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.

Weekend Report

This week we were finally all feeling better.

I’ve been trying to move a little slower. Arthur and I have enjoyed morning coffees and treats during our errands. You only live once, right? And I’ve never heard anyone complain about having eaten too many croissants in their life.

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This weekend we were both busy and lazy. On Friday night we hung out with Arthur’s former speech therapist and her very talented musician/composer fiancé at his studio in the Navy Yards. We ate chili, caught up, and listened to the guys play.

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Saturday we were lazy. Arthur had a fever all day – completely unexplained. Today he’s fine. But yesterday he was sleepy and cuddly, and I was his favorite pillow. Both of my boys are excellent cuddelers – but when they’re sick, they are extra sweet. Despite having enjoyed my extra dose of love, I’m happy he’s back to his old crazy self today.

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Saturday night Jeff and I attended a big birthday bash for one of his colleagues. Wow did she go all out! I mean, a step & repeat! We had so much fun, danced, drank too much, played pool and ping pong and then for some unexplained reason ran more than 10 blocks downtown to eat hot dogs in the East Village. A 1am Crif Dog – can’t beat it.

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Today we had bagels on the promenade and enjoyed the sunshine. Despite a massive hangover.

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The boys got to ride their bikes, and we watched them play at the playground. Besties for life, these two.

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Sunday night we had friends over for a pizza party. “We” (Jeff) made these beauties:

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The kids played/trashed the place/had fun, and everyone got to stay up way past bedtime.

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The end.

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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Bronx Zoo and other Shenanigans

There are several things I already miss about our long, lazy summer, and they are: no schedule! Day long fun outings! Bike rides forever.

But now that it officially feels like fall (someone please tell the mosquitoes; I want them all to die as soon as possible), we still use the bike every day, but not in a leisurely way. I take the boys to school every morning while blasting 80s Nena and singing from the top of our lungs. Oh, Nena. But it’s not the same as riding bikes all day all around the City.

Last week my friend Marte and I (and every other German in town) went to see Nena play at a concert venue in Manhattan. It was so much fun. I had pretty much no expectations, but oh man, Nena blew me away. It was such a heartfelt, sincere show and a really unique experience to be surrounded by so many happy Germans just having a good time.

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We had sort of a lazy weekend with walks around the neighborhood, Bloody Marys at home and chess games.

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On Saturday I was invited to brunch by someone I worked with when I first came to the US. It was so fun to see her and also my former boss, without whom I would never be here in the first place.

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Ha, I’m tall.

Saturday night we invited our friends over for pizza and wine. There were five boys in our house, age 3 to 8, and everyone played so peacefully until pretty late. It was lovely and relaxing. I read somewhere about the “new dinner party” – in which you don’t spend a ton of time preparing, cooking, or cleaning but rather order in, maybe make a fresh salad, and that’s all. It was totally delightful.

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Also, there was Reddi Wip.

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Today through Wednesday Julian is off school. Arthur goes tomorrow. They both go on Thursday. I just look forward to a time when both children go to school for most days of the week at the same time. It’s time for some routine.

Today my friends and I took our five kids to the Bronx Zoo. It was such a gorgeous autumn day!

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We loved seeing the animals, and the kids all had a blast.

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I think we all loved the sea lions the most; they were hilarious. The boys loved them so much that they had to hug them in poster form.

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Also, ice cream. I love how adoringly Julian is admiring his cone.

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On the way home everyone fell asleep. Including mama.

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Rock Rock Rockaway

We love Summer Streets and try to do it every year, but this year it was just too hot to truly enjoy it. Nevertheless, we rode up to Central Park, met Uncle Brian for brunch on the UES and rode back down along the West Side.

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After those hot, sticky 25 miles on the bikes on Saturday in awful humidity (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat this much in my life), we were all looking forward to a beach day on Sunday. Rockaway it was!

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It was a perfect beach day. The weather was lovely, the water was warm, and we all had fun splashing around in the ocean.

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There was ice cream. This photo is titled “Duuuuude.” Arthur was covered in vanilla by the end of this.

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Everyone (except Julian) took naps. Beach naps are the best!

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My favorite part about Arthur’s nap was that I could put his hair into a man bun. He normally won’t let me touch his hair, so that was fun. He didn’t ever realize it was there. Wink wink!

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We ended the night over margaritas, guacamole, and tacos. And everyone slept well. After Arthur sang around 25 renditions of “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones.

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Weekend Kick-Off

We have some fun things planned for the weekend, but we wanted to kick it off at our favorite place. We hadn’t been in a few weeks, and I’ve missed our lazy hours of lounging around, drinking beer, and watching the kids play. So Jeff left work a bit early, and we headed to Brooklyn Crab.

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We played corn hole, the kids played in the sand, and we played our new favorite game Spot It. Arthur hadn’t slept well was very tired and a little mopey. That’s the downside of no more naps for him, but he just won’t go to bed otherwise. Anyway, he hung in there.

So happy to spend some time with this guy in our fashionable lobster bibs! Crabs for him, lobster for me.

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Julian, who’s been known to cry at the sight of a lobster, is now a lover of all seafood. We shared shrimp, crab, and lobster. And he worked for his food, too.IMG_8148

After dinner we rode our bikes around the waterfront.

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It’s so lovely down there. Jeff and I always say that we’d be happy to live in Red Hook one day – well, if it wasn’t for the fact that we love our neighborhood so much and also for the lack of public transportation in Red Hook.

We followed the tunes of the ice cream truck and got these:

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Then we watched the fishermen at dusk on the pier, and Jeff snapped some photos. These boys!

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Of Lemonade and Lobster

This week and weekend have been both fun and kind of trying. We’ve managed to do plenty of fun stuff, but the good times were intermixed with some challenging behavior, brotherly arguments, and motherly headaches. Oh, life.

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I had a babysitter two mornings this week, which was nice. She takes the boys to play soccer at the park or to the playground. Her name is Hope, and the boys call her “A New Hope,” naturally. I just went to doctors’ appointments, but it was still nice to get out by myself and not have to drag the boys from appointment to appointment.

Also, in other adult-life news, I went out with friends twice this week (!). That never happens. Hey, look how happy and kid-free we are!

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We also hit the pop-up pool again. The kids love it so much, and who can say no to jumping into a pool in this heat?! This guys can’t.

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This weekend the boys did their very first lemonade stand. That means, of course, that we I squeezed 40 lemons on Friday and also baked 40 cookies. The boys were so excited. They wrote on the signs, practiced how to count money and hand out change and how to be a polite and friendly salesman.

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It was a blast. We sold 100+ cups of lemonade/cookies. The kids actually made some money, after subtracting what change we started out with and what we spent on the lemons. Everyone in the neighborhood was so friendly and sweet. It was really adorable and made my heart so happy. In times where you read almost only bad news every day, it’s refreshing to have such simple pleasures that make you feel not all is lost.

Afterwards we went to a quick brunch to a restaurant on our street, where Arthur took a nap mid waffle. Selling lemonade is exhausting.

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Then we hurried home and tried to make our place presentable because our friends were coming over with live lobsters and a bunch of other delicious food. Michael, a who is a chef, took over our kitchen and cooked for us. It was such a treat!

Dinner was delicious. At one point one of my kids said, “Mama, if I eat another piece of lobster, can I have more mussels?” First world problems, kid.

Today we rode our bikes to Prospect Park. The boys played at a playground, and then we played soccer on the grass and had a picnic.

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Ever since the Euro Cup both boys have been obsessed with soccer, and Julian pretends to be a goalie Manuel Neuer the rest of the time, meaning when he’s not someone from Star Wars.

After we all played together, Julian went over to a bunch of 9 year old boys and asked to join their soccer game. Arthur followed suit. I am so impressed by Julian’s ability to make friends. Kids are so cool in how they don’t see what we see and how they don’t yet have the same fears of rejection.

Later on at Lakeside it was the same. Julian just played and played with a bunch of boys he’d never met before. For hours. He only came to join us when I lured him in with ice cream.

Then everyone crashed.

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Tonight we’re eating more seafood, shrimp and leftover lobster, and I’m already hungry writing about it. And then we’re off into another week with good intentions. More patience, more joy, less fighting. Per usual.

Fun, fun, more fun!

Welcome to the endless recap of fun.

Because we’ve been having some fun lately. On Wednesday NYC outdoor pools opened for the season, so we went down to the Pop-Up Pool with some friends.

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The boys are total fish. Arthur especially is completely fearless and jumps in without me holding him. Julian is getting good at swimming, and I really want him to learn how to swim this summer. It was so much fun; we stayed for hours. We even snuck into a little local news segment!

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Bonus: The boys were so tired that they were in bed by 7:15pm. Winning all around.

Other than that we’ve been laying low, playing, getting stuff done.

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Julian has started to write. As in actually write. He’ll sit forever and write random words we come up with into his notebook. His spelling is pretty good!IMG_5868

On Friday Jeff was off work. We were lazy in the morning and then rode our bikes to Red Hook and played soccer with the boys at a playground. Then we hit Brooklyn Crab.

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We just love it there so much. The boys and I have been playing Uno; I love games that aren’t Candyland. Jeff and I read the paper. We smooched, and Arthur tried an oyster.

Julian took this:

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Then we rode around, unsure of when the thunderstorms would hit. So we hit the bookstore and picked out a new summer read for me, now that I am almost done with the four book series by Elena Ferrante. These books, by the way, were so good.

We decided to go see a movie. We took the boys to see “Finding Dory” – it was cute.

Saturday morning we headed to the park for a water gun fight. Yes, I finally bought the boys the much desired water guns. By accident I bought two that were way too big; so naturally Jeff suggested we keep them for ourselves. Our water fight was epic. We were all soaked, and the boys were in heaven to have all four of us playing together.

The rest of the day was dominated by soccer.

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Germany played Italy in the Euro Cup. We watched the game in a German beer hall in Manhattan. Uncle Brian joined us, much to the boys’ delight.

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Here is Arthur right before he fell asleep.

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Because what’s a better place to sleep than a noisy beer hall with hundreds of anxious/happy/frustrated/loud soccer fans?

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Anyway, we won.

Because of over-time and penalty kicks we had to rush home because we had a babysitter Saturday night. So Jeff and I got on our bikes and tried a new bar for cocktails before heading to Alma for some Mexican food and margaritas. And this view!

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We came home and found everyone cozy and asleep. Well, not the babysitter. She was still awake.

On Sunday we went on a long bike ride to the North end of Central Park, where we met Brian and Katherine for a picnic. We played baseball, frisbee, soccer – and had many water gun fights.

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Jeff also spent a good amount of time climbing trees…

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It was so fun. But oh man, towards the end of our ride home I was so tired. It was a solid 25 miles we rode that day.

Today was a day of rest. And packing! Because tomorrow the boys and I are headed to West Virginia to see our lovely friends. The boys are so excited to play with their buddies, and I can’t wait to hug my friend and meet her newest baby!

Coney Island – We’re Back!

After yesterday, I am trying to get back into a happy mind frame. So let’s talk about the weekend, shall we?

We left early-ish Sunday morning on our bikes and rode 10 miles to Coney Island, our happy place. Due to Jeff’s work schedule and the weather it was our first trip to Coney this year.

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We let the kids play on the beach for a while.

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They love the beach. So much. I love it, too, but Coney Island beach is not the greatest. We found tons of glass there yesterday. It didn’t prevent Arthur from doing this:

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Holy clean-up. It was probably the only not great part about yesterday. Also, I was mildly embarrassed when I discovered more sand in his ear at the doctor’s office yesterday. Despite several attempts at de-sanding Arthur. Oh well.

So the sand isn’t so great at Coney Island, but thankfully it has many other things to offer that make it the happiest place on earth for us. Like hot dogs. Which is what we had after beach time.

Then we checked out the mural art exhibit:

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Next up: Wonder Wheel!

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Julian agreed to sit next to me, but he made it clear it was more of a favor. He would not hold my hand. So I laugh-screamed without hand-holding. Fine, kid. So you’re tougher than me.

Afterwards we let the kids ride some of the kiddie rides. They loved it. And then we wanted to try the water ride. We’d never been, but the kids were eager, and so was I. What was thinking? I’m not sure. Jeff announced very last minute that he wouldn’t join us and offered to hold my bag (thanks, babe). Anyway, it was fun, and I thought we would all die only twice. The kids just laughed and loved it. This is the only picture we have where I don’t look too frantic and am not clutching my laughing children as if their lives depend on it.

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After we survived this ride, the boys wanted to go on the swing carousel. Thankfully Jeff offered to go with them right away, which was great, because ever since I lost a shoe on one once as a child, I have refused to consider going on one again. Arthur didn’t meet the hight requirement, so he had to bring his “guardian” with him anyway. Jeff promised me he would sit Arthur on his lap. Because we all know he is the kid who would try to stand up in his swing just to see if it’s possible. This was the exact moment I learned that Arthur was, in fact, sitting in his own swing.

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He survived. We rewarded the kids with ices.

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And then it was time to go. Julian’s face says it all:

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He was not pleased.

The ride home was lovely, but also exhausting. This view though!

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We rode home under the Verrazano Bridge and stopped for a quick play at Owl’s Head Park. Then we had tacos in Sunset Park and finally made it home in time for baths and to…you know…crash.

Weekending

This weekend was such a good one – although (or because?) we totally did the opposite of what we had previously thought we might try out: and that’s taking it easy. Last Sunday was so nice; we did nothing. This weekend we didn’t spend any time at home. In fact, each night we barely made it home for bedtime. We are all very tired. Happy, but tired.

On Friday our friends invited us over for a South African Braai, but it was a braai-turned-taco-night, so that was extra yummy. The kids just played and played, and we sat on our friends’ terrace with cold beers, good conversation, and a new baby to cuddle (theirs, not ours, obviously). Also, this. Those faces.

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On Saturday we had a picnic in the park, went to one of Julian’s friend’s birthday party at the nature playground and then hit Lakeside to cool off. It was humid and muggy! The boys had a blast. I think we will spend a lot of time here this summer!

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We stopped for seafood at the Kittery and sat outside over mussels, wine, and lobster rolls. It was lovely and delicious. And the children were so well behaved. In fact so much so that a couple commented on them as they were leaving. Amongst all the recent public complaints I’ve heard it was very refreshing.

Today was also really awesome. We rode our bikes into Manhattan and took the boys to the Intrepid. Last time we went was Mother’s Day 2014; Julian was scared, and Arthur was a baby. This time around it was so much fun! (And also so expensive!)

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The boys were in heaven. Jets! Spaceshuttle! Things to touch!

Afterwards we hung out at a shady playground for a bit…

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…before the most important part of the day: Germany’s first soccer game in the 2016 Euro Cup. We watched at a huge German restaurant in Midtown and had a great table. Arthur fell asleep on the bike and slept for the first half of the game. He takes his sleep so seriously. Except, of course, when we really want him to sleep. Like, say, at night.

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Julian was mostly entertained by the game, play-doh and a giant pretzel. He was also really concerned every time I yelled at the big screen. “Mama, what? What happened?” “Oh nothing. Just A GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLL!” Anyway, we won.

Afterwards more bike riding and fish tacos for the boys. Because nothing says German soccer victory like a fish taco.

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Then ice cream…Look at these happy faces! It’s my favorite to watch them together and hear them make each other laugh.

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And then, because it was a soccer-dominated day, we tried this:

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We rode home catching a glimpse of this beautiful view:

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We get to take one of these bridges home after a day filled with fun, family, and friends. We are so lucky.