Back-to-School Feels

The boys are back in school. And I am, well, a bit sad.

In previous summers I think I kind of anticipated this day. By the end, the boys were getting to me, and I was ready. But not this year.

This summer was my favorite summer ever. I loved our trips to the Catskills, California, and the Poconos. I loved hanging out with the boys. They are so fun, so clever, so enjoyable. Sure, they have their moments, but overall they are people whose company I enjoy.

There were good times with friends; date nights with my husband. Arthur learned how to ride his bike; Julian plowed through the Wimpy Kid books. We picked up bagels and lox and ate them at our favorite playground near the Promenade, played on the beach, jumped in the pool and went on rides in Coney Island. We read books, napped, watched TV, watched people from our stoop. I went running. On the last day of summer break, Julian joined me for a run over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. It was my most favorite run ever. Not only did he pump his little legs fast enough to help me keep a good pace, I also loved chatting with him and just having him around. Afterwards, we brought home donuts for breakfast.

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But of course as all summers tend to do, this one ended. The kids returned to school. Julian was very excited; no nerves at all. He had his first day on Tuesday, which began with traditional photos on our stoop and then a lovely welcome ceremony at the school. The kid was back in his element. Also, look at these giant feet.

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Arthur had his first day on Thursday. He seemed a bit more reserved, but once he entered his school building, he was off and basically forgot to say good-bye. For shock effect, he requested a short hair do the day before. I cried. But he was happy, and I totally love it, too. He now looks like a 15 year old.

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Per our tradition, we celebrated the first day of school with donuts.

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Both boys had spectacular first days. Julian is happy to be with his friends again, and he likes his new teachers. Arthur was giddy and bouncy and told me about all the details of his day. I could tell he was so happy.

Here’s to a new season in our lives. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m feeling so sentimental right now. I just do. The boys are growing up so fast. Too fast. But it’s also exciting. It’s fun to watch them grow, to see their relationship deepen, their interests develop, their personalities shine. I just love these creatures so much.

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And today, as if to reassure me that my boys still had some baby left in them, this happened. We’ll be ok.

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Life Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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!