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!"

As we're walking through a field, the path dips down ahead and it
looks steep until you're right there, when it seems to become almost
level: "That's what happens with the world, also. The earth is
round, but it really looks flat."

"There's nothing better than balloons that I like, except for ball
machines and clocks."

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In case you didn't know, this is the Week of Balloons. Helium,
water, plain old air. Utterly fascinating, utterly consuming,
completely worthwhile.

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Two of my parenting accomplishments:

1. I took our boys for a two-hour stomp in one of the several dozen
creeks that seasonally traverse EcoVillage property. Felt like Earth
Mother of The Year, except that probably a real earth mother would
have let her 18-month-old sit down mid-creek, which he _really_
wanted to do. I didn't.

2. I also took the boys for a two-and-a-half-hour bike adventure,
which consisted of two long snack breaks and several minutes spent
riding, during which Ben pretended to be my "radio" and sang his
current five favorite songs as he coasted along on his trail-a-bike.
(The songs are: "Duck and Cover," by Glen Phillips, "So Long," by
Guster, "Kathleen" and "Snow is Gone," by Josh Ritter, and "Love You
All," by Cloud Cult. It's the best radio ever.)

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This week, Ben is taping together paper, making books, illustrating
them, and writing words (with complete spelling assistance) until he
gets tired of it. Then he wants us to take dictation. This sounds
great, and like the ideal homeschooling activity, except that his
books are basically a retelling of Winnie The Pooh (the long
version), and in his ideal world he would re-write most every detail
but with the addition of trains. All these things start out like
this: "Hey Mama, I have an idea! I'm going to [do something that
will keep me busy for at least ten minutes]." And then, Jeff or I
find ourselves seated at the table, busily taking orders from a
young perfectionist artist who's in a hurry and has got LOTS to do.

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I just love it that my pilates teacher is named Zipi and that she
brings her husband, Schlomo, along when she teaches. ("He doesn't do
pilates much, but he likes it when I make him go to class.") I'm
thrilled that I've gotten enough neighbors together for Zipi to come
here and teach.

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Observation: Five-year-olds tend not to have a sense of urgency when
it comes to being quiet during a younger sibling's nap.

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Ben spent several hours this week illustrating a book on how to fold
origami. The pictures are remarkably good and remarkably amusing.
One shows a sheet of paper, and then next to it a three-dimensional
tube ("that tells you how to make a straw"). Next is a whole bunch
of diagrams, and then a stick-person with something next to its
mouth ("that's how to make a waterbomb and that person is blowing it
up"). And then here's a clock, with intricate gears and levers and a
detailed clockface ("that's a Real Paper Clock, with an escape wheel
and a pendulum and a bell and lots and lots of reduction gears, and
it will REALLY WORK! When do you want to follow the instructions and
make it?").

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In my completely unbiased view, I have two of the cutest boys
currently in existence. Jeff says that when he took both of them on
a mission to the supermarket to buy a package of balloons, the group
of women by the registers took one look at the three of them and
just totally melted. And then, coincidentally, asked Ben and Jem if
they would like to have some helium balloons. The balloons were blue
and said "Tops Never Stops." To Ben and Jem they were gifts from the
gods.

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On Thursday, Ben agreed to let me cut his hair for the first time
since September. He had really wanted it to grow long, and we wanted
to let him make the choice (it being his own body and all that). But
we hadn't seen his eyes in several months, the ponytail constantly
fell out, and hair washing isn't his all-time favorite activity. I
finally asked him why he wanted it long, and he said the sweetest
thing: "I want my hair to be long so I'll match you, because you
have long hair." Well my _goodness._ I assured him that he can grow
his hair out later, any time he wants, maybe when his fingers are a
little older and can do a ponytail by themselves... Chalk one up for
the list of Things He'll Never Say In Ten Years.

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Our across-the-path neighbors have a small gray dog named Tavi,
which means "good boy" in Hebrew. Jem figured out how to say his
name (only he says "Tah VEE," with an accent) and now he calls all
dogs, even giant black ones, "Tah Vee!"

Jem's first and constant defense (after his great smarts) is his
total cuteness. What will I do when my boys are both taller than I
am? I know the answer, that's a rhetorical question. But STILL!

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I cooked for 85 at the common house meal this week, and my
pizza-making class tonight was a success (according to ten-year-old
Ethan, it was "Pizza at the end of a rainbow!"). Also I co-hosted a
"tea party" after today's clean-up-the-common-house afternoon.
Tomorrow I think maybe I won't cook very much.

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Jeff and I started reading a book about probability, called "The
Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives." It's great. I feel
like it will totally ward off Alzheimer's.

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Must sleep. Never know, I may be seeing Jem again in a few short
hours...

Love you all,
Sara