Dad and Isaac, sorry to miss your birthdays. We love you both.

How wonderful to get on here and see a new burst of life including an essay from Bump, a note from Joel and little Poortengas covered in flour. Isaac, your essay was great. It would be hard to think of a more truthful and direct answer to that question, and you gave your answer in a clever and thoughtful way. Joel, here are some words to get you started:

1. Emotions: consternation, disorientation, relief, bliss
2. An ending to the phrase, “I was surprised to learn that some…”: antennae are starting to grow on my pet turtles; of my chickens’ eggs are producing dinosaurs; boxes of dormant wax worms are stacked in my fridge; lavender caecilians are living in my basement; people can’t find their way home from here. [Since at least junior high, caecilians have sat near the top of my list for critters that I would love to find in the wild.]

It is wonderful to read of Luke’s time and how well it is going. His own writing about it is delightful. It will be great to see him and hear more about it.

It was a tough weekend at Milton Hershey. Two of the girls are on detention, and there is an deep hostility toward the house parents that is widespread among the girls.

It has been lots of fun thinking about and trying to write an introductory chapter about the Old Neighborhood. Elizabeth read the most recent draft on Saturday night and was very encouraging. She is an excellent critic. It also elicited a stream of early childhood memories from her which was delightful. I sent Kevin the first draft but it is getting trimmed, tightened and filled out even more now with my own ideas and Elizabeth’s feedback. When Kevin and I get a couple chapters together in a form that we are happy with, maybe we can post them on here for some initial family feedback.

Our seminar week at school had its ups and downs. Some kids had a great time with the engineering-type challenges and variety of other puzzles, but it was hard to keep everyone productively occupied. Seeing the bridges tested at the end of the week was a highlight. The egg drop test was a mess because of a strong and bitterly cold wind. Nessa and Tobin were with me during the afternoon so that Elizabeth could sleep. She worked extra shifts last week. Last night, after getting back from MHS, she went straight into work. Then she bought groceries on the way home. She’s finally getting some sleep now.

Nessa continues to draw many lovely pictures. One of my favorites from this weekend was a detailed submarine with an underwater world around it. We have a little archival folder where we are keeping them. We’ll have to find a way to scan some of them into the computer to share. Just this morning, she has already been a “collie dog” (Lassie), a “real ballerina” and a “white angel wolf.” The last character is new (from this weekend, as far as I know). It comes from one of the Balto movie sequels that she saw a while ago which featured a great white wolf that comes down from the sky to guide and commune with Balto during hard times. I suspect that she put some of the images from that movie together with the many renditions of the Christmas story that she enjoyed and came up with the title “white angel wolf.”

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