the way, and we saw lots of great costumes and candy-happy faces. Uncle Brian came to meet us, too!

And we saw these incredible pumpkins:

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Even the pumpkins are saying it. So vote, ok?

After we’d collected enough candy, we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant across the street.

What was for dessert? “Last Week with John Oliver” and a bucket full of candy. At what age do kids keep track and catch on to the fact that they are basically trick or treating so that their parents can eat their weight in snickers and m&ms? I hope we have some years left…

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Of Supermen, the Pool, and the City

What is happening? So much.

First of all: heat. It is so, so hot in the city right now.

What else? Survival, I guess. And some fun.

Oh, and Superman. The boys have decided to invest their lemonade stand earnings in some awesome cool Superman capes and shirts. This is their attire every day. I feel very protected wherever I go.

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Here they are playing their favorite game during brunch on Saturday.

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And here they are with Batman!

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On Friday, our friends had invited us to visit them at their beach rental in Long Beach. Except the kids had so much fun hanging out in the pool that we never made it to the beach. And look who is learning how to swim?! And oh! It’s Barbie-Elsa’s butt.

 

We ate pizza poolside, relaxed, swam, and ate ice cream all day. It was pretty much perfect. (Yes, ice cream flavor was chocolate.)

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On the way home, this:

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Nothing like carrying a 45 pound child and a 27 pound beach bag (yes, I weighed it) from train to train.

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We barely made our connection at Jamaica, but we totally did, and Julian and I high-fived each other once we were in our seats, just as Arthur woke up and asked, “When are we getting on the next train?” Go back to sleep, kid. I just carried you across Jamaica Station, thankyouverymuch.

On Saturday we took the boys to the Whitney. It was fun, and inspiring, and also kind of intense to have Arthur near so much meaningful artwork. We definitely needed a drink afterwards.

Yesterday the boys and I took a trip to Roosevelt Island with our friends.

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It’s a magical place to the boys, mostly because of the tram and because the fun day we had there last year. Yesterday did not disappoint!

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I hope these are the days the kids will remember one day. Days of hot summer fun, water, our city, friends, and ice cream. What else does one need?

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Today we decided to take the kids to Central Park. They played at the Ancient Playground for a while, and we ate lunch at one of their picnic tables.

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Then we walked around the park in bathing suits and “echoooooooo-ed” at every opportunity possible.

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Next up: Alice in Wonderland and boats!

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We’ve never rented the sailboats before, but we’ve watched them plenty. Today was the day! The wind was a bit slow, but the boys still loved it.

Afterwards we had lemonades and treats and beer for the mamas. We were all so hot and sticky.

But it was fun. Now I need a couple of days days to get stuff done. I need to get Arthur’s speech therapy sorted out for next year, return library books, keep my kids alive, and OH! … pack for our weeklong vacation in Avalon (2014 and 2105). Jersey Shore, here we come!

Sum Sum Summertime

This week the boys were lucky to get a lot of playtime with their friends.

Lorelei on Monday.

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Botanic Garden with Eloise on Tuesday.

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Drop-off playdate at Shirine and Lily’s house on Wednesday. No photos because did I mention that I was invited to DROP BOTH OF MY CHILDREN OFF at someone else’s house?!

Thursday more play time with Lorelei and her adorable baby brother.

It was such a fun day. The kids get along so well, and it’s nice to hang out with my (adult!) friend, too. The playground was awesome, we had a picnic, went out for coffee, and I got to squeeze a cute baby. Winning all around. Also, this. The last one kills me.

IMG_7918Additional highlights: a trip to Chinatown to buy mussels. We discovered a fun new playground. Also, took the boys to a fish shop, and it pretty much blew their minds. Live crabs! Lobsters! Giant fish! It was so fun. And great to be back on the bike now that the heat wave is finally over and it’s gorgeous out every single day.

At home the boys have been playing so well together. They are into Superman and Wonder Woman, legos, and space/jets. Oh, and Star Wars, of course. It’s so great to see how they bring out something in each other that I think might otherwise just not (yet) exist. For example, Arthur loves interactive, imaginative play, whereas Julian is more into vehicles and mimics what sort of sounds they produce. But thanks to Arthur, Julian is now actually playing, with dialogue and lots of pretending and imagination, and it’s wonderful.

As for Arthur, well, he basically functions at the levels of a 5 year old. Julian’s interests are his interests. He builds boats and space ships out of legos. He plays Spot It! and Connect Four and chases after all the bigger kids at the playground. He goes on drop-off play dates. When our UPS man asked yesterday which one was Arthur again, I said, “The little guy.” As we walked away, hand in hand, Arthur looked up at me and told me, with a frown, “You know, mama, I am not a little guy.” And he does his own worksheets, too. Clever cookie.

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Arthur has been so pleasant to be around in general. Gone (I mean, I hope?) are the days of constant meltdowns and hitting. We’ve dropped his nap, and even though he does get tired in the afternoon, he goes to bed without coming out of his room one million times, and he sleeps until 7 or 7:30am. It’s been the biggest achievement. I have my peaceful evenings and nights back! Well, most nights, anyway.

And Julian? I am getting seriously sad thinking about the fact that he will start Kindergarten at the end of the summer. I mean, it’s a good thing, I know. He is so ready. But oh man, will I miss him. He’s so lovely almost all of the time; he looks out for his brother, helps him, explains things to him, loves him to pieces. I seriously cannot picture a better big brother than Julian. Like the other day, we were on the bike, and Arthur complained he had a booger he couldn’t get out. Gross, right? Just wait. One second later Julian says, “No worries, mama. I got it out.”

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…