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!

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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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Last Hurrah

Our last week of summer took us to the Poconos with all of Jeff’s extended family: grandparents, a 100-year-old great aunt, siblings, and kids. The boys had their three cousins to hang out with all week, ages 3, 6 and 8, which I think was the highlight of the week.

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We rented a house in the Poconos where we had never been before, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Except of course, nature, duh. This was the view from our porch:

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The house itself was pretty cool. It had a game room with air hockey and about a dozen or so restored pinball machines – which were gems. We spent a lot of time there.

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The other perk was a movie theater room where we made 100-year-old Aunt Clara watch the movie “Get Out.” Also, ping pong and a 20-foot-long shuffleboard table. Next up: the hot tub. (Which is where a hornet stung me in the neck. Yay nature. Yikes.)

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Other than that what did we do? Well, it’s hard to say. I kind of lost track, and we just bummed around a lot. We spent a couple of afternoons at the Lake Naomi Pool Club. The kids acted like fish, and the adults acted like kids, so that probably means we all had fun.

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We also went on a couple of hikes. The highlight was Bushkill Falls. Really gorgeous, nature-y, waterfall-y, lovely.

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One day we rented a couple of boats and headed out on Lake Naomi.

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Our boat continuously went in a circle, and Jeff complained about my steering abilities. I had no idea that the first person in the boat is all muscle and the last person all…ability. I’m not a boat person, I guess.

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On our last day there we went to a farm and rode some horses. Julian went first, on a full-size horse no less, and I was impressed. No nerves. Riding one-handed like a boss cowboy.

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Arthur was next. He’s a creature lover, so he was in heaven.

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After that Grammy took over our kids, and Jeff and I went on a one-hour-long trail ride.

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I used to ride horses quite a bit as a kid and have never lost my love for them. That feeling on top of that animal – heaven!

Other than that, what can I say? We ate and drank a lot. There were bonfires and s’mores and ice cream and delicious dinners. My mother-in-law came with a giant cooler in tow full of prepared baked goods. We all gained 10 pounds, I’m sure.

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I’m a beach person, so I was bummed when the family decided to try something new this year. In the three previous years we had spent a week down the shore in Avalon, NJ (2014, 2015, 2016). And while I had fun in the Poconos and everything that matters was there (i.e. the family), my heart belongs to the ocean and the beach. I hope we can spend our next vacation splashing in the waves again. Until then, thanks, family, for a great week!

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Weekend Edition

This weekend was another good one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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After ice cream, we snuck home on the ferry.

It was a good day! A good weekend!

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

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

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A Perfect Day

Yesterday was just that. A perfect day.

In the morning we bummed around at home, meaning Arthur had speech, I did five loads of laundry (at the laundromat across the street), scrubbed the tub, changed the sheets. Glamorous.

Then, after lunch, we were Coney Island bound. We started our day with ice cream and a cold brew on the boardwalk.

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Then the boys and I spent the afternoon at the beach. We dug in the sand and splashed in the waves. The water is now bathwater warm. Julian read his new prized possession, the latest Narwhal book.

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Then I became sleepy and thought, “What are the odds these kids would nap now?” And I just said, “Boys, let’s just cuddle for a minute.” And boom! It was divine. A nap by the ocean has always been my favorite.

 

Then we bummed around on the boardwalk with a big order of funnel cake, waiting for Papa to arrive. Also, the boys got to pick out new t-shirts. Once Jeff got there, we had dinner.

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

Next up, Go Karts. Totally my favorite.

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

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Then we hit more rides.

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At 9:30pm it was time for fireworks. I think this was Arthur’s first time seeing fireworks (other than one time when he was a baby), and he was pretty impressed.

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It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

What made this day even sweeter was watching my boys together. They are just each other’s best. So many times when I looked over at them, I saw random moments of kindness. Arthur would put his arm around Julian’s shoulders while they waited for me on the boardwalk. Julian always made sure Arthur was buckled into all the rides and helped him get in and out. The way they always look out for each other is second nature, and it makes me so happy.

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California Love

Here is my next vacation report. Because it’s summer, and that is what we do.

When I was 19, I spent one year in Minnesota as an au pair. I helped take care of three little ones, Stone (then 6), Kamron (then 2), and a baby girl, Roxonna.

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Fast forward to now: 18 years later. You do the math.

We’ve always been close, and I have visited this wonderful family both in Minnesota and in the Bay Area near San Francisco, where they live now, countless times. However, since the kids it’s become a bit less frequent. The last time we went to see them was 5 years ago when Julian was a baby (and he knocked out a tooth when we visited Twin Peaks).

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Julian, Arthur and I spent a wonderful week with these special people. From the moment I saw them again, it was just like coming home. It is every time. They embraced my children, loved them, spoiled them. It was so delightful and memorable and special in every way. Here is Arthur sleeping in a blanket that I remember wrapping around Roxonna when she was a baby.

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The majority of our time there was spent in the pool. The boys loved every second of it, and so did I.

The rest of the time was spent eating. Every night was a feast, and the boys quickly adapted to their new schedule of eating dinner at 10pm, a swim afterwards, and snoozing next to mama until late morning the next day. It’s the Iranian way (I think?).

I was spoiled with some incredible meals…

..and even better company.

Other highlights included a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco…

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…including a “fake” trolley ride. (The lines were just too long.)

Also, a trip to Half Moon Bay…

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…and a trip with all the kids (using that term loosely here since most of them are in their 20s and 30s) including cousins and older siblings to Golden Gate Park…

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Lots of hiking for these boys! This park is 20% bigger than Central Park, so needless to say we didn’t see it all. But the boys got to play at a playground, ride a carousel, hike up a mountain, and see some buffalo. Also, Arthur was carried a good bit. He was lucky to have so many willing helpers.

What a week this was! I got to see most of the extended family, people I’ve known and loved for years, and even though we don’t see each other often, it’s just like nothing has changed. It feels really good. And now my kids are part of the pack!

The trip home was pretty horrendous. Arthur got car sick as we pulled into the airport and threw up all over himself, the borrowed car seat, and Amir’s baby – the Maserati. I felt awful for him, and for our friends who had to ride home with that stinky car seat. I stripped Arthur and quickly grabbed some pajamas out of the suitcase before checking it.  I washed him off in the airport bathroom, and he was good as new. The flight was painful. Both boys slept, but only because 1. Julian is a saint and literally let Arthur kick him in the face and put his legs all over him and 2. because I am a saint and I let Arthur roll around for hours while accommodating his sleepy body with mine. It will not be repeated.

Now we’re home. We all took a two hour nap together and felt somewhat rejuvenated, but also still tired enough to complain pretty much all day. We miss our friends already – but are also so excited to see Jeff tonight! We missed him all week, and there is just something that feels perfectly right about being back home.

Our Upstate Getaway

We just got back from a proper vacation. You know how trips with young children can feel nothing like a vacation and can instead feel rather exhausting? Well, this was in fact a lovely getaway. I don’t feel like I’m drowning now that we’ve arrived home.

(Unfortunately I finished my 500 page book on the first day. I just couldn’t put it down.)

The first thing we implemented on this vacation was a novelty for my children. They usually wake up between 6 and 7am, which is the time “our house wakes up” and they get to come out of their rooms. On this trip, they got to stay up late and actually slept in. 8, 8:30am. Heavenly.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. Jeff has this lovely friend who lets us stay at his lovely lake house. We’ve taken him up on it a bunch of times; this was our fifth time up (2015, 2014). At this point it feels like coming home – except with more bugs.

The house is right on a private lake, which is where we spent our days. During this trip we didn’t do many activities, except for one trip to a couple of neighboring towns. Mostly we just hung out by the water, went on boat rides, ate a lot, and made bonfires.

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There we several jam sessions – with real and air guitars. In pajamas.

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Most nights we BBQd at home.

One night we went out for pizza and some of us got to lick their ice cream bowls.

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A couple of nights we let the boys stay up extra late, and we all cuddled up in our bed and watched movies (popcorn included). Ghostbusters one night (ON VHS, YOU GUYS!) and ET another night. I love love love that we can now watch movies with the boys that are actually entertaining.

We saw lots of animals. Critters, bugs, slugs, a huge eagle, deer, a cat, horses, bunnies, fish, a raccoon. It was pretty impressive for my city kids. Also, TICKS.

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I LOVED the lake. I felt like a kid again. My favorite moments were hanging out on the little wooden island with the kids and jumping in the water. Jules was pretty brave!

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Some moments were just so still and perfect. Like the one where Julian and I just rested on our bellies on the island in the sun, our faces close together, just hearing the water and the wind and the birds.

I just had a blast all around. I love the water.

I also loved going on little boat trips with Arthur. We had the loveliest conversations in the middle of the lake. He’s a tough nut to get through to sometimes. His mind is always so busy, his feet are always flying, but there are moments that are so right and wonderful. This one was one of them.

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Jeff did most of the rowing, of course. I’m sure he’d want me to point that out.

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A couple of nights we made a big bonfire by the lake, and it was beautiful. The boys had sparklers, we made s’mores, and told scary stories. I loved it all.

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Most importantly it was so nice to just be. Be with these three boys of mine, be outside, be eating, be free.

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We feel so lucky that we get to visit this wonderful little house on this wonderful little lake. The memories we’re making there will last a lifetime. The boys already reminisce about things that happened two years ago – and I hope we can make memories for many years to come.

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.

School’s OUT!

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been anticipating this day. I know for a fact that I’ve been looking forward to the end of the school year more than either of my boys. Julian is pretty depressed about the prospect of no school and all fun. Strange creature.

The weeks leading up to today have been pretty busy.

Highlights include:

Field trip with Julian’s class over the Brooklyn Bridge. What a great group of kids!

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(There was also the moment when one of the dad chaperones bought his daughter and himself (!) huge ice cream cones while 25 ice cream hungry children and infuriated teachers/parents looked on.)

Super Heroes. All day every day.

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Our tiny city garden! We’ve harvested a few strawberries already. Waiting for broccoli, cucumbers, and peppers. I can’t believe how quickly these babies grew. We love our plants! The owl and plastic bags are keeping them safe.

Parties! The boys went to four (!) birthday parties over the weekend. It was sugar and pizza insanity. Also, Julian’s end-of-year picnic, hot dog parties, and celebratory ice cream.

Julian’s report card 

I won’t say much about it because I don’t want to be that annoying parent, but it was amazing, and I cried, and we’re so proud.

Also, Julian is now keeping a journal. Basically, he’s like 16.

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Dates with my boys!

I love this time with them.

And we’re off into the summer, starting with a long weekend together. First stop: THE POOL. Second stop: Coney Island. Summer, we’re coming for ya.