In Which We Make It Through Another Winter, Get The Chickenpox, and Begin An Adventure

May 8, 2016

Dear Family,

"Why change the diet, many people ask; we are going to die anyway, so shouldn't we just enjoy what we eat? The that if we just eat anything that tempts us, and allow our families to do the same, we end up with a life in which little can be enjoyed. The biggest motivator for many families to change their diets is the hellish behavior of their children--temper tantrums, food intolerances, constant bickering, taking hours to go to sleep, withdrawn and autistic behavior--with concurrent stresses."

--Sally Fallon Morell

"I finished [my] Diagnostic Radiology Residency in 1980, and about 10 years later I started having doubts about where we were going as a profession. ...[I] began feeling that it was bordering on evil to continue to make advances in technology while ignoring cause and prevention."

--William Wassell, M.D.



1/21 In an effort to remind her how Much Better It Is to shit in the toilet as opposed to her pants, I've been saying, every time she poops in the toilet: "Look! There goes your poop! Now you can wave goodbye!" Yesterday, for the first time in days, she shat in the toilet...and waved happily goodbye. Please lord, may it continue each day from henceforward, amen. [May 2016 Update: Ivy often poops in the toilet now, and also fairly often, in her pants. I believe that this handily illustrates the way that the Universe works.]

Sleep is _overall_ much much much more awesome than the first three times around...but lest the Universe take this opportunity to give me grief, I must hurriedly qualify that sleep is not _consistently_ good. The average buoys my hopes, though, on the days when she just can't seem to nap, or the nights when she doesn't sleep through.

2/16 evening: Ivy learned to crawl! Up until today, she specialized in the belly-on-the-ground, hand-over-hand "army crawl," but now she's up and moving faster than ever.

2/23 Ivy said "ba" to Ben (meaning "bye!")

3/2 Ivy turned one year old!

3/12 Ivy stood up without holding on to anything.

At the very beginning of April, Ivy finally decided that she could nurse with other people around. She's still pretty distractible, but for the first time in her life I don't _always_ have to cloister us upstairs in the bedroom for breastfeeding. Better late than never, that's what I always say...

5/8 Ivy is so developmentally On Track that she just totally epitomizes The Smartest Baby In The World. She makes conversational grunts and sounds all day, cocking her head to one side very thoughtfully, with large grins radiating from ear to ear, which makes everyone who sees her curly little head just long to snuggle with her.

But Ivy is not a snuggler. If she is exceptionally tired, or very sick, she'll lay her head on your chest for a short time...but otherwise, she has Stuff To Do. She must empty things. And pull stuff out. And look inside drawers, and investigate her siblings' games, and climb on things, and taste things, and touch stuff, and poke things, and comment on stuff, and crawl around, and practice standing, squatting, walking (still not super solid, but she practices every day), and veering, plus she also likes to look out the windows, go underneath things, and sit on top of books. She loves small objects, and mouth-sized objects, and picking up larger things that are almost too heavy for her to lift, and she is quite possibly the most adorable Curly-haired Girly I ever did see. We all wish longingly for hugs, but since she's so busy, she rarely has the time, although they are precious when they occur.

Ivy loves to drink water, possibly because it's one of the few words she can both sign and sort-of say (wah!), which allows her to communicate her desire to her willing supplicants/siblings, who then ply her with water bottles and water cups and more water, until she has exceptionally clear and copious pee, at which point she moves on to her other favorite thing-to-say: "Ba!", to whoever is leaving the room at any given time.

Ivy is so very sociable, and smiley, and happy, and insanely adorable, and it is so much fun to have a baby and NOT have postpartum depression, that I think how nice it would be to have ten, and then I remember WHOA wait a minute, I want a LIFE apart from babies, what the HELL was I just thinking?! And then I move back to the present moment of gratitude for all the babies I have, plus the concurrent and tremendous number of thoughts about how I Am Never Caught Up, in large part because Ivy, along with her nearly record-breaking amounts of cuteness, also requires pretty much absolutely constant supervision. So whenever I think I might want to do anything, go anywhere, read anything, or sit down, it's pretty certain that Ivy will require watching, feeding, nursing, peeing, pooping, re-directing, water, help, re-directing, more nursing, more pooping, more eating, or more re-directing. I'm too old for this shit! And yet...when I'm old I won't have a baby, toddling and blasting through all of my best-laid plans and intentions for Me Time, and Writing, and Sitting Still.

At which point I just sort of stand breathlessly in the wake of my Daughter The Whirlwind, watching life spin by and feeling distinctly as though I am simply sitting in my life raft, spinning and bobbing downstream, and that there's not much I can do about it besides poking an oar into the water every now and again.



Trying to explain why she wants someone to be in the room while she's going to bed: "I want to cuddle something REAL!"

How she picks what clothes not to wear: "I don't like the not-liking ones that I don't like!"

Regarding her overall state of Not So Great Health: "I'm a little good, but not that good." "I feel like a person who doesn't feel very good." "I don't want to eat breakfast, because I feel tired, hungry, and yucky."

"Does the sky go all around, everywhere? ...Wow! Who made it so big?"

"Look! Ivy's hair got wind-ed!"

"...Grandma and Grandpa might bring me presents!" Yes, Eliza, but you know that's not something you should ever SAY - it's okay to think it, but it wouldn't be polite to say that. "I know - I would only say it to you! It's a SECRET."

"I'm TIRED from this day!"

Spoken in a rare moment this winter when Eliza didn't feel crappy, have a headache or a stomachache, and was able to eat: "I feel so much better, I can't hold it!!"

Concerning her desire to walk to a neighbor's house: "I want to go all by my lonesome."

Eliza, you need to wear something that's okay to get dirty! "Okay, I'll wear a rag-dress."

Folding laundry with Karen: "Work, work, work! We're just like Cinderella!"

Ice skating, flapping her wings: "I'm just like a flying bird!"

"The bow undid itself!"

"My eyes always get tearful when my nose gets yucky."

"I got a fwog in my throat."

A slightly unwittingly backhanded yet flattering comment: "I'm glad I don't have an old parent, because I don't want you to die soon."

"I'm going to be Elsa for Halloween next year. I'm going to wear my Elsa dress." Cue a Significant Eye-Roll; she looks at me carefully to gauge my reaction. "...and I am NOT going to wear a coat. I'll wear something REALLY HOT underneath my dress, to stay warm."

Eliza, you need to put pajama bottoms on before bed. "But then I won't look as elegant!"

After giving me total and complete grief about wearing ice skating clothes (i.e. something warm, layered, and including pants), she removed her halter top and two skirts plus 16 hairpieces, came down in a long sleeve shirt and pants, and said, "Now I don't feel like a girl anymore - I just feel like a BOY!" She changed back into her dresses and barrettes no more than thirty seconds after we came home.

"I'm making a ballet, in which you have to have capes."

Singing the song from Cinderella: "'...that a plaaaiiiinn country _pumpkin_ and a prince could join in marriage!'"

"I want to be the most beautiful ever!"

Coming in from outside: "I'm frigid on my cheeks!"

Looking at her bed, made up with new-to-her sheets: "That's adorable!!"

Making a potholder - ..."It's so exhausting!!"

"I can't take my eyes off my tiara!"

"Shit, Mom! Ivy's up!"

"I want to be a mermaid for Halloween. Then people would say, 'Is that a REAL MERMAID walking around?!'"

"Can you talk and scream after you're dead? ...but I WANT to be able to!"

Eliza's volume is turned up loudly: "Mama! I saw a woman who looked like my grandma - my grandma from you [Grandma Ruth], cuz the woman had nice nice curly hair that is white!"

Volume still very high, sitting next to a guy dictating some texts into his phone in the Greenstar cafe: "Mama, that guy just said 'period'! 'Period,' like you say!"

A few minutes later: "That guy is getting up now. I'm glad, acuz I didn't like sitting next to him." A minute after that: "Mama - that woman over there has an earring IN HER NOSE! An' she has FOUR earrings in her ear!"

Another observation, clearly spoken by a girl who does not eat out in the Greenstar cafe often: "Mama, that lady's eating what we're eating! She didn't bring her lunch either."


It is not apparent from her precocious quotations, but Eliza's demons have been spectacularly challenging this year.

And although I have done a bit of writing about it over the past five months, and we reached an impressively horrendously horrible and awful low point around New Years, I am not going to go into details here. We did GAPS intro for a week and a half in January. Things were utterly and crazily insane. I started her supplement protocol in earnest in January as well, and - overall - things have been gradually improving since then, though there wasn't a whole lot of space for anything besides improvement, let me tell you what. Things are always better in the warmer months (much more will be forthcoming at some point, concerning some of my theories about why this is so), and things are much better now than they were in March. Suffice to say that the update to the pediatrician was a bit scary in the aforementioned details.

I often imagine, at times like this past winter, that people are looking at the ways I choose to handle my child's violent tantrums and constant tiredness/headache/leg-aches/tummyaches - and most particularly her refusal to eat when she is totally hungry - while simultaneously thinking, "Give it up already, Sara!! This is ridiculous! You are pathologizing the modern condition of childhood, and it's stupid to spend so many months/years all shut up in your house, cooking. Just give up the diet thing, feed her organic chicken mcnuggets, and get out and live a little!"

All I can really do, after a winter like this past, is to look past the general direction of these people's left ears, and think: You Have Absolutely No Idea What's Been Happening At Our House.

Which is a really good thing, all things considered.


Recently I was thinking about food (pretty crazy, huh? Me, thinking about food!), and how I often feel like that guy in "The Big Short" who is analyzing the housing market and the mortgage situation, and he sees clearly that it is about to cave in on itself. And he tries and tries to show people what is right in front of their faces, and they look at him like he is insane.

This is exactly how I feel about the way our society is feeding its children while simultaneously cataloging their behavioral and health problems. The Big Short gave me just one more inspiration to stand tall and proud and say, Yes. I DO think that industrial food is crap, and I DO think it's stupid and shortsighted to feed it to anyone. And that is not a moral judgement, it's just my absolutely straightforward opinion, and I don't really have illusions that I am going to somehow raise my children to be immune to the draw of sugar and refined flour - no, in fact, I only think sadly ahead to the day when I lose them to the inevitable pull of these things. But I have one reason for keeping these things out of our house: these products are shit, and we are being duped by corporate "food" manufacturers who want us to think that ingesting them in "moderation" can coexist with consuming a Nourishing Diet. Well, those Big Food Conglomerates can keep their shit food all to themselves, and feed it to their own children.

End Soapbox.


Of course, despite my strong feelings about food, it's still only part of the picture. More on this in a bit.


Of Note: Eliza, at the ripe young age of three and three-quarters, and on one of the coldest days this spring, learned to ride a two-wheeler. She is remarkably persistent. We were all shivering and shaking, and telling her to try to learn to ride a bike on another day...and then she got it! A week later, she could operate the brakes, and now she zooms all over the neighborhood with a pocket full of bandaids for when she falls off (at first she assured me that she could just stop and ask a neighbor if she fell, so I suggested the pocket supply instead).



Ben Starling, my little baby boy, made it through a whole season of homeschool band! This involved weekly practices, ensemble rehearsals and semi-private lessons, and lots of at-home practice. This was a real stretch for Ben, and there were hundreds of occasions when he complained and whined and told me how much he hated it and how I shouldn't have made him do it. He was complaining so strongly one day in April, concerning the upcoming concert, that I said: Ben, if you really hate it that much, then we should just tell them that you don't want to do the recital. I KNOW that you've been enjoying your piano playing sometimes, but I don't want you to completely ruin your musical experience! That's when Ben, with uncharacteristic certainty, looked me in the eyes and said, "No! I definitely want to do the concert!"

There was no more complaining about the concert for those final three weeks. And he did it! He performed on stage, sang tunefully, looked adorable, made me cry, and performed "Centuries" with enough emotion to fill my parental heart with intense appreciation for how far we've come. This is the boy who couldn't stand to have anyone around him, and wouldn't talk to other people at the age of six...UP ON STAGE! Singing and playing in front of an auditorium full of people! And bowing! My heart was very full.


At the library one day this winter, Ben ran up against a wall of Stuckness. Unfortunately, the Wall was hit just after I had checked out 60 library books on three cards, and was struggling to heave them away from the checkout counter in two bulging bags. This was when Ben remembered that he'd forgotten to get a book on optical illusions. Can you help me with these books, Ben? I asked him.

"No, but I forgot that optical illusion book! That was the whole REASON I wanted to come to the library! I forgot that optical illusions book! I NEED it!"

Hey Ben, can you please take this bag? We're heading home now. I'm not going back into the library. (I debated telling him to check out the book on his own, knowing that he would feel intimidated and unable to do it.) Please take some books! I can't carry them all on my own.

"No, but that was the whole REASON I came! You can't leave. I need that book."

Ben. I cannot go back into the library now. I am ready to go. Home. I can try to load the car by myself, but you'd need to check out the book yourself if you want it. You can take this other card, and check out one more book, and meet me at the car.

"No! But I don't know how."

I can tell you how. PLEASE first take these books! You need to be able to know how to check out your own library book.

"I won't check it out alone. I don't need to know. I'm not going to. If you don't come with me, I won't get out the book. And that's the whole REASON I came!"

For a split second I thought about going back for his book, but I also knew that I couldn't possibly do that.

In the car, I reminded him: there are times when I need to push you, and it's not because I'm angry at you, but because there are things you need to be able to do in life. Checking out a library book is one of them. I will now explain how to check out a library book:...

"No! Do you think I'm going in there to take out a book ALONE?! I don't need to know how to do that!"

Yes you do. When you start yelling at me in the library, and refusing to help me, and explaining how it's all my fault that you didn't get the book you becomes necessary to remind you that You Are Strong, Capable, And More Able To Be Independent Than You Currently Realize. Next time we go, you'll check out some books. You are lucky that you have a strong mother, Ben Starling.

Next time we went to the library, Ben Starling checked out his own books. He noted that it wasn't hard at all, which means that - due to his Special, Compartmentalized Brain - he will NOT in the future be able to reference this occasion when he again faces something "actually" difficult.

Ah, my Ben, it has been a long twelve years...



At any given moment, it feels like there is ALWAYS someone wanting me to do something for them. It occurs to me that this is probably because at any given moment, someone is ALWAYS wanting me to do something for them, and it's been well over a decade since it hasn't been this way. It's kind of hard to imagine, actually, an existence wherein I don't feel frequently Needed, and you bet your bottom dollar that I have not in any way figured out how to "balance" all these needs with my own, nor have I managed to banish guilt and a sort of simmering worry that I'm somehow neglecting my Duties when I, for example, sit down to Write something that is not strictly necessary from the perspective of, say, a twelve-, eight-, three-, or one-year-old.

In a vain attempt at balance, this winter I took a total of three dance classes, which were absolutely fabulous. I also attended two Fantastic Ladies' Nights Out with friends. Jeff and I even had a few dates. I do notice that my appreciation and gratitude for the Small But Finer Things In Life has increased exponentially since the arrival of my children, although I don't always see clearly. After one of the Nights' Out with friends, my mother said, "Good for you! You haven't gone out like that in a very long time!" What do you mean?! I said indignantly. I went out on the town...ah...six or seven years ago!!

Moms are always right.

I recently coined the term Nosepickings. You can use this in a sentence like: "Darling child of mine, I made sure to vacuum all the nosepickings off your bed!"

Incidentally, I'm not at ALL bitter about the fact that the bestselling author of "Gut" is like 25 years old, and has her whole life ahead of her as a scientist plus if-she-wants-to-be a mother of children with top-notch gut flora. No, I totally love that people like she get fame and glory (not to mention royalty checks), while those of us who deal with our children's daily diarrhea and tantrums get to toil behind the scenes and cook all the time, researching the latest developments in epigenetics and human/microbe symbiosis in between googling "Infant Sleep - Does It Exist?" and "Can Severe Rashes and Eating Disorders in Children Be Triggered By Spending an Entire Freaking Winter In A Freaking Cold Place?", totally anonymously and for no pay. It's totally fine with me, about all that!

Have you read a Fancy Nancy book lately? If not, you should. These books were absolutely created for Eliza. There is no way they weren't. In Fancy Nancy's alphabet book, she features words from A-Z, such as: "accessories," "glamorous" (fancy for fancy), etc. "U is for Understated," Nancy instructs, which refers to clothes like mamas wear, and is fancy for boring.

After reading out loud to Eliza these days, I get sudden urges to go clothes shopping. Or rather, I feel suddenly very frumpy, and like there's no hope of EVER getting in style since it's been two whole years since I last went shopping.

I really wish that the question mark and the exclamation mark were farther apart on the phone screen when I'm texting. I end up saying things to Jeff like, "I love you?", "You're awesome?", and "Definitely?"



"Robustify" - this means exactly what you think it means, and is an especially good thing to do to a website you are designing.

In a heroic act of homeownerliness, Jeff replaced the complex and fascinating hot/cold-water-mixing mechanism on our kitchen faucet, which now turns on and off like a dream.

In February, Jeff and I went with friends to see Glen Phillips in concert. About 26 years ago, when Jeff was in college, he first saw Toad the Wet Sprocket perform in Ithaca - and I can assure you that Jeff has drawn an amazing amount of strength and enjoyment from Glen's music ever since.

After the concert in February, Jeff got into the short greeting line of fans that was forming, and I could tell he was ambivalent...almost ready to go home without shaking Glen's hand. Jeff _hates_ the star-struck fandom stuff, and how, at the end of a concert, you get like 3.2 seconds to express your admiration while simultaneously making it clear to an artist whether you are intellectually inspired and have been for decades...or if you're in love with the man...or if you are actually a stalker. I imagine that many artists start feeling stalked by even the non-crazy people!

So yeah, probably Glen Phillips didn't get it, but _I_ could see in Jeff's eyes what he was trying to tell him that night: how many, many thousands of hours that he (Jeff) has listened to Glen's music, in good times and in terrible ones, sustaining Hopes and Good Melodies all along the way. An artist can kind of grow up with you, when you appreciate their work for long enough. Jeff was not admiring the man as superhuman, but as an ordinary person who creates extraordinarily honest and captivating art.

Jeff tried to say all this out loud in his 3.2 seconds, but would not ask for an autograph.

I watched my husband, and I loved him for this.


A Few Events from The Past Five Months That I Can Remember:

-- On January 10th, Ben turned twelve years old!

-- Ben and Jem participated in a book club. The actual club meeting was lame, but they really enjoyed "My side of the Mountain," and the book club was good because it provided Purpose and Motivation. And Ben read the entire book through by himself.

-- It's worth noting again (I think I mentioned it last update), that due to Karen's incredible patience, and my parents providing the funds to pay Karen, Miss Eliza Ruth learned to ice skate. By the time the end of the season rolled around, Eliza could skate unassisted, stiff-legged and padded like one of those little roller derby dolls, only a whole lot louder.

-- We installed a Spring Counter on our front window, consisting of cardstock numbers + a paper chain with a link for each day. We pretty much didn't miss a day, and it kept our hopes up on the Darkest Days...since we began with "63 Days Til Spring!"

-- Thanks to Cooks Illustrated, I can now make my own prepared mustard (you should try it! It's delicious and easy - this recipe is similar to the CI one:… ). I also discovered the best way to hardboil eggs (no green yolks, either)! It's very simple, as long as you keep the following information in mind: when you bring the egg up to cooking temperature slowly, the proteins in the eggwhite will fuse to the membrane, rendering the egg Difficult to Peel; however, if you start the egg cooking over high heat, and keep the heat high while it cooks, the membrane will instead fuse to the eggshell...thus creating an Easy-To-Peel egg and Happy Children. So: bring water to a rolling boil under a steamer basket, put the eggs in (cold from the fridge is fine) in a single layer, and put the lid on. Keep the water boiling under the eggs for 13 minutes, and then drain and cool eggs under cold tap water. Cooks Illustrated says that cooking technique is WAY more important than Freshness of Eggs.

-- I tried not using the computer after 7pm for three whole weeks in February. This was assuredly better for my health in every which way, due to less blue light hitting my eyeballs at the Wrong Times, plus fewer Distractions, and yet: after 7pm is pretty much the only time I can reliably sneak in a few moments of "me time", which is assuredly important, although this is assuredly a sign that my life is Totally Out of Balance, and so I assuredly must figure out much better ways to Deal With That. (Maybe: Eating for Comfort? I've heard that that's a good thing to try!) The Computer Reduction Sabbatical is a good thing, though, and highly recommended, especially if you're one of those people who can grab your Me Time earlier in the day - why not do your Computer Stuff in the daylight, and save post-7-pm for cleaning your house, cooking, taking exercise walks, doing yoga, and having sex??

-- Speaking of bike trips, on May 25th it will be 19 years since Jeff and I rolled into Carbondale, Illinois on our respective bicycle journeys , and I always get a little Nostalgic and Misty-Eyed about this. Due to Jewish superstition that has knit itself into my DNA, I try to avoid the Future Past Perfect in these updates, but hey - I might not get around to writing much more for another few months, and: on June 3rd, Jeff and I will have been married for 15 years!

-- Last month, Ben and Jem earned their yellow belts in karate, and were very proud of this. Karate has been a really great experience for them, and it's the activity aside from Primitive Pursuits that they've stuck with for the longest.

-- This Passover, for the first time in about 20 years, all of my siblings and our first cousins, my aunt, my parents, and myself (plus the ever-growing number of attendant significant others, children, etc.) gathered in the same room together! This was a momentous occasion, it was really great to see everyone, the Seder was well-orchestrated as ever, and it was made possible not only because my mother somehow figured out how to host many of us AND provide food for at least 5 different dietary choices over an entire weekend. May it happen again sooner than twenty years from now!!

-- After passover, we made our long-awaited NYC pilgrimage. We divided to conquer, with Jeff and the boys heading uptown to the Museum of Natural History and Central Park, while I headed south to have (an insanely expensive) lunch with the girls at Washington Square Park. The great part was that I got to see my dear friend Emily for a couple of hours; otherwise, it is debatable whether bringing two people under the age of four into NYC (especially one whose name rhymes with "Jeliza") has any redeeming value. But - Ben has been talking about and asking about (and asking about, and asking about) this visit for four years, and it was worth all the hassle of going solely to be able to Never Again Hear This Question: "When are we going to go into New York City-Like-You-Said-We-Would to the Museum of Natural History?" Note to self: remember, really and truly, not to ever ever make promises to Ben concerning specific activities that may not occur on their originally predicted timelines. (Next time we go to NYC, we might even decide to Go Somewhere Else besides the Museum of Natural History!)

-- Two days after we got back from NJ, Ben got the chickenpox. This is a good thing, because it's not supposed to be super fun to get this when you're an adult. It's not super fun when you're a kid, either, and one night of semi-hallucinations (Ben kept telling Jeff and Voldemort was coming, and that some man was trying to kiss him, and that we needed to go downtown right away because his thoughts were mixed up) was enough to last us all for a long time, thank you very much. Now his pox are rapidly fading, and someday Ben can proudly tell his grandchildren how many hundreds there were... The challenge we hadn't foreseen: the kids appear to be in for Sequential cases of the Pox, rather than simultaneous ones, which means that 75% of the family are likely going to be sick in a week or two. Wish us luck!


Movies and Books and Internet:

-- Jeff finished reading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud to the boys. Now they're back to Harry Potter.

-- The kids watched the "Anne of Green Gables" Canadian TV series.

-- Jeff and the boys and I went to see Michael Moore's new movie, "Where To Invade Next." The premise - Look At All the Fantastic Ideas That Other Countries Have...and Take Them Home With Us! - was compelling, and the "R" rating seemed to be due largely to a few seconds of footage that show a German couple walking naked into a hot tub while on holiday. So, it seemed as good a time as any to buck the oligarchy, and take Ben and Jem to watch a bit of Radical Politics.

-- Ithaca is home to some of the best teen theatre troupes around, and we were lucky enough to catch productions of "Crazy for You" and "Mary Poppins" over the winter (live theatre! Yay!). Eliza pretty much could have gone back for ten more performances of each...

-- "A Tree for Emmy" (Mary Rodman), "Mitchell Goes Bowling" (Henry Greville), "Jocelyn and the Ballerina" (Nancy Hartry), and The Princess and the Pea (Lauren Child) were some particularly nice picture books we've read this year.

-- Ben and Jem thought this was a really interesting and captivating re-telling of the traditional tale: "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", by Michael Morpurgo

-- An interesting analysis of a recent study concerning ketogenic diets: "The study that has thoroughly excited the anti-Paleo media in no way evaluates the impact of a Paleo diet since the diet used in the study does not reflect Paleo guidelines (even the small percentage of people who combine Paleo with ketogenic diets are not getting 10% of their calories from canola oil or the most inflammatory dairy protein casein!). But, just because the study is being grossly misrepresented in the media does not make it a bad study."…

-- A quick, comic-style animated infographic about ADHD diagnosis and treatment in this country:…

-- Nice way to attempt to understand the relative scale of the solar system:

-- Jeff and I enjoyed the movies "The Big Short" and "Sunshine Cleaning"


Haiku-ish by Jem

Trees are im portent
plants are actually im portent
birds are im portent


Haikus by Ben

Trees are super great
oaks live a very long time
oaks will Help me breathe.

Rocks are very hard
gold is heavy like iron
i see rocks all day


And now, the announcement that we recently sent to our local friends:

Eight years ago in June, our family moved to EcoVillage . Ben was four, Jem was 10 months old, and we were looking for three things: Really Great Neighbors, a fabulous place to raise our children, and the cohousing ideal of Shared Resources.

We found wonderful neighbors in spades, our children love EcoVillage as the only home they can remember (especially the two born here), and we have appreciated the amazing land, farms, and industrious friendliness of our neighbors more than we can say. We love so many people in Ithaca.

Sadly, we plan to move away this summer, and we thought you might want to know why.

The main challenge has been our family's collective [ill-] health: Various issues and developmental problems have plagued our children, starting before we moved to EcoVillage. I struggled hugely during and after my pregnancy with Eliza. But what you may not know, due to his handsome demeanor, cheerful smile, killer sense of humor, and tendency toward Understatement and Privacy, is that Jeff has been struggling with deteriorating and ever-more-debilitating health problems as well.

Jeff's health has never been robust, but over the last twenty years it's gotten to the point where his jokes (such as, "Ivy, enjoy your papa now, because he's not gonna make it past fifty!") are pretty much devoid of actual humor - and eight months ago, we budgeted for several rounds of testing to establish whether his symptoms, biomarkers, and genetic susceptibility are consistent with a diagnosis of "Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome," or CIRS. If you'd like more information about this diagnostic rabbit hole, here's two good resources to get you started:……

Suffice to say that for many years, Jeff's health has been going downhill. He has long noted that he feels like he's "allergic to Ithaca," and discovering that there was a small patch of mold growing in the basement boiler room in our home (last month this was carefully remediated) was only the final straw, prompting us to make a decision that's a long time coming: we want to spend a good amount of time outside, and in a different, warmer, and drier climate to see if Jeff's (and possibly our children's) health improves.

We will so miss our friends and our neighbors, and the time we've spent here, and we plan to come back to visit...


The end of our announcement noted: "In the next few weeks, will will be liquidating nearly all of our possessions, since we plan to move into a small camper while we check out various Future Hometowns..."


Stay tuned! More details are forthcoming.

Happy Mother's Day, to those who celebrate,