Our First Halloween Party!

One morning when we woke up in Vienna, the boys presented me with an idea they’d dreamed up the night before, while chatting with each other in bed before they fell asleep. The plan was to host a Halloween party at our apartment for their friends, and our apartment was to be called “Spook Central.”

So we made it happen. It started out small with just a couple of friends but then slightly grew into what was a nice crowd of 10 very sweet kids. We decorated all week, drawing signs, coloring on windows, hanging spooky spiders, carving pumpkins.

The boys were ready!

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They’ve been so into Ghostbusters; the costume choice was a no-brainer. Even I humored them:

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(It gets really hot under there.)

Once the kids arrived, there were treats.

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Then the kids played. We did Twister and Freeze Dance and just lots of ghost-busting and running around. Everyone got along so well.

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A couple of parents stuck around to drink wine with us while the kids played. Most kids were dropped off, which is seriously such a game changer. It’s one thing to host 10 kids, but another to fit another 10 to 15 adults into our apartment. This was a nice crowd.

For dinner we served mac & cheese, and Jeff made two pizzas.

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It was a seriously fun time, and my boys were so happy when they fell into bed last night. We might have to make this an annual tradition! So thankful for good friends.

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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.

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.

Too much!

I can’t keep up. The weather’s been so nice, and we are never home. This is my favorite season. Everything is blooming, the sun is shining, and we get to ride our bikes all over Brooklyn.

Mother’s Day came and went. It was a good one. Sometimes these days can be disappointing (such as this one!), because of all the expectations. But this year was lovely. Coffee in bed. Many cuddles.

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The boys drew and wrote in my Mother’s Day book. We went for a morning walk/bike ride with the boys’ bikes, played at the playground. Then we took the big bikes for a spin and went to our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab.

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After that: key lime pie on our stoop.

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It was a really lovely day, and I was thankful for my people – as I am most days.

Other than that our days, and nights, have been busy. Jeff and I went to see a couple of bands perform. Here we are at Kings Theater, waiting for Father John Misty. It was fun!

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I went out with some of my best friends to a restaurant in Williamsburg, Maison Premiere. It was a happy dinner for a sad occasion, because one of us is moving away.

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Then there was a school performance and some very important sign holding…

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….and the annual school gala/fundraiser. We got fancy! And we danced. A lot.

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The kids are busy with play dates, ice cream, bikes, soccer, legos.

Most afternoons after school we all gather at the playground at the park across the school, and bit by bit many of the kids and mamas arrive. We hang out, chat, read, enjoy the sun. The kids roam around.

On Friday night, after soccer practice, we drove to New Jersey for our niece’s communion the next day. For that occasion the boys got fancy!

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But then they very quickly took off their shirts and ties and put back on their soccer uniforms. Boys in their more natural habitat.

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So that pretty much sums up our last two weeks. I’m so happy it’s finally spring, and on some days it’s felt like summer even. I can’t wait for the pools to open and for our many weekend bike adventures! This is our happy season.

May the Fourth…

…be with us all.

Last night I foolishly allowed the boys to sleep in my bed. Jeff is away for work all week, so I had the space – or so I  thought. Let me just say: Arthur snores like an old man and moves around like a monkey on steroids. Suffice to say, it was a restless night (for me).

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At 6am Julian woke up and said, “I’m 6!”

And so he is. There was no time to waste; he had to open presents immediately.

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Also, pancakes.

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Arthur screamed intermittently from 6am to 9am (when I left him at his school) because it was not his birthday. Damn you nature (i.e. planned c-section) for making his birthday be three whole days later. Being the younger brother is hard sometimes (all the time?).

Anyway. Julian brought a cake to school.

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He said his classmates sang to him four times (apparently that’s a huge deal). He was beaming when I picked him up from school. Him, and 8 of his closest friends. Because who doesn’t like to be in charge of a bunch of sugar-hungry 5-6 year olds?

Also, I was that person with a bunch of balloons on the subway. No one even looked at me twice. I love New York.

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Traveling in style, me and my trusty grocery cart.

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(I’d dropped off the piñata and 40 juice boxes in our giant beach bag at school the previous day. But the boxed wine needed to be chilled, because priorities. So that’s why I needed the cart.)

Once some other brave moms and I made all these children safely cross Eastern Parkway, they all ran loose at the park. I’d thought up a bunch of games, but they immediately started playing soccer. And that was just as well. Then there was the piñata:

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Also, the aftermath. Only about three children cried because they didn’t get enough candy. It was mostly the kids who were smart enough not to roll around in the dirt. Note: my kids were not among them and went diving in.

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Meanwhile, I put my friend in charge of pouring wine.

Then, because 4 pounds of candy wasn’t enough, there was a donut cake. Which is just a bunch of donuts piled on top of each other. It’s genius because a) no baking required b) no plates required c) no clean-up required d) children insanely happy.

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We sang happy birthday and devoured a bunch of fried dough.

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Then the kids ran around, climbed some trees, and rode their scooters. Julian got a new scooter for his birthday, but of course I didn’t take a single picture of it.

In fact, I didn’t take any pictures. Because my phone died. But when I came home I had received emails from from probably six or seven moms and babysitters who had all sent me their photos. And that made my heart melt. Also the fact that we have found this amazing community of kids and families. What a blessing and what a joy to see my children run around the park with their good friends, and how lucky for me that the moms are equally amazing.

Julian wished for fish tacos for dinner, so I took the boys across the street to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Then we came home, opened more gifts, and crashed. As in, I’m sitting here with the rest of the boxed wine and a bag of M&Ms.

I’m tired. Birthdays are a lot of work. And this was only 50%! Arthur’s is on Sunday.

That said, when I put the boys to bed tonight, I said to Julian, “I hope you felt special and loved today. You’re so lucky to have such good friends.” And he said, “Thank you, Mama, for everything you did today.”

And that is all I needed to hear.

Weekend Report

This week we were finally all feeling better.

I’ve been trying to move a little slower. Arthur and I have enjoyed morning coffees and treats during our errands. You only live once, right? And I’ve never heard anyone complain about having eaten too many croissants in their life.

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This weekend we were both busy and lazy. On Friday night we hung out with Arthur’s former speech therapist and her very talented musician/composer fiancé at his studio in the Navy Yards. We ate chili, caught up, and listened to the guys play.

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Saturday we were lazy. Arthur had a fever all day – completely unexplained. Today he’s fine. But yesterday he was sleepy and cuddly, and I was his favorite pillow. Both of my boys are excellent cuddelers – but when they’re sick, they are extra sweet. Despite having enjoyed my extra dose of love, I’m happy he’s back to his old crazy self today.

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Saturday night Jeff and I attended a big birthday bash for one of his colleagues. Wow did she go all out! I mean, a step & repeat! We had so much fun, danced, drank too much, played pool and ping pong and then for some unexplained reason ran more than 10 blocks downtown to eat hot dogs in the East Village. A 1am Crif Dog – can’t beat it.

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Today we had bagels on the promenade and enjoyed the sunshine. Despite a massive hangover.

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The boys got to ride their bikes, and we watched them play at the playground. Besties for life, these two.

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Sunday night we had friends over for a pizza party. “We” (Jeff) made these beauties:

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The kids played/trashed the place/had fun, and everyone got to stay up way past bedtime.

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The end.

This and that and more of that

It’s been about a month since I last wrote (not counting an update on our trip to Mexico). We’ve just been busy. And sick. And just doing everyday life things. And just feeling kind of meh, all around. But now it’s officially spring, and even though it’s still cold outside, I know the sun is out there, and the days are already longer, and that makes me happy.

Lately, after school and if the sun’s out, we’ve been heading to the playground near the boys’ schools, and one by one people will trickle in, and the kids will play for hours while the parents hang out together. It’s been nice. I love that everyone plays together at Julian’s school, from little siblings to the 4th graders.

We had another parent teacher conference, and the teachers basically looked at me and said, “Julian ist ein Traumkind. Do you have any questions for us?” I was out of there in 5 minutes.

The boys have been growing closer and closer, while of course routinely pushing each other’s buttons. But they are definitely each other’s number one. They play with each other all the time, and we’ve had a couple of instances where Julian had a play date alone at a friend’s house but came to me and confided that he just missed his brother.

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It has also happened that only one of them was invited to a birthday party and refused to go without his brother. I certainly encourage them to foster friendships with other kids, and they do, but they always have this other person as a real safe bet, and I think that is kind of amazing.

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At night, after we’ve read a book and put the boys to bed, Julian will read to Arthur for another 30 minutes. I love hearing his little voice working its way through the pages, and I love that Julian enjoys reading so much.

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Today I took Arthur on an adventure day. We’ve been kind of sluggish for weeks it seems, stuck inside, running errands, doing laundry. So today I took my boy to the Natural History Museum, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

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It’s always fun to spend time alone with one of the boys. I don’t do it enough.

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After the museum, we met Papa for lunch at a diner by his work.

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A good kick-off to the weekend!

Another Week, Another Protest

…in both small and big ways.

Let’s start with the smaller one. On Wednesday the sun was shining, so we decided to go to a playground near the boys’ schools with two of Julian’s friends in the afternoon. It was a nice, chilly afternoon, and the kids were playing tag. When Julian came over to me, looking unhappy, I thought something had happened to him. I asked him if he was ok. He replied, “I’m ok. But Arthur’s not!” I thought he had fallen, perhaps, and hurt himself. But no. The other Kindergarten boys, Julian’s school friends, were calling Arthur “a baby.”

Arthur was a little mad and a little unfazed. I just told the boys to ignore such a ridiculous comment. I mean, just look at him. Clearly not a baby, right?

Ten minutes later one of the boys called Arthur a baby again, and this time Julian didn’t think twice about it and tackled his friend to the ground. Julian was red-faced and furious. I told him to stop, that’s not the way, but inside I was feeling proud. Julian walked away from everyone and sat on a bench, and tears started running down his face. I asked him if the boys were teasing him, too. He said, “No! They are mean to Arthur.”

Julian wanted to leave, and so we did. Truthfully, Arthur was fine. Julian was the one who was hurt and angry. But as soon as we turned our backs on the playground, my boys started laughing and running, and I knew all was good. And all will be good. At least for them. They have each other.

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Now on to protests in bigger ways.

On Thursday afternoon, thousands of Yemeni business owners closed their delis and bodegas across the city to protest Trump’s immigration ban. The rally was right outside our house, so naturally we had to be there. When I picked the boys up from school, I explained to them about the protest and why we had to go to support our neighbors.

I may have explained it to them in Star Wars terms: we are the resistance, the rebels so to say, and you can all figure out who the Evil Empire is. Julian was way into it and was chanting “We are the resistance!”

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We met so many lovely people.

When everyone started praying, the boys just watched. They were fascinated. The foreign language, the singing, the movements. It sparked so many conversations and questions I was somehow ill prepared for – given that we are non-religious. What is praying? What is God? But I think I managed fine. In the end, Julian said that it was a dumb ban, and if Trump keeps saying stupid things, we should just go live elsewhere.

On Friday, Julian had a puppet show at school, and all the kids were so excited. Not as excited as all the parents, however!

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The kids were adorable. They also received their midterm “report cards.” Julian is “very ambitious, focused and precise and follows the rules well.” He should work on being more self confident. We are very proud.

Today we’re lazing around. Julian is now reading entire books, and it makes me so happy. He’ll whisper quietly to himself, and sometimes he’ll read a particularly funny part to me. He’ll read chapters to Arthur, but only behind closed doors in their room. For some reason he won’t read to me, but I’ll take what I can get. Sitting next to him, each of us reading our own books, is pretty much all I ever wanted.

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Speaking of “reading”… this guy.

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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.

The New Year

We had a really lovely start to the New Year. At midnight, of course, we were all fast asleep. Arthur, in fact, was over the year 2016 by 5pm. I can’t blame him.

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The next day we were invited to our friends’ house for brunch, which lasted 6 hours.

It was so much fun. And such a great way to spend the first day of the year with good people.

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The boys played with their friends’ Octopod the entire time.

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The adults just sat together and drank and ate. It was delightful.

After this party, we went on to the next: Chili eating at Uncle Brian’s house. As an added bonus, we got to take the new 2nd Avenue Q train! Oh, the excitement!

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Seriously, when Julian’s teacher asked him what he did during the break, he said, “I watched  a lot of TV (!), and I rode the Q and W trains.” Sums up our winter break perfectly.

And today, finally, a tiny bit of snow! The boys were so stoked. In fact, we were late to school because they had to stop every 5 feet to scoop up whatever little bit of snow they could find. After we dropped Julian off, I took Arthur to the park. He loved it so much.

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We played and rolled around, and he got to pet a few dogs, which are pretty much his favorite creatures.

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Then we drank tea and ate muffins and played on the snowy playground.

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This kid of mine. Man. At the New Year’s brunch one of my friends commented on how much Arthur’s speech has improved. Naturally, I broke down in tears. I worry about this boy endlessly; I guess that is my job. I know he is so smart, and so sweet, (and so wild) but I always worry about him feeling left out and not being able to really talk to the kids in his school, or them not understanding what he says.

Yesterday he came home with a picture he drew in school – a “map” from his school to our house. He’d signed his name in lower case letters, except the last ‘R,’ which still is running away on legs.

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Anyway. My boy. One of my favorite creatures.

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