September 18, 2018:

I had to be up at seven this morning, and shower right away.  Only time to get ready and get out of the door.  Paul and I are headed downtown Dallas today, and the last thing that we want to do is fight Dallas traffic all morning and then deal with downtown parking; so that means that we are taking the train.  The train goes at 8:30 and at 8:34; and we don’t want to miss them and be stuck taking the 8:50, that would cut it too close to make our meeting.

Luciana loves her new wolf stuffed animal.

I got to wear my new shows this morning.  And my “old” suit.  Good deal.

We were running late and were actually quite lucky to make the 8:34, the 8:30 pulled away as we were trying to park.  But getting the next one was easy.  Because we got the “in between” train, we had to ride our local Green Line DART down to the edge of Dallas proper, then switch to the Orange Line.

This is my first time riding the Orange Line at all, it was being built when we were first living in Irving and is a congestion relief for part of the Green Line down in the city, then goes west to service Irving, Las Colinas, and the DFW Airport, so is very popular, now.  We had watched it being built and had hoped that we would have been able to have used it a lot as it goes right to the complex at Las Colinas where we used to be members at La Cima, which would have been super convenient.  But we left La Cima long before they completed the train line, and any friends we had who lived there moved away, and now we never have a reason to go to Irving at all, even though it is very close by.  So we’ve just never used it.

The Orange Line took us all of the way up to Cityplace, which was neat.  I’ve used the trains downtown plenty, but never to Uptown, before.  I had no idea that north of downtown that the trains turn into a subway!

At Cityplace / Uptown station it is two long elevators, and then several stairs to get up to ground level.  We were quite surprised.  The station is shared with the ground level trolley service, too.  I had not known that Uptown had a Trolley at all, nor that it was free.  This would be very convenient if I knew the schedule or what was along the line.  It is called the M-Line.  I need to acquaint myself more with Dallas transit options.

What’s neat is that at Uptown Station, the M-Line Trolley has an old fashioned turn table that spins it around to reverse its trip.  Pretty neat.

It was super hot, heat index over one hundred, so walking to the office where our meeting was, even though it was only a fourteen minute walk, was not a good option.  We called an Uber and asked them to crank the AC for us.  That made it quick and easy.

Other than the heat, it was a gorgeous Dallas day.  The ride was quick and our meeting lasted about an hour.  Went well, we think.

We got to see Kim while there, just for a moment.  But when we were done we grabbed her and went to lunch.  She recommended a little Thai Street food place on the quadrangle that turned out to be really good, and was just opening as we got there.

Paul and I got Thai Fried rice, mine was tofu and was so good.

It’s been many years since I managed to have lunch with Kim uptown.  Last time was at the Tower Club and I can’t even begin to imagine when it was, I bet it was back in 2013!

We Ubered back to Uptown Station, caught the Red Line to Pacific, and switched to the Green Line.  I hit the 7-11 while we had a few minutes to wait for a cold drink.  Then a nice, long, air conditioned Green Line ride back up to Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton.  A successful morning.

Once back, it was out of the suit and straight to a busy afternoon of work.  Having been out all morning makes for an incredibly busy afternoon and I ended up working much of the evening trying to stay on top of things.

It was a busy evening, I had to work and had some meetings going late into the evening.  No time off for me.

September 17, 2018: Ciana’s New Glasses

Monday morning.  My day seemed to turn into a day of meetings.  I was on the phone for a large portion of the morning.  Kept me very busy.  A bit kick off to my work week.  And tomorrow I am already due to be out of the office for most of the day with Paul and I heading downtown Dallas for a morning meeting.

MangoLassi was super busy today, too.  Lots of traffic, lots of posting.  I was trying to keep up, which is actually relatively conducive to being in phone meetings since I can’t do normal work, but a little posting keeps me on my toes.

This morning Dominica took Luciana to America’s Best to pick up her new glasses.  She now has two pairs of normal, every day glasses to wear for regular activities.  They are so adorable, and she loves them.  She loves both that they are so cute, and she loves that she is able to see.

When I was Ciana’s age, I hated how my glasses looked, and I wasn’t all that excited about how much more I could see.  Although I can still remember being seven and mom driving me home from the eye doctor in Geneseo, New York and seeing the trees on the far side of the fields in the flats down on Route 63 and being amazed that I could see the trees so far away.

Since Paul and I have the meeting tomorrow, I need a suit and I don’t have any shoes that fit me.  I wear a size fourteen, now, and my last dress shoes were from many years ago and were more like an eleven.  They are so small that I am in a lot of pain just trying to get my feet into them.  So new shoes were an emergency.

Paul and I ran out to Nordstrom Rack and it took no more than five minutes to try on several pairs of shoes, and to find something that I liked and that was pretty cheap (for dress shoes.)  Black, simple, functional.  That’s all that I needed.  We were in and out and I am ready for tomorrow.

I had tried on my black suit tonight and it fits.  I have only used the suit once before, I believe.  This is the black suit that I got in 2013, during the summer, for doing my interviewing with the hedge funds in Connecticut.  So over five years ago!  I was only thirty seven the last time that I wore this suit, back when I was still working a normal financier job in Dallas and looking for a change!  Mind boggling how the time flies, and amazing that we still have the suit and that it still fits.

Dinner tonight for me was spaghetti squash in oil and garlic, and a side of broccoli.  A very healthy dinner.  During dinner we got through an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

I offered the girls a chance to go out for Froyo and Liesl was excited to go and Luciana wanted to stay home and play with Clara online.  So Liesl and I made it just the two of us and went to Yorgurtti.  We had a very nice time.

Liesl went for cake batter again.  And, of course, I had to get cotton candy.  I keep it simple: cotton candy with mini M&Ms in it.

On the way back from yoghurt, we stopped at Sonic and ordered ice cream for Dominica and Paul.  This ended up taking forever.  No idea why but we sat for a good ten minutes, even though the place was empty save but for one car.  Then other people arrived, ordered, got their food, and left; all while we were sitting there just trying to order.  It was at least three times longer than the longest that I have ever waited at a Sonic, and was easily one of the slowest Sonic stores ever, too.  Hardly anyone was there getting food.  At least twice, we were the only car!

I managed to watch some Deep Space Nine.  Technically I was watching it, but Dominica was puttering about the room much of the time so sort of watched it with me and at some point actually watched it with me.  Only half a season left before I have completed the entire show.

Liesl started watching Liberty’s Kids tonight.  She loves cartoons and Dominica got this for her years ago but I don’t think that she ever watched it.  Liesl certainly can’t remember having watched it, at least.  So she watched that for a few hours tonight.  We really want her to watch that so that she gets a feel for colonial America because she needs that background to be able to understand the context of The Witch of Blackbird Pond which she is reading.

The girls and I read chapter four in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before I got them off to bed.  Then I read some of East of Eden and fell asleep myself.  That book will definitely put you to sleep very quickly.  At least as an adult I can appreciate Steinbeck’s writing far better.  When I was really young and decided to read grandma’s ancient copy of The Grapes of Wrath it was so slow, and dry, and seemed to just wander without any direction.  Now, I think, I’d appreciate it far more.

Just saying that, I can picture finding that old novel, along with a copy of 1984, on the little book shelf in grandma’s front bedroom, the one that had been my Aunt Sharon’s room when I was really young, before she got married and moved to Leicester, and her letting me have them.  And the feel of those old 1960s to 1970s novel pages, and the musty smell that all of the books at grandma’s house had.  I don’t even have the book in front of me, but it’s as clear as can be in my hands and I can’t be more than twelve years old, so a full thirty years ago, finding these classics of American literature that no one but me in the family would ever have an interest to read (and to this day, still no one reads them but me)  and asking to have them and working to read this very difficult material.  I haven’t pictured that front room in years, decades maybe.  I can’t remember the last time I was in that house, let alone that room.  It was the house she got when I was little, just two doors down from us on Peoria Road.  I got so much of my reading from her, which I never really realized till I was older.

September 16, 2018: Lychee Fruit

I was up at eight.  The sun is out.  I did some writing, made myself a bagel for breakfast, made the coffee, did some cleaning in the kitchen, did some DuoLingo.  I got the day kicked off pretty well.

The girls were up mid-morning.  They both wanted fresh bagels for breakfast.  Good thing that we bought a dozen yesterday.

I am on two months of no caffeine now and it has been going great.  No cravings and I have a better sleep schedule and I just never get tired during the day.

While Liesl ate her breakfast, which was actually in the afternoon, I read some more of The Witch of Blackbird Pond to her.  We are on the fourth chapter now and I am rapidly catching up with where she is in reading it herself.  Doing the reading twice, and having me explain things as we go, seems to be working well.  My goal is to be reading it right behind her as reinforcement once I can fully catch up.

I looked up the author, today, Elizabeth George Speare.  She was an important author, especially in my day.  She was born in 1908 and it turns out that she passed away in 1994, just months after I graduated from school.  The book we are reading now was written in 1954, and is probably her most famous.  But nearly equally famous, and also one that I read as a child, was The Sign of the Beaver (a copy of this is at dad’s house somewhere) which was written in 1983, so was a very new book when I had read it being only a year or two old – I had no idea at the time that one was so old, and one so current.  Oddly, I have never heard of her other Newbery Medal winning book, The Bronze Bow, which was written in 1961.  It’s still in print, but not even remotely as famous as her other two.

Luciana spend the morning in my room, in the bed watching videos.

The girls tried out some snacks that they had found at the grocery store yesterday.

While we were reading, Helen came over from next door and asked if Christian could mow our lawn, he was already out mowing and wanted to use up the gas that he had, and she said that he liked mowing, that it helped him to relax.  I’m skeptical that they just didn’t think our lawn looked awful, but said that he could.  So the lawn is all nicely mowed now for Dominica’s return.  I had intended to go out and mow some today anyway.

Christian also trimmed the bushes in front some, and we talked and he has a machine that can take them out.  So he said that he’s going to come over on Wednesday and remove them.  While we were looking at them, we noticed a huge crack in the side of his house.  Luckily he is only renting, so the wall damage is not really his concern.  But he said that when it rains hard, the wall gets wet and water runs across the floor from the hole in the side of the house!  He said that the roof is damaged and water comes in from that way, too.  He had to move his television because of water raining down on it.

I invited them over to drinks or something next weekend, and to bring the kids so that they can meet our kids.  Liesl and Luciana came outside to talk to Helen, too.  Or to say hi, not to really talk.  And they invited the girls to go over and play on their trampoline sometime.

Liesl and I ended up reading seven chapters together today and I didn’t just catch up with her, but am a page or two ahead, now.  It has been so long, over three decades, since I read this book, but as I read it it is all so familiar.  Amazing to read it again, so long afterwards.  I can only guess that I was ten or eleven when I last read it.  It was one of the many wonderful books that I got from the Scholastic book catalogues that we had before the days of Amazon.

We would order from these small catalogues at school.  They were just a couple of pages long, and we would be send home with them.  You would fill out an order form and in a month or whatever, some books would arrive.  I got loads and loads of great books this way, like Moccasin Trail, The Sign of the Beaver, Johnny Tremain, To Kill a Mockingbird, Danger on Panther Peak, All Quiet on the Western Front, A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Up a Road Slowly, Across Five Aprils, Watership Down, The Lottery Rose, No Promises in the Wind, The Summer of the Swans, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Secret Garden, Rabbit Hill, Little Women, Trapped in Death Cave, and many, many Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes comic books.

Luciana made some slime on her own today.  She went and found the ingredients, and even a container.  She did the mixing on her own in the kitchen and voila, she made her own slime.  It was way easier than the kit that we had for doing slime previously.  It seems that slime mania has taken over with kids today.  Everyone does it.  From their friend Emily in Missouri, to Isabella to the kids directly next door.  It’s all the rage.

It took a lot of work, for some reason, to get the kids out of the door today to go to the playground.  I wanted to be on the way at five, but it was after six when we ran out the door.  We got lucky, though, their new friend, whose name we do not know, was there and they played for a long time.

They played for a while.  He brought then a yoghurt to share.  And introduced them both to lychee fruit, which they both liked.  I tried it, too, it is delicious.

They had a good time and played for about two hours.  Dominica got home while we were there after stopped at Taco Bueno around the corner.  The girls did not want Taco Bueno, Liesl wanted Taco Bell and Luciana wanted my home made pasta.

We left the playground before eight, swung into Taco Bell getting Liesl and I dinner, then came home to visit.

The girls each got a stuffed wolf from Colorado.  They love them.

Spent most of the evening catching up.  Then read the third chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before getting the girls off to bed.

Dominica was pretty impressed by how clean I was able to get the house.  Of course the first thing that she did when she got home was to close all of the windows.  Ciana was sad, the girls love that they get all that natural light when it is just us.

September 15, 2018: Ciana’s First Glasses and Sushi

Saturday. The sun is out this morning.  I got up just before nine.  Luciana was surprisingly awake at ten thirty.

I found out that Frunza died some time ago.  Frunza was the little dog that used to come and hang out with us in our home in Romania.  She was hit by a car while trying to cross the street.  That is so sad, she was such a sweet dog.

For lunch today, I made Liesl and me baked beans.  She kind of liked them, but not too much.  But she tried the, they are a new food for her.

The girls did they own thing this morning.  We’ve been planning on going to the playground today, so I wanted them to have some relaxing time before going out and being with people again.  This is an exhausting week for them.  The weather was supposed to get cooler and rain late this afternoon, so waiting till about three seemed ideal.

Luciana mostly watched videos alone in the bedroom.  Liesl hung out in the school room, then played some Sims 4.

This afternoon the mail came and in it were Luciana and my new glasses!  For her, it is only her sun glasses, for me it is my sunglasses and my normal glasses.  Luciana’s two pairs of normal glasses are going to be at America’s Best in a few days.  So for the moment, she only has sun glasses.

She is very excited to have them.  She has been asking for days when they would arrive.  She has really embraced that she will need glasses and is excited to get to see the world.  That she is getting several pair and can select what to wear based on her mood probably makes it a lot easier to handle.  This is my first time having two pairs of glasses at once, as well!  A new concept, but EyeBuyDirect really makes that possible as glasses are only like twenty or thirty dollars!

Luciana put them on in my bedroom and went to the window to see things way down the street.  She said it is like a whole new world out there.

She also likes that the new glasses perfectly match her flip flops.

My new regular glasses are basically identical to my old ones, but not all cracked.  Amazingly, my old glasses made it nearly a decade without so much as a scratch.  But with about a dozen cracks as the plastic got brittle over time.  That was my record for never scratching glasses, and the secret is that I never cleaned them with a paper product, ever.  Not a single time.  Always with water and dish soap.

Both girls said that they really like my new sunglasses, too.  Maggie says that I look like a tough Texan, now.

At three we went down to Mary Heads Carter playground and ended up staying for nearly three hours!  For a long time Luciana kept wanting to leave, but then kept wanting to stay.  She is always like that.  That’s why I stall before we decide to go, she always ends up asking to stay, often for hours more.

They made lots of friends on the playground and had loads of fun playing group games.  They even made friends and arranged to meet there here again tomorrow.  So a pretty successful day there.

We came home and the girls changed, then we went to WinCo for a grocery shopping trip.  We actually ended up having a great time.  It was the first time for any of the three of us to go and check out are new, local supermarket that we have been hearing so much about.

The girls decided that WinCo was wonderful and was full of the most exciting food.  There were so many things that they wanted to try.  We were here mostly because we had cheese ravioli for dinner but needed some sauce and Parmesan cheese for it.  But we went all over the store to investigate what they had.

Liesl found Unicorn Cereal that she knows that she likes and needed to have that, of course.  She is part unicorn, as you know.  The girls found cookies for Halloween, some Mexican snacks that they were really interested in, donuts that they wanted to try (something that never happens), even steamer bag veggies that they were excited about.  I got some beer, Sol and Imperial, and picked up bagels for Dominica.  They are her favourite bagels.

The big excitement, though, was that we found that they had sushi and Liesl said that she really wanted some.  Luciana decided that it was time to try sushi herself, she has never had it before.  We picked up a sample sushi set so that they could try a few different things.

A very successful and fun grocery trip.  Once home, we had the sushi right away.  Luciana really liked it.  She especially liked the Crunch Roll and the Shaggy Dog, both of which were made with shrimp tempura.  She was not a fan of the NY Roll which was made with imitation crab.  So it seems like the shrimp tempura is the part that she likes there.  She likes rice in general, so that’s not much of a stretch for her.

Both girls really liked the sushi, Liesl seems to prefer it from WinCo than from the sushi place that she normally gets it.  Probably a bit cheaper, too.

After sushi, we put on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while I started making cheese ravioli for dinner.  This is my favourite of the HP movies, and has my favourite opening of the series as well.

After the movie, it was time to read.  Liesl and I did a couple more chapters in The Witch of Blackbird Pond which is doing a lot for helping her to understand the history and context of the book which is really advanced.  This is a tough topic as it tackles the extreme levels of xenophobia, cultism, violence, racism, slavery, and other horrors that were endemic to the New England colonies.  It’s an awfully sad book showing just what horrific foundations America had, and all stuff that is very hard for a nine year old to really grasp.

It’s also terrible that, unfortunately due to the beliefs at the time of the writing of the book, the book, while painting Puritans as the abject evil that they were, does give them the saving grace of being anti-slavery.  Which history has shown to be completely untrue, to the point of the Puritans now being known to have been the founders of the concept of chattel slavery in the Americas, actively important slaves via the slave trade from Africa by 1638 at the latest, and creating the North American slave trade natively by enslaving and exporting Indians.  In reality, the slavery for which North America is most infamous, often considered the worst slavery situation in the history of humanity, was actually, from what we know, created by and institutionalized by the Puritans and their culture.  Which, of course, is completely fitting with their approach to everything in life.  The degree of inhumanity and evil that they embodied across the board would logically make them the obvious founders of something so disgusting.

So these topics are all at the heart of the book, and it is a lot to take in and to understand.  But the book is incredibly prescient, too, as the mood and attitudes of the early Puritan colonies are the ones that have been rising in America in the current political climate and are driving American attitudes about immigrants, religion, and the rights of the populace.  Puritanical ideas are far from extinguished here.

Loads of education from a book like this, but she cannot read it on her own.  Just too many words, concepts, and context that she doesn’t have.  But she is learning loads and loads from it.

We discovered that there were loads of flies in the house.  I mean we knew that there were a lot, but it was a lot more than we had realized.  I went on a rampage and easily killed thirty or more tonight!  They seem to all want to hang out either on the television in the living room, just sleeping on it in the middle of the screen, in the bar, or on the mirror in our bathroom.  Just normal house flies.  They make no sense.

No matter how many I killed, more just kept appearing.  And they were all go to the exact place where I had just killed the one before!  The dead center of the mirror.  So I’d just wait there and kill one after another, over and over.  I got pretty good at it.

We read one more chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets tonight before going to sleep.

Liesl really wants to read A Wrinkle in Time sometimes soon, also.  There is a new movie coming out soon based on it that she wants to see, and she is excited about the book.  I read that book when I was young (and again when I was older), and liked it.  Although I have to say that I liked it way better when I was young, because being older it’s pretty poorly written in reality.  The characters are weird and the science is gibberish – and only gets worse as the series progresses.  But whatever keeps her excited about reading.

September 14, 2018: First Play Date

Friday.  What a busy week it has been.  I got up and had a lot of work to do this morning, and several calls to make today.  The girls slept in, a lot.  They are exhausted from all of the activity this week.  I was hoping that they would get a really solid night of sleep in so that we would have them well rested and able to go over to a friend’s house today.  Not something that we want to miss.

I got my wish, the girls slept in very late.  They got up and Liesl asked for an entire bowl of steamed veggies for lunch.  Now that’s what we like to see.

It took a bit of doing between work and phone calls, but I managed to have both girls get ready to go out today.  Liesl did more DuoLingo Spanish on her own this morning, as well.

I had hours of calls that made it difficult to get the girls ready to go, but they did a good job on their own and when I was off of my calls I was able to get changed and get them out the door pretty quickly.

Today is a really big deal as they have never really had local friends, at least not in the US, so going over to someone’s house to play is essentially unheard of.  For all intents and purposes, this is their first time doing something like this, which seems crazy compared to when we were kids, but this seems relatively common today.  So we are super excited about this.  And their new friend, Isabella, is in the same boat.  Home schooler who has lived most of her life abroad and is only recently back to Texas.

They had thought about going out somewhere today, but it was raining and thundering most of the day.  So things like playgrounds are not a good idea.

It was just after three when I dropped them off down in Addison.  This is so perfect, our new friends are just under ten minutes away from us!

Dominica and I were very nervous about the whole thing.  Dropping off our babies somewhere, and actually leaving them?  It seems crazy when we’ve had them with us continuous for, well, forever.  As big a step for us as parents as it is for them as kids!

We arrived at Isabella’s place and she was waiting for the girls outside and they all screamed and ran down the sidewalk.  They are all so excited.

They were like best friends in no time.  I got reports that things went very, very well.  They played with a lot of slime, it seems to be a thing these days.  And they watched a movie.  And cookies were baked.

I hung around maybe twenty minutes or so and talked.  But then I went back to the house to work for a while and to let them play.  I got a bit of work done, with the house all quiet and to myself.

I had to go pick them up just before six.  On my way to get them, I swung into Taco Bueno and got us dinner so that we’d be ready to eat when we got back home.  Once I got there, at ten to six, it took a good half an hour to get them out of the house.  They brought home some chocolate chip cookies, and some slime.

We got home and Liesl and I finished watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  Luciana had requested it, but needed quiet time to herself so ate her dinner in the other room.

After the movie, the girls and I made a run out to Yorgurtti to get a treat.  We had very little food today.  Basically just Taco Bueno and some veggies.  So some frozen yoghurt for dessert was just the thing.  Both girls were pretty happy with that idea.

Liesl went for cake batter.  Luciana got salted caramel popcorn.  I got cotton candy.

After that, we watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  Liesl and I watched all of it, Luciana watched some of it with us.  I tried to watch it all, but ended up having to do some work for an hour or so.

Luciana really wanted to read some tonight, so I read the last of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to both girls.  Then after that, Liesl and I read some of The Witch of Blackbird Pond together.  She has been reading it alone, but I am not reading it to her so that she can hear me say the words and talk her through what is happening in the story.  She doesn’t have the vocabulary or the historical context to understand what is going on in it, as it takes place in colonial America.  So I am reading it to her and explaining things as we go.  Our plan is for me to be reading it right behind her, so that she is still working on reading comprehension on her own, but having a solid understanding of what came just before so that she has the best chance of understanding it.  It is a surprisingly tough book, and it shows how many things that are in there that kids would not be exposed to.  She is lucky that she’s been to Connecticut and remembers it just a little, so that helps with the context.  But the idea of colonial America is still very foreign to her.

Liesl did some more DuoLingo after our reading.  Then I read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we were all off to sleep.  At least Luciana and I were.  Liesl wanted to stay up with her night light and try reading some more of her book, she does not want to fall behind.  She is very dedicated to her per day page requirement.

Today was another big success.  The girls have been saying what a great week they have been having.  And they are both very worn out.  We’ve gotten tons of time together, loads of reading done, two school events at libraries, one school extra activity with 4H, and their first time going to a friend’s house to stay and play!  What a week they have had.  If the weather is nice, we will talk about going to a playground tomorrow, too.  But there has been a lot of rain this week, so that is a big maybe.