Winter is Coming

Just kidding. It’s here.

The weather is changing, and we’ve been laying low. Gone are the days of endless bike rides and picnics. And for now, I am fine with that. These are the days of chess and reading, apple cider and muffins, meatloaf and red wine. I quickly moved onto food stuff there.

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The boys and I have been watching the 1955 movie “Sissi” with Romy Schneider. I thought they would get bored pretty much right away, but instead, they are captivated. The romance and love and humor is not lost on them. Last night, on the couch, Julian said, “Mama, ich bin so verliebt in dich.” Sissi is working. If you’re not German or Austrian, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Moving on. (Also: naps.)

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On Friday we had the annual St. Martin lantern walk with Arthur’s pre-school. They changed location last minute, so instead of walking along the gorgeous Brooklyn Heights Promenade, we found ourselves stumbling through a pitch black Prospect Park. Winter had suddenly arrived, and everyone was freezing. We took the boys out for pizza promptly thereafter. I mean, look at these faces.

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On Saturday night we drove to Asbury Park, NJ and spent the night celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday at this incredible pinball arcade. It was fantastic!

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Last weekend the boys rode their own bikes all the way to Red Hood. It was a big deal! We had lunch at Brooklyn Crab, and then they rode back. It was getting late, and cold, and all in all they rode a good 5 miles. I was so impressed! Jeff’s bike looks so empty without those extra 90 pounds on the back.

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We’re trying to settle into more indoor time – which sometimes leads to endless bickering between the boys. But also to sweet moments, laziness, lots of reading, and dancing in the kitchen.

Last night Julian and I danced to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wish” in our kitchen, which is very apropos if you know the song. He held my hand just the right way and twirled me around, even though I had to bend down a lot. I hope he’ll want to dance with me for many years to come. (Tomorrow night Jeff and I will be seeing Bruce on Broadway. I’m soooo excited!)

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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.

It was Bosstime, again.

Third time’s a charm; at least it was for us. Not that the other two times we saw Bruce this year weren’t amazing, they totally were.

But seeing Bruce Springsteen on Tuesday at the Meadowlands was magical. It was such a special night. A perfect summer night in a great stadium, Bruce on home turf in Jersey, and we were in the perfect spot.

This was my 17th show since my very first time I saw him perform in Munich in 2003. It was definitely one of my favorites, if not my very favorite. The setlist was epic. The band played for 4 hours straight, setting a new record. And I have a clever husband who was able to leave work early and knew exactly which spot to pick.

Jeff actually got a wristband for the pit, but he knew that I likely wouldn’t (because kids, babysitter, and leaving from Brooklyn, hence a later arrival). So he was a in the second tier general admission area, right by the podium where we knew Bruce would sing for at least a couple of songs.

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I was pretty pleased ecstatic.

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And much more composed than last time I was in this very same spot (different stadium, but ok), when I cried my eyes out. Here I am, six years ago at the old Giants Stadium.

This time around I wasn’t so emotional; I was more in awe. I just looked at Bruce, sang along, grabbed his hand, and he looked at me for a moment, because, after all, I am the tallest person around. And this time around he hopefully wasn’t as freaked out, because after all I wasn’t crying…

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The crowd was amazing.

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And at the end, fireworks!

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We came home at 2:30am the next morning. Our babysitter looked at us sleepily. The kids, thankfully, didn’t wake us that night, so we got a nice, four hours of rest.

The next day I definitely paid for it. My back was shot. How does this soon-to-be 67 year old man do it, when I have a hard time just standing and singing along for four hours? My mind is blown. My body was tired. My heart was happy.

Just as it should be.

Avalon, Round 3

We spent the past week at the Jersey Shore at our annual family “beach retreat” in Avalon. This was our third year (year 1 and year 2) there; it’s so lovely to have this little beach town to return to each year. It’s familiar but yet such a change from our every day lives that it feels new and refreshing.

This year we rented a house with a pool – and we can probably never not rent a house without a pool again. We loved it so much.

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Here is Julian on the morning of day three at the beach house. He can swim!

Most days were very laid back. Lazy mornings, lots of rounds of Spot it! among the cousins, fresh donuts, and lots of coffee.

Then we would either dip in the pool or head straight for the beach. My brother-in-law and sis-in-law are beach pros and have all the equipment that made for a very comfortable beach camp for all of us. We were 9 adults and 5 kids!

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Arthur loved playing sports at the beach. We would set up a goal, and all he wanted to do was play soccer, catch or football all day long. We may have someone who likes sports on our hands…unfamiliar territory.

The rest of us were happy to be lazy, jump in the waves, and dig holes in the sand.

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Also: beach naps.

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One morning we drove into the neighboring town of Stone Harbor, had giant stacks of pancakes and waffles and let the boys ride their scooters around town. Another morning we borrowed our family’s bikes and went for a bike ride around Avalon. Julian got to ride on the street! He felt like such a big shot.

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And then of course there is Wildwood. We went twice, because Arthur wasn’t feeling well the first time around and was just miserable.

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That first day/night there, Julian got to ride his first proper roller coaster! He is hooked. He wanted to go again. And again. He has no fear.

We went on some rides…

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…and had dinner. Arthur fell asleep right after this photo was taken. His ability to sleep anywhere is both a blessing and a curse.

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So Jeff and I took him home and left Julian to roam around Wildwood with his cousins (and a couple of responsible-ish adults) way past bedtime.

But we felt like we needed a do-over, so we went again.

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This time around everyone was happy. We played games, went on rides, and ate our weight in corn dogs and fries.

We rode the ferris wheel (again)…

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…and drank lemonades overlooking the beach.

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Both Julian and Arthur went on proper roller coasters this time around, several times, and as I was screaming “Oh no! Oh no!” they both screamed “YEEEEEEES!” and wanted more.

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It was such a fun day.

Most nights the kids went to bed super late. We went for walks around Avalon, had ice cream…

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…and ended our nights drinking wine on the patio. We also got our family hooked on our latest obsession, “Stranger Things.”

After a week away, I am happy to sleep in my own bed again and to be in a house with no squeaky doors. Also, not having sand on every surface of the house is nice.

Just kidding. I don’t mind the sand. Being at the beach was awesome. Having family together was wonderful. But I think we were all a bit tired from late nights and early mornings and lots and lots of play. Right, kid?

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Thanks, fam, for another great vacation!

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Beach or Bust

Well, in our case: Bust.

On Friday Jeff took the day off work, and we planned a beach day at our beloved Sandy Hook. We managed to pack everything we needed for our beach day onto our bikes, which included: beach towel and a big beach blanket, Bloody Marys in a thermos and a cooler of beer, beach toys, sandwiches, potato salad and lots of snacks and water, and two trusty beach umbrellas.

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We had fun for maybe an hour.

But then the biting flies, who were mildly annoying initially, became just horrible. There were hundreds. Thousands perhaps? Arthur fell asleep, and we covered him with a light blanket. At any given moment there were 50 flies on him trying to get to an inch of flesh. I just spent most of my time in the water and trying to shoo them away from Julian, but at some point they became so bad that the boys just cried and we packed our stuff together while being bitten and bitten and hurried back towards our bikes.

Except. Except it was only 2pm on what was a very, very hot day, and the one and only ferry back to Manhattan wasn’t leaving for another 2 1/2 hours. So we just killed time in spots where flies were not as bad. 

We bought lemonades.

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We played Uno.

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…and we generally tried to keep it together. Except one time I cried. The boys, however, were total troopers. I mean, it was super hot, we were basically stranded and being attacked by flies – and they were so, so good and upbeat.

We rewarded them with very messy, tasty ice cream cones once we were back in Manhattan.

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Saturday and Sunday were delightful. We did mostly nothing. We spent some time at the book store, where we stocked up on new books and games. Julian can read these “My First I Can Read Books” all by himself! I’m so excited for him.

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Jeff and I played lots of chess. Julian/Kylo Ren loves to watch and is learning. I can’t wait to play with him some day soon.

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We had breakfast on our stoop before the heat of the day.

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The boys played Star Wars and built legos for hours.

We went out for brunch, I met an old friend for breakfast, and the boys went to a birthday party at Jane’s Carousel. It was all very laid-back and relaxing. One day I took a two hour nap.

I think once my legs stop itching from the dozens of fly bites, I’ll be able to laugh about our miserable time in Sandy Hook. Maybe.

But not yet.

Memorial Day Weekend

I would love to write a glowing review of our Memorial Weekend, but in truth the start of it – Friday – also happened to be the highlight. We rode our bikes over the Brooklyn Bridge and then took the Staten Island Ferry to, you guessed it, Staten Island.

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We spent a lovely day in Staten Island at Snug Harbor and in the Children’s Museum.

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Hey look! It’s Julian in a maze.

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The museum was fun, and we could have probably stayed there all day.

But in reality, who wants to do that. We had more important things to do, also known as eating German food at a German restaurant. Arthur was way into it.

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The ride home was beautiful.

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The next day we left for New Jersey to celebrate the cousins’ birthdays, and that was also lovely. Mostly because the kids had so much fun. There were water balloons and slides, and lots and lots of toys and kids to play with.

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Driving sucked. We all hate being in a car. On the ride there, after 10 minutes, Arthur proclaimed he was tired of sitting.

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Bedtime in New Jersey was interesting, because one 3 year old, two 5 year olds, and one 7 year old wanted to have a sleepover. I think they had fun? But oh man, all the adults were ready for them to be quiet. At, you know, 10:45pm. Note: both of the boys’ cousins are wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Because Julian and Arthur are just that pleasant to have around at bedtime.

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Once we returned to Brooklyn, we all took naps. Then we went to our happy place, Brooklyn Crab.

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Afterwards, ice cream.

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Then today, the last day of the long weekend, was the low point. We decided to ride our bikes to Sunset Park to play, have a picnic, and listen to a free concert at Greenwood Cemetery.

Look! Isn’t this lovely? The view! The happy, eating children!

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In reality, I was hit in the face by a lightsaber more than once, and my children were pretty much deaf to just about anything I said to them. Also, the playground we had planned on playing on had been demolished since the last time we were there two years ago.

Then, at the concert, the children were horrible. No one listened (to the music or us). Julian kept harassing his brother. Arthur kept walking all over us, literally. When I wanted to take Arthur to the bathroom, he fell down a couple of stairs, and as I hugged him to comfort him, he bit me in the shoulder with full force. I cried from the shock, the pain, the defeat. When we returned from the restroom, Jeff was rushing towards us with a screaming Julian, two backpacks, and a picnic blanket that was folded in a huge hurry. He said, “We’re leaving.” It’s only funny, because while I was away with Arthur I had come to the same conclusion.

A lady paused to comment on my husband and screaming son that she was sure he was going to grow up “to be a fine young man” – and it was just the thing to push me over the edge. Thanks, lady. Be careful or I will drop both children off at your doorstep and they can bite your shoulder and be a pest all they want. You’re welcome.

We rode home bitter and silent. The children had many, if not all, privileges removed. We fed them leftovers, are planning on an early bedtime, and look forward to eating take-out and watching Game of Thrones. The good thing about all this? We have each other.

P.S. Memorial day last year and the year before.

Day 1 of 13

What’s new? Not a whole lot.

I enjoyed my one day of spring-like/almost summer weather on Friday by sitting in my friend’s yard, drinking wine and watching our boys play. It was so lovely.

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Then I dropped my boys off at home with their Papa, who had ordered pizza and had thus made himself the most popular Papa in all of Brooklyn – before heading out to meet up with Julian’s pre-school parents at a German bar for beer and sausages.

On Saturday we drove to New Jersey for our niece’s 7th birthday party. The boys loved all the Star Wars toys their cousins have. They are busy making wish lists for their own birthdays.

Also, outdoor space with giant motorized toys!

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The party was at a trampoline park. It was soooo much fun. I don’t know why I was the only adult jumping, but everyone else seriously missed out. This, however, is my favorite:

What better way to get to your crying kid than to hop right over?!

We got back late Saturday night and had high hopes for Sunday, Jeff’s last day home for two weeks. But of course he ended up sick in bed all day. Total bummer for everyone.

So now we’re hanging out in boxes…

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…and are counting down the days until he returns.

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Down the Shore

We spent last week in Avalon at the beach for our annual Weston beach vacation. It was a wonderful week with family.

Highlights included…

The Beach! Obviously.

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The boys loooooved the beach. The sand, the ocean, the waves, all of it. We went to the beach every day, except one, and didn’t get tired of it. Each day we dug holes and pools and tunnels for the kids – and one day Uncle Ray created sand bowling. So that was hours of entertainment right there.

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Family Time.

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I especially love watching all the cousins together. Julian and Ben, born 9 hours apart, are thick as thieves.

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Arthur fell in love with his big cousin Amelia and spent most of his day following her around. “Melia? Melia?”

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Wildwood.

It’s no secret that we love Coney Island. So naturally, Wildwood is right up our alley. The kids hit all the rides.

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And towards the end, right before cotton candy and funnel cake pushed us over the edge, we won huge donuts playing whack-a-mole.

Donuts.

These, and the edible kind as well.

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Lazy Mornings.

No one slept in, of course, ever. Because even though it’s a vacation and no matter how tired children are, they still get up at completely unreasonable hours. But we had lovely breakfasts every morning, lots of coffee, and crazy kids who entertained each other. And a deck to sit on.

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Dates. Jeff and I got to sneak out a couple of times. We went on a bike ride through Avalon, and one night we strolled around the neighboring town of Stone Harbor and had drinks at a bar by the beach. Total highlight was a walk on the beach in the dark with an almost full moon and lightning far away on the ocean, turning the sky orange every other minute or so. It was magical.

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Non-highlights included this guy getting car sick on our way to Avalon…

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…and whatever it was that happened to that guy. Bug bite? We will never know. But the Rocky references and the “You should have seen the other guy” comments did not get old. Or did they?

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Until next time, Avalon.

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Sandy Hook

When Jeff and I were dating, before the kids and our life together in Brooklyn, we had a happy place. It’s called Sandy Hook.

We would get up early on a weekend morning, take the ferry to Sandy Hook (Bloody Marys in hand), ride our bikes around and spend the day on the beach.

We haven’t been to Sandy Hook since 2010, but now that we are pros at packing everything we need for a day at the beach on our bikes, we decided to give it a shot. We had to leave the house at 7:15am to have enough time to pack the bikes and ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and to Pier 11 to catch the 8:15am ferry.

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The boys were beyond excited because a) bike riding b) the prospect of a boat ride and c) a day at the beach!

We had muffins, croissants, and bananas, and possibly Bloody Marys on the boat. Here is Arthur looking cool:

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We brought blankets, towels, two umbrellas, a cooler with beer, lots of food and snacks and beach toys. Oh, and two children. Our bikes seriously are like a mini van. A small mini van.

Everything was perfect. The ride to the beach in Sandy Hook was lovely. We heard a million crickets and looked at rockets still displayed at Fort Hancock. The boys were in heaven.

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We played on the beach all day.

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We had lunch, played some more, and then we all napped. Beach naps are the best. One of my earliest memories as a child is the feeling of pure exhaustion and falling asleep to the sound of the waves, feeling all sandy and salty and warm from the sun. I’m so happy that I can give my boys the same memories.

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Before catching the 5:45pm ferry back to Manhattan, we stopped for ice cream.

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We ended the night at Smorgasburg at South Street Seaport, where we were quite likely the only non-tourists. We had grilled cheeses, pulled pork sandwiches, lemonade, and beer – and it’s pretty safe to say we were all exhausted on our ride home.

It was such a great day. Jeff and I have such fond memories of our summer days spent in Sandy Hook, young and falling in love with not a care in the world.

We definitely came with more baggage this time around, but also with much fuller hearts.

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Up and down. And up again.

A lot has been happening, although nothing truly significant. Let’s see…

1. Arthur has taken the loss of his pacifiers very hard. He’s been crying every night and says that he misses them. So, we’ve been singing endless renditions of Uptown Funk and Somewhere over the Rainbow. On good nights, the boys lie in their beds and sing together into their pretend microphones, and it is pretty much the best thing ever.

2. Julian has been rather difficult. So much so that we kind of hit a wall. The next day, literally, it all magically changed. I think we needed to hit a low, where we had no patience left, Julian had no voice, and frustration levels ran high in order for us all to calm down and take a step back. It’s been much better since.

3. It appears that Arthur qualified for speech therapy through Early Intervention, although I am waiting to hear final word on that. He has, however, made much more of an effort to speak lately, and we all love it so much. He’s the happiest little boy I’ve ever met, so happy-go-lucky and adventurous, that a part of me just wants to let him be and think he will figure this out on his own. But the other part of me thinks that if he can get a little bit of help along the way, then that’s great. So we’ll give it a shot.

4. Julian has been talking about how much he misses playing soccer all spring, and so we decided to enroll him for a drop-in summer program where he could kick the ball around with his pals. We took him this morning, and he immediately became incredibly “tired” when we arrived. He refused to participate and when confronted with the option of being a part of the class and a picnic afterwards with his friend Eloise or going home, he chose to go home. Arthur and I stayed behind while Jeff took him home, and it was one of the more frustrating moments for me. I became irrationally upset over his stubborn little mind and my non-existing ability to control everything. An hour later we picked him up at home and had a lovely morning at the playground with our friends. What I should have thought is what my friend Amanda texted me later: “Love Julian for being HIMSELF always.”

5. We’ve been having some fun. A bike ride to New Jersey. Sorry, no pictures of NJ, but of the ice cream thereafter in Battery Park.

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My baby cousin, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years, came to visit for 24 hours. The boys were stoked; we walked the Promenade and had pizza, before he and I caught up over approximately 125 beers.

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We took a trip to the Natural History Museum and Central Park.

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And finally, because it was a perfectly fine Tuesday, we had some fun in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We checked out the new sprinklers as part of the “Please touch the Art” exhibition, and it was fun.

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Except that one time when Arthur got “trapped” in one of the sprinkler sections all by himself and panicked.

We ended the evening at the Water Lab at Pier 6…

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…and had some pizza on the rooftop restaurant overlooking the Manhattan skyline. The boys ate and then played happily while Jeff and I had a moment to just be. It’s moments like this that reconcile me with all the moments in between (see list above).

6. Last but not least, I can’t end this without even mentioning the fact that my darling husband ran over a pigeon today on his bike. The pigeon totally did not move out of the way, defying all (pigeon) common sense. I mean, the only job NYC pigeons have, pretty much, is to get out of the way. #fail