6 Sept 1983
Tues Night

Dear Sis,

We got the Sesame Street tape today. Thank you, muchly. The others have not made it yet, but will probably be along soon. The kids watched the 1st program this afternoon while I tried to figure out my new microwave that Michael brought home today. It's an Amana Touchmatic II. It can be easily converted from the present 50 cycles to 60 cycles. We do have to use a transformer with it to convert the 220 voltage to 110. This is the closest one we could find to an international currency like our TV is. It will do all the things my Spacemaker would do plus some extra things that I haven't had a chance to figure out yet. Unfortunately I do have to do a lot more button pushing/touching on this one. I wish it were as simple as my Spacemaker was.

Slowly we're getting more "civilized" over here. My curtains came in from Sears today. However, the curtain rod, double traverse, did not. Hopefully it will come in soon so I can get them up. The thermal ones are a solid color rust and match my recliner perfectly. That was a nice surprise. I was afraid they might be close in color, but not quite. The pleated shears are a winter white and are just a tiny bit darker than our walls. I knew the white white would be too white. So I got the darker ones hoping that dust won't show on them as soon. My wall units are suppose to be delivered tomorrow, but you can't count on anything around here.

Angelique starts to school tomorrow. She was willing to go to bed earlier since she knew school kids go to bed early. I'll have to get up at 7:00 AM to get her there by 8:30. It's a hard life being a parent, huh? I went in the other day to pay her registration fee. The director said she "knew all about Angelique." I wondered about that. Then she said she knew Angelique was reading already. I couldn't stand it. I insisted she tell me how she found that out since I only knew of two or three people who knew that. Well, it turns out that the mother of Angelique's babysitter is the school nurse there right now. Apparently Angelique has been reading for her babysitter. We're trying very hard not to make a big deal out of her reading. Mrs. Abbey, the school director, was saying she hoped Angelique didn't get "burned out." I agreed, but told her I couldn't exactly take books away from her.

Michael came home with a booklet the other day - one they use in the medical field to test a child's reading level. According to that test Angelique is reading at least on a 3rd grade level. The 4th grade level paragraph started out with a date. She took one look at it and said, "I don't want to read this one." So we stopped there. (Something like, "In September 1884 ...") I suppose she has not seen any dates in her books. Of course, this test did not check for comprehension, so I don't know how valid it is. What does the medical field know about education, anyway? Anyway, Angelique reads smoothly and clearly and rarely uses her finger to point to words. What do you do with a 4-year-old who reads like that? Do you just pat her on the head and say, "That's nice," or do you start requiring book reports? I'm being silly, but it is a problem I'm not quite sure how to handle. Any suggestions?

Michelangelo's 'David' at the Galleria Dell'Accademia - 4 Sep 1983

Our "mini vacation" was nice - especially since Michael didn't have to take any days off. Florence is a wonderful place. That place is so clean (Naples is so dirty) and has so much culture! Florence is where the Renaissance started in the early 1400's. We saw so many paintings, sculptures and old wonderful architecture that our minds are still spinning. I think Angelique will remember Michelangelo's statute of "David." It is huge. I bet Angelique wouldn't even come up to his knee. By the time we left Florence, Steven was saying, "Oh, there's a statue!" Steven did wonderfully on the trip. The stroller we had borrowed for Angelique broke the 1st day there, so she got tired of walking quickly and was always asking to be carried. But she looked at the paintings and statues with us nicely. I think Steven was watching people and entertaining them most of the time.

Ponte Vecchio in Florence - 3 Sep 1983

Oh! The shops there are marvelous! The "Ponte Vecchio" (translates "old bridge") was rebuilt in 1345 and is lined with jewelry shops. It was dedicated to goldsmiths when it was rebuilt for some reason. This bridge was a feature in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" not too long ago. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic. Of course, I had to buy a gold necklace from off the bridge. It is an 18K tricolor gold necklace. It really is pretty.

Leather is another big product of Florence. I bought a pretty navy blue leather purse there for a pretty price. It is top quality leather and workmanship, but I sure hated to pay that much money. It was only about $60, but I'm sure it would have been $90 or $100 in the States or more. It was made by some big Italian designer, but I can't remember her name. I think her products are sold in the U.S. under her French name anyway. I went and looked it up. Her Italian name is "Marie Claire." Have you seen that around anywhere? I looked for leather gloves to match it, but couldn't find the right shade of blue in the right size.

We also bought Michael a leather belt - good quality - for about $5.50. He didn't want to get one of the designer belts because they had not stamped "Made in Italy" on the back. I didn't think to tell him that people are supposed to know where each particular designer is from. I tried to talk him into buying a Pierre Cardin tie (real cheap), but he said he didn't need any more ties. (Guys are silly!)

We also bought a Florentine tray and lace fan that I may hang on my dining room wall. (We bought coasters, too, but I won't hang them, of course.) Needless to say, I could stay in that town for a long time and never get tired of it.

Steven and Angelique at Pisa - 5 Sep 1983

Monday morning we drove to Pisa. As tired as we were, we climbed the Leaning Tower - each of us carrying 30 extra pounds (kids). Our legs were so weak and trembling after we got to the top. This was the only place Steven got cranky - and there are no railings to speak of, so I couldn't let him down without holding his hand. I'm not sure why he wanted loose to run around up there. We were all so tired and cranky by this point. We managed to get down off the tower anyway without losing anyone off the edge. I'm sure Angelique won't forget that tower. It leans much more than I thought it did and you can tell it even when you are inside it walking up the stairs. Angelique bought a little bitty replica of it in a little shop on the ground floor of it. We thought Laura might enjoy the postcard. This particular card is not at a good angle to show how much it leans. When we came through the tunnel and looked down on the valley where Pisa is, there is no mistaking this tower. Even from several miles away, you could tell it was leaning.

I doubt Steven will remember all this. He'll probably remember the 10 or 15 parachutists we saw jumping from a plane and landing near the road between Florence and Pisa. He thought that was wonderful! (We stopped and watched!)

Piazza del Campo in Siena - 5 Sep 1983

After Pisa, we drove to Siena. They have their medieval town square (or piazza) still just as it was in the 1500's or so, with the palace and all still there. We were running late so we didn't get to go in the buildings. We just ate lunch there in the piazza (we ate pizza in the piazza) at 3:00 P.M.! Then the kids ran after pigeons for a little while before we left to drive back home.

At Rome we stopped for gas, coke and a little snack at a place roughly equivalent to a Stuckey's. It was 8:30 PM before we left there, so we put the kids pajamas on them and told them to sleep the rest of the way. We got home at 11:00 PM. The kids didn't get up until 9:00 AM the next day (this morning). That was a nice surprise for me.

Florence would make a nice 2 or 3 day excursion for you and Bill while you leave Laura with us. If you just wanted to leave her one or two nights you might try Rome or the Isle of Capri (only about 20 miles from here). (We haven't made it over to Capri yet.) (We can see the Isle of Ischia from our house on a clear day.) If you wanted to leave her 4-7 days, you might try Paris. I'll get your beds ready whenever you say. Have you gotten your passports yet? Has Mom & Dad? Somebody (or bodies) better be getting them!

Is Laura enjoying school so far? Does she like her teacher? I'm sure she enjoyed her end of summer party. Did you? Did the one little boy feel outnumbered? Have you gotten into the swing of things yet at school? Are you still teaching a class at church? Is Bill enjoying his traveling or just tolerating it?

It's after midnight and I'm about to crash. Thanks again for the tapes. Sesame Street tapes or Electric Company or Mr. Rogers, etc., would make good Xmas presents for the kids. While I'm on the subject - in case anyone asks - there are a couple of pieces of Tupperware I'd like to have that would make good Xmas gifts for me (lightweight - easy to pack - can't get at the commissary, etc.). One is the cracker keeper. The other is a big square job, that I don't know the name of, that I could put cupcakes and such in. I think it's the big cold cuts keeper or cheese keeper or something. Anyway, it's about 3 inches high and I think it's square (about 8 or 10 inch, maybe bigger-12"?) - maybe rectangle. Oh, but your Tupperware drive isn't until Jan. or Feb., is it? I forgot that one minor detail. I'm getting good at forgetting those "minor" details.

Gotta run. (rather sleep)



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