Dear Mom & Dad,
I'm sure this birthday card will be late. I still haven't adjusted totally to having to send everything at least a week in advance. Anyway, I hope your present I mailed awhile back gets there on time -- and in one piece. It's Bohemian crystal. I have one of the same pattern but shaped a little differently. I doubt you can even get one like it in the States since it is from a communist country. Customs may confiscate it if they decide to open the box.
Thought you might enjoy the enclosed pictures. They are all the way from Steven's birthday till Christmas.
Yesterday, we got your letter about the lot in Searcy. We were surprised you got things rolling so fast. Here in Italy it takes 3 months just to decide to cross a street. We went to Legal Services today and they are preparing papers to give you limited power of attorney to handle all the papers involved in buying this lot. It will be ready Thursday and we'll send them on to you along with the check. We decided it was silly for Billy Cole to come all the way from Harrison just to sign a sheet of paper that you could do just as easily.
We went back and watched the Thanksgiving video of your lot and tried to figure out our lot. We thought it has 3 or 4 trees. Is that right? Does it slope slightly to the road? Why did you choose your particular lot instead of ours? Does it have city water? Will they be getting city sewage? Have you decided to build for sure? It would be nice to have someone close enough to keep an eye on the place.
You're welcome to use the land in any way you may need. Put your garden on it if you want. You may need to, especially while they are building on your lot.
Have you had anyone to look at your house yet? I hope you get a good price for it. You certainly will if you get it sold for $55,000. How big will the house be that you build? Send me a house plan.
I wish I could send you some beautiful Italian tile or marble. But both are extremely heavy and therefore expensive to ship. You could come over and pick out some of the decorative accent tiles for your bathroom or kitchen. They have some gorgeous ones.
Your Christmas package came today. Thank you! The kids like the toys. The wicker doll furniture was really nice. And the dolls are sweet. Steven likes cash registers. I like my sweat shirt. It will be warm. The shirt for Michael was very nice. We really appreciate the books from Harding Bookstore. We can't get anything like them here. The children's songbooks are great. They are the only ones I've had a change to look at. We opened them about 5:00 pm. It's now 11:00 pm. I'm tired.
Michael got a video camera similar to Bill's. We'll send a tape as soon as Michael thinks he's got all the kinks worked out of his taping. The kids enjoyed seeing themselves on TV. I suppose we'll just send the tapes to Diane unless you plan on getting a VCR or know of someone close by who has one. This camera is very complicated to us so far. Michael just brought it home Saturday.
Oh, I especially like the picture you sent. We can get nice frames made very reasonably priced here, so we'll get it framed soon.
We went and ate Sunday dinner at our landlord's house on New Year's day. That was very interesting. Not only do they eat different foods, but they eat in several courses, so it takes about 3 hours to eat a meal like that. It was all very good. We started out with prosciuto (Italian ham), salami, cheeses, & antipasto vegetables. Next came cannelloni - a pasta similar to Mexican enchiladas, except these are larger, stuffed with meat and cheese both and spiced Italian style and covered with tomato sauce & cheese. After that came the main dish of tender fish and some kind of thin sliced meat. I hope it was beef instead of horse! Also lettuce & cauliflower was on that plate. After that came tangerines. A little later came a New Year's rum cake served outside. It was a little strong flavored for our liking. After that came caffé -- a very strong coffee. I managed to eat my rum cake without making a face, but Michael said I did while drinking the caffé. Americans usually drink the Italian cappuccino - a sweeter, milder coffee. We took pictures of the kids and our house in Fort Smith so we would have something to "talk" about. They enjoyed all the pictures from America.
It's now Wednesday morning and Steven is helping me write this and has been all during the last page.
Saturday we took the kids to the Capodimonte Museum, shopping, the Aquarium & to a castle downtown. They had a good time, especially at the Aquarium. They have species from the Bay of Naples in the Aquarium. We saw lobsters, fish, octopus, turtles, jellyfish, sea horses, etc. We all enjoyed it and were exhausted when we got home.
Monday after New Year's, Michael was off. He and I went to "Shoe Alley." That's an open market where they sell shoes, clothing & material mostly. Michael bought 3 pairs of shoes he badly needed. I bought a white Angora sweater and a few other odd 'n ends. It's funny that everywhere we go we see someone we know.
Angelique told me today she read a book to her class at school some time ago. She didn't seem to think it was all that big a deal. She was reading your letter out loud when I heard her say, "I gave myself a peanut." I looked at your letter and told her that word was "permanent." She has a few words to learn yet.
Steven is funny these days. He enjoys pretending to be a lion and growls effectively. So far he has done real well with his new bed. He hasn't fallen out at all that I know of.
Your limited power of attorney papers plus a check for $6,800 will be mailed tomorrow by certified mail. If there is money left over from that, pay for the safety deposit box or whatever or keep it on account for taking care of the lot -- mowing, etc.
Have you thought about your passports lately? You know you can't decide to come see us one month and then leave the next. It takes a while to get those passports, so it's best to get them well in advance so you'll be ready to go when you want. You do want, don't you?
P.S. Michael's parents are flying nonstop from St. Louis to London for $502 per person for a roundtrip. That's cheap!
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