Pies Pies Pies

Dear Family,

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dad! I'm sorry we aren't there to give you a big
dose of birthday chaos, but I hope you're enjoying your day anyway.
Twelve years ago today, you were having a great big party and I was
riding my bike through rural Virginia at the beginning of my
cross-country trip. I remember calling you from the Ashland AmeriCamp,
and April told me that you were all having chocolate cake and lots of wine.

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We've had a great week - took a super-fun family bike ride, played

A Minor Miracle

Dear Family,

Remember back last month, when I mentioned how Jem had slept through
the night for the first time? In case you think he continued to do
that, I must set you straight by explaining that he did not.

But last night, when he got up at 3:00am, HE PUT HIMSELF BACK TO
SLEEP BEFORE ANY ADULT GOT INTO BED WITH HIM. Baby steps, here,
ladies and gentlemen, hold your enthusiastic applause and all the
pats on the back for our great parenting skills.

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Bennerisms:

"NOBODY wouldn't like trains!"

It's SPRING!

Dear Family,

Our week started with some explosions of the more disgusting
variety. I told Mom that she should really be grateful, since the
five of us kids hardly ever threw up. Not so in this household,
where the 2009 Stomach Flu Count is up to two and counting.

But that was all early in the week. The subsiding of the vomiting
coincided with the weather warming up, and we've spent many happy
hours out at the Mudpit. I think that Ben would have stayed out
until it got dark yesterday, making sand muffins. And I did so much

An Inch of Rain

Dear Family,

I've always had this vivid image in my mind of how "an eighth-inch
of precipitation" should look. For example, when we wake up tomorrow
and look outside, the center of SONG (where there's mostly a field
with a few little trees and a sandbox) should look just like a very
shallow pond created by the rain that is scheduled for tonight.

---------------

I continue to be amazed at the range of feelings I can have toward
my children. For instance: this morning, I looked down at Jem, with
his big blue eyes, and his tiny little feet, and his adorable

Owls, Glass, Cooking, Comedy

Hi Family,

I had planned to be in bed _right now,_ but it turns out that I'm not
going to meet that particular deadline. Funny how those things turn out.
Sometimes I wonder whether it makes more sense NOT to give myself
personal ultimatums and bedtimes, since it's anyone's guess whether I'll
actually follow through.

---------

Today, it's owls all the way, baby. The coats and shoes are ready, and
if Ben and Jeff hear the mating call of a Great Horned Owl tomorrow
morning--like they did today--Ben is determined to hike into the woods

Quickly Up to Speed

Dear Family,

We co-hosted a party today in the common house, meant to be a "Cabin
Fever" celebration with lots of outdoor winter sports. But the gods
provided no snow, so mostly we ate a lot and talked. So much so that
I am tired from all the exertion (jaw exercise really can tire a
person!)

A bulleted list of happenings this week:

--Jeff got better (he'd gotten sick).

--Jem got better (he'd gotten sick, too).

--Ben did a lot of building with K'nex.

--Jem learned a new word for the first time in several weeks. He is
definitely his father's son: the new word is "burp."

Our tiny blip in the space-time continuum

Dear Family,

I suddenly have my little boy back. Ben is doing so much better, and
I can't remember when he was this consistently happy and pleasant.
Actually, maybe I do know how long it's been--about 18 months and
eleven days, give or take a few hours.

Some say that when a sibling is born, it's akin to a spouse bringing
home a new partner: "She's such a great person! I love you both
equally, and you'll have so much in common!" For a long time I
thought that was an exaggeration. But then again, it happened to me
FOUR TIMES. Maybe it's no wonder I have so many neuroses. And don't

Midwinter Thaw

Dear Family,

I wish you were all here--I would give you each a piece of a
chocolate-almond torte that I made today. It's even healthy-ish. :)
http://www.sproutpeople.com/cookery/torte.html

Weather is warmer than it has been in weeks, and for the first time
since before New Years, you can see the muddy brownish earth through
the rapidly dwindling white. We all stomped down to Coy Glen this
afternoon (I admit: I bribed my children with snacks), to see what
the creek was doing with the snow melt.

Some of our neighbors organized the first-ever "SparkFest" this

If it's gonna be cold, you might as well have SNOW!

Dear Family,

On Friday, January 23, Ben Starling went sledding on his own sled,
without me on the back. And there's no stopping him now! In between our
neighborhood and the FROG common house, there are two main sledding
runs. One sends you shooting out onto the (formerly) marshy end of the
pond. The other sends you zooming down ("speedy fast!") and then up a
sharp six-foot uphill at the end, so that you land under the
clotheslines and stop before you smack into the common house. It is FUN!
You should all come visit and bring your sleds.

Sub Zero

Dear Family,

This week was bitterly, bitterly cold. The kind of weather that makes
you really appreciate having a house to live in. On the days when the
sun came out, our heat actually switched off during the day. It's
amazing to live in a place that takes advantage of simple physics.

For the first time in a long time, there were _long_ stretches of time
when my kids were fun this week. Ben seemed more relaxed, less unhappy,
and he did lots of origami, drawing, and being pleasant. He also
suddenly seems to have grown out of all his pants. Jem seemed like he

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