Dear Mom & Dad,
I guess our biggest news is Michael has been promoted to Lieutenant Commander. That came as quite a surprise to us. We didn't think he would be up for promotion until we left here. Wednesday, July 4th, he got a letter addressed to "Lieutenant Commander," but we thought that could have been a mistake. Thursday he was told to report to the commanding officer's office at the hospital Friday at 1:00 with his wife to be "frocked." That's the Navy term for the promotion ceremony.
So, Friday we showed up. Three were being promoted. I had to change his bars to the gold leaf in the ceremony (and ended up pricking my finger). Michael expected 5-10 people there. There were about 30. I think everyone showed up for cake & coffee, though.
The raise will not be reflected in his paycheck for quite sometime, though -- 6-12 months they said. But, anyway, he has fewer people to salute now. He's been the only lieutenant doctor for so long, I guess they felt sorry for him or something. We're not real sure why he got promoted early. I guess passing his Boards helped -- and the success of the Pinetamare Clinic didn't hurt, either.
London was great. Every one of us enjoyed it. We saw the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Crown Jewels, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, changing of the Horse Guards, Kensington Palace, British Museum, London Art Museum, Toy Museum, London Zoo, Trafalgar Square where the kids fed the pigeons, Piccadilly Circus, went shopping down Bond Street, Oxford Street, Burlington Arcade & Harrod's Department Store. We also took the train to Windsor one day to see Windsor Castle & shop. The Queen & Prince Andrew & others were at Windsor so we didn't get to see much of the Castle. The kids posed for pictures with the guard at the castle gate, though.
The kids' favorite part of the vacation had to be McDonald's. They had been seeing McDonald's commercials on the video tapes we've been getting from the Woollys, so they had not forgotten about McDonald's. We had to eat at McDonald's once each day we were there. We also ate at a Burger King & Pizza Hut once. All the other meals were English. Their food is not much different from America's. The fast food places made eating out much cheaper than here in Italy, but our hotel bill made up for the difference.
We paid about $75.00 per night for a room with 2 double beds and a private bath. Of course this was right across the street from Hyde Park in the heart of the tourist section. June is their biggest tourist month, too. Their rates are highest then.
There are nice Bed 'n' Breakfast places to stay in that are much cheaper, but they are not as well located usually, and they don't have private baths which I felt was essential with 2 preschoolers who tend to have to go during the middle of the night a lot.
The weather was great. Low 70'sº or high 60'sºF. It rained on us one day - the day we went to the zoo, of course. But only for a short while and we managed to stay out of it mostly.
I was most impressed with the crown jewels. They were gorgeous.
Michael liked the British Museum best. Angelique managed to set an alarm off while we were there. We were looking at a display. Angelique was looking at a hole in the wall. She decided to see what was in it. It just happened to be one of those electronic eyes. One of the guards saw her do it. He just laughed and shut the alarm off. A little later I took the kids to the bathroom and left Michael upstairs. We had to walk through a lot of rooms to get to the bathroom including the library rooms. When we came out of the bathroom I couldn't find the way back out of the main lobby. Then I realized every door to every section & the entrance was closed. An alarm had gone off somewhere, and they sealed every room until they found out what the cause was. Anyway, the kids were quite concerned that we were cut off from their Daddy. He had followed us on down and was trapped in the room right next to us in the library. Everything was locked up tight for about 30 minutes. Finally they opened all the doors again. Probably some little kid set it off. So we felt very fortunate that a guard was watching our child when she set an alarm off.
The kids liked the zoo, feeding the pigeons, the trains (subways) & double decker buses & McDonald's. They were very good the whole time. They thoroughly enjoyed being able to talk to everyone. They would talk to people on the trains, buses, shops, museums, etc. They were amazed that everyone spoke their language. Steven told everyone about the trains & buses - and alligators. He's gone alligator/crocodile crazy. We bought him a rubber alligator at the zoo. He calls him "Crocky" and sleeps with the thing. He even imagines there are crocodiles hiding behind trees. I'm not sure what brought this obsession on. Some cartoon or book, maybe.
We bought Angelique a red wool plaid kilt, vest and poncho at Harrod's. I got a blue kilt in Windsor. We also picked up a music box there. Michael bought books everywhere we went.
Steven did well going to the bathroom. I guess he's fully trained now. He sure was easier to train than I thought he would be. He still has some trouble pulling pants up & down some. We've been calling him "chatterbox." He doesn't talk constantly, but when he decides to talk, it's a steady stream. Angelique just talks constantly -- well, it seems like that sometimes.
The kids start swimming lessons Monday. I'm not as excited about that as they are.
It is not extremely hot here yet. That will probably come in August. The last 3 or 4 days have been real pleasant. We haven't even used a fan yet. But we'll make up for it next month, I'm sure.
Michael is building screen doors for Angelique's balcony door and our dining room terrace door today. He's been trying to find someone else to do it for him since he's not sure how to do it. But the guy he wanted to do it is being transferred back to the States because his baby has an abdominal tumor. Michael was their doctor. Screens are hard to build for French doors with shutters. Italians don't use screens at all. Michael has, by necessity, turned into a pretty fair carpenter. I'm sure he'll come up with something workable. (I hope.)
Sun Nite, 8 July
Michael finished our screen doors. They look nice and work better than most of the other Americans screen doors. He also repaired my corner cabinet in the dining room which will help tremendously. It didn't have a back on it and didn't sit level. Now it looks and acts normal.
Angelique slept in sponge rollers last night. She didn't complain too much. It was her idea. Her hair was so curly for church this morning. I think everyone complimented her. It still looked good at bedtime tonight. It was very pretty, but I thought it made her look a little younger somehow.
We're glad to be missing all the election stuff. We'll vote absentee for the national candidates sometime before November.
Thanks for the nightgown. I've been sleeping in it. It's pretty and comfortable.
What color are your shingles? What color brick are you going to use? I guess I'll try to send this to your new address. Hope you got the mailbox up! Have you put up the light Diane & Bill got for you?
Tell Jeremy, "Hi" -- and everyone else.
Come See US!
P.S. Hey! We don't know a thing about paying taxes on our property. We assume there are no taxes this year, but will be next year. Does it have to be assessed? When? When you do yours, will you find out about ours? I'd hate to come up delinquent. Do you have any idea how much it will be? I assume we can pay it by mail. Will they send us a bill?
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