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.

Coney Island

Today was the only day of spring break that we didn’t have any plans/speech/play dates scheduled, so I decided to take the boys to Coney Island. It was our second trip this year, and I plan to add at least 10 more by September. It is our favorite, favorite place. And it’s so easy to get there!

Once we arrived, even before the rides had opened, we needed hot dogs.

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Next up: rides.

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Then: Wonder Wheel.

I’m seriously so scared of the swinging cars, but the boys insist, and won’t hold my hand, so I just scream and have fun. Then: more rides.

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The boys went on this roller coaster last year. This time around I think Arthur became intimidated half way through the ride, because I saw him putting his head on Julian’s shoulder, and the way he sought comfort like this made my heart melt. Of course he didn’t admit that he was scared at all.

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Then we played on the beach for a good while…

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…had ice cream…

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…and headed home.

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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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On School and Coney Island Fun

Julian made it through his first week of school with total joy. He was happy to go every day, happy at pick up, and full of stories and information about his day, much to my surprise. I learned whom he sat next to at lunch (Lorelei), whose hand he held on the way to the park, what games he played, what science projects they did, and that they danced and sang and looked at their math books. It seemed like a great, full first week.

On Friday I picked Julian up at 5:30pm after he played soccer in Prospect Park with his school friends. He was upset because some other kid had taken his water bottle after lunch, and Julian was left to play soccer in the heat without water. So that was not so cool, especially since he had spoken up and advocated for himself, but still no one took matters into their hands and gave the kid some water. He was red-faced and dehydrated and in tears. But he was over it quickly, and it was literally the only not so great thing that happened all week. Welcome to school life, kid.

I met many of the school parents at an “adult only” get-together on Friday night, and what a fun bunch of people. I’m totally excited about this year ahead, and then the many, many years to come.

The week with “just” Arthur was lovely. I missed Julian, as did Arthur (like, a LOT), but it was so nice to spend one-on-one time with Arthur. He’s definitely less entrained without his brother, but still very good at playing by himself. We went on a long bike ride (Arthur’s bike), played, cuddled, and read books. But I’m definitely ready for Arthur’s school to open its doors in early October. (I hope he will be, too.)

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This weekend was fun, too. We celebrated the boys’ friend’s birthday and went on a carousel ride in DUMBO.

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I hope this gorgeous carousel never loses its magic for the boys.

At night we went out for pizza and a stroll on the promenade. We talked to the boys about September 11.

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I had a hard time keeping it together. The boys asked clever questions and approached it all with such innocence. It makes me so sad to know that some day they will learn about the extent of bad that some people want to inflict on other people.

In happier news, we decided today we needed one more day of fun in Coney Island.

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It was all around perfect. We started off with these race cars; turns out I’m a fairly competitive racer. (Julian and I won.)

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Next up Wonder Wheel and lots of rides.

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The boys went on this proper roller coaster, first car no less, because no fear.

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Arthur stopped here and asked me to take his picture.

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We had hot dogs and ice cream and dipped our feet in the ocean.

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I can’t believe that summer is over. I would have absolutely no problem to bum around a while longer. But tomorrow it’s week two of school for my big boy, and I know at least one person who is super stoked about that (him).

Just as it should be.

Wonder Wheel Wednesday

We had no agenda today, so we decided to make a day of it in Coney Island. The ride over was fun. The boys love trains so much. With Star Wars now and the recently discovered appeal of Superman and Wonder Woman, it’s nice to see that their first love is still alive.

Look at these nutcases.

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We hit the aquarium first.

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There was a sea lion show at 11am. It was so fun to watch this show with the boys! It was something they didn’t know existed, and Julian especially was so giddy and adorable. “He can do THAT with his nose?!” “He’s clapping!” (Also the guy in the back. Hi guy!)

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And then the sealion danced to the boys’ favorite song (of last summer).

 

We looked at some more fish, while I tried not to lose the boys amongst the hundreds and hundreds of camp kids. Holy kids.

Then it was lunchtime, so naturally:

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Also, Arthur and his favorite animal: the jellyfish.

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Next up, of course!

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First, we went on the Wonder Wheel. The boys love the swinging cars, but truthfully they kind of scare me. Julian and Arthur promised to hold my hand, but Julian didn’t follow through and seemed embarrassed/annoyed when I tried to hold on to him for support. Thanks, kid. This isn’t actually to help you. It’s for you to help me. But never mind. I know mothers can be embarrassing.

 

The boys went on all the rides. Next up: ice cream.

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Then it was time to go. The boys asked to walk past the rides at Luna Park, just to see what’s there, you know. Of course they talked me into one more ride. And then we left for home!

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The ride home was unspectacular. Other than, you know, ARTHUR PRESSING THE EMERGENCY BUTTON unbeknownst to me, and the train driver coming out of his train driver box (we were in the first car) to yell at us me. All the rage put Arthur to sleep immediately.

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That’s the face of someone who is conflicted between really wanting to sleep and really loving his big brother who’s getting in his face very much.

What’s on the menu for tonight? Frozen margaritas and chips & salsa. And an early bedtime.

Coney Island – We’re Back!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we checked out the mural art exhibit:

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Next up: Wonder Wheel!

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

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

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

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He survived. We rewarded the kids with ices.

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

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He was not pleased.

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

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

Autumn trip to Coney Island

Saturday was probably the coldest day we’ve had this season, so naturally we decided to go to Coney Island. Because as any proper German will tell you: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. The weather actually was fantastic, sunny, gorgeous. But it was a bit chilly, and this proper German is kind of embarrassed to admit, but we were slightly underdressed.

Anyway, the ride down to Coney Island was blissful and lovely. We stopped for a snack.

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And then we rode on…

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Once we got there, we had the obligatory beer and lemonade on the boardwalk.

We let the boys play in the sand for a bit…

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Next, it was time for hot dogs.

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This here is a photo of happier times, where each boy had their beloved hot dog. What’s not pictured is the damn, fearless bird who stole Julian’s hot dog the second he decided to focus on french fries instead. Oh, the tears. Thankfully it wasn’t the last hot dog in the history of Nathan’s hot dogs, so we just went and bought the poor child another one.

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And then we hit the rides. They never disappoint.

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Afterwards, we took the boys to the aquarium to admire the fish. Highlight: SHARKS! I don’t have any pictures of the fish, but I have this instead:

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On our way out we saw that they were playing a brief Sponge Bob movie in 4D, so we decided to give it a try. I mean, it was a stupid movie with no plot whatsoever, and either way I think Sponge Bob is a bit past his prime, but Arthur thought it was hilarious. Julian was terrified and cried when the objects came “flying at him.” Yay for 3D. Jules was not a fan.

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After one last stroll on the boardwalk, we decided it was time to head home.

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The boys fell asleep immediately on the bikes, and Jeff and I decided to take a break somewhere halfway between Coney and home and headed to Di Fara‘s pizza joint in Midwood.

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We ate our pie, happily, but I must say that even though many say this is the best pizza in NY, I much prefer Juliana’s.

On the ride home, everyone was tired. And cold.

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Julian’s look says it all. “Oh, parents, how you’ve failed me yet again.”

Summer in the City

This weekend was a hot one in the city. So far we’ve had a very mild summer, but this weekend we finally had some higher temps and abundant sunshine. So naturally, we went to our favorite place on earth: Coney Island.

The boys were stoked to take the subway for a change, rather than the bikes.

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Jeff’s parents drove up from Delaware and met us on the boardwalk. We ate Nathan’s…

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Then we walked around and went on rides.

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Ice cream was next.

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Once we got home, we met up with Uncle Brian. The kids adore him times a million.

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Because we hadn’t eaten enough, we went out for some BBQ. After that everyone was sufficiently stuffed and tired.

Today we rode our bikes into Manhattan. We took the boys to Hamilton Fish Park Pool on the Lower East Side. After the drama at Red Hook Pool last week, we were cautiously optimistic. At Red Hook, the boys deemed the water, and hence the entire experience, too cold and simply unacceptable. Today, however, was a good, hot day, and the water was lovely. The boys loved every minute of it. I got even more excited for the rest of our summer.

The pool is great, and huge. It has a very large area that is awesome for kids because the water is only 3 feet deep. Julian can stand in it. But it’s deep enough that parents aren’t freezing or wondering if they are standing in a puddle of chlorine flavored pee. So anyway, it was really fun.

Afterwards we rode our bikes to Washington Square Park, where some of us did this:

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I swear, we are either raising some really easy-going, flexible kids – or homeless people. I just don’t know.

While Arthur napped, the rest of us ate sandwiches and drank lemonade.

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Then we hit a playground. Julian thought he was hot stuff and discovered he could do this:

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Afterwards we let the boys splash around in the fountain. Which I think has clean-ish water? Either way, they loved it. Until Julian said, “Mama, look! A nut!” And he started picking out walnuts out of the water and from the side of the fountain. Walnuts are the most dangerous nuts for Arthur. I threw them aside and wiped him off, as he had touched them, too. My heart started beating a little bit fast, but our guy was fine.

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We had beers and ice cream near the Hudson next and then headed home. It was a lovely, sunny day.

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We can’t get enough of…

…Coney Island.

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This was our fourth (?) trip there this year, and we’re not tired of it. Not sure that will ever happen.

This time around we made it a proper beach day – which is only note-worthy/impressive because we managed to bring all of our gear on the bikes. Including a beach umbrella, small cooler, and sand toys.

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We spent a few hours on the beach eating sand and sandwiches, and the boys loved every minute of it.

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The great thing about having the bikes with us is that we can easily store everything (nothing valuable, of course) in them so we can walk around without carrying a million things. Except I carried Arthur.

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We didn’t bring a carrier, but I wanted to help him get back on the boardwalk from the beach, and the sand was hot. So we made a wrap out of two African kikois. We bring these with us wherever we go. They have served as blankets, towels, cover from the sun, scarves – and now a baby wrap. It’s probably what they were intended for in the first place.

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First stop after the beach was the Wonder Wheel. All four of us went; it was Arthur’s first time – in a swinging car, no less. I actually got quite spooked. I had forgotten how mildly terrified I was when I went for the first time with Julian. Arthur, of course, couldn’t have loved it anymore.

Then the boys got to go on all the rides, followed by ice cream.

Once we got back on the bikes, they promptly fell asleep. So we decided to keep riding to Sheepshead Bay. They took a nap on the bike….

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…and the blanket.

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One of the things I love most about bike riding is that it brings back so many memories. Everywhere we go we are always reminded of something that happened there or someone we met or something we saw. Yesterday we rode around Sheepshead Bay, a neighborhood I had only been to once before, many years ago on a bike ride with Jeff – long before the kids. As we sat on a bench watching our sleeping children, we reminisced about the good times we had there. All of a sudden I am transported back in time to sitting in a tiny seafood restaurant with my (then) boyfriend, and it is so lovely. Lovely to have these memories, and lovely to have a way to keep them alive.

We ended the night over pasta at a small restaurant. Arthur shoved his face with calamari and mussels, although he was convinced the latter was “egg.” Julian ate his weight in meatballs.

We rode our bikes home in the dark. The boys got to eat popsicles in the bathtub at 10pm. How they both managed to wake up before 7am I don’t know. It defies everything I understand and/or believe in.

Oh, also, James Dean here:

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Anniversary Weekend

It’s been kind of a not so great week on many fronts for many reasons, but the weekend more than made up for it.

Saturday was Jeff’s and my anniversary (4 years! And 7 years since our first date). We celebrated with an excellent bike ride to Coney Island. We made it down there in about an hour and 15 minutes, all the while listening to a song mix that included the kids’ favorites from Uptown Funk to Yellow Submarine and All About That Bass. It was so fun and such a gorgeous ride down Ocean Parkway. Look here! We made it.

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We immediately celebrated our arrival (and anniversary) with a beer.

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Then we took the boys down to the beach. They ran towards the water and basically never looked back.

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As time went on they shed some clothes and got dirty. Those are the moments we will never forget. Happiness all around; so pure and so contagious.

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Then we had a picnic on the boardwalk, and afterwards we hit the rides. It was the first time Arthur was old enough to go on them, and he was so excited. He wanted to ride them all.

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He was never once scared or tried to jump off a ride (which, if you know Arthur, is a totally realistic expectation). Julian, at this point, is a total pro and directed us towards his favorite rides. He also got to ride the Wonder Wheel with Papa.

After rides, this:

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Once we decided it was time to ride home, both boys fell asleep immediately and slept for a good 45 minutes on the bike. While we listened to music and enjoyed the sunshine.

We stopped at Lakeside in Prospect Park for some refreshments and kisses. It was a perfect, perfect day.

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On Sunday we took it easy. We just rode around Redhook, spent some time by the water and on a playground.

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Oh, and we spent around 2 1/2 hours at our favorite restaurant, the Brooklyn Crab. We ate shrimp and had beers and corn dogs and crab sandwiches. We let the boys play in the sand, played shuffle board and corn hole and lazied around in the sun.

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Then we rode to Fairway and had coffees while Arthur napped. And then we sat around some more.

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Seven years ago when Jeff took me to dinner at Morandi and we shared cannoli in Tompkins Square Park, I could have never dreamed up this life we live now. And even four years ago, when we got married and Julian was kicking around in my belly, I still couldn’t have predicted this.

Today I feel like the luckiest.