Jules the Math Whiz

Last week we had our first proper parent-teacher conference since Julian started Kindergarten. It was adorable.

His two main teachers sat down with me and showed me the work books and explained to me how Julian is progressing. They said he does well across the board, plays well, is kind, and sometimes a bit quiet. One of his teachers, who has known him since he was 2, said he is almost unrecognizable and has come far from the stubborn toddler who wouldn’t do anything he didn’t want to do.

Also, they revealed to me that Julian is by far the best in his class in math. This, however, was not news to me, because Julian, who usually is very happy to share any and all details about his school day with me, tends to come home saying, “I always finish my math work first and correctly.” He’s not shy about his talents.

So now his teacher will work with him on personalized math sheets, and sometimes during “independent work time” Julian will create his own math sheets which his teacher will later check for him.

Last night, in bed, I overheard Julian and Arthur chatting. Julian said, “Arthur, what is 500 + 500? Arthur. Listen. Once you know what 5 + 5 is, you can figure this one out.”

We’re so happy that Julian is loving school, that he’s thriving and making friends and that he is having fun. I love that he plays outside every day and that he’s growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Also, Jeff and I are glad that he doesn’t seem to take after either of his parents as far as his math skills are concerned.

Most of all we’re happy that he hasn’t brought home any lice. Yet.

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About all that “free time”…

It’s been about a month since both boys have been in school. Of course, since Arthur only goes three days a week and October has been jam-packed with holidays and also some sick days for him, he’s only actually been to school for 10 days. Of those days, three days have been spent inside his school and the rest “forest school style” outside while they were waiting for one last permit.

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Anyway, the season of school has just begun, and I think we are still all finding our groove. Scratch that. The boys are fine. They run off in the mornings, Julian often hand in hand with a friend, and Arthur hurries off to greet his teachers. Usually I get a big goodbye hug, but on occasion Julian has just wandered off without saying goodbye, while chatting to a friend. Today Arthur did the same.

After school they are tired and happy. Julian tells me about his day in detail. Math is his favorite. He drew a spider for a Halloween picture. These are the friends he played with at the park. They sang a song about fall for other teachers and kids in higher grades (a performance!). He is seriously so chatty and provides so much information that I was asked to send updates to his friends’ parents because most of the kids say nothing.

Arthur, too, is following suit. Yellow and blue makes green! They learned a new song! They went to the playground, and he played police with his friend Leo and also a little bit by himself. For Halloween one of the boys will be Batman, and there will be two Elsas. He missed me after nap.

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This is how Arthur would greet me the first couple of weeks when I picked him up at the park. He would just fly into my arms! It was pretty much the greatest feeling ever.

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And while all this is going on, what do I do? All summer long everyone asked me what I would do with all my free time! I joked that I would do my nails and stare into nothingness. The truth is, it’s been a little bit different than I had envisioned. There just isn’t that much time!

The first day both kids were in school I went all out. I went for a leisurely walk and took myself out for a lovely lunch.

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Ever since then, I’ve been running errands, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning. It’s been extremely glamorous. To all the mamas who work and accomplish all the domestic things, I have no clue how you do it. I have three days to myself. Well, half days, really. I’m back from school drop off at 10am and have to leave again at 2:15pm. And those hours just fly by.

So while I haven’t gone to any museums or had my hair done or met Jeff for lunch, these hours are still special and somehow different. I do things at my own pace. Some days I go to the gym. Sometimes I walk slower or shop longer or eat my lunch on our stoop. I play the music that I like on the bike. I shower in peace. When I went to get my flu shot, I had to wait in the pharmacy for 10 minutes. Just sitting on a chair. It was so obvious to me what I wasn’t doing at that moment. I wasn’t telling my children “Don’t touch! Stop running! Don’t touch! Put that back! Did you just push him?!” I just sat there. I silence and with my thoughts. That was nice. And I get to run all of our errands without my sidekicks, which pretty much is a win/win situation for everyone involved.

So I guess if I could go back and answer the question about what I would be doing with “all my free time” again, I would say: The same stuff I would normally do. But also taking a deep breath every now and then. I enjoy hearing my own thoughts again after 5+ years of being drowned out by my two lovely, loud boys.

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Friends, Friends, more Friends

This is a good season. My kids are in school, at least some of the time, and I am getting used to the feeling of missing them and looking forward to seeing them again. Jeff and I have been going on dates and hanging out with friends, and it’s delightful. I feel like a proper adult again!

Last week Julian was off on Tuesday while Arthur had school. So I packed the day full of appointments…Doctor: broken finger has healed! Dentist: swollen gums mean two adult molars have grown in my baby’s mouth! Hair salon: shorter hair! Also, Arthur had speech with his new teacher (she’s great, but man do we all miss Katie), and we got to hang out with one of my oldest friends who stopped to see us during a road trip with her boys. We’ve known each other since my college days in Bamberg, Germany, where I babysat for her now 16 and 17 year old children. They were 1 and 2 then!

Here are my boys with her two younger boys. They were fast friends!

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Other than school, the boys and I have met up with friends, gotten flu shots and discovered Arthur’s future as a skateboarder. He and that board were a natural fit!

On Friday night Jeff and I went to see the New York Philharmonic (always good) perform at the Park Avenue Armory (amazing!) – but it was a weird, experimental piece that had us looking forward to dinner together afterwards. On the Upper East Side, which might as well be a different planet. But it was lovely, because of this guy:

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This weekend we took the boys to the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park. It’s always a magical ride.

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We’re so lucky with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. We were all so happy to be on a family bike ride again! We stopped by the World Trade Center and visited the recently opened Oculus.

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On Saturday evening we were invited over to our friends’ house. They had arranged for a babysitter to hang out with the 5 kids (our friends’ kids included) in their apartment while the adults got to hang out on the amazing roof with the most breathtaking view, wine, and pizza. Oh! And friends!

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I mean…this view!

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On Sunday we had one of Jeff’s work friends and his partner over for dinner, and even though our kids were overly excited (because clearly they don’t get out much…), it was so lovely to meet these guys and make new friends.

As we’re headed into a new week of chores and normal life, I’m so thankful for friends (new & old), for Jeff, and for my boys and the fact that they are loving school so much.

On School and Coney Island Fun

Julian made it through his first week of school with total joy. He was happy to go every day, happy at pick up, and full of stories and information about his day, much to my surprise. I learned whom he sat next to at lunch (Lorelei), whose hand he held on the way to the park, what games he played, what science projects they did, and that they danced and sang and looked at their math books. It seemed like a great, full first week.

On Friday I picked Julian up at 5:30pm after he played soccer in Prospect Park with his school friends. He was upset because some other kid had taken his water bottle after lunch, and Julian was left to play soccer in the heat without water. So that was not so cool, especially since he had spoken up and advocated for himself, but still no one took matters into their hands and gave the kid some water. He was red-faced and dehydrated and in tears. But he was over it quickly, and it was literally the only not so great thing that happened all week. Welcome to school life, kid.

I met many of the school parents at an “adult only” get-together on Friday night, and what a fun bunch of people. I’m totally excited about this year ahead, and then the many, many years to come.

The week with “just” Arthur was lovely. I missed Julian, as did Arthur (like, a LOT), but it was so nice to spend one-on-one time with Arthur. He’s definitely less entrained without his brother, but still very good at playing by himself. We went on a long bike ride (Arthur’s bike), played, cuddled, and read books. But I’m definitely ready for Arthur’s school to open its doors in early October. (I hope he will be, too.)

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This weekend was fun, too. We celebrated the boys’ friend’s birthday and went on a carousel ride in DUMBO.

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I hope this gorgeous carousel never loses its magic for the boys.

At night we went out for pizza and a stroll on the promenade. We talked to the boys about September 11.

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I had a hard time keeping it together. The boys asked clever questions and approached it all with such innocence. It makes me so sad to know that some day they will learn about the extent of bad that some people want to inflict on other people.

In happier news, we decided today we needed one more day of fun in Coney Island.

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It was all around perfect. We started off with these race cars; turns out I’m a fairly competitive racer. (Julian and I won.)

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Next up Wonder Wheel and lots of rides.

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The boys went on this proper roller coaster, first car no less, because no fear.

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Arthur stopped here and asked me to take his picture.

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We had hot dogs and ice cream and dipped our feet in the ocean.

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I can’t believe that summer is over. I would have absolutely no problem to bum around a while longer. But tomorrow it’s week two of school for my big boy, and I know at least one person who is super stoked about that (him).

Just as it should be.

To Julian on the first day of school

Julian,

Today you started your first day of Kindergarten. The first day of school all day every day for many years to come. You’re growing in independence, height, brains, and heart faster than I can comprehend.

You are a kindergarten kid. You’re growing up so fast.

I blinked, and you went from this…

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…to this.

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You learned so much this year. You can ride your bike, swim, read, and are learning to whistle! You’re a good friend, and a wonderful brother. You love to learn. You make me so happy every day. You challenge me and keep my mind sharp; you surprise me and delight me, and what a gift it is for us to have you in our lives. I hope you’ll keep growing in independence and character, and I know that I will continue to be so proud of you.

This year you will have official school “subjects:” English, German, math, science, social studies, art, music. You get to play in Prospect Park every day. You’ll play soccer after school with your friends.

This morning was adorable. You were welcomed along with all the other new students, most of them Kindergartners like yourself. You received your “Schultüte” and were overall very composed/cool. Also, you chose your doughnut shirt for good luck, so obviously I think that was a wise decision.

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You didn’t see it, but I totally cried. You stood on stage with all the other kids, waving at me, and I tried not to cry.

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Then we took the obligatory photo.

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We met your new teacher. She gave you a hug, and you gave me a hug, and Arthur, and Papa, and then you lined up next to Lorelei and took her hand and off you went.

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And then I totally cried. But they were mostly happy tears mixed with pride and a little bit of sad, because you, my boy, are growing up so fast.

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When you came home, we celebrated with “back to school donuts.”

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You told us about who you ate lunch with, what you played at the park and how you got locked inside a bathroom stall (you climbed out underneath and told no one about it, so A for resourcefulness I say.) For dinner I made your favorite (pesto) and then assembled your lunchbox for tomorrow.

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You’ve been in bed now for 40 minutes rhyming random words with Arthur, who, by the way, will miss you. Only today did it really occur to me how close you two have grown this summer. You did everything together; you are truly best friends. It’s my greatest joy.

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Anyway, sleep well, my kindergarten boy. And welcome to a new part of your life-adventure.