My Date with Julian

As part of our newly revived date series, it was Julian’s turn to take his Mama out on the town last night. Since Julian is a very complicated human being, it took us 30 minutes just to get out of the house.

Under tears Julian confided in me that he didn’t want to dress up because he doesn’t like when people pay attention to the way he looks. That took me a bit by surprise, because it came from a kid who generally likes as much positive attention as he can get.

I told him that a) I’d rather he not dress up and feel comfortable so we can have a good time and b) that it shouldn’t matter what people say about what he’s wearing, whether their opinions are favorable or not and c) that sometimes it’s nice to put yourself in second place and think about what would make someone else happy, and maybe by doing something nice for someone else you will feel better, too.

Who knows if any of this was right, but in the end he didn’t dress up, and he looked lovely to me anyway.

We took the subway to the West Village and checked out a place I’d been wanting to show Julian called Chess Forum. They have the coolest chess pieces, and you get to play!

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Afterwards we went to a Mexican restaurant on the same block, ate lots of tacos and played “Exploding Kittens.”

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To make our night complete, we got ourselves some treats at a Mexican dessert place. Delicious!

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I see so much of myself in Julian; sometimes we butt heads so easily. Sometimes we are both too stubborn. Sometimes we are overly sensitive. Sometimes our insecurities get the better of us. But in the end we adore each other, and a night like last night was an important reminder of how much.

My Date with Arthur

Back in May, Julian and I went on a very special date to Chinatown. I’m not sure why it has taken me five months to make it happen, but last night it was finally Arthur’s turn to take his Mama out.

He put on a nice shirt, tie and blazer, and got some important advice from his Papa.

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Arthur not only opened every door for me, he was also very nice. And so, so proud. He held on to his note, tucked into the pocket of his blazer, all night. When we got off the subway at 8th Street NYU in the middle of the East Village, I asked him to please hold my hand. He said he couldn’t (because it was in his pocket holding his note), but that I could hold his arm. Where he got that idea, I don’t know. He’s probably seen me walk that way with Jeff. So I bent down a bit and tucked my arm into his, and he proudly smiled up at me. I hope he will still walk that way with me in 20 years.

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I wanted to take Arthur to Paquitos, a Mexican restaurant Jeff and I sometimes went to when we lived in the East Village. Little did I know that the place had been downsized into a tiny take-out counter last winter. When we walked in, Arthur looked at me and said, “THIS is where we’re going?” Basically: “I put on a tie for THIS?” While I’m sure the burritos were still tasty, I decided to go a block down to another small Mexican restaurant, which, as it turns out, also served delicious burritos.

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Arthur was so lovely. We talked all night: about school, his new friends, his teachers, soccer, the school bus. After dinner we found ourselves some ice cream.

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For our last stop we went to Tokyo Toys, a place the boys love. Arthur spent some of his money on a new transformer, and he was beaming.

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The girls of the East Village collectively fell in love with Arthur. As did most of the boys. He collected compliments left and right, and he was just so proud and so happy. As was I.

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One Of My Favorite Dates

Each week I get Arthur to myself on Fridays. We run around the city for appointments, go to speech and OT, and do our weekly laundry. But there is also some cuddling and playing, usually a treat of some kind, and lots of laughs. I also get Arthur to myself every day when we walk from his school to Julian’s. That’s 30 minutes of pretty undivided attention.

With Julian, however, I never spend any one-on-one time. So I had the idea to take him out on a date; just him and me for some much needed time together. So last Friday the two of us went on a little adventure. We started with a lovely subway ride, because that is still Julian’s favorite thing.

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We walked through Chinatown and had dinner at Noodle Village.

 

We ordered too much food, Julian got to drink a soda (!), and we talked and talked. Julian was so chatty and sweet, funny and charming. He complimented the waitress on the food: “This is so delicious! I just love this food!” and she was beaming. Julian had never had Chinese before because Arthur is allergic to sesame.

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After dinner it was dark, and Chinatown looked even more intriguing. We got ice cream from the “Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.” I kept telling the sales guy “Only one scoop please! Only one!” And he gave us this, claiming this was one scoop.

 

Then we stepped outside the ice cream shop and wondered around Chinatown, hand in hand.

On the subway ride home we learned everything about the old City Hall subway station and made a plan to visit it soon.

My date with my first-born son was perfect. I loved talking with him over noodles and dumplings, listening to his stories about school and friends, and I vowed to do it again soon.

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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.

Adulting, City Fun, and a sick Kid

This week, on Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity to take a few hours to myself and to go on an adventure. After school drop-off, I headed into Manhattan and got myself a membership to MoMA with my lovely IDNYC card. I wandered around and checked out three floors. One of the more impressive pieces: a literature sausage.

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Then I met Jeff at his office, and we saw a baby owl.

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We had a lovely lunch across the street from Jeff’s work. A daytime date! Always special.

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Then I came back to his office for a lesson in virtual reality. I flew to the moon!

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It was seriously amazing. My mind was blown. And then I had to pick up the kids!

Wednesday night I went to the new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Downtown Brooklyn with some friends. Afterwards, we had drinks at a rooftop bar around the corner and marveled at the fact that we know nothing about Downtown Brooklyn at all, even though it’s a 10 minute walk from our homes. It’s a different world and could basically be any downtown in any city in the US. Bizarre.

Yesterday we had a lovely family day in Manhattan. We had brunch and then went for a stroll on the Highline. The fall colors are gorgeous right now!

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After 20 blocks of walking (no complaints from the kids!), we took the train to Grand Central.

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We had coffee and snacks and looked around.

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We stumbled upon a street festival on Madison Avenue. The boys had a lemonade.

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Next up: Rockefeller Center.

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We walked around and checked out the Lego store. The boys were in awe!

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Then we decided we were sufficiently tired and headed home. Early bedtime for all!

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And on Sunday? On Sunday we did nothing. Julian woke up mopey and with a man-headache. We convinced him to rally and cheer on our buddy Tim, who was running the NYC Marathon. Seeing all these people run run run was so inspiring!

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The boys, however, collapsed upon our arrival. Julian due to the fact that he wasn’t feeling well, and Arthur, well, he had a case of brotherly sympathy pains.

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Turns out Julian actually has a fever of 102.5. So I feel pretty great about dragging him to watch a marathon and scolding him for lying down. Who’s winning? This Mama.

The rest of the day we did nothing. We watched Planet Earth and ate popcorn. We drank smoothies and ate German chocolate and took naps. We played and colored and went on indoor treasure hunts. I read my book and Jeff played music. Also, Bloody Mary’s.

And we’re off into another week!

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!

Bruce and boys

The week was off to an amazing (and incredibly tiring) start. Jeff and I scored (nosebleed) Bruce Springsteen tickets to see him at Madison Square Garden! It was a make-up show for the one he cancelled due to a snow storm in the winter. It was Jeff’s and my 5th show together – and probably my 15th? I’ve stopped counting.

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Did I mention we had nosebleed seats?

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There was literally no one behind us. There were people in upper sections above us, but this was definitely the farthest I’ve ever been away from The Boss. Definitely a far cry from this. BUT: It was amazing. The thing with Bruce is that it doesn’t matter how far away you are or how much your tickets cost – it’s worth your while. Bruce is pretty much the only religion I will ever commit to, and I could go on and on and on about him (and I did in 176 pages in my college thesis), but suffice to say that I felt all the feels. Love, joy, fear, sadness, and more joy. In three hours of bliss. The show was amazing. (We’re going to see him again in a few weeks at Barclay’s Center.)

We came home at 1am. Our babysitter had her coat on – hint hint.

I’ve been tired – and happy – ever since.

Other than that we’ve been doing normal stuff. Yesterday Julian had a playdate with his friend Shirine after school, so I didn’t see him until 5:45pm when I went to pick him up. And I missed him. Arthur did, too. But he and I had a great day. Arthur is literally the funniest person I know. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for him. He has imagination beyond anything I’ve ever seen and a free spirit that makes him put on two different shoes (socks, too)…

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After Julian’s playdate I took the boys out on a pizza date. They were good – and adorable.

Today, after speech therapy, we went into Manhattan. I wanted to get prescription sunglasses. The saleslady commented on how well behaved the boys were. What she didn’t know (actually, she did, because I told her), was that they were occupied with their sandwiches, and also I had scolded them so hard before we left because they were being horrible.

Anyway. After I picked out new glasses, we bought a donut.

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Then we took some photos…

…and played at a playground.

We skipped nap time, and I paid for it hard. Arthur has been a mess all afternoon. He fell asleep while I read the boys a book, and then again wrapped in his towel after bath. He won’t go to bed at night if he naps, but when he doesn’t, we all suffer.

Life.

Life

This weekend – and week – would be filed under “eh” or, at times, under “OMGWHY.”

First of all, weather, why are you still so cold. We’re done with snow and cold, please warm up, thank you.

Secondly, Arthur’s cold. Which can either be traced back to our sucky weather and germs in general or to his obsession with pushing all the subway elevator buttons as many times as possible, which also means: germs germs germs. Result:

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Why does he look so tiny and miserable? Because he is. We’d been avoiding the nebulizer all winter, but now that spring is two weeks away, here we go. Yay, steroids. They have such an insane effect on Arthur. (He was actually feeling pretty badass after I pointed out that he looks like Darth Vader. Hence his firm grip on the lightsaber.)

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On Friday we picked Jeff up from work and checked out his (relatively) new office. Afterwards we went to dinner in Hell’s Kitchen. Arthur could not sit still for more than 20 seconds. He was fidgeting non-stop. Until around 10:30pm when I had lost my patience more times than I care to admit and was filled with guilt and exhaustion, I lied down next to him in bed, and he finally calmed down. Except his little feet kept shifting and moving until after he had gone to sleep. He is a very active boy to begin with, but these treatments really turn him into a maniac. I’m happy to say his cold is on its way out/has moved on to his brother. Gahh.

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On Saturday we split up kid duty. I spent my morning at the gym and shopping in our neighborhood, while Jeff took the boys to the Children’s Art Museum. I hung out with them at home in the afternoon while Jeff went shopping in the city.

That night we went on a date. Arthur screamed his head off when it was time to leave him and Julian with the babysitter. I left with a huge cloud hanging over my head.

Dinner, however, was delicious.

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We’ve been trying to go to places we wouldn’t usually go to with the kids – mostly because of Arthur’s allergies. Two weeks ago Chinese, and last night this Arabian French bistro in the East Village. Sesame, tahini and nuts for all eternity. Sorry, Arthur. It was so good.

Afterwards we quickly stopped by the bar where Jeff and I met 9 (!) years ago. We hadn’t been back in probably 6 years. The same guy was still checking IDs at the door and, when he glanced up at us, said, “Hey, it’s been a long time.” It felt nice to be remembered. But the place was so overcrowded that we went to a dive bar around the corner instead.

On Sunday we laid low. Lots of this (Kristoff, Elsa & Anna on a spaceship)…

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…and this…

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Playing, reading the newspaper, and – the best part of the day – NAPS. Also, trying not to kill each other.

Two highlights from this week I don’t want to forget:

On Tuesday, Arthur stayed at the daycare at the gym for the first time happily and without a single tear. (Of course he made up for it when we left him with the babysitter Saturday night.)

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On Thursday, the boys were invited to one of Julian’s friend’s birthday party. She turned 4 and had invited some of the girls from Julian’s pre-school and my two boys to celebrate with her. It was the quintessential German kid birthday party, with homemade waffles and whipped cream and German party games that brought me back to my childhood. We all had a blast. It was so adorable.

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And after a weekend of loud, sick, and disobeying kids and lots of bickering between Jeff and me, I feel lucky to have a husband who makes spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and can always (well, almost always) make me laugh.

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Our week(end)

Upon our return from Mexico, Julian had a week off from school, and it was lovely to have him home. I used to consider school a break for us from each other, but lately I’ve really enjoyed spending time with this kid, even more than usual. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of him starting kindergarten later this year?

We spent the week playing with a bunch of Julian’s and Arthur’s friends – almost all of them girls. It was fun. And it’s nice for me to hang out with my friends as well. Especially the ones who bring Prosecco and let my children go on and on about Star Wars.

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Other than that we’ve been singing our hearts out to “HellobyAdele” – as Arthur thinks this is the proper song title – and Come What May by Obi-Wan Kenobi/Ewan McGregor. Both boys love to sing, and Arthur has recently perfected the rock star move (complete with attitude) to swipe the hair out of his eyes. Unfortunately I think Jeff is right and both boys have the voice of a drummer.

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Julian has started picking up a daily chore: emptying the dishwasher.

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He always does his job very well and takes much pride in it. He gets a quarter for his piggy bank, and I get a moment of peace.

This weekend was busy and lovely. On Saturday I stayed in bed and read while the kids played.

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I also cuddled with these people:

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Then I went to the gym. For the rest of the day, we spilt up the kids. Jeff took Julian on a date, and I took Arthur to IKEA. Meatballs! Also: some shopping.

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Then we came home and enjoyed the sunshine and took his scooter for a spin. We played at the playground and ate chocolate cookies. It was so good to finally be outside again. I’m getting excited for spring!!

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Jeff and I went on a date Saturday night. Chinese food in Chinatown followed by coffee and dessert in Little Italy. It was one of my favorite dates. The food was so good. Here is Jeff in the middle of telling me a story. Intense!

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On Sunday we grabbed bagels and ate them on the Promenade. The boys rode more scooters. (The bikes both have flat tires…)

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Sunday night we had friends over for dinner. It was good company, and the food turned out well, and everyone was happy.

And now it’s back to business after a two week break with Mexico and school holiday. I know my boys will miss each other today, as they always say they do.

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Believe

I don’t even know what’s what anymore. We have a gorgeous tree in our apartment, decorations and candles everywhere, and children who are totally filled with Christmas spirit, singing Jingle Bells and Rudolph all day long, talking about Santa and the Polar Express and how many more sleeps until Christmas. Yet, somehow, I am not quite in the Christmas mood. Maybe because it’s so unusually warm? Or because we’ve all been stretched a bit thin?

I’ve really been struggling with keeping my cool with the boys this week. And as it always is, after a particularly low day comes a good one – because otherwise we would all quit. So, everything’s ok.

We’ve had some friends over for playtime and mulled wine and lots of cookies. We’ve been making cards for teachers and wrapping presents. In an effort to find more peace, I have been reading more – and it truly helps. It’s just so much nicer to sit down with a book during a quiet moment than to stare at my phone or do random things around the house.

The weekend was actually lovely (except for Sunday when Jeff worked and the children were horrible, and I was even worse). On Friday we met Jeff at Herald Square and visited Santa at Macy’s.

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Yup. Exactly. You truly had to believe. The boys were sweet, though, and didn’t notice the terrible beard or anything else. They were full of questions and made sure Santa knew what their Christmas wishes were. Arthur showed him his train. Santa was like, “That’s nice. Now back off, boy.”

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They asked him the one burning question, “Did you come here on your sleigh or did you take the Polar Express?” (answer: the sleigh)

Afterwards Julian and I left Papa and Arthur behind and went on a date. For weeks now Julian has been begging me for a date, so it was finally time. We took the train back into Brooklyn, sitting next to each other, holding hands. He was so sweet. As we got up to get off at Bergen Street, a lady next to us wished us a good night. Julian replied, “Thanks! We’re on a date!”

We went to Julian’s choice of establishment: a hot dog place. We ate dogs, fries and had a milkshake/beer. It was delightful.

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Julian is one of the best dates I’ve ever been on, and he didn’t even offer to pick up the check.

On Saturday we went to the Bronx Botanic Gardens for the annual Holiday Train Show. It was so fun! And so tiring.

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Afterwards we got hot ciders and ran around the gardens. Of course it was one of the very few cold days we’ve had. It was lovely.

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Saturday night Jeff and I went on a dinner date, and that too was lovely.

Other than that we’ve just been hanging out in our Christmas pajamas, eating cookies, and trying to be nice to each other. This is Julian’s face watching Elf for the first time.

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