Thur. Afternoon
27 Dec 1984

Dear Diane,

Here I am, late as is getting-to-be-usual. December is such a busy month. I did well to get one letter off to Mother + some photos of the kids. I'm enclosing some small ones for you all. Angelique insisted on wearing her Minnie Mouse blouse & then insisted the photographer include Minnie in the picture. Of course, Steven has a bruise on his forehead.

Thanks for the Thanksgiving tape. We enjoyed seeing everyone and all the good food we missed. We really enjoyed the Ballet. Laura looks so professional. Did she think it was all fun or too much work? It sounds like a rough schedule for a 9-year-old.

I thought we might get a white Christmas this year, but no such luck. It has been in the 30°'s for 5 or 6 days. That's unusual for here. We're wearing our thermal underwear, sweaters, etc., and keep the heat turned on as much as the law allows - 8 hours per day. Yesterday the kids & I did Sesame Street exercises to get warm - that's pretty desperate.

Thanks for the Christmas presents. Yes, yours got here about a week before Christmas. I love my pink warmup suit. It is warm. I'll have to hem the pants as usual. Michael really liked his gold button covers - after he figured out what to do with them. We also needed the cassette holder. Angelique enjoys her Tupperware. She finally learned to work the lid on the pitcher, but can't put the lids on the bowls, yet. The dress will be great for this summer & maybe next summer, too. Steven shows everyone his hurt man out of the ambulance. That seems to fascinate him. Thanks for the goodies!

No I had not found a Cabbage Patch Boy yet. I didn't get back to the store where they were selling them before Christmas. I had just resigned myself to getting one before February. Did Evelyn & Ralph win their zoning fight?

I'm struggling with a cold right now - trying to decide whether to stay home tomorrow or get out and get some things done. I need to go in to the Allied Officers Club and set up a menu for our Hospital Wives group brunch for 9 Jan. We're having a lady (American) come down from Rome to do a Color Analysis demo. She'll also set up appointments for individuals. Maybe I'll finally get my colors done. Anyway, maybe that will wait till Monday & I'll feel better. January 11-12 we're going to Rome to catch all the after-Christmas sales. We need 30 people to go to get this package deal of chartered bus & 1st class hotel for $32.00 each. So far we only have about 20 going. I need to drum up some more business for that. Come go with us!

Michael got me a cameo for Christmas from near Pompei. There are several cameo factories around here. I can't believe how much they vary in price - all according to quality of shell, workmanship and whether it was an apprentice or a master who carved it - and design, of course. He also brought me back a couple of souvenirs from La Maddalena - an American submarine base on a tiny island just off of Sardinia. He had to go play doctor there for 10 days. He may have to go back again until they get that position filled with another doctor.

I went to an open house at Paddington School to talk with the kids' teachers a few weeks ago. Faye Sigle said Steven was doing great and knew more than her 4-year-olds. Angelique's kindergarten teacher said Angelique was well ahead of the rest of the class in math and was reading on a 5th or 6th grade level. She said she has never given her anything she couldn't read. She was surprised that Angelique couldn't spell all those words. I'm not surprised. I can't spell all the words I read. Writing is still a challenge for her, especially lower case letters & numbers. She makes beautiful capital letters. But, writing is obviously not her mother's strong point either.

I think Steven has stopped sucking his thumb. Michael had a big talk with him while I was gone to Munich and he had cut out about 90% when I got back. When Michael got back from La Maddalena, he brought Steven a Duplo Train set and told him he could have it if his thumbs stayed dry. The good ol' bribery seems to have worked.

Michael is frustrated with the Navy and is ready to get out. The shift work at the clinic, the trips to La Maddalena and all the bureaucratic red tape is really getting to him. He has a cold like mine. I told him he should skip the conference this afternoon and sleep and he said, "No, I have to go tell them what I think!" or something like that. I think he's afraid that if he doesn't go stand up for himself, they'll dump even more on him. And they would. Family Practice seems to be a catch-all for all kinds of problems. If the other departments seem to have problems, they say, "Oh, let Family Practice take care of that."

We have new neighbors, Emel & Joni Shukersp?. They have a 6-year-old boy in kindergarten at the Montessori school on the NATO base and an 8-year-old daughter. They seem real nice although I've only felt like going over there once since they moved in 3 days before Christmas weekend.

I got a nutcracker, pyramid, tree ornaments, chocolates, music boxes, etc., in Munich. I exchanged $250 into Marks and spent all, but about $7 worth in 10-11 hours. I bought Angelique a toll-painted wooden doll-size cradle in Northern Italy. I hope it will last to hand down to grandchildren.

I got a Christmas card from Cindy Hodges Burns (remember her from Newport?). That was a nice surprise. I sent her and several others Christmas cards last year when I got their addresses from the class reunion, but I never heard from them. I guess she finally found time to write. She had her 1st little boy in Sept. They are living in Atlanta, GA.

As soon as you all make definite plans as to when you'll be here, let us know so Michael can take a few days off. I still wish you could arrange to end your trip here so Bill could go back after 3 weeks and y'all could stay longer. But, do what you need to do. Have you been told about European hotels? Unless you're staying in 1st class hotels - and maybe even some of them - Holiday Inns they ain't! Most are old, unattractive rooms, less than modern bathrooms and you'll be doing good if you have your own bathroom. However, traveling with a group of Americans, they may stay only in hotels with private baths. But they probably will not be elaborate.

Ice, Coke & snack machines in the hotel will be rare. Italians rarely use ice even in July & August. They even serve room temperature Cokes in a lot of places. You may stay in a hotel that will do laundry, but in London we found that extremely expensive and decided to go dirty. I don't know about the rest of Europe.

Americans have a reputation of being loud, flashy, and portraying an attitude of superiority. That kind of action gets you less than satisfactory service. Europeans resent it tremendously. You all will not have a problem with that, but some in your tour group may. Surely your tour guide will explain proper behavior to everyone so as not to get the whole group in trouble. Maybe I'll think of other tips later.

Be sure & bring your swimsuits.



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