Thursday, July 6, 1978 [Aaron is now 21 months and Michael 9 months] Hi! Alan just left to take a friend to work so he can borrow their car to get to the hospital tomorrow. Last night our car broke down on the way home from prayer meeting. Alan thinks it’s the fuel pump, but nobody knows for sure. It stopped “deader than a door nail,” and we had to have to towed to a garage. Thankfully, some of our friends saw us and stopped to help…the wife helped me keep the kids content, and they even drove us home at 11:30 pm! [Praise God for good friends!]
Earlier this evening we all enjoyed an open-air band concert on campus. Michael sat on the edge of his stroller for nearly fifteen minutes. Of course, he loved the clapping best and thought it was all for him! He has five teeth now as of Tuesday and has learned to wave a little. He takes seriously going for little walks with anyone who will hold his hands!
Aaron was not at all pleased to come back to Detroit and be parted from his grandparents…and worst of all—Daddy, who’s back at work now, studying anesthesiology at St. John’s.
July 13, 1978 Hi! [Family letter to both parents, which I started doing at this time and continued for years]
It occurred to me that the fastest, most efficient way to get out the local news is to type it while Michael takes his morning nap. Since his birth, I haven’t gotten into a good routine for trying to write two letters in one sitting without the kids giving out on me. However, Aaron is sitting at Alan’s typewriter (minus the ribbon) and having a ball. So, if this works, I may try it again.
As of yesterday Michael has taken his first steps—all two of them. He is quite careful but not in the least timid. I suppose having soft floors makes falling not too frightening. Anyway, when he wants to transfer from one support to another, if it’s almost within reach he’ll go for it, and with increasing success. He has also been pretty crabby the last few days and has started waking several times a night…a sure sign that tooth #6 will make an appearance in a couple of weeks. Michael is now awake, and Aaron is tired of typing, looking for some lunch, so I may be just about through. Tuesday we went on a picnic to Windsor. It was a breezy 80° day—just perfect for watching the impressive Detroit skyline from the quiet serenity of Assumption Park, which is just across the river [in Ontario, Canada]. We never cease to marvel at the safety and slow pace in Windsor. The colors at Jackson Park are breathtaking too. Acres of roses of every color and variety. I took a picture to send you (if it ever turns out). [Couldn’t find a copy, but here’s a picture from 2013.]
Aaron told me very solemnly the other day, “When I get to be a great big boy, I’m going to go to kindergarten. Then Daddy and I can go to school together.” My Dad is getting to be a pretty important person around here!
Hi Mom and Dad, [on the back of above “family” letter]
This letter is intended for both you two and the Armstrong parents. I discovered that 9/10th of everything I had to say to you about what we’re doing I was also writing to them and my correspondence batting average is getting poorer as time goes by. What do you think? Would you be offended by my writing one news sheet for both of you and xeroxing it like this? BE HONEST! Is that sickeningly impersonal?
How are plans for the Japanese people coming? Yoko told me that most Japanese people do not give things away to whomever admires them today, though older, more formal people will. The country is adopting more and more western traditions (somewhat unfortunately [my addition]). Does Mr. Materna still have the doll he admired from someone’s collection? It’s certainly none of my business, but I think he could return it if he wanted to.
What became of Sea Sat? Was it launched? [My brother Rob worked for Lockheed and helped develop this project, which launched on June 28, 1978, and was the first Earth-orbiting satellite with mechanisms for remotely sensing oceanic activity.]
July 19, 1978 Michael is on my knee competing for the keys, so this may turn out to be slightly less than top quality work! This has not been his morning. Tooth #6 finally broke the surface yesterday. This morning he helped me clean off the table…in one fell swoop. I was putting away the bibs in the bathroom, and I gather he was trying to use the edge of the tablecloth as a support to lift himself to a stand. Anyway, remains of eggs, bacon, toast, and juice, plates and silverware all landed in a heap on the floor, and the crowning touch was the last of Aaron’s milk on his head. He was most offended.
As of yesterday, we also consider him to be a toddler, so I’m trying to eliminate “Mikey” from my vocabulary and give him his more distinguished, proper name. (As you may have guessed, he just got demoted to playing on the floor.) [The earlier typing in this letter was very poor, due to Michael’s interference. This doesn’t happen on computers, but it used to happen with my old-fashioned typewriter, which is part of the reason I’ve had to transcribe rather than scan all these old letters!] He is taking a few 5-6 step runs and getting better at it every day.
Aaron is really starting to participate in all the ends and outs of housework with real enthusiasm and helpfulness. It strains my brain to try to think of tasks simple enough for him, but sometimes he surprises me with his abilities. Saturday he actually used a paring knife to slice potatoes for potato salad. That morning we went to great lengths to pack the perfect picnic: baked beans, deviled eggs…the works. By the time Alan got off work, black clouds were rolling in on our cloudless, 80° morning. Undaunted, we took off for the park. It just poured, but we found a little shelter and had a rather intimate three-family picnic! Aaron got four playmates out of the deal, and it turned out fine. In fact, he’s been telling everybody he sees about our rainy day picnic.
I suppose you aren’t as thrilled about Aaron’s potty training as we are…but we tucked away the potty chair until baby brother is ready for it. Aaron hasn’t had an accident all week, can pull down (and sometimes back up) his own shorts, and WONDER OF WONDERS, has even been volunteering information about when he needs to do a poot. (Excuse me, he now often corrects me to say “B.M.”)
Thursday night Alan took me to an India-Indian restaurant for dinner, which was a really unique experience. It was so authentically foreign that it made us both feel uneasy. I as impressed to realize just how western we both are! Here I thought we were the picture of cosmopolitanism, but the food burned our mouths out (not to mention our not being able to recognize what it was), the music was eerie, and the atmosphere was stifling. It is kind of hard to describe, but I was really surprised that we both had such a distinct reaction.
Aunt Mary babysat that night and brought Aaron some pop and potato chips, neither of which he ever gets at our table. The next morning he was after me for some more, so I explained why I didn’t serve him such delicious tasting treats (which he made me admit that I liked). He thought about it for awhile and then asked, “Mama, when you were a ‘gril’ (girl), what did Aunt Mary give you for a treat?”
Sunday Alan and I taught the 3-5-year-old class and let Aaron come too (much to his teacher’s dismay, who says he is “the smartest little guy I ever saw”). I shouldn’t brag on him, should I? She just didn’t want to have to promote him! Monday we went to Windsor for a picnic and almost lost our soccer ball in the river until a lady fished it out with the strap of her binoculars. Tuesday we had a short date to Greek Town. Michael’s crying…
We may come home late next Saturday night (July 29th) for our class reunion. It’s still really up in the air as we try to weigh realistically cost vs. value. Brenda Benedict, Larry Hembroff, and lots of dear, dear friends will be there, so it’s a tough decision. If we come, we’ll stay in Dafter and expect that you’ll be busy the whole time with the Japanese people. That won’t hurt our feelings a bit since we’ll get to see you lots in just two more weeks. We’ll be sure to call and say Hi if we do come, though!
What’s up, Dad? I hope all the right commodities!