22 Sept 1983
Thursday Nite

Dear Mom & Dad,

We got the package yesterday -- in plenty of time. We got one from Diane Monday, I believe. The warm shirts and jeans will help. We'll also get good use out of the little jacket. Of course, I haven't given the kids the toys yet. We've gotten Steven a big Tonka truck, a toy workbench with tools, a talking Big Bird doll and a couple of books for his birthday. That ought to be enough for a 2 year old. I'm not sure what we'll do for a party yet. He's not real close to kids his age. He prefers the neighbor's kids, aged 9 & 10, and Faye's boys, aged 6 & 8. Guess I'd better decide soon.

I got Steven a winter coat at the Exchange the other day. I brought a size 3 home -- tried it on him and it fit exactly right now. So I took it back and got a size 4. I was afraid the 3 would be too small by the end of the season.

Angelique has one of Laura's old winter coats for playing in this winter and her nice white dress coat. So we should be ready for winter coat-wise now.

I've been to a couple of coffees at the Allied Officers Club at AFSOUTH -- the NATO base that is about a mile from the Navy Hospital and NSA. One was with the Hospital Officers Wives Club and another one today with the Navy Officers Wives Club. They were fun. I signed up for a water color painting class there today. I'll go every Monday morning from 10-12 for 8 weeks. A lady is giving the classes in her home about a mile from our house. I tried to tell her I had no experience with that kind of stuff, but she encouraged me to sign up anyway. My neighbor, Ann, volunteered to keep Steven while I go. Angelique will be at Paddington School.

Friday mornings we'll be having ladies Bible class here at my house. My house is fairly centrally located for everyone and its much easier to keep small children occupied here where they can play with toys.

So, our schedule is beginning to get filled. We should know by the first of October about gymnastics class for Angelique & possibly Steven.

Toyland at NSA officially opened for Christmas last week. They start early here so everyone will have time to send back to the States for things they wanted that they couldn't get here. So I've got 90% of my shopping done for the kids for Christmas. I didn't find anything really big & exciting for Angelique. She's getting Barbie with Barbie clothes & case, Viewmaster with Disney reels, an art center with water colors & markers & crayons, umbrella, Spelling & Counting Wheel and a few other little things (coloring book, Weebles, etc.). Steven is getting a pedal car which he'll absolutely love, a Tonka fire truck, Cookie Monster Shape Muncher, a toy school bus, and a few other little things. I may need to pick him up a few more things so he'll have more to open. Angelique is getting so many little things to open and he'll only have a few.

If you want suggestions on what to send the kids for Christmas, I have a few. Michael may give his mother the same list. I don't know. I can get good play clothes for the kids here, but I can't get the very nice dress clothes. I wish I had bought Angelique a Christmas dress last winter when they were on sale. I always have before, but didn't get around to it last year during all the hubbub of packing out. So if you can find a nice Christmas type dress for Angelique in a size 4 and a nice Christmas type outfit in a size 3 for Steven on sale, that would be nice. Don't get them unless you can find them on a good sale. They usually run $35-$50. That's why I always bought them after Christmas at half price for the next year. But the stores just might have some left over from last Christmas out now to get rid of them. Maybe not. Diane might can find them.

I couldn't get Steven any of the Fisher Price wooden puzzles. We have the vehicle one that has cars, trucks, train & boat on it and Laura's old farm animal one and a puppy dog one. He is good at them and would enjoy a new one.

Angelique would enjoy Colorforms or paper dolls probably or the cardboard puzzles. Or perhaps you might send them some of the little Bible story books from Harding. I can't get that kind of stuff here. These are just suggestions. You don't have to send anything really.

Michael & I would enjoy anything warm. We're trying to get ready for 3 winters without central heat and only 8 hours of radiator heat daily (Italian law - fuel shortage). I'm ordering about $150 worth of blanket sleepers and thermal underwear from Sears. Maybe we'll survive. I wish I could put electric blankets on the kids, but I guess they are too young. I think it rarely gets into the 20'sF, but it stays damp all winter -- rains a couple times a week. A lot of people have trouble with mildew in the winter. Hope we don't.

Angelique is really enjoying Paddington. Steven enjoys everything unless he is in one of his "moods." Every once in awhile he gets really angry (sometimes at himself) and just screams bloody murder. We try to ignore it. I'm not sure it's working. My neighbor, Ann, suggested throwing a glass of water in his face. I'll have to think about that one. He hasn't done it in several days, tho. Maybe he's forgotten it. "Terrible Twos," I guess.

We're real excited about Kem & Brenda's news -- both the house and the pregnancy. I'll have to write them. I'd like to see a picture of her when she gets big. Is she still feeling okay? Will she quit work when the baby comes or just take off a few months? Will her insurance cover the delivery? Who will be her OB doctor? Tell her, without a doubt, that David Staggs or Dan Davidson would do the best job. I'm serious. Most of the other doctors in Searcy are not as up to date on OB knowledge and they often prefer to send their patients to David or Dan. Of course, a baby will usually come anyway - with or without a doctor. But it's some comfort to know you have the best available. Does Dr. Citty do deliveries? I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't.

Did I tell you that Michael is now a Board certified Family Practitioner? He passed his test that he took in Philadelphia. He sure was glad. The Navy will now pay him an extra $2000 a year. That's nice.

Our weather right now is usually cool at nights but warm by noontime. We almost have to change clothes 3 times a day to stay comfortable. Everyone has the sniffles and cough that accompanies temperature fluctuations.

OK. Now. Daddy, what's the big idea? Do you want your grandchildren in Italy to start saying, "Papaw who?" How would I explain to them that Papaw won't come see them? For every reason you could tell me you shouldn't come, I can give you twenty for why you should come. Everyone's parents come while they are stationed here. People do it all the time. Do you think Harding would collapse if you missed 2-4 weeks of work? I doubt it. It would just make them appreciate you that much more. Maybe they would even give you a raise! Airplanes do not crash over the ocean. It's fun -- just ask Angelique & Steven. If you are worried about motion sickness, just get a Transderm D patch that you put behind your ear. They work even better than Dramamine, don't make you drowsy and last for 2-3 days. If you are worried about dipping into the savings account for funds -- don't worry. I'll be glad to sacrifice some of my inheritance so you can come visit us. It's not that expensive for a man with oil wells. (Or is it gas wells?) All Italians are not members of the Mafia. They are nice and friendly -- a little weird, but very nice. A couple more Americans will not bother them in the least. It's about time you two went on a real vacation. You could probably fly over when one of the Harding groups come for campaigns or to Florence. That would make it very easy in the airport terminals - to go with a group. Plus, I imagine they get some kind of package deal on tickets which would make it cheaper and I'm sure they wouldn't mind getting a couple more tickets.

I'm not saying you have to come this summer. But maybe next summer (1985). That should give you plenty of time to prepare for a trip. Billy & Freda will be able to tell you more about it when they return. They have a travel agency helping make all their plans. They do not charge a thing. They are free to the public. They will make all your reservations (plane, train, hotel) for you, give you information on any place you want to visit, suggest places -- even tell you how to pack and what kind of weather to expect. The airlines and hotel industry pay them well to make your vacations simple and fun. We really want you to come. Think about it. OK?

Thanks for the White County dirt. Maybe I should display it on my wall unit!

Love,

Jeannie



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