Opa’s Back in Town!

Well, he was. We just spent a full, happy, loud, exciting, lovely week with my Dad/Opa. He arrived on Friday and left 10 days later, today. We had so much fun!

Highlights included:

A soccer game at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls against Chicago Fire, including no one less than Germany’s very own Bastian Schweinsteiger. I loved it! The boys loved it! We all did. Opa explained all the rules to Julian; there was a lot of popcorn and overpriced beer.

I got to explore the city every day with my dad, and the weather was finally spring-like and perfect. I worked fewer hours than usual, and he picked me up from work every day. We had lunch and wandered around. On Sunday Jeff hung with the boys while my Dad and I walked all around the West Village. It was such a beautiful day.


We spent the rest of the day with Jeff’s family who all came to hang out with us.

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We played lots of soccer, watched a soccer game at a German restaurant, and talked about soccer whenever possible. Also, we are spending every waking minute with our Panini soccer sticker book. Soccer for life.

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On Wednesday night, we watched Julian in his spring school performance. He was adorable.

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Also: this view! Another visit to the World Trade Center.

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We took Arthur to speech together, to Karate, to the Transit Museum. A 10 day visit allows for a glimpse into our real lives with all its joy and hustle and occasional fighting. The boys loved having their Opa around so much.

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The last day was spent in Central Park. It was a perfect ending to a perfect NYC week.

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The boys will miss Opa!

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And so will I.

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4th of July Weekend – Round 2

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

We started off strong with hot dogs for everyone.

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

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

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

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Then the kids played in the water.

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

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

Julian’s diary highlights all the most important points:

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

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Also, these guys. I just adore them.

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

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

Tired, happy boys.

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Central Park & Coney Island

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

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

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

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

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Oh, Jeff Bridges was there, too.

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The boys played and climbed. Helmets came in handy.

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

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

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

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

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Of course, there were hot dogs.

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

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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!

Victorian Gardens

Yesterday was another amazing day. So far the summer is everything I had hoped it would be – and then some. It’ll make the beginning of school even harder.

Julian, Arthur, and three of their friends (Mae, Lucy, and Eloise) took their moms to the kiddie amusement park at Wollman Rink in Central Park. There are the rides!

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We made sure to hit each ride at least once.

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I had to go on some of the rides with Arthur because he didn’t meet all the height requirements, despite Julian’s repeated measuring efforts.

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Highlights were this airplane ride, even though Arthur cried in the beginning because he had to sit next to his boring mother.

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Julian liked to give the ladies a ride. Lucy in the back is holding on for dear life.

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When these adorable twins sat down in the back of the jumping frog, I reminded Julian to make sure to drive safely and to look out for the backseat passengers. He said, very seriously, “I will, mama.” But then, whatever, hands up!

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Other highlights:

And then the moment when I promised the boys a ride on this carousel, after I’d seen their buddy, who is about Arthur’s height, ride it on her own. I am terrified of these carousels after losing a shoe on one once as a child. Also, too high and too spinny. Long story short, the height requirements were more strictly enforced in this round, so yay!

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I almost died.

But not as close to death as we all came when we realized that we had probably most likely put some cash into Trump’s pockets by giving our children a day of fun at Wollman Rink.

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It was so much fun. Next up: ice cream and popsicles!

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Then we rallied and walked over to the boat pond. Because we knew they’d have beer. We had enough kids for a proper “kids table,” and they all played happily while we relaxed for a moment. In fact, Julian and Arthur are so into card games right now that they played cards with each other for the entire time we were there.

And then we were homeward bound! Nothing like riding a crowded crosstown bus with 5 children 5 and under…

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…followed by an even more crowded subway ride.

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The boys and I met Jeff at Pier 26 and played and had dinner.

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We all tried to run against Olympic champion Allyson Felix. Needless to say she was much, much faster than any of us.

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But if I can tackle anything in life with just half of the boys’ enthusiasm, success should be guaranteed. Also, sorry, lady! No high five for you. Ouch!

P.S. Victorian Gardens last year!

Fun, fun, more fun!

Welcome to the endless recap of fun.

Because we’ve been having some fun lately. On Wednesday NYC outdoor pools opened for the season, so we went down to the Pop-Up Pool with some friends.

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The boys are total fish. Arthur especially is completely fearless and jumps in without me holding him. Julian is getting good at swimming, and I really want him to learn how to swim this summer. It was so much fun; we stayed for hours. We even snuck into a little local news segment!

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Bonus: The boys were so tired that they were in bed by 7:15pm. Winning all around.

Other than that we’ve been laying low, playing, getting stuff done.

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Julian has started to write. As in actually write. He’ll sit forever and write random words we come up with into his notebook. His spelling is pretty good!IMG_5868

On Friday Jeff was off work. We were lazy in the morning and then rode our bikes to Red Hook and played soccer with the boys at a playground. Then we hit Brooklyn Crab.

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We just love it there so much. The boys and I have been playing Uno; I love games that aren’t Candyland. Jeff and I read the paper. We smooched, and Arthur tried an oyster.

Julian took this:

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Then we rode around, unsure of when the thunderstorms would hit. So we hit the bookstore and picked out a new summer read for me, now that I am almost done with the four book series by Elena Ferrante. These books, by the way, were so good.

We decided to go see a movie. We took the boys to see “Finding Dory” – it was cute.

Saturday morning we headed to the park for a water gun fight. Yes, I finally bought the boys the much desired water guns. By accident I bought two that were way too big; so naturally Jeff suggested we keep them for ourselves. Our water fight was epic. We were all soaked, and the boys were in heaven to have all four of us playing together.

The rest of the day was dominated by soccer.

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Germany played Italy in the Euro Cup. We watched the game in a German beer hall in Manhattan. Uncle Brian joined us, much to the boys’ delight.

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Here is Arthur right before he fell asleep.

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Because what’s a better place to sleep than a noisy beer hall with hundreds of anxious/happy/frustrated/loud soccer fans?

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Anyway, we won.

Because of over-time and penalty kicks we had to rush home because we had a babysitter Saturday night. So Jeff and I got on our bikes and tried a new bar for cocktails before heading to Alma for some Mexican food and margaritas. And this view!

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We came home and found everyone cozy and asleep. Well, not the babysitter. She was still awake.

On Sunday we went on a long bike ride to the North end of Central Park, where we met Brian and Katherine for a picnic. We played baseball, frisbee, soccer – and had many water gun fights.

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Jeff also spent a good amount of time climbing trees…

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It was so fun. But oh man, towards the end of our ride home I was so tired. It was a solid 25 miles we rode that day.

Today was a day of rest. And packing! Because tomorrow the boys and I are headed to West Virginia to see our lovely friends. The boys are so excited to play with their buddies, and I can’t wait to hug my friend and meet her newest baby!

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.

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!

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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Up and down. And up again.

A lot has been happening, although nothing truly significant. Let’s see…

1. Arthur has taken the loss of his pacifiers very hard. He’s been crying every night and says that he misses them. So, we’ve been singing endless renditions of Uptown Funk and Somewhere over the Rainbow. On good nights, the boys lie in their beds and sing together into their pretend microphones, and it is pretty much the best thing ever.

2. Julian has been rather difficult. So much so that we kind of hit a wall. The next day, literally, it all magically changed. I think we needed to hit a low, where we had no patience left, Julian had no voice, and frustration levels ran high in order for us all to calm down and take a step back. It’s been much better since.

3. It appears that Arthur qualified for speech therapy through Early Intervention, although I am waiting to hear final word on that. He has, however, made much more of an effort to speak lately, and we all love it so much. He’s the happiest little boy I’ve ever met, so happy-go-lucky and adventurous, that a part of me just wants to let him be and think he will figure this out on his own. But the other part of me thinks that if he can get a little bit of help along the way, then that’s great. So we’ll give it a shot.

4. Julian has been talking about how much he misses playing soccer all spring, and so we decided to enroll him for a drop-in summer program where he could kick the ball around with his pals. We took him this morning, and he immediately became incredibly “tired” when we arrived. He refused to participate and when confronted with the option of being a part of the class and a picnic afterwards with his friend Eloise or going home, he chose to go home. Arthur and I stayed behind while Jeff took him home, and it was one of the more frustrating moments for me. I became irrationally upset over his stubborn little mind and my non-existing ability to control everything. An hour later we picked him up at home and had a lovely morning at the playground with our friends. What I should have thought is what my friend Amanda texted me later: “Love Julian for being HIMSELF always.”

5. We’ve been having some fun. A bike ride to New Jersey. Sorry, no pictures of NJ, but of the ice cream thereafter in Battery Park.

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My baby cousin, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years, came to visit for 24 hours. The boys were stoked; we walked the Promenade and had pizza, before he and I caught up over approximately 125 beers.

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We took a trip to the Natural History Museum and Central Park.

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And finally, because it was a perfectly fine Tuesday, we had some fun in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We checked out the new sprinklers as part of the “Please touch the Art” exhibition, and it was fun.

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Except that one time when Arthur got “trapped” in one of the sprinkler sections all by himself and panicked.

We ended the evening at the Water Lab at Pier 6…

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…and had some pizza on the rooftop restaurant overlooking the Manhattan skyline. The boys ate and then played happily while Jeff and I had a moment to just be. It’s moments like this that reconcile me with all the moments in between (see list above).

6. Last but not least, I can’t end this without even mentioning the fact that my darling husband ran over a pigeon today on his bike. The pigeon totally did not move out of the way, defying all (pigeon) common sense. I mean, the only job NYC pigeons have, pretty much, is to get out of the way. #fail