Birthdays And The Never-Ending Sickness

On Wednesday night of last week we spontaneously decided to take a quick bike ride to Brooklyn Crab, our now completely overpriced and commercialized former favorite hang-out. Dinner was great, but towards the end I noticed I had a sore throat and was hit with the very strong notion that I was getting sick.

 

I had a terrible night and woke up sick the next day. I spent the day in bed nursing a 102 fever and sending Jeff on a frenzy of last minute birthday errands. Because the next day our firstborn was going to turn 7!

In the end everything got done. Julian woke up, blew out his candles, and opened one present.

IMG_3429

That afternoon after school we gave him his big present: a new bike!

IMG_8140

And of course a couple of smaller presents as well. There was a cake (store-bought this year) and more candles. Then Jeff took Julian for an hour long spin on his new, 24″, super big boy bike with gears! Julian did so well. I can’t wait to go on a ride with him next!

Meanwhile, I spent another day in bed.

The next day, Saturday, was the boys big party. They put on their birthday presents from Oma & Opa, one of their favorite gifts ever: Bayern Munich soccer uniforms.

IMG_3694

We had invited some 20+ kids to the park. The weather was perfect, and other than a quick break to devour cupcakes, the kids were off playing soccer for hours while the adults hung out near the wine and beer. It was a super relaxed party, and the boys were in heaven. Because: soccer.

IMG_3629IMG_3601IMG_3563IMG_3657

On Sunday I was so sick that I started crying on the couch. Julian said, “Mama! I don’t want you to die.” That’s when I knew I had to man up.

On Monday it was kid no. 2’s turn to have his big day. 5! Arthur woke up to pancakes and a song and got to open one present.

IMG_3723

The others waited for him after school, along with the desired ice cream cake. Does this guy look happy or what?

IMG_3770

We spent the rest of the day playing with new toys, and for dinner we did as Arthur, our birthday boy, commanded: We had an indoor hot dog picnic. The best.

IMG_3872

So now I have a 5 and a 7 year old. I can’t take it.

On Monday I went to work but was pretty miserable all day. On Tuesday I stayed home sick again. Since yesterday I can tell that I am finally better, and today there are just the annoying remnants of what was the worst cold ever (an annoying cough and snot galore).

All is good. We survived the week. No one cared that the cakes were store-bought or that the cupcakes were from a box. The boys were happy, surrounded by friends and love, and that is all that matters.

Opa’s Back in Town!

Well, he was. We just spent a full, happy, loud, exciting, lovely week with my Dad/Opa. He arrived on Friday and left 10 days later, today. We had so much fun!

Highlights included:

A soccer game at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls against Chicago Fire, including no one less than Germany’s very own Bastian Schweinsteiger. I loved it! The boys loved it! We all did. Opa explained all the rules to Julian; there was a lot of popcorn and overpriced beer.

I got to explore the city every day with my dad, and the weather was finally spring-like and perfect. I worked fewer hours than usual, and he picked me up from work every day. We had lunch and wandered around. On Sunday Jeff hung with the boys while my Dad and I walked all around the West Village. It was such a beautiful day.


We spent the rest of the day with Jeff’s family who all came to hang out with us.

IMG_2482.jpg

We played lots of soccer, watched a soccer game at a German restaurant, and talked about soccer whenever possible. Also, we are spending every waking minute with our Panini soccer sticker book. Soccer for life.

IMG_2805

On Wednesday night, we watched Julian in his spring school performance. He was adorable.

IMG_2612

Also: this view! Another visit to the World Trade Center.

IMG_2604

We took Arthur to speech together, to Karate, to the Transit Museum. A 10 day visit allows for a glimpse into our real lives with all its joy and hustle and occasional fighting. The boys loved having their Opa around so much.

IMG_2737

The last day was spent in Central Park. It was a perfect ending to a perfect NYC week.

IMG_3144IMG_3107

The boys will miss Opa!

IMG_3098 2

And so will I.

IMG_2401

Inaugural Bike Ride

Did everyone enjoy the two days of spring we got last week? We did!

Jeff got the bikes out of storage and had them tuned up for spring. On Friday he gave them a good cleaning and put on Arthur’s new big boy seat.

On Saturday we packed our bags and we were off. Coney Island bound!

IMG_1994

It felt amazing to be back on the bikes! Look at these happy faces! Sunshine, music, bikes, and the prospect of a day outside, together.

We were cruising down the boardwalk in no time.

We had lunch and then played on the beach for a bit.

IMG_2052

Jeff took the boys on a walk down to the pier, and I took a glorious half hour nap on the beach.

The boys got to go on the rides…

We had ice cream…

IMG_2108

Arthur and I watched Julian and Jeff go on some of the rides we opted out of. Like this one:

IMG_2113IMG_2132

I mean, that’s just too high! Arthur seemed more cautious than usual; maybe he was tired, maybe it is residue from his traumatic experience earlier this week. Either way, I enjoyed having him by my side.

IMG_2092

On the ride home the temperatures dropped significantly. Spring was over! I wrapped Arthur in a scarf, secured it with a sandwich bag clip (because I’m crafty like that), and he promptly fell asleep. Julian is such a good big brother; he held Arthur’s head the entire way.

IMG_2232

We stopped for tacos in Lefferts Gardens, and that was it! A full day of fun – and now we’re back to wearing winter coats.

IMG_2239

Hiking, Coney – And More Snow!

I suppose it was overly ambitious/optimistic of me to sort through our winter clothes last week and form a neat pile to be taken to storage at our earliest convenience. Because today, this:

IMG_1420

April Fool’s Day was yesterday! Come ON!!

Aside from this Monday morning ridiculousness, we had a wonderful weekend. I had the urge to get out of the city and spend some family time together outside, so on Saturday we took the Metro North, well, north to a small somewhat hippie town called Beacon. We went on a hike and climbed the local mountain, Mount Beacon. The trail isn’t too long, but it’s very rugged and steep and made for some adventurous balancing and falling into mud puddles.

329A2764

It was glorious! The boys were total troopers. Our expectations were pretty much non-existent since the only hiking we’ve ever done was in a forest in Queens and maybe a longer walk through the woods of the Poconos. But this was a serious hike. The boys were amazing! We were seriously so proud.

 

 

At the top we admired what was at the bottom: the Hudson Valley. Also: casino ruins and the remnants of some sort of old mountain tram.

IMG_1285329A2937329A3024

Once we climbed down (why is climbing down harder than up?), we met an old college buddy of Jeff’s at a local pub for beer and burgers. Jeff was excited!

IMG_1269

Afterwards we walked around town, stopped for ice cream and let the boys play at a park.

IMG_1270329A3068

The walk back to the train was kind of intense – many tired faces and sore legs.

Arthur and I promptly fell asleep as soon as we sat down on the train.

On Sunday the Easter Bunny made an appearance early in the morning. The boys went on an egg hunt in our apartment and ate their weight in chocolate. We played for a bit and hung out and then decided that we wanted to pay a visit to our favorite place on earth, Coney Island.

We started off at “Magic at Coney” – some pinball, beer, and battleship while we waited for the show to begin.

 

Julian was pretty immediately selected as an assistant. He was adorable; his belly laugh cuts straight into my heart. It’s funny when you know someone so intimately and then see them on a stage and look at them perhaps in a way an outsider would, and oh man. What a gift that child is.

329A3220

I also got to assist with one of the tricks. Maybe I have a future in magic?

329A3249

Next: Nathan’s Hot Dogs. They never disappoint.

IMG_1333

It was a bit chilly, and we were slightly underdressed, so the boys shared our African kikoy to keep warm.

IMG_1403

We stopped by the beach for a minute and then hit a few rides.

329A3286329A3288

It was breezy on the Wonder Wheel!

IMG_1369IMG_1364

A quick funnel cake, and we were headed home.

And then the most amazing thing happened: we got on the Q train, first car per the boys’ request. Shortly thereafter the train driver got on and unlocked the door to the driver’s cabin. The boys got up, said “hello” to him and kind of peeked inside, and I fully expected the train driver to close the door and go about his business. Instead he invited them inside, showed them all the controls, answered all of their questions, and even honked the horn! He was so kind and patient and totally made the boys’ day. Julian has loved the subway for all of his life. He knows all the lines, stops, trains and is currently designing the high speed train he will “create” when he is a grownup – complete with maps, tickets, different ways of paying, logo etc. What a NYC moment this was for my NYC-loving boys!

IMG_1404

* Photo credit for most of these images goes to my amazing husband.

See ya, winter!

Let’s hope this week’s snow storm, ringing in the official beginning of spring, was the last one until next winter. One can hope, right?

I have a pretty severe yearning for sunshine and bike rides. I think I’ve been patient with winter long enough, I’ve been tolerant and somewhat understanding, I’ve put up with very slow children who have to touch each individual bit of dirty city snow, I’ve been hit in the behind by more snowballs than I can count, I’ve been cold, I’ve had my glasses fog up, I’ve felt claustrophobic in my big coat on an overcrowded subway – but now I think we can all agree that it’s enough. Enough winter! Spring, you’re welcome to make your appearance any day now. We are ready for you. We can’t wait to get back on the bikes and ride all over our glorious city.

Meanwhile, that one (last) snow day was alright. I worked from home and somehow managed to keep the children alive for 13 hours straight. We squeezed in some snowy fun.

IMG_0793IMG_0794

Yesterday the kids played on the playground in the melting, wet, old snow – and they loved every minute of it.

IMG_0845

Other than yet another winter storm, life has been pretty normal. Jeff and I have been on a couple of dates; one to see our dear friend Joe Giglio play jazz in a lovely restaurant on MacDougal Street – and I ate one of the most delicious pizzas, ever. I ate the entire thing. It was so good.

IMG_0649

We also got our country on and saw Lee Ann Womack perform at City Winery, which was great and a bit odd, since we had to share a table meant for two with another (somewhat standoff-ish) couple.

On St. Patrick’s Day we were invited to a boozy, delicious brunch at our friends’ house, complete with rainbow bagels and eight nutty children to entertain each other.

The boys are constantly walking the line between loving each other and wanting to spend every waking and sleeping minute together – and trying to kill each other by all means necessary. They share Arthur’s bottom bunk on non-school nights; they read and chat until they eventually fall asleep. Of course a later bedtime does not mean that they will also sleep in late.

IMG_0604

But they also fight a lot more. Julian spends so much time on random projects – book writing, working on cursive, drawing, reading. All of it stuff that Arthur can’t really be a part of, and the little brother is feeling it, I think. He misses his playmate. Julian, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly more impatient with Arthur’s occasionally irrational behavior and is just sort of over it. But overall, they are still best friends and best brothers. Also, this:

IMG_0826

 

Weekend Vibes

This weekend felt like we were back in our old, comfortable, enjoyable groove. We had a good mix of downtime: playing legos, doing artwork, reading, school projects. The weather has been just perfect, and as anyone who’s ever experienced a NYC winter would agree, I think we all appreciate these gorgeous, sunny early fall days.

On Saturday we got on the bikes and headed to Central Park. It was a beautiful ride. We had lunch at the Ballfield Cafe. (I tried to take a panorama picture and caught Julian eating a ghost dog…)

IMG_3964

The we laid low on Sheeps Meadow.

IMG_3979

Uncle Brian met us, and we played soccer and ate ice cream.

IMG_3999IMG_4001

That night Jeff and I went on a dinner date here in our neighborhood.

Sunday we started out with coffee and waffles. Then I went to Trader Joe’s – something that prior to working again I would have never attempted on the weekend. But now that we have a new normal, it’s actually not so bad. I felt very accomplished afterwards, and my bike helped carry home my load.

Then we headed out for a pizza lunch at Fornino’s at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

IMG_4022

The boys played at Pier 6 while Jeff and I bummed around…

IMG_4023.jpg

Then we went to Farmacy for ice cream. Espresso-infused milkshakes for the grown-ups.

IMG_4057

We rode our bikes around the neighborhoods and admired all the spooky houses. The boys are so excited for Halloween – including a little Halloween party they are planning for their best friends. I love their excitement; it makes everything more fun.

Oh, Vienna

We had a wonderful week in beautiful Vienna. The weather was perfect, the Schnitzel even more so, and everyone was happy.

My parents met us there and stayed in the same hotel as us. We had nice suite for our family of four, and the boys had their separate room. It was right in the city center, so we could walk everywhere. Of course sometimes we took the subway or the tram, which were huge highlights for our public transportation loving boys. Julian figured out the subway system in no time.

IMG_3073IMG_3685

Every day we started slow in our hotel with breakfast, journalling, and cartoons, and then we headed out for a day of exploring and lots of walking.

IMG_3013

The boys were such troopers. We walked all day. When we checked, our phones told us that we walked between 15,000 and 18,000 steps each day.

IMG_3638IMG_3720

Highlights for us were: Haus der Musik, where we went on our first day. It was so fun and interactive.

Schloss Schönbrunn, the parks, and the zoo. It was hands down the best zoo we had ever been to.

IMG_3235IMG_3273IMG_3275IMG_3288

Other than that I believe we saw all the important castles and churches and ate all the Schnitzel. Vienna is truly breathtaking. I loved wandering around and just stumbling upon yet another beautiful building. There are so many. The Museum of Natural History was also amazing.

The boys discovered Apfelschorle (apple juice and sparkling water), or Apfelsaft gespritzt, as the Viennese say. Julian fell in love with Schnitzel, and we all ate lots of ice cream. Oh, and there was some beer.

It was an all around enjoyable family vacation. I was blown away by how flexible and overall well behaved the boys were. Lots of walking, little sleep, no schedules, late nights, lots of restaurants. They handled it all really well. I was relieved. And it was great to see them with my Dad. Even thought they don’t see each other as much as we’d all like, they are never shy or strange around him. I guess that’s family for ya.

IMG_3538

The flight home was a bite intense I will say. Our first flight was delayed, and we would have missed our connecting flight in Amsterdam, and so we were re-booked on Air France (which was welcome because of free Champagne), but it meant a later arrival time in New York. Arthur had caught a cold, and his bad mama forgot to pack his inhaler and so spent a good amount of time counting his many (rapid) breaths per minute as he snoozed on the plane. In the end, he was fine. Julian didn’t sleep at all and spent hours on the plane watching the Lego Batman movie (3 times I think?) and playing chess against the computer. When we arrived at JFK he sat down next to Arthur on the floor as we waited for a car – and fell asleep. It was 4:30am Vienna time.

IMG_3768.jpg

It’s taken us about a week to get over our jet lag, and we miss Opa already. We miss the walks and croissants, the decadent lunches and dinners, and the freedom of going wherever we pleased. Vienna was a dream, and I hope we can return one day.

Coney to the Rescue

After two weeks of being back at work part-time, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • It’s easier to stay at home full time.
  • It’s easier to work full time (this is partly an assumption and partly based on feedback from my full-time working friends).

I really enjoy my new job. It’s fun to get back into the swing of things. I was concerned that over 6+ years of doing mom things, the part of my brain I’d use at work had gone to sleep. Forever, perhaps? But no. I’m wide awake! And I like being around other adults and talking about things that don’t involve my kids.

I don’t love spending 1 1/2 hours every day commuting back and forth, although it gives me time to read – which is always welcome.

When I’m not on the subway, I’m constantly rushing. Rushing to school drop-off, to the subway, to work, to school pick-up, and then I want to go to sleep.

The thing I’m struggling with the most as I’m adjusting to my new life and routines is the fact that I’m tired. Not just physically tired, but also just plain exhausted. My brain is tired. I’m lacking the patience and drive to do fun things with my kids. And that’s sort of a bummer for me because I love nothing more than doing fun things with my kids. It makes me really sad. I think I also just miss summer and the endless opportunities to have adventures.

On Thursday night I sat on the couch and cried. I was too tired to eat dinner, too tired to watch stupid TV, too tired to read. So I went to bed at 9pm. Yesterday (I don’t work Fridays) was spent with the kids, at speech therapy, doing laundry and house stuff, and at a kid birthday party.

Today we had no plans, and no Papa. Jeff had to work (bummer), so when I got up I decided the kids and I needed a day of fun. So we went to our favorite place: Coney Island!

IMG_2228

I needed a day like today. Watching the boys bounce from ride to ride and be so happy and carefree put my heart in its right place.

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.

IMG_0115

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:

IMG_0051

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.

IMG_0509

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.)

IMG_0502IMG_0273

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.

IMG_0457IMG_0456

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

IMG_0315IMG_0305IMG_0383

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

IMG_0670

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.

IMG_0223IMG_0221

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.

IMG_0597

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

IMG_0599

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

IMG_0596IMG_0598

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.

IMG_0127IMG_0170

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!

21316265_10155935397821029_4286510462849465170_o.jpg

Life Stuff

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

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

IMG_8971IMG_8839

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

IMG_8947IMG_8952

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

IMG_9380

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

IMG_8829IMG_9028

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

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

IMG_9231