Dear family:

I hope you all feel honored that I chose writing this letter to you over taking a brisk walk in the Spring air. I figure it will be several weeks before I write again, and this was my best chance to get a letter off. Many of you have already had family news from Christopher, so I find myself in the unusual position of wondering what to say.

My last letter neglected to mention that Ida Ruth Green had been in the hospital. She went in for some arteriosclerosis surgery. Upon arriving back home, she suffered a mild stroke, and so had to go right back. She is now home again and doing very well, according to a phone conversation we had, but tires easily. She has decided to retire from managing her booth at the farmerís market.

Although the school year doesnít end for a few more months, a number of things in which weíve been involved are wrapping up Ė such as The Masterís Academy of Fine Arts and Peterís logic classĖ while others are just getting going Ė such as spring soccer. MAFAís closing program was an impressive display of the studentsí artwork. The drama elective did a number of short skits, including a miracle play, and Peter had his theatrical debut as Lance A lot, news broadcaster for "The Knightly News". I tried to drum up attendance by emailing our church friends that Peter would be wearing tights. I was in the enviable position of having almost no responsibilities for the closing program other than baking some refreshments from a medieval cookbook and displaying my history timeline as far away as possible from the calligraphy teacherís timeline, which thoroughly outclassed it. MAFA has been an enriching program for all of us, and we were a little sad to have the year end, but we all are looking forward to having Thursdayís back to ourselves again. I have been talked into continuing as history teacher for next yearís Baroque cycle, so the respite is temporary.

One bizarre event associated with MAFA was a design-a-teeshirt contest that was being held across all the schools. Christopher and Stephen got very focused on creating a design for the contest, and Chris was particularly annoyed that Stephen was flagrantly copying his idea. My observation that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" did not seem to help. Then the newsletter handed out the final day announced that Stephen had tied as the local winner. Christopher was tempted to sulk all afternoon at the injustice. Soon we learned that the national director from Atlanta (who would be attending the closing program) would be making the national award presentation and Stephen was supposed to sit at the end of the pew so he could easily come forward to receive "something". At the dramatic moment the director announced, "And the second place national winner is CHRISTOPHER GREEN!" Christopher didnít quite know how to handle the sudden reversal in his fortunes, and poor Stephen was now the sorry victim of let-down (which he took with wonderful grace, I must add). There is probably some moral in all of this, but it will have to fall to Nana to point it out. The local director was very apologetic for getting the boys confused.

I have been hearing rumors about me serving gruel, etc. Let me clarify that the boys were served gruel and mead, but it was part of our final MAFA class taught by a guest author of a book on the Childrenís Crusade. And in fact, Stephen was a bishop, so he actually got bread. It is true that I have a "memory snapshot" of Peter standing at the fridge, reading the weekís menu that I put there. There were actually two weekís worth of menus, since I was planning ahead for Danielís spring break. Peter called everyone over to observe the discrepancy between the week of Danielís visit (all his favorite dishes) and the week before (standard family fare).

It was great to have Dan home again. We posted a list of errands and chores he could do, and many of them did get accomplished. On his own his reprogrammed the car clock, so it at long last told the correct time. However, now that the clocks moved forward an hour, it is once again an hour off! I was very leery of the project most on everyone elseís mind (networking the computers) but he did it with a minimal amount of frustration. However, as soon as Daniel left, my computer stopped sending the printing message upstairs to the printer, so I guess Daniel needs a few more classes down there at JHU before he will be able to support himself with this kind of work! Daniel came to our penultimate MAFA class so he got a taste of what his brothers have been doing there. He also played golf with some neighbor friends, attended a church conference, hosted a party for his homeschool friends also home on break, watched some movies with Peter, helped me shop, and read three or four complete novels! He did some calculus homework, too Ė or so he says. He has been lobbying for a TI89 calculator; he had to go to Staples and use their display model to solve one of his homework problems. However, he is not allowed any calculator during exams, so his argument hasnít convinced his father yet, who after all went to school in the slide ruler (or was it abacus?) days. His mother is more of a softie, and did buy him several cases of Snapple and a mega-sized tin of Piroulines to take back. Apparently Danielís contribution to his dorm floorís economy is Snapple and Pirouline cookies, in exchange for using the scanners, printers, digital cameras, and other technological gadgetry of his hall mates. He and his roommate Patrick have gotten along well enough that they are planning to room together again next year in a suite with two other guys from the hall.

I have a little private joke Iíll share with you. David was waxing eloquent about the cultural opportunities of a place like Baltimore when we were discussing college options for Danielís friend, Michael. I happen to know that the "cultural opportunity" that Daniel was planning this weekend was to see the campus movie, Toy Story II.

Speaking of culture reminds me of some field trips we have taken. One was to Font Hill, the Doylestown home of Henry Mercer. This bachelor archeologist and museum curator decided (I think in the 1930's) to build a concrete castle to relive his boyhood fantasies, and it is now available to tour. We hadnít been there more than few minutes before we decided that Poppa and Christopher could live happily ever after there. Mercer loved books, so every room has built in shelves; he loved collecting, so knick-knacks are hanging from the ceilings and walls. Nooks, crannies, staircases, lots of windows, balconies, and a floor plan that must have been copied from the Labyrinth, all make it the ideal place to play hide and seek.

David took the older boys to the Bach Choirsís 100th anniversary concert of the B Minor Mass. Since this concert was a replica of the original performance, it was held at Central Moravian Church and the tickets cost $1.50 (which meant we really had to be on the ball to get any). This was a great opportunity for our children to hear this local choir with an international reputation (tickets for the Mass performance in May are more like $40). It was hot, with so many people packed in there, and they did the full mass, so it was long, but I think they all enjoyed it more than they expected. Last night David and I went to the Lehigh Choirís Spring concert, which was all Mozart, including the full Mozart Requiem. One of our Bible Study students had the bass solos. It was great! My favorite part, though, was the piano and orchestra Concerto No. 21. By a stroke of good luck we got seats in the second row (directly behind Mr. And Mrs. Baker, of Baker Hall) and had a perfect view of the piano soloist, Eugene Albulescu. His playing was technically flawless, but I was riveted by the wonderful feeling and expression of his face as he played. I donít think Iíve ever been that close to a professional of his caliber during a performance, and it made the whole thing so much better. For a town the size of Bethlehem, we have an amazing number of musical resources available.

Yesterday was Peterís 16th birthday. Because for one reason or another he had figured out most of his presents, we decided to surprise him by hosting a birthday lunch at the conclusion of his logic class. In addition to the class members, several other church and school friends came and we set out a picnic buffet of meatball sandwiches and buffalo wings, with the trimmings, behind the office building where the class is held. He and a couple of the guys had to head off then for a soccer game, in which Peter gave himself a birthday present by scoring a goal (as he did in the previous game). I served his birthday cheesecake at the picnic, but that night as a family we had his chosen menu of Steak au Poivre and crescents and presents. Since I have been trying to teach some table manners, I decided to hide a money gift from Aunt Doris in his napkin. If he didnít place his napkin in his lap, he wouldnít find the gift. Reluctantly I had to admit that Aunt Doris might object if I pocketed the money myself, so I hope I made my point, at least. He wanted to go to a local churchís coffeehouse that night, but because of the Lehigh concert we werenít able to pick him up. Uncle David very kindly offered to fetch him (Amy ended up going to the coffeehouse, too) so Peter had a very happy and exhausting birthday.

On the agenda for the coming week for David is a bunch of preparations Ė biology class, leadership seminar, Bible Study, several presentations at missions events in Philadelphia, Danielís financial aid forms, and taxes. I am scheduled to give a "Jane Austen Night" at church on Friday evening. It is practically impossible to find a significant stretch of time to prepare the way I would like to, so Iím fighting a sense of panic. I have been billed as an authority on Jane Austen, but it has been twenty years since I wrote my thesis and read much of the material! I have third quarter portfolios to review for Covenant Home, and am supposed to be submitting the plans for our churchís Summer Institute. This is also the week we have to get Peterís schoolwork ready for his annual evaluation by Dr. Richman. Peterís research paper is due Friday, so he is under the gun, too. Christopher and Stephen are completing Test 100, and Stephen is working on his derby car for the Awana Grand Prix. Itís all rather daunting.

However, the reward dangling before us is that a week from tomorrow Chris, Ben, and I leave for Florida. It will be a treat for those at home to be rid of the three of us, and I am looking forward to some sun and freedom from routine. (There are several books I have been saving and canít wait to dive into, guilt-free. Virtually all of my reading this year has been MAFA related. By coincidence, that included the book Calendar, which Dad has recently discovered.) Because I am concerned that more than a week of Ben might be too much for Ethel, I have arranged for us to take a mid-vacation trip north to visit Mary Lou Shay, the Middletons, and the Hicks, D.V.

There was a great sale on strawberries at Valley Farm Market this week, so I think Iíll say goodbye and mix up some shortcake. Strawberry shortcake brings back happy memories of Mom reading The Poky Little Puppy to me and Peter.

I have just learned that David assumed I had moved the clocks ahead, and I believed that he had done so. There is some frantic scurrying of those headed to evening service!



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