March 30, 2018: Dominica and the Girls Go to Houston

Friday.  This morning Dominica was up and packing first thing.  She wants to get right on the road down to Houston to avoid the worst of the traffic.  They are heading down for Easter.

Before she could leave, I had to run the Nissan to the corner and get the oil changed.  That only took ten minutes.

Dominica and the girls said their goodbyes at just past ten and she was on her way down to Web Chapel, over to 75 and off to Houston.  Her drive went fine and they had arrived by three.

Paul and I did a lot of work today, mostly paperwork rather than house renovations.  That is mostly being saved for tomorrow.

After a long day of work, we were worn out and decided to go out and get dinner in Garland at seven.  Then Jenn came out to hang out this evening, have not seen her in nearly a year.

We got back to the house around midnight.  Very tired.

March 26, 2018: Painting the Girls’ Room

Monday. It’s a bright, warm day here today.

First task of the day is getting the girls’ room painted.  We had most of the first coat done yesterday, but could not finish it all because there was spackling that still had to dry before we could paint it.  That was dry today, so some of the room got its first coat and some got its second this morning.

With the white Kilz primer on the walls, the room is easily twice the brightness that it was before.  The difference is just incredible.  This was so worth it.  It’s a whole new room.  We can’t wait to get the girls moved back into it.  They come in every few hours to see the progress.

We managed to get a hold of Jim today, our plumber.  He’s now scheduled to stop by on Wednesday and get the shower plumbed up for us so that we can actually get the bathroom useable and not just pretty.  We’ve been trying to reach him for days, ever since we figured out that the plumbing had to be replaced, so this is very good.  Paul will just be arriving tomorrow night, late, after driving all day, so we will barely be getting back to the bathroom heavy duty work before Jim gets here, anyway.

Liesl went out into the courtyard and did some gardening today.  She is carefully taking care of our new plants out there.

The girls did some gardening in school today, planting seeds to grow herbs and veggies with some little educational growing kits that we have.

Liesl and Luciana Planting Seeds

This is the first time that the girls have planted their own seeds.  Liesl has been asking to do this for a while.  They are loving all of the gardening stuff that we have been doing.  Liesl is especially excited about having gardens and getting to work on them outside.

Newly Planted Herbs and Veggies in Kitchen Window

This afternoon we finally finished all of the priming work that needed to be done in the girls’ room.  It just needs to dry and we can start putting on the first coat of the Tahitian Breeze colour.

At seven Dominica went out to Walmart to pick up pizza and some other items.  Luciana loves Walmart pizza, it is one of her favourite pizzas.  And it is cheap, so that’s a pretty good deal, in reality.

The girls Facetimes with their cousins and played video games this evening.  They played Roblox and Age of Empires 2.

We watched some more crazy British home builder shows and then it was time to paint again.  This time for real.

We worked from something like nine until midnight doing the entire first coat of Tahitian Breeze paint on the girls’ walls.  We did the whole room in one go.  The girls are so excited, they really love it.  They keep coming into the bedroom over and over to see the progress and just keep raving about how it is exactly the room colour that they wanted.

Finally got the girls into bed at half past midnight so that we could start reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight.  We did two chapters of it last night, which means that we are starting on chapter nine tonight.  Liesl is really loving it, she is so excited to be reading at night regularly again.

Paul will be arriving tomorrow.  We expect that he will be on the road very early, like around six in the morning.  His drive should be an hour or two shorter this time now that he knows not to drive past us out into central Oklahoma before making his way south.  There is no need to go through Tulsa, let alone Oklahoma City, to get to us.  That’s just silly.  It is a straight shot south from US 44 coming out of Joplin to get into Dallas.  So we will likely see him in the middle of the afternoon.  Hopefully we can get all of his task list done for the bathroom before he gets here.  He left us with a lot to do before he returned so that we can be productive and get it done as quickly as possible.

March 25, 2018: Painting the Girls’ Room

Sunday. I woke up at nine and had to deal right away with a customer networking issue.    So right up and into the office straight away.  Dominica was up about the same time and went right into the girls’ room and started sanding in the hopes that we would be able to get around to putting on the primer today.

I worked for about an hour with the customer and got them back online.

The girls spent pretty much the entire day on Facetime with their cousins playing video games whether Roblox, Age of Empires 2, Castle Crashers, or who knows what.  Garrett woke them up calling them this morning and they all played online together until their cousins had to go to bed tonight!  So we saw very little of the kids all day.

We did a bit of work in the girls’ room today.  The patch jobs are done, and the walls are mostly primed, now.  More to do tomorrow, but it was several hours of work today and it is moving forward well.

We did some research and think that we are going to test out a TP-Link Kasa smart home lighting system in their room.  Luciana is scared of her current light bulb and we think that they will love having a colour controlled bedroom.

The girls can see how much lighter the room is looking with the primer already and are very excited about it.  What a difference it is going to make.  That dark, flat, chocolate colour was so awful.  It sucked all light out of the room and made that room feel so small.

After working on the girls’ room, we moved to working more on the bathroom.  Dominica is struggling to get the tub clean while I cut drywall to prepare for the tiles to go in.

We did a lot of design and planning today for our gardens.  We are slowly formulating a solid plan of what we think that we want to do long term.  I might start building a retaining wall in the back lawn sooner than later, we need to halt the erosion back there and start to raise the level of the lawn a little.  It slopes something horrible.

I did tonnes of looking into different garden designs today.  We are getting a better and better idea of what we want to do with it.  We did lots of looking into pod designs for the garden office.  We’ve even been out in the yard measuring where it would fit and I think that our vision for how it will all come together is getting pretty clear.

Dominica made fish sandwiches and corn casserole for dinner tonight.  We watched some house building shows during dinner and laughed at how ridiculously people burn their money in England while building houses.  The show we watched was definitely crazy people who didn’t know how to plan house building.

Luciana and I did some of her reading together this evening.  She is still reading her library book Stick and Stone which is part of this month’s reading on friendship.

I managed to do more catch up on SGL today and now August is mostly done.  Not almost done, but mostly.  I’m now totally caught up until our Missouri vacation around Dominica’s birthday.

We all stayed up pretty late tonight.  The girls started getting ready for bed at half past midnight.

We are on chapter seven of Dragons of Autumn Twilight tonight.  Both girls really like it, but they both struggle to follow the story as there are just so many characters to remember.

Tonight I hit my 6,000th post on SGL.


March 24, 2018: Preparing to Paint the Girls’ Room

Saturday. I was the first one up, by a bit.  Went into the office and caught up on SGL for the last few days, and did some Ruby class work.  Dominica was up not long after me and went out to run some errands.  Liesl was up around ten and her first thought was to head out to the atrium and do some gardening.  She wants to take care of her new flower and herbs.

Liesl in the Atrium
Liesl Gardening in the Atrium

Today is supposed to be quite warm, almost ninety degrees here in Dallas!  Where did this heat come from?  It has been pretty cool until today.  This is our first really hot day.  Spring is definitely here, now.

Dominica made two runs to Home Depot this morning.  Much of the day was spent spackling, removing the old shelf, repairing heavily damaged walls, and generally getting the girls’ room ready for its first coat of primer.  That took a lot of time today, and I ended up having to make a third run to Home Depot this afternoon, too!

We did not get around to actually doing the primer today, but the room is prepped for it and that alone was a ton of work.  And we need to wait for much of the wall repair to dry before we start priming, anyway.

It is amazing what bad shape that room was in.  The walls were heavily abused during Rachel’s tenure living in it with loads of pointless shelves, posters, and all kinds of crazy wall hangings everywhere.  And during Kyler’s stay, the room was painting the more hideous dark chocolate brown, and very poorly at that.  And that shelf, while original, was never good.  We are glad to be done with that.  We took this chance to remove the old intercom from the wall by the door, remove the old telephone jack and other oddities like that.  The room is going to be the best that it has been since the house was new.

While working in the one corner of the room, Dominica discovered some bubbling in the old paint and scraped it away to find old termite damage, probably from well over a decade ago.  So that took quite a bit of repair to get back into shape.  This little big of painting has quickly turned into quite the project, as it always does.  Not on the same scale as the bathroom, of course.  That’s a bit bonkers.

Paul is attempting to get back to Dallas on Tuesday now, instead of Thursday.  But it will depend on what his real estate agent says about the state of his house and how the sales process is likely to go.

Liesl played Wind Waker on the Wii U pretty much all day.  She played one of her Barbie games first thing this morning, but not for long.  Luciana spent most of the day camped out on my bed playing on her iPad.  She Facetimed with Clara for several hours this evening while they played some game online together.

At ten this evening, Liesl and Luciana played some Barbie game on the Wii U together in the living room.  Dominica was in the bedroom watching house shows from England.

I did a ton of work, truly a monumental amount, on SGL today.  At this point, 2018 has been all caught up for a little bit.  Everything is caught up up until July 20th of last year.  And everything after the middle of October is caught up.  So there is a gap from late July to early October in which I still have a bit of work to do, but that is it.  It is huge progress.  And by far most of September is already done, and some of August is.  August is the only month that is really bad at this point.  What a lot of work that was.

Dominica and I are both really exhausted today.  This whole week has been very tiring.

I had been planning to go hang out and maybe play some video games, but since the girls decided to play a Barbie game together I poured myself a glass of Winking Owl Red Blend and kept working on SGL updates.

Dominica switched to watching Bob Ross painting shows on Netflix.  So funny.

Luciana spent nearly an hour just talking with me tonight.  She was checking out the status of work in her bedroom and had a million questions.  She wanted to know about the repair work that had been done, how the painting was going to go, where she would put collectables now that her shelf was taken down and that led to discussing houses and where I grew up and how I moved to a new house when I was about her age and what happened to my old house and what she wants to do with this house when she gets old and what grandpa is going to do with his house and so forth.  It was a very long, in depth discussion.  She is so funny, she is so incredibly adult in the way that she carries on conversations, but then breaks down emotionally from tiny changes like losing a shelf.

Luciana was hungry and asked for me to make her veggie bacon at midnight.  She ended up requesting eight slices!

Before bed, Liesl was reading Charlotte’s Web.  She is really enjoying reading it.  Her homeschool book club from the library is really doing wonders for making her enjoy reading.

Liesl was so adorable tonight.  She wanted to tell Dominica something about what she had been reading in her book, but she didn’t want to spoil anything, so she was super careful to make sure that Dominica had already read the book before telling her anything about it.

I ended up having enough time to get SGL caught up through August 5th.  So all of July is now completed!  That’s exciting.  Now there is just a lot of August and a tiny bit of September and October left to do, that’s all.  Home stretch, more or less.  It will take no time now, all of the hard stuff is done.  From a quick look, there are ten days in October, seven days in September, and then twenty four days in August left to fill in and I will be totally and completely caught up.  Hard to believe after such a hard year of updates that everything is back in proper swing.

Half past midnight and time to shut down the desktop and prepare for bed.  We are getting back in to reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight tonight.  We took a bit of a break from our night time reading and Liesl and I are both not very happy about that.  We really liked our night time reading that we had been doing, especially back when we were doing all of the Harry Potter stories which we finished the first week in February.  Then we went on to this book, but we had some travel and stuff going on and we got out of the habit.  So trying hard to get back into it now.

March 23, 2018: Mail and Plants

Friday.  Paul got up and was gone early this morning.  He said goodbye but it was dark out and I did not look at the clock.  His plan is to be back on Wednesday evening, so less than a week.  But, he has a lot to do with his house in Missouri before he comes back down.

Our mail got delivered this morning.  From the giant stack that was delivered, I would guess that this is the first real mail delivery that we have gotten in over a month.  The girls’ Valentine’s Day cards, for example, were just delivered today.  And we got two issues of Game Informer today, and those come a month apart.  And since we don’t know how long before the first one came and how long after the second one came that we’ve not been getting mail, it could easily be closer to two months.  My driver’s license, that was due a month ago, was here today, too.  Definitely something seriously wrong with our mail for a very long time.

One of the issues with traditional mail, as we realized here, is that there is no mechanism for letting you know when mail items are expected.  So not getting mail doesn’t tell you that you should have gotten mail.  There is no realistic way to know that mail isn’t being delivered.  All you know is that you don’t get mail, you have no idea if you were supposed to or not.  This is especially bad today, with the proliferation of junk mail, because as it turns out, until a week ago we have been receiving a huge pile of mail every day, but it was all exclusively the junk mail and none of our own mail!  We had no idea, because we weren’t expecting anything and mail kept coming every day.  We even did a mail suspension while we were in Georgia and New York that we turned back on the day that we returned, but apparently only junk mail resumed and the “real” mail was lost during that time.  What a mess, and what a bad system.  There’s no verification mechanism, at all!

So after working this morning, we made a major family trip to the local nursery this afternoon.  The girls have never gone plant shopping before, so this was decently special.  We were there for hours, it is a huge facility.  We ended up getting some herbs like lemon thyme, rosemary, lavender, dill, etc.  Those things we are going to plant in large pots in the atrium.  Each of the girls picked out a small pot and a one dollar flower for themselves.  Luciana was channeling her grandmother and picked a yellow marigold, just like we had all over when I was growing up.  Marigolds were the first flowers that I grew on my own, as well, when I was little.  And Liesl picked an impatient.  It’s a very small haul for our first day, we were mostly investigating the options more than anything.

It was an exhausting day, the girls were so excited and needed to pull me in a million directions.  They were having a good time, but it was mentally taxing.  All three of them needed to show me things and “talk at me” continuously for a few hours straight while we were there.  I was totally burnt by the time that we were done.

Back home, Dominica and I put in some time walking around the house talking about different garden and lawn options, trying to come up with a plan that makes sense for us.  Right now, our biggest priority is getting the front box full of lavender.

Dominica and the girls went into the atrium and planted four pots of herbs and flowers.  Liesl and Luciana thought that that was quite fun.  We have one large pot of mixed herbs.  One medium pot of just dill, because I love dill and hope that we can grow enough that we are able to really use fresh dill for cooking all of the time, and then each of the girls has their small pot with their flowers in it.

Dominica made veggie burgers for dinner, which we ate while watching some British gardening shows for inspiration.

After dinner, the girls and I set up the Wii U in the living room.  They had been asking me to play video games with them all day.  They both really wanted to play Nintendoland.  We played a few rounds of the ghost hunting game, but Luciana finds it too intense.  Then we switched to the Pikmin game inside Nintendoland and had a really fun hour or two of playing that as a team.  It was a good evening.

Got the kids getting ready for bed at eleven thirty.  Then wrapped up in the office and was off to bed a little after midnight.  Luciana did not want to read our story again tonight.  Liesl has been very sad about that, as she’s been wanting to read it all week.  So we decided that tomorrow night we are reading it for sure.