Dear family:

David is down in Jackson, Mississippi for this week, where the temperature is in the triple digits. Here in Bethlehem it is in the very comfortable seventies, just delightful. In fact, it really is too cool to go to the pool, so we are not getting the full use of our pool passes this summer. I like it to be in the nineties for outdoor swimming. Anyway, David is attending his second (and final) year of new staff training.

Daniel, Peter, and Stephen leave tomorrow for French Creek camp – the older boys are counselors and Stephen is a camper. Quite a few of our church young people will be there this week. Since Christopher is attending vo-tech school in the day this week, the house will be very quiet! I think Ben will be quite bored and clingy. I have been considering how to best use the time but I’m sure it will include at least one park outing.

I last wrote in the morning of July Fourth. I talked everyone into going as a family to the pool that afternoon. As it turned out, Daniel was called by KFC because they wanted him to purchase and help set up their computer that day. He did show for a brief dip before both boys left for evening shift there. David embarrassed the children by deciding that he should read the Declaration of Independence at the pool, but they ended up finding it a rather interesting document after all. In lieu of a picnic (I had done so much cooking for houseguests) we opted to eat at KFC, served by Dan and Pete, and finished the day by watching fireworks from the Broad St. bridge.

The summer seems to be the time when we have a lot of appointments. Between car inspections, eye doctor check-ups, and dental visits we do a lot of running around with little to show for it. Coming up are the boys’ physicals (a repeat for Peter since he just had one a few months ago for his working papers but needs another one for sports participation) which also chew up an extraordinary amount of time. I have had MAFA staff meetings, and David is on the sanctuary renovation committee at church so he has had a slew of extra meetings, too.

All of us drove to New Jersey for a day with the Fletchers. Some of it could qualify as a business meeting because they are board members in the weekly school where David taught biology this past year, and he had a student who (allegedly) cheated on the final exam – by pasting David’s own class notes outline from the web site directly onto the exam! It has involved a lot of discussion about how to fairly handle this case. We went to their community pool which makes ours look like a dump, and it was such a beautiful day that we were loathe to leave. My contribution to the meals was dessert – a couple of pies and cheesecake – which we only made a dent in since Susan had fed us so well. I left the desserts down there which appalled the boys so I have been baking more pies and cheesecake to make it up to them. By now we are berried out.

In the midst of all the happy stuff, we have been saddened by the death of James Boice, our pastor at Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia. He was diagnosed with liver cancer on Good Friday, and died exactly two months later, though he was one of the most physically fit people we know. The silver lining to this cloud of loss is that we have spent some time remembering his role and influence in our lives with gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude... I received a gift to take the women from my church (who helped serve the anniversary buffet) out to lunch, so we went after our Wednesday morning Bible study last week. Most of them are teenage girls, and they really enjoyed the "grown-up" feeling of going out to a fancy lunch. Our summer study has gone very well, and so has the evening summer institute. I may not be getting much school preparation done, but I am getting to know our church members better.

The big project around here has been the front porch. The wood was rotting in places, and after consulting with various people, we went ahead and arranged to have a concrete porch poured. This then mushroomed into replacing the sidewalk, which had been broken up by the maple tree, which then further developed into bringing down the maple, which is decayed and dropping large limbs. The motley crew that is doing the work fascinates Ben, and he watches them for hours. The head guy is very outgoing, loud, and friendly, and is obviously fond of having such a devoted audience. Since the guys work without shirts on, Ben has been going shirtless and strutting around in perfect imitation of their manner. He will really miss them, although the neighbors may feel otherwise! David plans to plant some shrubs and grass when he returns, but it will be another month until the porch railing and posts get put back up. It is a big encouragement to me to see the improvement. Next on the list (which may mean in a year or two or three!) is the garage, which the contractor told us is leaning and badly needs siding.

In a belated burst of enthusiasm, David planted the rest of our vegetable garden just before he left, so if the fall is mild enough, we may have a late crop. In this area we have benefitted from Christopher’s babysitting job at the Krick’s, as they are gardeners par excellence and have shared their bounty with us.

News from the boys... Daniel and Peter report that some middle-aged man came through the drive- through at KFC one night in his birthday suit. They usually work six nights a week, which one would think would have put a crimp in their social life but they have managed an extraordinary amount of golf, movies, and hosting of friends. I never know when I will find a cluster of teens in my kitchen looking for something to eat. Dan has been doing some computer work for us, installing a DSL line so our phone lines are not tied up anymore with computer traffic. Hopkins just raised 1.52 billion dollars, 100 million given by Michael Bloomberg (Daniel is a "Michael Bloomberg Trustee Scholar") so his financial aid package is intact, which is a relief. We had been a little nervous after reading about the bait-and-switch approach to financial aid that some colleges use – giving large awards to freshmen and then drastically reducing the package in future years.

Peter is also doing computer work for David, designing our web site. He has been accepted into Lehigh Valley Christian High School (aided by a discount for pastor’s kids) and so we will have someone in an "official" school for the first time in fifteen years of homeschooling! There are rumors that this was all initiated by his desire to get out of French class (LVCHS has only German and Spanish) but may also have something to do with his plan to try out for the soccer team next month.

Christopher completed one week of vo-tech school last week. He is going again this week at his own expense because he likes it so much. He took classes in Auto Body, Auto Tech, Plumbing, and Electronics. He was a big hit at yesterday’s church picnic due to taking along the guinea pigs. I went up an eensie weensie bit in his estimation because I finally read a novel he recommended to me. That makes me think of something...I think our local paper hit an ALL TIME LOW when the front page, lead article

was that a local boy bought a book at a bookstore and some pages were missing. I suppose the editor thought that because it was the new Harry Potter book it was newsworthy. And speaking of the local paper hitting an all time low, I should mention that we were interviewed and photographed for a feature on homeschooling. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel for news, I guess.

Stephen can’t think of anything I should include about him. He etched 2000 in the new concrete, had me cut his hair in Daniel’s style, is doing some school work in a desultory manner, and suffering under the onerous chore of having to pick up the record number of apples that are falling in our back yard.

David talked me into having a free session with the fitness trainer at the YMCA, who wrote up a 3X per week strength training program based on my condition (weakling). This has provided much amusement for the boys, who love to watch me struggle with 20 pound weights and think it funny that my stretching exercises take longer than the weight training. I’m not sure I have the resolve to continue this once school begins in earnest; I’ll let you know if I enter any body-building contests!

Time to help the boys pack for camp...



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