Back to … WORK

On Monday I went back to work.

It was my first time heading off to work in more than 6 years; my first day of work as a mother – outside the home, that is. My last day of work was the day my water broke with Julian; he was born the next day, and I never looked back.

The 6 years at home with the boys were wonderful. Sure, sometimes our days were long, I was tired, kids were cranky and sick, but you know how memory works. It helps you choose to remember the great times. And there were many. I feel so fortunate that I had this time with them, that we were able to pull this off. I’ll cherish these years forever.

This job opportunity sort of fell into my lap, and I would have been an idiot not seize the moment. I wasn’t actively looking (yet!), but it was a perfect opportunity. A German company, colleagues from all over the globe, part-time hours. I’m doing admin and PR. And I can still pick up the boys from school. For them nothing changes. Except now they ask me at pick-up, “Mama, how was work?”

The first week is in the books now. I don’t work Fridays, since that’s the day Arthur doesn’t attend pre-school.

What has changed? Jeff and I get up earlier. I put on something other than sweatpants. That part is kind of fun!

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And I make three lunches. Mine look unspectacular compared to the boys, but it’s nice to eat with my colleagues. We all sit down together at a big table to eat, and afterwards the table converts into a ping pong table! How fun is that?!

I’m happy. Monday was great. After work we went to see Roger Waters with some friends. What a fantastic show!!

Tuesday was stressful. I guess the adrenaline had worn off; after work I had to run to make it to pick-up on time. Then Arthur and I had two hours to kill while Julian played after school soccer. Our coffee date was lovely; playground was next, and then we roamed the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. At the end of which I was exhausted.

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When I picked Julian up from school I noticed that he had lost his first tooth! Which is great news because * it happened! * Yay! and terrible, devastating news because he hadn’t noticed at all and of course the tooth was gone. Julian broke down in tears. His friends assured him that the tooth fairy still visits even if the tooth is lost, and eventually he lightened up.

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The tooth fairy lived up to her reputation and left Julian his first ever comic book: Scooby-Doo! Team Up! Also some cash, because apparently that’s always a winner. Julian loved the book so much. He read every waking minute he was not in school until the book was finished.

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Wednesday night Arthur started getting sick. He had a fever, snotty nose, and a cough that for him always leads to wheezing. He was so sad. We were up for a while with him in the night, and I decided we wouldn’t send him to school the next day. Which is totally not a problem when you have a stay-at-home parent but kind of problematic when you don’t. “Luckily” Jeff has been working 15 hour days and thought it’d be ok if he stayed home with Arthur until I got back from work in the early afternoon. It worked out, and I feel like we managed our first trial just fine. Also helpful: Julian is now able to take the bus to school! It doesn’t make sense for us on any day other than Friday (when Arthur doesn’t go to school), because we still need to drop off Arthur a couple of blocks from Julian’s school anyway. But today (and tomorrow) Julian was a school bus kid. He was pumped!

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So week one is done. I’m excited for this new chapter in our lives. The biggest moment for me was on Monday, when I left work, stepped outside and thought, “Wow. I haven’t thought about my children in 5 hours.” That is something that I can genuinely say has never happened before. Even with them in school, I’d still go about my day with them in mind. Errands, house work, everything was centered around my family. Having some time every day where that is not the case is probably good. At least this week I felt like I missed the kids more, even though I didn’t actually spend any more time away from them than in the weeks when I didn’t go to work.

Onward!

Back-to-School Feels

The boys are back in school. And I am, well, a bit sad.

In previous summers I think I kind of anticipated this day. By the end, the boys were getting to me, and I was ready. But not this year.

This summer was my favorite summer ever. I loved our trips to the Catskills, California, and the Poconos. I loved hanging out with the boys. They are so fun, so clever, so enjoyable. Sure, they have their moments, but overall they are people whose company I enjoy.

There were good times with friends; date nights with my husband. Arthur learned how to ride his bike; Julian plowed through the Wimpy Kid books. We picked up bagels and lox and ate them at our favorite playground near the Promenade, played on the beach, jumped in the pool and went on rides in Coney Island. We read books, napped, watched TV, watched people from our stoop. I went running. On the last day of summer break, Julian joined me for a run over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. It was my most favorite run ever. Not only did he pump his little legs fast enough to help me keep a good pace, I also loved chatting with him and just having him around. Afterwards, we brought home donuts for breakfast.

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But of course as all summers tend to do, this one ended. The kids returned to school. Julian was very excited; no nerves at all. He had his first day on Tuesday, which began with traditional photos on our stoop and then a lovely welcome ceremony at the school. The kid was back in his element. Also, look at these giant feet.

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Arthur had his first day on Thursday. He seemed a bit more reserved, but once he entered his school building, he was off and basically forgot to say good-bye. For shock effect, he requested a short hair do the day before. I cried. But he was happy, and I totally love it, too. He now looks like a 15 year old.

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Per our tradition, we celebrated the first day of school with donuts.

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Both boys had spectacular first days. Julian is happy to be with his friends again, and he likes his new teachers. Arthur was giddy and bouncy and told me about all the details of his day. I could tell he was so happy.

Here’s to a new season in our lives. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m feeling so sentimental right now. I just do. The boys are growing up so fast. Too fast. But it’s also exciting. It’s fun to watch them grow, to see their relationship deepen, their interests develop, their personalities shine. I just love these creatures so much.

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And today, as if to reassure me that my boys still had some baby left in them, this happened. We’ll be ok.

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Life Stuff

This summer is fleeting. No summer has ever felt so fast, so short. I’m not ready for the boys to go back to school!

We’ve been enjoying a good mix of fun, busy days and lazy days riding bikes around the neighborhood and hanging out at the playground. The boys have been playing with their friends a bit, and of course Julian is busy reading. He’s finished the first two books of the Wimpy kid series and is now on his third. He’s also still keeping his journal, every night. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about a day 30 years from now when I find his write-ups of our summer and our life together, and I smile.

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Last week we hit the beach with our friends. Beach days are my favorite.

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This week we went to Central Park. We had lunch at the Ballfield Cafe, where we were happy to see the waitress we met the last time we were there, a couple of months ago. She also remembered us and immediately produced a little drawing Arthur had done for her from her wallet. I love little reminders like this in our everyday life. Reminders that there are good people everywhere, that we are connected even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Look at these faces. There is good in the world.

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There’s been plenty of ice cream and bike riding. I just can’t say no to ice cream.

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We’ve hung out with friends, BBQed, eaten about a hundred peaches, and played plenty of Legos. I’ve been reading a lot. The boys are besties and spend most of their time together Ghostbusting, Ninja-ing and whatnot.

I’m sentimental for many reasons. The boys are growing up. This beautiful summer is flying by. This season in my life is so good. I wish I could bottle up some of these moments for darker seasons – or, you know, winter.

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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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4th of July Weekend – Round 1

We’re in the midst of a long weekend. Jeff is off Friday through Tuesday, and we’re so happy to have him home.

Yesterday we started the weekend by heading off to one of our favorite pools in NYC, Hamilton Fish Park Pool. We like it because they have a shallow pool where this year both boys can comfortably stand, and a bigger, deeper pool. They also have a separate area with shady benches for snacking and bumming around. We stayed for a good while, and especially the last couple of hours were fun when the boys became bolder and splash-ier.

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I loved seeing all the kids having fun at the pool. So many teenagers! It made me hopeful that they chose to hang out with friends at the pool instead of sitting at home and playing video games.

After hours at the pool we were starving. So we looked up a good hamburger joint – and were not disappointed.

The ride home over the Williamsburg Bridge was a killer. It shall not be repeated anytime soon. It was especially exhausting for some of us who did no work whatsoever.

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Today we had no plans but a lot to cleaning, laundry and straightening up to do, so we did that in the morning. In the early afternoon we headed to Brooklyn Crab for some beers and lunch. We saw the Queen Mary 2!

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Afterwards we headed over to Fairway since it was raining a little. We wanted to conduct an experiment. Each of us had to pick one item we hadn’t tried before, and each of us had to give it a try once we bought it. I picked crunchy, salted peas, Jeff chose sardines, Arthur some dried tropical fruit and Julian some candied lemon slices of sorts. It was fun! We liked everything. (We also bought a lot of junk. We got a bit carried away.)

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On our way home we stopped by a playground, where Jeff took a nap (I’m not kidding), and the boys got soaked. Because what else is there to do on a hot summer day in the city.

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On to Round 2 next! We’re Coney Island bound tomorrow.

Beach, Beach, more Beach!

What a weekend! Jeff and I both agreed this morning that we needed an extra day to relax from all the fun we had. But alas, it’s Monday and back to the grind.

On Saturday morning we got on our bikes right away and headed to our favorite place: Coney Island! We made it to the ocean in an hour and fifteen minutes – not too bad for two middle aged folks riding two heavy bikes loaded with everything needed for a beach day. Oh, and two kids.

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We hung out on the beach for a few hours, ate watermelon, played in the water, and dug in the sand. The boys couldn’t care less that this isn’t the loveliest of beaches; they just have fun. And so did we.

Then we got hungry and needed hot dogs immediately. They were delicious.

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The rest of the afternoon was our typical Coney Island fun: Wonder Wheel, rides, ice cream.

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Then we rode back towards home. Right around Park Slope our legs were getting tired, so we decided to stop for dinner. We stumbled upon this lovely place, sat outside, and filled our bellies with meats & cheeses, pasta, and mussels. Arthur ate all my seafood, and I stole bites of his pasta. We were so happy and full – and very tired. We rode home as the sun was setting, showered, and fell into bed.

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On Sunday we decided we hadn’t had enough of the beach, so we headed to Rockaway. We wanted to try the new NYC Ferry, and so we rode the bikes to the Wall Street stop and took the ferry over. It was pretty smooth, but only because we got in line early. Many people who arrived after us had to wait for the next boat, which only comes every hour.

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We rode the bikes around Rockaway for a bit and then found us a nice spot on the beach. We stayed there all day, played in the waves, ate sandwiches, chips, watermelon. Beach life is simply the best. We all took naps, too. Delightful.

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Before we headed home we wanted to grab a quick dinner and randomly found this very strange place that has fast food and shakes on the menu – and an assortment of old toys in the yard.

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Hot dogs and shakes for life.

Then we made a mistake and rode our bikes around the boardwalk for a bit. It was so lovely out. Bands were playing, happy people everywhere. Except: When we arrived at the ferry dock, there were so many people in line already, and the ferries were so backed up that we had to wait for more than an hour. So that was fun. (Next time we’ll take the train again. The NYC Ferries are fun in theory, but so overcrowded it sucks the joy and convenience right out of it.)

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We killed time on the boat by drinking a beer, making silly hairdos, and playing games.

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We arrived home at 10pm. The kids were exhausted, although honestly not as much as we were. Today we all slept a little later, and even though I’m sure we’re all a bit tired still, we have made a bunch of unforgettable memories this weekend.

Easy Living

Something amazing has been happening lately. It’s something that I think I remember from the past, something that feels vaguely familiar, something I wasn’t expecting, but something I’m totally excited to welcome back: let’s call it “adult life.”

You know, going out with friends, dates, independence. All of this has seemed like a bit of a foreign concept occasionally throughout the years, but I have a firm notion that they are here to stay now.

There have been a bunch of small and big changes lately that are showing me that the kids are growing up. I mean, I knew that already, but when your kids are small, it’s often difficult to see the light simply because you are always tired.

Julian asked about an allowance recently, so we came up with a chore system, and it’s been wonderful. Each day the boys get a few “chores” that are always the same. This includes: getting dressed before they come out of their room at 7am, making their beds, putting their clothes away at night, brushing their teeth. And then each day I’ll include one or two additional chores, like emptying the dishwasher, cleaning/wiping the sink, dusting, sorting socks on laundry day, etc. Julian is obsessed with this new concept. He does all his chores, never complains, and always consults his “chart” to see what’s next. It’s just right up his ally. Arthur does most of his chores happily; he’s just not as excited – which is fine. It’s mostly for Julian, but we couldn’t give him an allowance and not one to Arthur. So $3 per week it is. The first two weeks have already been invested in an online order for fake Lego stuff sent from China – because that is how we roll. The other benefit of this whole thing is that I don’t have to sort socks.

In general, the kids are in an easy phase. Yes, there is still plenty to complain about (Mostly: why does my toilet constantly smell like pee no matter how much I scrub it?! Answer: boys.), but let’s not dwell on the negative. The boys are becoming very independent. Arthur plays endlessly with his lego people (Star Wars, of course), and his imagination is just incredible. Julian draws detailed road maps almost every day. He studies the roads and markings during our bike rides and then tries to recreate his favorites at home. He writes and reads, is helpful, sweet, caring. Arthur lets us sleep through the night (Yes, I know, he’s four and that should be a given, but believe me, it is not). Also, showers. And this one might seem silly, but I think it will revolutionize our summer. My children have finally accepted showers as an alternative to baths (that always take forever and somehow water always ends up on the floor – looking at you, Arthur). They shower on their own, put their pajamas on by themselves, and really, what are you needed for, Mom Lady?

Four and six are really enjoyable ages so far.

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Another thing that has sort of just “happened” is a renewed desire to take care of myself. I’ve been reading voraciously again – something I have always loved, but haven’t always had time/energy to do when my babies were, well, babies. 

Also, I have started working out again and even picked up running. The last time I tried that was after I had Arthur, and it was challenging to work up to being able to run 5k. Now I feel much stronger, and this week I ran three times. My favorite run was one morning at 6am over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown, and back home over the Manhattan Bridge. I ran almost 7km that day – and I felt pumped. What a feeling it is to run through this city that I love so much, while most people are still in bed, and the sun has just risen. Magical.

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Everything just seems to be in a good place right now (I hope I’m not jinxing things). I’m in love with my husband, I love hanging out with friends, and my kids are actually enjoyable companions.

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So to all the tired folks with young kids: I know people always say it gets easier. That’s because it truly does. You’ll be able to leave the house again without a screaming kid in tow, you’ll be able to grocery shop in peace even though you have your sidekicks with you, and occasionally they will even carry said groceries home for you. You’ll be able to sleep again and do all the things you used to love.

Oh, and somehow I manage to finish my coffee most mornings. Something that you only appreciate if you’ve been drinking hurried sips of lukewarm coffee for years.

Memorial Day Weekend

Jeff has been busy at work, so a four day weekend was very welcome. Julian had school on Friday, but we took Arthur for a long bike ride on his red cruiser to Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoyed the good weather.

The other day I took both boys and promised them a lemonade at the little beer/hot dog place at Pier 1.

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The closest thing to a lemonade was a Mexican Orange Crush – and oh wow, did I create a monster. This was the first soda the kids have ever tasted, and their minds were blown. Naturally, Arthur was begging for more when we were down there again on Friday.

We obliged, along with some hot dogs. Arthur experienced an Orange Crush sugar high – it was pretty funny.

I had friends in town visiting from Germany. Andy is one of my oldest friends in life and one of the few people I still connect with from my high school days. He and his wife Alex met us in Dumbo, and we strolled around. Arthur got to ride the carousel, and we all had whoopie pies from One Girl.

On Saturday, we met Andy and Alex for a day of bike riding in Brooklyn. We had a picnic in Prospect Park, played soccer and baseball and just hung out. It was so fun. The boys loved every minute of all the attention they were getting.

It was so lovely to have one of my best friends here and to see him play with my kids and get to know them. It was really special.

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Despite a flat tire, we found our way to Brooklyn Crab for beers, crab legs, and ice cream.

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Our friends gave the boys some new Legos. Have I mentioned that they are Star Wars and Lego obsessed? I probably have.

On Sunday we tried (again) to check out the big boats for Fleet Week in Red Hook, but the lines were ridiculously long. So we had brunch at one of our favorite spots, Alma, instead.

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We rode around Red Hook, explored, played, ate cookies.

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Sunday night I met Andy for dinner in the West Village. Dinner turned into many drinks, and somehow we stayed out until 3am. Which is so fun because I got to spend such a good chunk of time with my old friend and very not fun because I was obviously dead the next day.

We spent Monday being lazy at home. Julian was bummed that he didn’t have science that day (because no school), so we made a volcano and cleaned some pennies with vinegar. Success.

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Later that night we met some of our friends at Dinosaur BBQ. We ate pounds of meat, and a good time was had by all. Especially by these little firecrackers.

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P.S. Memorial Day 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Adulting, Family-ing, Snowing

Titles are tough. Whatever.

Saturday was a great day filled with unexpected joy. First of all, SNOW! The boys were so excited. Even excited enough to only complain a little bit about putting on snow pants, mittens, and a scarf (I’m looking at you, Arthur).

But before we headed out, we had a lazy morning at home. Bloody Mary’s, games, puzzles, bumming around. And then: snow!

We headed to our friends’ house to celebrate the boys’ friend’s 5th birthday.

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And…get this! It was a drop off party. I think this was the first time that we’ve enjoyed this beautiful concept, and I hope that all birthday parties from now on are drop off (looking at you, friends with kids). We didn’t even take our shoes off; just peeled layers of snow clothes off our kids and we were out. 

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Jeff and I headed to a restaurant around the corner for some beers and fries. Then we walked around in the snow and stopped for some coffee/hot chocolate and whoopie pies.

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Then we wandered around some more, checked out a furniture store, and eventually retrieved our children. Who had been eating tons of ice cream, popcorn, and touching wild creatures. No big deal.

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We rolled around in the snow on our way home. It was so fun.

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And that night? Jeff and I had booked a sitter and headed out for a dinner date at China Blue. Probably one of my favorite meals of late – it was so delicious. I still think about it. I’m just sad I didn’t think to take a picture before we had eaten all the food.

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Afterwards, drinks at a hole in the wall bar.

On Sunday I went to a boxing class at the gym and loved every minute of it. I’m probably not the world’s best boxer, but I have so much fun doing it. Then we tried to straighten up a bit, because later in the afternoon the New Jersey cousins (and their parents) came over to play, have dinner, and exchange Christmas presents. (The boys were gifted a lightsaber building kit, which is clearly something I had ignored on their Xmas wish list, but seeing their joy totally makes it worth it, and after all, that’s what family is for, right?)

Also, eating lots of meatballs together.

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Monday morning Julian woke up at 2am; Arthur came to get me, saying “Julian is crying.” He had an ear ache. I gave him some ibuprofen along with the news that he might not be going to school in the morning, which turned the quiet crying into full on sobbing. “But I ha-aaa-aaa-ve science tomorrooooooooow.”

In the morning the pediatrician confirmed a big ol’ ear infection, bulging pus and all. Some more ibuprofen, antibiotics, and my kid was off to school. Can’t miss science. He hasn’t complained since that one time at 2am, so I’m assuming he is on the mend.

Arthur had a play date today with a little boy from his school, because his mother (me) was guilt-ridden about not fostering any friendships on his behalf yadayadayada, and then he just played with his brother for the most part anyway. But I get an A for effort, and in the end everyone had fun.

Last but not least, I just want to note how much I love snow. I love it so much that I’m happy to have it around once or twice a year. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t already think about hitting all the rides in Coney Island, drinking beer on the beach in Rockaway or eating shrimp at Brooklyn Crab.

Until then, I guess winter it is.

Christmas 2016

This Christmas break is exactly that: a break. We are being extremely lazy on most days.

Christmas was a big success all around. Christmas Eve we made a seafood pasta dish – delicious. The boys laid out cookies, carrots and milk for Santa and his helpers, and Julian wrote him a note.

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Excitement definitely filled the air! The boys were adorable and also went right to sleep. This has also been a wonderful added bonus to our lazy days: an early bedtime, no complaints. A chapter or two of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will put Arthur straight to sleep, cozily cuddled up next to me, and it’s lovely. Also, we’re almost done with the book, and it’s been such fun for me to have someone else read to me! I just love it. (The boys do, too.)

Back to Santa. Jeff and I watched Love Actually on Christmas Eve, because duh. We’ve been on a movie roll this break – anything from Die Hard to Say Anything to Elf (with kids who pretty much pee themselves from laughing so hard).

Anyway, back to Santa. He came! He brought the boys the much desired Gup X and Gup S from the hit series Octonauts, and it was pretty much all they cared about for the next 10 hours and actually pretty much every hour since then. They also got new bike helmets, a new train bridge, a small drum for Arthur (per request), swords (because I’m an idiot), and some Playmobil pirate stuff. From Opa they received their first Flik Flak watches and from Grammy a math game, pirate game and bingo. Uncle Brian brought books (that was my wish). So of course, PLENTY of new things. Everyone is so happy and busy.

I got my wish: my very own boxing gloves!

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My other very favorite gift this year is a book that Julian conceptualized and made all by himself, front to back. It’s called “The Police and the Children.”

Kids climb up a tree, fall down, police helicopter comes and catches them, they go home, eat dinner, play trains, read a book, brush teeth, use mouth wash, climb into their bunk beds and zzzzzzz. Real life stuff. I will treasure this forever.

On Christmas Day we had Jeff’s brother, his wife, and her parents over for dinner. On the menu: butternut squash soup, roasted whole cauliflower, carrots, mashed potatoes, green beans with roasted almonds, salad, and Jeff’s Holy Meatloaf. Also: an enormous amount of wine.

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It was a happy night – and the kids had their own tiny table!

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Monday we hit the train show at the New York Botanical Gardens.

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These faces say it all. It was ridiculously overcrowded. Kids kept getting hit in the head with strangers’ bags, and it was all around too much.

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The Coney Island exhibit was neat, though.

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The highlights were overpriced beers at the Gingerbread Cafe and a realtime narrative by this kid about his favorite Octonauts episode.

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Yesterday and today we basically laid around, except quick trips outside to keep our kids from killing each other with their new swords. Also, hair cuts. Now excuse me while I get back to doing nothing.

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Here’s a look back: Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2014.