Bike Season Opener

This weekend consisted of a so-so day, and a great day. Saturday was rainy and chilly. We had an appointment early-ish, and the boys behaved horribly. It ruined everyone’s mood and led to several conversations afterwards.

Later that day we hung out on our street for a street festival for Earth Day. Unfortunately it was rainy. Damn you, Earth!

Anyway, we were at a booth planting some basil, like one does, and one of the women from the local CSA commented, “What polite boys you have!” I almost choked. It was such a stark contrast to just a few hours before when they were everything but polite. Ahhh, parenthood.

We wrote things we’re thankful for on this “gratitude tree.” Julian said, “My school.” Arthur said, “Ice cream and chocolate.” Priorities.

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We spent the afternoon with popcorn and a movie (Star Wars Episode IV) and then went on a quick walk to a BBQ restaurant around the corner, where we stuffed our faces with way too much food.

Today, we slept in. As in, Arthur and I. At 7:30am, the time we’ve deemed acceptable to be woken up on weekends (weekdays it’s 7am), the boys crawled into our bed, and Arthur went right back to sleep for another two hours. This makes me hopeful for the future when at least one of my children might be happy to sleep in, and the other one will be happy to solve complicated math problems or work on the Rubik’s Cube (looking at you, Julian).

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After a breakfast of waffles and more waffles, we hit the road. Our first family bike ride of the season!

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We rode over the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped for a beer in Battery Park. Exhibit A:

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This right here means it’s a good day. Bikes, beer, children who are always hungry, many rounds of Uno, and my lovely, somewhat goofy husband.

We let the boys play for a long time at Nelson Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. It’s such an awesome playground. Jeff went go to get us sandwiches, and we ate in peace and read the paper while the boys played.

Then we rode up the Westside and over to Washington Square Park.

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Then over to the East Village, coffee break, and more playtime.

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Then we were tired and headed home. I’m so happy that spring has finally sprung, even though it’s not warm yet. The city is glorious with all the tulips and cherry blossoms, and riding around on our bikes makes my heart so happy.

An Adventure (incl. Math)

So, I could start off by telling you about how miserable I was on Friday with a temperature of 101.7 with Arthur begging me to pleeeeaaaase just sit up and look at him play with this one thing. Julian came home from soccer on Friday evening, crashed on the couch and was asleep by 6:30pm. Fever for him too, of course. I could tell you how we cancelled plans with old friends, then felt better, had brunch with other friends and a generally enjoyable weekend but then The Gods of Never-Ending Sickness decided we’d had too much fun, so they blessed me with a horrendous case of pink eye in both eyes. Because seriously this shit never ends. Here is fever-Jules.

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But instead of talking endlessly about my misery, I’d rather talk about the lovely day I had today.

Julian is on spring break this week, and Arthur still has his usual three days a week in school schedule, so I have a few days with just my eldest this week. I was determined to not let my throbbing eyeballs ruin the fun. Also: sunglasses at all times.

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Yesterday was spent with errands, such as dropping Arthur off, shopping, doctor for throbbing eyeballs, and bringing our bike into the shop for its annual spring check up. But also: a lovely stoop lunch in the sun.

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Today was just perfect. We dropped Arthur off at the Botanic Gardens for a field trip, so I knew he was going to have a good day, too. Then Julian and I headed off into Manhattan for yet another doctor’s appointment. Julian is in charge now of getting us places, meaning I tell him our destination, and he figures out the subway connections we need to make. That already makes for a perfect day in his book.

After my appointment, we walked to our next stop: The Museum of Mathematics. I’d read somewhere about it, and I had a feeling my math obsessed kid would love it. And the museum did not disappoint! We probably spent two hours there, exploring shapes and forms and colors and numbers. It was amazing. I can highly recommend!

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Then I took my boy to lunch.

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On our commute back to Brooklyn to pick Arthur up from school, I told Julian to wake me up at Franklin Avenue, and that almost worked – except some guy started screaming at Atlantic Avenue and interrupted my slumber. But it’s totally awesome that I can now put my almost 6 year old in charge. Yes, this guy. At least I got to rest my eyeballs for a few minutes.

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Then we went to pick up our favorite almost four year old nut job, Arthur. There was ice cream and lots of playtime at the playground, and tonight was the first time this year that I threw my kids in the tub because they were filthy from too much outdoor play. That means it was a good day.

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Now I shall continue to lie on my couch with a warm cloth casually draped over my offensively red eyeballs.

Central Park & Coney Island

Somehow, after a week of feeling sick, we were blessed with exactly what I needed: a lovely, warm, sunny NYC weekend. In February. I think every winter we get one or two of these days, just to tell us, “Don’t give up! Spring is coming.”

On Saturday we took the train up to Central Park. As always, for the boys “it’s not the destination, it’s the ride.”

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The boys got to ride their scooters, and we spent the day wandering around the park and trying to run into as few people as possible.

We stopped at a playground for a long time and hung out by the boat pond over sandwiches, beers, and rounds of Spot It. Also, my boys are natural “fake” smilers. (Arthur looks like he has a side tooth of some sort, but he just has a mouth full of goldfish.)

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Oh, Jeff Bridges was there, too.

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The boys played and climbed. Helmets came in handy.

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We looked for ice cream, but it was impossible to find in February. Someone didn’t get the memo. So we had Shake Shack milk shakes, and some of us passed out on the ride home.

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On Sunday the fun continued. It was another spring-like day, so we headed to our favorite place on earth: Coney Island. We started off with a couple of beers on the boardwalk and chatted with the a couple of local guys. Oldies were playing from the stereo, one of the guys was singing along loudly, and everyone was just so happy to be there. It was one of my favorite parts of a really perfect day. Also, these guys.

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Then we wandered around the boardwalk and took the boys to a magic show. They were kind of unfazed throughout the show, but afterwards wouldn’t stop performing little magic tricks for us. Except, when one of the magicians performed a trick, he wrote the word “special” on one of the cards in the deck. So naturally, Arthur kept saying things like, “Do you want to see another special? I have a good special for you!”

Here is a sequence of events where I did a magic trick for the boys, Julian broke into tears because he couldn’t figure it out, I tickled him happy, and then we walked together, after I’d revealed my “secret” to him. This is so Julian. He just needed to know. He can’t stand it when he can’t figure stuff out on his own. It drives him crazy.

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Of course, there were hot dogs.

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We spent a lot of time on the beach. Jeff took a bunch of wonderful pictures that captured our day together.

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A Proper Snow Day

What’s the best part about a snow day? Obviously getting kids dressed in weather-proof clothing.

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Obviously I’m kidding.

The best part about our snow day was a slow morning and then snow fun in the afternoon. After morning coffee, I made us warm oatmeal and baked peach muffins. Because food is the most important thing. Right?

The boys played for hours and watched the snow.

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Jeff headed into work, although we all wished he could have stayed home with us.

After lunch the snow wasn’t falling so hard anymore, and it was time to put on some layers!

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We built a small snow man outside. Hey! It’s Mr. Potato Eyes.

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We played for a bit.

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Then I pulled the boys for what felt like 35 miles to the nearest sledding grounds, the dog park.

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The first time I sent Julian down the hill, I basically pushed him straight into a fence. All the other parents gasped and looked at me. I just said my usual, “You’re fine. Get up!” – except in a harsh, foreign-sounding language, which is an added bonus, always. And he was fine, because they usually are.

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We went down the hill 148 times, or so I think. Julian loooooved it. Arthur loved it. But not quite as much.

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At least he still allowed me to ride down the hill with him a couple of times. Julian just looked at me as if I was mad when I asked him if we could go together.

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We had hot cocoa and graham crackers and a snowball fight.

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Then Arthur wanted to go home, and Julian wanted to continue sledding forever, so I did the only sensible thing a mama can do, which is err on the side of sledding with a side of extra loving for the kid who didn’t get his way.

The rest of the day was spent with snow day things: TV, wine, tickling, train tracks and passing out on the couch at 6pm.

P.S. Snow fun from last year and the year before!

Christmas 2016

This Christmas break is exactly that: a break. We are being extremely lazy on most days.

Christmas was a big success all around. Christmas Eve we made a seafood pasta dish – delicious. The boys laid out cookies, carrots and milk for Santa and his helpers, and Julian wrote him a note.

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Excitement definitely filled the air! The boys were adorable and also went right to sleep. This has also been a wonderful added bonus to our lazy days: an early bedtime, no complaints. A chapter or two of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will put Arthur straight to sleep, cozily cuddled up next to me, and it’s lovely. Also, we’re almost done with the book, and it’s been such fun for me to have someone else read to me! I just love it. (The boys do, too.)

Back to Santa. Jeff and I watched Love Actually on Christmas Eve, because duh. We’ve been on a movie roll this break – anything from Die Hard to Say Anything to Elf (with kids who pretty much pee themselves from laughing so hard).

Anyway, back to Santa. He came! He brought the boys the much desired Gup X and Gup S from the hit series Octonauts, and it was pretty much all they cared about for the next 10 hours and actually pretty much every hour since then. They also got new bike helmets, a new train bridge, a small drum for Arthur (per request), swords (because I’m an idiot), and some Playmobil pirate stuff. From Opa they received their first Flik Flak watches and from Grammy a math game, pirate game and bingo. Uncle Brian brought books (that was my wish). So of course, PLENTY of new things. Everyone is so happy and busy.

I got my wish: my very own boxing gloves!

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My other very favorite gift this year is a book that Julian conceptualized and made all by himself, front to back. It’s called “The Police and the Children.”

Kids climb up a tree, fall down, police helicopter comes and catches them, they go home, eat dinner, play trains, read a book, brush teeth, use mouth wash, climb into their bunk beds and zzzzzzz. Real life stuff. I will treasure this forever.

On Christmas Day we had Jeff’s brother, his wife, and her parents over for dinner. On the menu: butternut squash soup, roasted whole cauliflower, carrots, mashed potatoes, green beans with roasted almonds, salad, and Jeff’s Holy Meatloaf. Also: an enormous amount of wine.

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It was a happy night – and the kids had their own tiny table!

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Monday we hit the train show at the New York Botanical Gardens.

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These faces say it all. It was ridiculously overcrowded. Kids kept getting hit in the head with strangers’ bags, and it was all around too much.

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The Coney Island exhibit was neat, though.

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The highlights were overpriced beers at the Gingerbread Cafe and a realtime narrative by this kid about his favorite Octonauts episode.

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Yesterday and today we basically laid around, except quick trips outside to keep our kids from killing each other with their new swords. Also, hair cuts. Now excuse me while I get back to doing nothing.

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Here’s a look back: Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2014.

NYC at Christmas Time

Jeff’s been off work for a week now… and what have we been up to? Not all too much is the answer, and that is just the way we like it.

Julian had his last day of school Friday, which caused a minor depression because no school! I miss school! My life outside of school is miserable. Poor child. Hence, he’s taught himself multiplication. Because clearly a life without math is not worth living.

Arthur still had school three days this week. He was not happy to be the only one with a place to go to, and Julian was not happy because he missed his brother like crazy and mamaaaaa I am sooooo bored. 

Other than that, everything’s been lovely. We’ve enjoyed some time with “just” Julian, our sad, bored, deprived child. We went out to get Ramen and pork buns.

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Jeff and Julian went on a bike ride and Christmas shopping.

And of course we’ve enjoyed our wonderful city at Christmas time. It is always magical.

Last weekend we saw…the Rockettes! I think it might have to become an annual tradition. What a fantastic show! We all loved it.

On Wednesday we had a date with the man himself, Santa Claus. We took the boys out to lunch…

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…where they wrote letters to Sammmmta and Rudolph and drew some last minute pictures for the old man.

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We checked out the windows at Macy’s, and Julian did the naughty or nice test. The window said naughty!

Then the moment had arrived. Santa!

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The boys aren’t overly obsessed with Santa and were neither scared nor giddy, more in awe I would say. Either way, they definitely believe, and they both assured me that he was the real deal. They made sure he knew their Christmas wishes, and he reminded them to leave some cookies and milk for him. Done deal. (For kicks: 2015 Santa and 2016 Santa)

After Macy’s we took Julian and Arthur to the train show at Grand Central. They loved it, as they do every year.

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This is the face of a train-loving boy who’s been told it’s time to go home (on a train, no less):

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At home we’ve been baking and eating lots of cookies and trying out different Glühwein recipes. Also, we started reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” – and we’re about half way through.

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What a wonderful story. I’m enjoying it as much as the boys. Although Julian hides under a blanket when the White Witch is mentioned.

Jeff and I went to see Rogue One! I don’t think we’ve been to the movies together without the kids since…before kids.

Today we had another German family over. My friend and I worked our way through a batch of Glühwein, made tacos and let our children decorate cookies and spread 1 million sprinkles all over the apartment in the process. This was at the very beginning…

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It’s an all around lovely holiday. We are eagerly counting down the days till Christmas. Three more sleeps!

Stand for Love…

…because what else is there.

It’s been more difficult to live our everyday lives post election, much more difficult than expected. I still wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of panic in my belly and that irrational wish that we could just turn back time to November 7 when I didn’t feel so much confusion, anger, and heartbreak.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve all heard so many terrible things that people have done to their neighbors all over the country. Us New Yorkers, I think we felt like we have lived in a bubble, but that bubble has burst. A woman was punched in the face at a restaurant a few blocks from our house. One of the boys’ favorite playgrounds was vandalized. Hate crimes have been reported all over the city.

But here is what’s also happened: people are coming together. I can see things moving beyond “liking” and lamenting on social media. Things are happening. Calls are being made. Petitions, walks, demonstrations, action.

My friends organized a beautiful gathering in Brooklyn Bridge Park last week, and we all joined together to “Stand for Love.”

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We’ve walked for St. Martin with homemade lanterns and sang songs.

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I’ve sat in a sunny coffee shop with my good friend and talked. I’ve had some wonderful and much needed time with Jeff, who’s been taking some vacation days. The kids have been in school, so we had time during the day alone together. Breakfasts, walks, museums, time. Mind blown. We’ve enjoyed nature and our beautiful city with the boys.

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I’ve held my babies close. I’ve loved seeing and talking to our friends. Above all else, I feel more motivated than ever.

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Adulting, City Fun, and a sick Kid

This week, on Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity to take a few hours to myself and to go on an adventure. After school drop-off, I headed into Manhattan and got myself a membership to MoMA with my lovely IDNYC card. I wandered around and checked out three floors. One of the more impressive pieces: a literature sausage.

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Then I met Jeff at his office, and we saw a baby owl.

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We had a lovely lunch across the street from Jeff’s work. A daytime date! Always special.

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Then I came back to his office for a lesson in virtual reality. I flew to the moon!

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It was seriously amazing. My mind was blown. And then I had to pick up the kids!

Wednesday night I went to the new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Downtown Brooklyn with some friends. Afterwards, we had drinks at a rooftop bar around the corner and marveled at the fact that we know nothing about Downtown Brooklyn at all, even though it’s a 10 minute walk from our homes. It’s a different world and could basically be any downtown in any city in the US. Bizarre.

Yesterday we had a lovely family day in Manhattan. We had brunch and then went for a stroll on the Highline. The fall colors are gorgeous right now!

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After 20 blocks of walking (no complaints from the kids!), we took the train to Grand Central.

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We had coffee and snacks and looked around.

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We stumbled upon a street festival on Madison Avenue. The boys had a lemonade.

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Next up: Rockefeller Center.

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We walked around and checked out the Lego store. The boys were in awe!

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Then we decided we were sufficiently tired and headed home. Early bedtime for all!

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And on Sunday? On Sunday we did nothing. Julian woke up mopey and with a man-headache. We convinced him to rally and cheer on our buddy Tim, who was running the NYC Marathon. Seeing all these people run run run was so inspiring!

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The boys, however, collapsed upon our arrival. Julian due to the fact that he wasn’t feeling well, and Arthur, well, he had a case of brotherly sympathy pains.

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Turns out Julian actually has a fever of 102.5. So I feel pretty great about dragging him to watch a marathon and scolding him for lying down. Who’s winning? This Mama.

The rest of the day we did nothing. We watched Planet Earth and ate popcorn. We drank smoothies and ate German chocolate and took naps. We played and colored and went on indoor treasure hunts. I read my book and Jeff played music. Also, Bloody Mary’s.

And we’re off into another week!

Halloween 2016

This year the boys made up their minds months ago about their costumes. Once they had decided on Wonder Woman and Superman, there was no going back.

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Halloween was, of course, highly anticipated. Both boys got to show up to school in costume, so off we went on our Super Bike. I didn’t take any pictures of Wonder Woman and Superman on the bike, but we did give Arthur’s buddy a ride over from the big kids’ school to the pre-school, and that was cute. Batman and Superman!

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After school Jeff and I took the boys trick or treating. Brooklyn Heights gets extremely busy on Halloween, but the older the boys get, the less overwhelming it becomes. Literally the first treat they got was an apple each, which was considered highly offensive and also unnecessarily heavy to carry around. (Unlike Halloween 2014 when I thought my children were broken when they chose to eat an apple over candy.)

One of the highlights was our house, which was so amazingly decorated by our friend Estela, who runs the flower shop, as Julian says, located “in our basement.”

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It’s always so spooky and awesome. This year, in hot pursuit of the holy candy, Arthur even dared to step inside – something Julian has not been willing to do since The Big Scare of 2013 when he almost died when a “monster” jumped out at him from behind a flower pot. But we love Estela, our very favorite witch. Last year, she and Arthur matched!

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Trick or treating was a success. We ran into a bunch of friends along the way, and we saw lots of great costumes and candy-happy faces. Uncle Brian came to meet us, too!

And we saw these incredible pumpkins:

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Even the pumpkins are saying it. So vote, ok?

After we’d collected enough candy, we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant across the street.

What was for dessert? “Last Week with John Oliver” and a bucket full of candy. At what age do kids keep track and catch on to the fact that they are basically trick or treating so that their parents can eat their weight in snickers and m&ms? I hope we have some years left…

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Arthur Fun Day

On Fridays, Julian is in school until 5:30pm. He plays soccer after school, so Arthur and I have a very long day without him. I genuinely miss him, but it’s even worse for Arthur. He really misses his brother and friend.

I’m going to try to take him on adventures every now and then and make the day special for us. Today we went to Prospect Park.

We played “Superman” and “Octonauts” (omg that show!) at the playground. That outfit! Believe it or not, people still think he is a girl. It’s amazing.

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Then we hit the zoo. It was quite chilly today!

Arthur said hi to a peacock.

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We saw everything there is to see at this rather small zoo. It was lovely.

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My favorite was the petting zoo. Arthur talked to every.single.creature. “Hi guys! How are you today? What is your name? Do you want some food? Sorry sheep! We have no more! We’ll get more next time! Bye! I will miss you.” It was adorable.

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We had lunch at the zoo and on the way home, this.

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I’d say it was a successful morning.