16 July 1983
Dear Mom & Dad,
Well, we made it for 6 days without Michael. Things went rather smoothly. The 1st day three different people came by to check on me. No one came after that. We went to swim classes which are going very well.
Friday, Faye and I took our kids to the zoo. They all loved it. The zoo was big and very nice. It was clean, which is surprising here in Naples where everyone throws their trash wherever they want. All the animals were lively and playful which delighted the kids. They had all kinds of animals except fish and seals, etc. They even had Brahma bulls and horses from America.
The kids and I cleaned house Saturday. We picked Michael up at the airport Sunday about 5:00 PM. We went to an ice cream supper that night. Michael wouldn't let a little thing like jet lag keep him from an ice cream supper.
Michael got most of the things he was looking for in Philadelphia. The shoes he got for the kids were cute, but not exactly what I had in mind from last year. Steven's are too narrow for his wide foot and won't stay on because the elastic is too loose in the back. Angelique's are ok, but I'm not real sure they feel good. She asks to wear her old pair every now and then. Do you know if Walmart has the elastic sandals like Angelique had last year? You might look in some of her old pictures from last summer if you don't remember what they look like. They had a rubber-like sole and elastic across the toes, arch and heel. It was a good grade of elastic so they wore well and fit nicely. If they do have them can you mail me some soon? Steven should wear a 6. Angelique could get by without them, but if you find them, she wears about a size 8. I think they cost around $4.00. I'll send the money if you find them. I got them at Walmart last year.
Wednesday, our neighbor across the street, Joan Ziebart, took us to the NATO beach, which is only about 5 minutes from our house. (Michael had to work so he didn't get to go.) We had heard how dirty the Mediterranean Sea was around Naples so we were pleased to see this area was so nicely kept. We took our 1st swim in the Sea. Angelique loved it. She'd go back every day. She liked the water and building sand castles. It is shallow out for quite a way, so with her floaties on, she had a ball. Steven didn't care much for the water. I had forgotten to prepare him for the waves. The waves were very small, but still he didn't think they ought to be splashing him so much. He finally ended up sitting at the edge of the water with a pail and shovel and dump truck and had fun digging. The water eventually got up around him, but he didn't mind it so much then. We stayed about 4 hours. I came home with a red back where I couldn't get my sunscreen on. It is still sore. The kids did better since they had sunscreen on and I put their shirts on them the last hour we were there.
Not much out of the ordinary has happened other than that. I'm sending Susan Krumrei a few gifts. Our missionary friends here, Ron & Rusty Winfree, are going on vacation up through Holland and wanted to go by and meet Susan and Phil. I tried to call her the other night, but couldn't get through.
I think my class reunion is going on today. Sure wish I could be there. Michael called Denise while he was in Philadelphia. She said she would write and tell me about the reunion.
Is Uncle Glen still improving? I was surprised about his heart attacks.
How did the fishing trip go? Did you have enough freezer space for all the fish? Did the guys come back fatter or thinner? Did Christian run you ragged?
The country here is very mountainous with fertile valleys in between. Our yard slopes gently toward the sea coast. But we can see mountains when we look inland. There are many tunnels in Naples. It must be cheaper for them to go through the mountains instead of over them or digging them out. The kids love the tunnels
Plants grow well here. We're keeping our neighbors garden while they're gone to France & Spain for a month. We've gotten green beans, cucumbers, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce & onions from them. Soon there will be corn and tomatoes. These plants just keep producing with no signs of letting up. I'm sharing the produce with our other neighbors since we can't eat it all. Our landlord keeps bringing me peaches and plums. I've been giving some of them away, too.
I was told you could put a cut rose (or any flower) down in the ground and it would grow. It's all this rich volcano land, I suppose. The land is not rocky. It's more like ashes than anything else. It sure is hard to get out of clothes. I don't know what it is like under the top soil. I'm afraid to dig too deep ... may find steam or lava. There's a lot of sand, too. Not pretty white sand like in Florida, but a dirty color sand. They use big tractors and little tractors.
There is a mall or two downtown, but I haven't made it there yet. It's a long way - most people take the train there. Most Americans do their shopping on the base or in the markets. Markets are a hassle with 2 preschoolers so I haven't been very much. Maybe I can go more when Angelique gets in school this fall.
I'm waiting to see pictures of our house, too. I had some film developed the other day and discovered that Michael hadn't taken any pictures of the house, yet. I'm not sure what he is waiting on. I guess he's been too busy.
Angelique wants me to tell you about our bidets in the bathrooms. They are about the same size as a commode, only they are like sinks. The Italians use it for footwashing. Our kids use it for washing their hands and brushing their teeth. It's like a low sink with a deep basin. I use it for mop water or washing out messy clothes. It's a nice convenience when you have small ones. Americans with older kids or no kids use them as a planter or a magazine rack. They always sit right beside the commode. Strange, huh?
Well, Michael came home from making rounds this morning and told me he had to fly to Germany to the Army hospital there with a set of premature twins born last night.
Well, Michael didn't go to Germany after all. He came in just after I wrote that and said one of the babies died, so only the other doctor had to go to Germany with the one baby. They have to have a doctor go with each patient. The mother didn't even get to go. The family had only been here about 3 weeks and were still in a hotel. In fact, one of the babies was delivered in the hotel - the other in the hospital. She was only 28 weeks into her pregnancy. She also has a 14-month-old girl. I imagine they will end up going home to the States.
Saturday night we went down to the local 'gelateria' and got 'gelati' (ice cream). It's only about a mile from our house. I got 'limone' (lemon). It was very lemon. Angelique and Steven shared a cup of 'fragola' (strawberry). Steven is beginning to eat ice cream better now that it is getting hotter. He samples everyone's and then buddies up to whomever has the best ice cream that time. He doesn't hardly eat enough to get his own yet. He probably will when it gets really hot.
I got some things together and taught cradle roll at church today. The girl who had been teaching it didn't know but a few songs and things to do. I was up till 12:30AM last night making trees, flowers and flip charts out of diaper box cardboard.
Michael taught the adult class in Hebrews. He spent a lot of time preparing for that.
It seems we never get to bed at a decent hour. There's always something that needs to be done or a letter to write.
I made some zucchini parmesan for lunch today. I just fried the thinly sliced zucchini in a little butter and then tossed it with the grated parmesan cheese. Even Angelique ate a little bit of it.
Not much else has happened. Michael and I are going on a tour to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompei on Saturday. I'll tell you about that in the next letter. Two teenaged girls are gonna keep the kids that day. Steven won't like that, but Angelique will. Steven will be fine once we leave and will be all smiles when we get back.
I'd better write Brenda. She sent the kids a couple of cute cards. Steven thought his was really neat. He probably doesn't remember getting mail or cards for himself. Angelique liked hers, too.
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