Dear family:

Surprise! I bet none of you expected to hear from me so soon – my weekly letters have been (at best) monthly, but I thought I’d turn over a new leaf and see if I could write again this afternoon. This is part of my larger intention to pick up momentum for the coming school year.

The looming school year has featured largely in the past week’s activities. We’ve been collecting school supplies for Peter, and purchasing shoes for just about everyone. At this time of year I always remember with fondness the excursion to buy school shoes at Buster Brown, where we got a pencil and pencil case with our Hush Puppies. Our boys wear sneakers for school shoes, and there is no sentimentality attached to the occasion of purchasing them, since the boys hate shopping and just want to get it over with. The big news is that Christopher grew 2 ˝ sizes since January!

This week the big boxes from Calvert School arrived. This annual event is our equivalent of first day of school traditions, and Christopher and Stephen eagerly look through the box – groaning over the dreaded grammar texts and eagerly checking out the reading books. A few weeks ago Calvert contacted me and asked if I would represent them at a curriculum fair in Bartonsville in exchange for a half price discount on my order. I have completely avoided curriculum fairs myself, because I would be overwhelmed by the number of choices and would purchase all of them, but naturally I agreed to go and had a lot of fun being a "booth babe" for a day.

Those of you who are local may have noticed the article on homeschooling in the August 16th Morning Call, which had a photograph of us and included some "sound bites" from an interview the reporter had with me. At first we didn’t see it ourselves, because it was in a magazine extra to the paper, called Lehigh Valley Woman. (The article on us followed one on gay and lesbian parenting.) I was surprised by the number of people who did see it – we were alerted by quite a few people on Stephen’s soccer team, neighbors and so on. I can’t imagine having enough time to read the paper that thoroughly. This article was nice in that it was mostly accurate.

Most of you have met Joel, the president of our RSF group at Lehigh. At long last, after a summer long quest, he purchased a used car and came over to show off his prize. Of course we all had to take a ride in it, and to contribute to the celebration I put Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in the tape player. It was great to see how much pleasure this new freedom and mobility was giving him, and it will be a big help to us, too, since now he can do a lot of the driving of students that we have done up to this point.

Most of our students came back this week, and we have had some over for dinner to hear about their summers. On Friday, David and I did our freshman outreach table, with some of the students helping when they weren’t required elsewhere. Our McDonald’s cooler had a leak, so we had a swarm of bees around the table most of the day, but no one got stung at our table (though they did at another’s table). The administration also gave us helium balloons, which tended to toss in the wind and hit people in the face. Nevertheless, it was a good day and we met some interested people. We provide a service to the university in giving countless people directions around campus and offering cold drinks to the panting parents who aren’t prepared for Lehigh’s hills. In the past the university has had some student employees designated to do this, but this year they didn’t bother and gave us their official sanction. We had an extended chat with our faculty advisor, whom we see once a year at this event. His daughter is enrolling at Lehigh, so we encouraged them to send her our way. Three students came with us to church this morning; next week there may be more as some were away at choir camp. It is a rather long and tiring day (and we always get sunburned, even with sunscreen) but is great visibility for the group.

The boys went to Dorney Park for one last summer fling with a group of church friends on Monday. The teens at church have done a lot of things together over the summer; they are a nice group. Since Stephen was deemed too young for this group, I suggested that Dan take him later in the week, and they linked up with Sarah Plowman who was taking her younger brother, too. Poor Stephen was a bit traumatized by having been taken on Steel Force three times. I’m rather pleased with myself that I have managed another summer without having to go myself!

Peter handed in his resignation at KFC in order to focus on his soccer practices. They have been grueling and a summer working at KFC and on the computer hasn’t put him in the best shape. On Monday he asked the coach for a break because he had a headache after sprints, and the coach told him that if he wasn’t up to the practice, then he didn’t want him on the team. The coach called us up a few hours later and told us he had been feeling bad ever since and that he realized he was angry with the team and had taken it out on Peter. So he wanted Peter back on the team. By this point I think Peter was feeling relieved that he wasn’t going to have to go through more practices, so the news was a mixed blessing! We have watched a couple of scrimmages, and this level of aggressive play is a stretch for Peter, but he has the opportunity to learn a lot if he doesn’t get too beat up first. I just wish there were a lot more "sport" in high school athletics around here. These games seem to be taken way too seriously – not necessarily by the kids but by the adults in the community.

I wrapped up my summer Bible study on Wednesday. Early in the summer I had mentioned that I love cookies, so to thank me for leading the study, each woman brought me a dozen or more homemade cookies with strict instructions that I was not to share them with my brood. I now have a huge stash of wonderful cookies in the freezer. One woman apologized that she could not cook, so she gave me a bottle of wine, and another gave me a box of chocolates, and another gave me a book. At the beginning of the study we exchanged coffee mugs with summer prayer partners, and at the last meeting returned the mugs. Since the name of the book we had read together was Treasures of Encouragement, a number of the women filled the mugs with Nestle Treasures chocolates. So all in all, it was a summer of great encouragement of one another, except perhaps in the area of dieting! It was especially gratifying to hear one of the women (who was raised Catholic but has no familiarity with the Scriptures) speak about how much she appreciated the study. Now I have to change direction and prepare for my MAFA classes in the history and literature of the 17th century. Somehow I don’t think it will be quite as fun!

Daniel returns to Hopkins next Sunday. By mistake the KFC manager did not put him on the work schedule this week, but he is trying to negotiate some hours anyway because he was counting on another week’s income. If he doesn’t get the hours, I plan on having him help me with some small painting projects around the house. Come on over and see our new front porch!



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