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
you all worry, Ben is going to be much better adjusted than I,
because this is the last time he will have to go through this
particular adjustment...

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This week, Ben asked me to define the word "mating," wanted to know
who the oldest person is, and inquired, "What person has been dead
the longest in the WHOLE WORLD?" He wonders how he might slice a
dead wasp in half so he can see the insides. He's into shapes,
especially hexagons (very important to bees and wasps), and he
wonders whether an eleven-sided shape is called an "eleventigon."

And tonight he popped the question: "How did the first person get
here?" Also, he says, "Tell them [dear readers] what I've been doing
this week: making paper clocks and k'nex trains that roll down
tracks." I might add that he spent SEVEN HOURS up in the loft
working on a set of k'nex reduction gears on Wednesday. Lest you
worry, Grandparents, Ben is doing just fine in the area of math.

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I took both boys into the woods to go stomping in the half-frozen
creek on Friday. I felt like I deserved an award, partly because no
one fell in, though Jem tried repeatedly. Also because it takes so
long to get on our winter gear that it's often much easier to just
stay inside.

I got this funny, sincere wave of fear as we approached the woods:
"They're going to be bored--there's nothing to _do_ out here!" It's
amazing what half a winter cooped up inside with a bunch of plastic
toys can do to a parent's brain. I honestly felt that fear, and then
let it slip away as I watched my kids and re-remembered how
hardwired humans are to find endless amusement in ice and snow and
animal tracks and mud and funny noises and skunk cabbage shoots and
simple companionship.

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Jem toddles briskly around the house saying things that really
probably mean something. This week's word of choice: "Tick." Often
followed by, "Ding dong!" Often he cocks his head to one side and
says, "HI!" After that, he sometimes runs right at one of us, and
wraps his arms around his adored family member in a heart melting
fashion. He is so incredibly busy, and agile, and FAST.

Unfortunately, he put those speedy smarts to use this week by
persistently inserting foreign objects into the toilet, sometimes
dozens of times per day. Volleys of choice words usually announce
that the On Duty Parent has discovered the deposit, and although Jem
notes our disapproval with mild concern, the activity is enormously
addictive. He obviously can't understand--we make such a fuss when
he urinates on the floor, and if _pee_ is supposed to go in the
commode, why not Brio trains?

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But enough small talk. Here is the update I know you've all been
waiting for: on Thursday, JEM SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. Yes: he went
to bed around 8:00pm, and then he didn't wake up until 6:00am the
next morning. He has not repeated this fabulous trick, but I can now
see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am not going to be the
mother of a baby forever.

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Jeff and I are mostly staggering along to keep up. Jeff finished up
with his Cornell Plantations work this past week. We made an
astonishingly large mortgage payment as well, to keep up with our
7-year-to-mortgage-freedom plan, and our bank account is much
lighter. We're working on our New Years' Letter, which you'll soon
be receiving--we'll before July, I feel certain. Yesterday marked
Jeff's and my ten-year anniversary of "getting engaged." (Doesn't
that term sound so traditionally romantic?? We're just that kind of
traditionally-romantic kind of couple...)

The Topic of food just can't be omitted from my weekly update, so:
we're all enjoying a new, two-week-old family tradition of Friday
pancake & music dinners. You're all welcome to join us when you're
in town. And, I made pizza for nearly fifty people on Wednesday in
the common house, a highly engrossing task to say the least.

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I talked to Grandma tonight, and chatting with her while watching my
babies made a peculiar lump come in my chest. That feeling like, you
can see how fast it goes even while--just for an instant--time
stands still. Here they are, my little boys and my sweet husband and
our beautiful home, and this cold winter day, and my brain full of
thoughts. And then suddenly something different is happening, and
that little baby hug, this funny five-year-old truism, a ten-year
anniversary, they're just not ever going to happen again the same
way. How can our hearts contain all this? How can things not explode
when they feel forever and fleeting at once?

I love you all,
Sarabeth

P.S. Dear brothers and sister, I really am over it now. I'm SUPER
glad you all were born. Just so you know. :)