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.

Beach, Beach, more Beach!

What a weekend! Jeff and I both agreed this morning that we needed an extra day to relax from all the fun we had. But alas, it’s Monday and back to the grind.

On Saturday morning we got on our bikes right away and headed to our favorite place: Coney Island! We made it to the ocean in an hour and fifteen minutes – not too bad for two middle aged folks riding two heavy bikes loaded with everything needed for a beach day. Oh, and two kids.

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We hung out on the beach for a few hours, ate watermelon, played in the water, and dug in the sand. The boys couldn’t care less that this isn’t the loveliest of beaches; they just have fun. And so did we.

Then we got hungry and needed hot dogs immediately. They were delicious.

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The rest of the afternoon was our typical Coney Island fun: Wonder Wheel, rides, ice cream.

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Then we rode back towards home. Right around Park Slope our legs were getting tired, so we decided to stop for dinner. We stumbled upon this lovely place, sat outside, and filled our bellies with meats & cheeses, pasta, and mussels. Arthur ate all my seafood, and I stole bites of his pasta. We were so happy and full – and very tired. We rode home as the sun was setting, showered, and fell into bed.

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On Sunday we decided we hadn’t had enough of the beach, so we headed to Rockaway. We wanted to try the new NYC Ferry, and so we rode the bikes to the Wall Street stop and took the ferry over. It was pretty smooth, but only because we got in line early. Many people who arrived after us had to wait for the next boat, which only comes every hour.

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We rode the bikes around Rockaway for a bit and then found us a nice spot on the beach. We stayed there all day, played in the waves, ate sandwiches, chips, watermelon. Beach life is simply the best. We all took naps, too. Delightful.

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Before we headed home we wanted to grab a quick dinner and randomly found this very strange place that has fast food and shakes on the menu – and an assortment of old toys in the yard.

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Hot dogs and shakes for life.

Then we made a mistake and rode our bikes around the boardwalk for a bit. It was so lovely out. Bands were playing, happy people everywhere. Except: When we arrived at the ferry dock, there were so many people in line already, and the ferries were so backed up that we had to wait for more than an hour. So that was fun. (Next time we’ll take the train again. The NYC Ferries are fun in theory, but so overcrowded it sucks the joy and convenience right out of it.)

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We killed time on the boat by drinking a beer, making silly hairdos, and playing games.

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We arrived home at 10pm. The kids were exhausted, although honestly not as much as we were. Today we all slept a little later, and even though I’m sure we’re all a bit tired still, we have made a bunch of unforgettable memories this weekend.

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.

That’s a Wrap

Birthday week is over. I now have four and six year old boys. One of them has a wiggly tooth. Both of them seem to have grown over night.

On Sunday Arthur woke up and was four. He let us know right at 6am, when I found him wandering through our living room with his hands covering his eyes as not to see his presents. He whispered, “I saw my new bike!” And with that the family was up.

We had our traditional pancake breakfast.

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After the boys had played with their new Star Wars lego guys and space ships, we took Arthur for a spin on his sweet new ride. He takes biking very seriously!

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Look at this big kid! I can’t take it.

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Arthur got the hang of it pretty quickly. I was so proud of him!

For later in the day we’d planned a little party for Arthur and Julian with family and close friends at our favorite spot, Brooklyn Crab. But the weather didn’t cooperate. Our family was already on their way, so we celebrated with them at home.

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The boys were excited to see their cousins, and I whipped up two batches of Arthur’s favorite food, mac & cheese with bacon. We played, ate, and then took the kids for a quick walk.

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At home we had cake and played some more.

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Until next year, boys!

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.

Interview with Julian on his 6th Birthday

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What’s your favorite drink?

Orange juice, water

What’s your favorite food?

Cake

What’s your favorite song?

Let it Flow 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Star Wars movies

What’s your favorite book?

Star Wars

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play Star Wars, do Math, say all the subway stops on my train map

What makes you laugh?

When mama tickles me

What’s your favorite animal?

Falcon

What’s your favorite toy?

Lego Star Wars

What makes you happy?

When I eat ice cream

What makes you sad?

When we get to watch TV for a long time and then have to turn it off

Who do you love?

Mama, Papa, Arthur, Shirine

What scares you?

Monster

What do you want to do when you grow up? 

Drive the Q train

Who is your best friend?

Shirine, Marlowe, Marlo, Lorelei, Frances, Chase

What do you want for your birthday?

Gup A, Octopod, Annakin’s spaceship, new scooter

What is your favorite playground?

Mount Prospect Park

What is your favorite museum?

Museum of Math

What’s your favorite color?

I love all colors except pink.

What’s your favorite subway train?

4, 5, Q

What are you best at?

Math

What things do you take to bed with you?

Sometimes Gup X and Cpt. Barnacles

What is your favorite fruit?

Mango, banana

What is your favorite snack?

Breakfast bars

What is your favorite vegetable?

Cucumber on a sandwich, carrots, spinach

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? (and how would you get there?)

The Bronx with the 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, B, D trains

 

P.S. Past birthday interviews with Julian: 2016, 2015, 2014