Wed Afternoon
15 Feb 1984

Dear Diane,

I know, I know. This is late & I owe you a letter. Yes, we got the 3 tapes and Christmas dress a few weeks ago. You did well on the dress. It like the pinafore idea. Now if she'll just grow the right amount between now and next Christmas. She thought it was pretty, too. The Star Trek II tape and letter came yesterday. Thank you. That was fast. We like that movie.

The family message left me a bit puzzled. Can you elaborate on the problem that you mentioned in your letter? Is this physical, emotional or the same ol' financial problem they go through periodically?

Allan looks bigger and older. Christian was awfully quiet for the camera this time. Is her hair getting lighter? It looked almost blonde. She sure looks like a "card" and "ruler of the roost." I don't think Rex even spoke to us. Did Alan's knight make it in one piece? I kinda worried about it.

16 Feb
Thur Afternoon

I hope they (Mom & Dad) have found a place to stay by the time you get this letter. I suppose I would be wasting my time and energy if I tried to worry about where they were going to stay since I can't do a thing about it to help them. It's hard not to worry, tho. I would be happy to put them up over here. What kinds of Agri-Extension materials did you have sent to them? On home building or furnishing? Are Mother & Daddy doing most of the planning or are they letting everyone else lead them along? I can hardly stand not being there to put my 2 cents in. I know so much about it. HaHa. I hope they'll take all this in stride and not let it be too big of a strain on them. Tell me I've got nothing to worry about. Everything is under control. Right?

I hope Laura won't be too disappointed with her birthday present. We absolutely adored it. But it may mean more to us than to her. Angelique would like to have one ... maybe before we leave.

Did you get your car repaired? For some reason I don't miss all the icy roads, but I would enjoy a good snowfall. December & January are suppose to be cold months here and starting to warm up in February. Well - So far, February has been cold! This is supposedly very unusual. It's been below freezing for several days in a row. Now, I realize that in the States that that is not considered cold, but here in sunny Italy with a "mild" Mediterranean climate and houses with no insulation - that is COLD! The temperature in our house every morning is about 50F. And it doesn't warm up too much in the day. Since fuel for heat is limited and expensive here, it is an Italian law that "central heat" cannot be run more than 8 hours a day. It's just as well since these radiators don't heat very well anyway. Everyone's house is cold and we all wear thermal underwear daily and use electric blankets at night. (I miss my house in Fort Smith.) To top it all off, it keeps raining & raining. I'm ready for Spring!!! I'm ready to go to the beach & pool! I'm tired of being cold!

We haven't had a chance to watch "Annie" yet. We've been making some tapes for some friends and also copying for us, too. We got a copy of "Babes In Toyland" with Annette Funicello. Would you all like a copy of that? We all enjoyed it. I think it is a Walt Disney.

I like your "Maytime" comforter, et al. That looks like something I'd pick out.

Yes, Angelique is a perpetual talker. I keep telling myself she'll get expert at expressing herself someday and it will all be worth it. It's hard not to tune her out or send her to her room sometimes. Actually, I guess she doesn't talk all the time. She plays well by herself for good lengths of time. It's just that if you give her half of an audience, she wants to perform half the night.

Part of the problem is that piercing 4-year-old voice that gets old after a few minutes of listening to it. It carries well and everyone in the house hears it. I showed up at Paddington school one day last week about 11:00 am. The head mistress said, "Oh, is Angelique here? I don't believe I've heard her today." How long does this stage last? Tell me they outgrow it during their 5th year. Didn't Laura go through a non-stop motor mouth period, too, with a very piercing voice. I guess there's hope. I don't know. Steven's gonna be a big talker, too, I think. I guess it's good in the long run, but it sure is trying on parent's patience.

I trimmed Steven's hair the other day. I also "trimmed" Angelique's. Well, I meant to trim it, but somehow on the 1st cut the scissors got up higher than I meant for them to. As a result, she now has shoulder length hair. It looks fuller and not so stringy, but it's not what I had in mind. Michael agrees it looks better, but he's not real happy with it. It doesn't seem to bother Angelique one way or another.

Michael said because of the holidays, this letter won't go off until Tuesday, 21 Feb. So I guess I'll just keep writing. This is now Friday the 17th.

My class ended last Friday. I really enjoyed it, but I am getting more things done around the house this week. I'll start the Gateway To Italian II in April on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Today I picked up my second Maria Knit dress. Actually, it's a 4 gore skirt and sweater out of linen and silk. It is basically pink with a tiny hint of purple. Then there are purple and lilac and pale, pale, pale pink stripes at the top of the sweater and down the sleeves. It has a draw sketch of dress string waist. I really had doubts about this when I ordered it, but I am really pleased. Maria thought it was nice, too. I saw her yesterday at a fashion show and she told me how pleased she was with it and she thought I would be pleased. I couldn't believe she remembered me, much less what I had ordered. I paid almost a hundred dollars for this one because she put a lot of hand work on the stripe part with little holes woven in. I think that's what made me more nervous than anything - spending that much money on something I wasn't quite sure of. But I loved my 1st dress so I had high hopes about this one, too.

The fashion show I went to was a Maria Knits fashion show at Admiral Hacker's villa. I went mainly to see this house. I went with a couple of neighbors. We enjoyed the show, good food (brunch) and the house. It is up on a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples. Probably on a clear day, one could see Capri but it was a very rainy day yesterday. It is a very difficult drive to their house so I am quite content to be where I am. Of course, the Admiral and his wife have their own drivers so they never have to drive that awful hairpin narrow road.

Thanks for the TV guide. At your convenience, no rush, could you tape us a few tapes of series shows? Sometimes it would be nice to have a 30 or 60 minute show to watch instead of a long movie. We've never been big series fans, but here's what's on that we think we'd like copies of - Ripley's Believe It or Not, After Mash, St. Elsewhere, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, etc. (These can be all on one tape.) Also, if they run the rerun to Love Boat's Mediterranean Cruise, we'd enjoy that. Also we would enjoy a tape of Star Trek reruns. The kids would enjoy a tape of Pinwheel. If there are any other series that are really good, feel free to tape that also.

Sunday Afternoon

Well, yesterday didn't turn out the way we'd planned. We were planning to go to Sorrento yesterday. However, Steven started throwing up Friday night and was awfully draggy so we decided to postpone that until Monday. Michael will be off for President's Day. Steven was doing pretty good Saturday, but we didn't want to chance an hour and 1/2 drive with him possibly throwing up. So we went to the shoe store and crystal factory. I got a pair of Famolare shoes for ~$10.00. We got each of the kids a pair of tennis shoes that may not last more than a couple of months, but for $4.00 a pair I guess that's not too bad. I got some crystal bells and a small heart-shaped dish at the crystal factory. I'll probably send the bells for mother's day gifts.

Today has been glorious! I kept Steven home from church this morning since he may still be contagious and he still looked pale. After lunch we looked out the kitchen window and saw that our iris were blooming! I was so excited. We put on sweaters and went outside for an hour. This has been the 1st decent day, weather-wise, we've had in a couple of weeks. There were some tiny blue wildflowers blooming also. The kids had a ball. I couldn't stand all the weeds growing with those pretty wildflowers so I pulled weeds all that time. Boy, am I sore now! Steven got into the act and pulled up a few geraniums. Oh, well, I still have about 15 of those left. Michael said that would happen if I let him pick wildflowers.

Monday Night

Well, we still didn't make it to Sorrento. Michael came down sick with Steven's bug about 7:30 pm Sunday night. I got it in the middle of night. And now, we just put Angelique to bed complaining of an upset stomach and asking her daddy for some medicine to make it better. She asked to go to bed at 7:30 so we know she has to be sick. Michael & I are over all the runs to the bathroom, but we still ache quite a bit. I'll probably be up half the night with Angelique. We intended for her to make a birthday card for Laura tonight, but I guess it will just have to wait. Sorry.

Keep me posted on Searcy address changes. Also, I would appreciate it if someone would let me know quickly about additional Johns' as they occur (Brenda & Cheryl).



Dear Laura,

I hope you like your birthday present. We picked this up from a sidewalk vendor in Piazza Garibaldi in downtown Naples.

The clown says, "I am a happy clown. I play and dance all day singing a happy tune. I make people laugh. I cannot do anything else."

If you open the back of the doll and flip the disc over, the clown will laugh for you.

We thought the clown was adorable. Do you know anyone else who has an Italian speaking doll?

I hope you have a happy birthday.

Buon compleanno!
(Happy Birthday)
Aunt Jeannie

P.S. To make the doll talk, push the button in the middle of his back, after you put in a C-size battery.

If he doesn't talk, it might be because he is cold. Let him warm up inside the house and then try again. (It may take 24 hours before it works.)

Remember, Italian toys are not as durable as American toys and the doll won't talk forever.

500 lire coin - 1984 "Parlante" means speaking.

This coin is worth 30¢.

Michael, Angelique, & Steven

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