Jennifer broke her toe in February, which caused excruciating pain for the first day or two. You can imagine how dainty her size 11 foot looked in that orthopedic surgical shoe! David turned six this month and won his first speed skating race. He is still such a string bean, we thought a made-from-scratch birthday cake might help put some meat on his bones. Jennifer exiled the rest of the children to the back yard while David helped bake a chocolate cake topped with a green coconut farm scene. It turned out good enough to eat! David began first grade at home this year and immediately began shortening his name to DAVE on much of his written work. I guess it saves time. A budding scientist, he loves to concoct his own experiments. One day recently, Jennifer noticed David’s shirt was soaking wet and asked what he had been doing. “I’ve been practicing sneezing,” he explained. “I take little drinks of water, then blow them out my nose. One sip makes two ah-choos!”
Our home school support group sponsored a Civil War Ball in April. We had almost as much fun preparing for the event as we did attending — learning period dances like the Virginia Reel and the Yankee Doodle, and fashioning old prom dresses and second-hand suits into frilly ball gowns and Confederate uniforms. Doug’s anesthesia orals were this month, as I already mentioned. The examination fell smack dab on his thirty-first birthday and took place in Atlanta, Georgia. Jennifer stayed home with the children and laid six pallets of grass while he was gone. The kids helped a little, but spent most of their time breaking in the new fort/swing-set we had built in our yard just before Doug left town. They even slept in it! Or at least, they tried to, until the mosquitoes drove all but the most determined back to their own beds.
Thirty-one seems way too early to be starting a mid-life crisis, but perhaps that would partly explain why Doug felt compelled in August to trade in his dependable Chevy truck for an extremely impractical, two-seater convertible! It may also bear significance that he did this the same day Jennifer discovered the first three gray hairs in his temple. Or it could be that men really are from Mars! Whatever the case, Doug spent all of eight weeks crammed conspicuously behind the wheel of a tiny, emerald green, Mazda Miata before coming to his senses and swapping back for an extended-cab pick-up.
Bethany turned nine in September and is still the most helpful, patient, thoughtful daughter any parent could hope to have. She asked us not to spend a bunch of money on her birthday this year, as all she really wants is a sister! But, alas! She had to settle for a set of books, instead. Bethany continues to out-read us all. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s writing stories of her own. Her best one to date is “Run, Lightning, Run!”, told in six short but detailed chapters
Although we are more involved in outside activities than ever before, we don’t feel particularly “busy”. Here in Tyler, we are literally five minutes away from any place we need to go, and our older children have become a huge help to us in everything we do! We still find time to read great books together. Doug finished C S Lewis’s Screwtape Letters this fall, which fueled some fascinating discussions, and Jennifer is about half-way through the fourth of eight Little Britches books, which have proven to be rare jewels, indeed! Sterling North says that this autobiographical set by Ralph Moody “should be read aloud in every family circle in America”, and we agree whole-heartedly with that assessment. Even our younger boys hang on every word of them! Most of the family — Flanders, Cowans, and Hancocks — came to Tyler for Thanksgiving this year. We crowded around the table and listened as each person in attendance recounted God’s blessings, feeling overwhelmed by His goodness!