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.

September 13, 2018: Trying 4H

I got up just before eight and was pretty tired, having stayed up working so late last night, and having had a very busy day with the kids yesterday.  Two library outings, and two taco restaurant trips.  It was a lot, on top of working.  Today I am hoping to limit our activities to just one trip to do 4H.  It is a lot to do two things yesterday, and another today.  That’s more than the girls normally would have done in a month!  But I feel that they need more of this sort of stuff and the opportunity to do things has just presented itself and I want to squeeze it all in.

So I started the day with moving one scheduled meeting to later in the day so that it will not conflict with 4H.  And did my DuoLingo for the day first thing, and worked to prep to get my phone charging aligned with when we would need to head out of the house.  Thankfully, 4H takes place just a couple of blocks away, so should be only five to seven minutes in the car, tops.  It’s at a local church, right on Josey.  So easy.

Luciana really wanted to go to the playground this week.  And I have been trying to figure out when we can squeeze it into the schedule.  But we can’t do it before 4H today, or else the kids won’t have time to sleep and they will be all sweaty for their first 4H meeting.  And they can’t do it afterwards because I had to rearrange a meeting just to make it as it is.  And after the meeting will be pretty late, but theoretically possible.  We will see about that.  We had no possibility of doing it yesterday, because we were so busy.  And before that, it had been raining for a few days.  It is not so terribly hot, though, so overall it would be very nice to get to go do that.

It is a little hotter than it has been, though.  We are supposed to be in the low eighties for at least a week.  So before bed last night we had to go back on air conditioning.  We really enjoyed the fresh air while we had it, though.

It was a bit of a mad rush to get out of the house in time to get to the 4H meeting today.  Luciana had been in a mood all morning and didn’t want to go, until it was nearly time to go then she was ready in a jiffy and happy as a clam ready to head out the door.  Liesl took forever getting ready and wasn’t ready on time.

We got to the church only about three minutes late.  It is so close, thankfully.  We found that the church was locked and that there were no signs, however.  Pretty confusing.  It seemed like no one was there, even though several cars were parked there.  We walked around, but there was no information or guidance.  The entrances were all simply locked.

Thankfully, a woman was trying to get in shortly after we arrived to get her child from daycare and she knew to ring a doorbell.  Which ended up doing nothing, but while we waited, someone came out a side door and let us in.  They had no idea about 4H being there (something tells me the church is too large if people working there aren’t aware of a group of children having a meeting in it at the same time), but let us in to look around.  We managed to find the meeting upstairs.

Luciana went to the clover room, where they were just drawing and colouring.  But she loves to do that, so not a problem at all.  We had heard that there were normally just two kids in the clover group and that Ciana might make it three.  But it turned out to be like six or seven today!  She drew me several pictures during the meeting, but eventually got caught up in playing with the other kids and mostly forgot about me.

Liesl sat at the table with the big kids and participated in the board meeting and learning about parliamentary procedures.  She was super nervous at first, but the older girls were super welcoming and she got into it all and had a great time really quickly.  She ended up really enjoying the parliamentary procedure stuff and getting to hang out with the older kids.  She might have been the youngest of the older kids.

I got to watch the big kids for most of the time.  Then I did a little info session with the other parents.  We made a new friends who has five kids, two of which are the same ages as the girls.  So hopefully they will be able to get together sometimes soon, and see each other at 4H.  This week is very successful on meeting people.

We did have an incident that almost got quite bad.  Some parent, who did not seem very official, at some point went into the hallway and I caught her yelling at Luciana and getting quite angry with her.  She didn’t like, apparently, that Luciana was trying to use the bathroom and yelled at her and kept telling her to go into some room that was not the bathroom and grabbed her arm and pushed her and was incredibly mean and rude and immature.  Then she gave Luciana attitude when Luciana wasn’t polite to her after she had been yelled at.  I was about to step in, but the woman left once she realized an adult was nearby.  Had I not been there, I would not have been surprised if she would have hit Luciana.  Whoever this woman was, she clearly had lost emotional control and was just attacking a child that seemed to be someone she had some power over.  Exactly why I fear public schools.  I had to wait to talk to Luciana about it at home.  Luciana had no idea what was going on, just some crazy mean lady going after her.

There was also an incident (well three) of a two year old nearly plummeting down a stair well because the church doesn’t have any railing around the stairs to stop children from just going over the edge.  Insanely dangerous.  The bars on the railing are so far apart that a young child can casually just walk between them, even Luciana at seven years old would not be stopped by them.

This evening I read another chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Luciana while she took a shower.  It is so funny how much she enjoys that.

Dinner was mac and cheese.  Both girls wanted it tonight.

We had been planning on spending some time all together, but both girls seemed to just want to do something quiet on their own.  After two days of nearly continuous activity with other kids, they were ready for some down time.

Liesl did her reading in The Witch of Blackbird Pond just before bed.  She has not missed a day of reading since she was at book club.  She has not missed a day of DuoLingo Spanish since Sunday, either.  And she is really enjoying it.

So I got to put in a few extra hours working, then watched some of Deep Space Nine.  I am on the seventh, and final, season finally.

For their midnight snack, both girls wanted two corn dogs.  They are really in sync tonight.

I made some generic orange “Kool-aid” tonight and Luciana decided to try it and really likes it.  This is a first of her drinking something like this.

Luciana is hoping for another trip to Taco Bueno tomorrow.  Dollars to donuts she doesn’t want to leave the house when I remind her tomorrow.  She also then said that she wants to get up and go to the Guatemalan bakery because she loves it there.  Or to maybe try out Monica’s for breakfast.  She is always ambitious at night, and ready to stay in all day in the morning.

September 12, 2018: Library Day

Today was one crazy day for the Miller family.  I had to be up at a good time, I had my regular Wednesday morning meeting today.  Which we expected to go really poorly, or at least awkwardly, given yesterday’s news.  But it ended up going great and running for an hour and a half.  We felt really positive about it by the time that all was said and done.

After the meeting, I was actually in a rush to get showered, get the girls ready, and get out the door to drive up to Hebron to go to the Carrollton Public Library to attend the home school open house that they are having today.  Thank goodness both girls got themselves up, got dressed in what they were supposed to wear, brushed their hair, and were ready to go.  They were very helpful, and excited about the day’s activities.

Liesl had actually gotten up this morning and worked on her Spanish via DuoLingo while I was on my call!

The library was really crowded.  The turn out was one hundred and twenty eight people!  Way more than we had been expecting.

Liesl immediately made friends with another nine year old girl, Isabella.

The program had the parents all in one presentation room, while the kids were taken off to do activities to keep them busy and entertained.  We learned about library resources and community activities for the home school kids.

One that I think the girls will really like is 4H.  There is a homeschool 4H for them to check out, and it meets tomorrow.  So that is going to be rough, but we might make it.  The people there seemed really nice.

There is also a local nature trail group that seemed really nice that I think we will want to check out.  They have some neat programs for the kids and activities.  And everything is so close.

Luciana ended up being a little young for the scavenger hunt and something went wrong and she was upset and a librarian had to bring her back to me.  But even Luciana, by the time that we left, said that she had a really good time and just didn’t like the scavenger hunt.  We never found out exactly what went wrong, though.  Liesl tried to explain later.  But I think it was that Luciana didn’t understand all of the rules.

I met Isabella’s mother and we talked for a bit.  The girls want to try to get together later this week to hang out.

While at the library, I renewed my library card which had expired (it was a short six month card, now I have a five year one) and I got a Texture card which gives me access to most libraries in Texas.  So I am well set up on library cards now.

We got lunch at Taco Bueno on the way home.  Luciana especially loves the food there.  She got a quesadilla and discovered that she really likes dipping it into sour cream.  Liesl started with just some Mexican rice, but then wanted a quesadilla, too.  The girls were very happy with the day and the food.

We got home and only had forty five minutes for me to sit at the desk and catch up as quickly as I could, and for the girls to relax a little, use the bathroom, brush their hair again, etc.  Then at a quarter till four we were out the door again to go to the Farmer’s Branch library!

Farmer’s Branch had well over one hundred people, as well, for their dino craft activity event, they had only planned on about sixty.  The room was super crowded and they were scrambling to get stuff for all of the kids.

The girls did three crafts.  The first one was a paper cut out dinosaur that the girls coloured, cut, and glued.  They ran out of parts, though, so the dinosaurs were without feet.

The second craft was making dinosaur skeletons out of pipe cleaners, straws, and clay for feet.  But Luciana didn’t like that idea and decided that she wanted to use the clay to sculpt a dinosaur scene, instead.  Which honestly was way cooler than the planned activity.  Liesl tried the thing that they were “supposed” to do, but didn’t like it and took it all apart and tried to do what Luciana had done.  But she wasn’t happy with the result and decided to just give up on it and not keep what she had done.

Then the last craft was making “fossil necklaces” by putting plastic dinosaurs into clay and making a necklace from it.  Both girls got lucky and were able to do this, but there weren’t enough supplies for everyone.

The library gave both girls (and everyone else) two tiny little dinosaur fossils to take home.  And the girls won the raffle to get fossilized dinosaur poop, too!

It was pretty difficult carrying all of the crafts and things back to the car to head home.  The event didn’t last as long as we had expected, so we were in the car by five thirty and home well before six.

A super fun school outing and activity day.  Our libraries here really do a good job of offering things for the kids.

Once home I had a lot of work that I needed to do as I was way behind having been out of the office for so much of the day.  I had planned on being able to work from Farmer’s Branch Library while the girls did crafts, but because of it being so crowded there was no way that I could do that, I couldn’t take up any unnecessary space.  So I lost a couple of planned hours there.

So I worked for several hours while the girls relaxed and played video games with the Grices.  The Grices had been trying to Facetime them from the instant we stepped in the door.  So they did that all afternoon.

It was late, after eight, when I stepped away from the desk and we drove to Taco Bell to get dinner.  Liesl had wanted Taco Bell for lunch and Luciana had wanted Taco Bueno.  So we had compromised and did one for lunch and one for dinner.  Luciana got a pizza here (they do Pizza Hut personal pans) and Liesl got three cheesy bean & rice burritos, plus a caramel apple empenada; and she ate it all!  I got two bean burritos, as I usually do.

We got our food to go, came home, and ate it while we watched the ending of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,  which has one of the endings that all of us like least in the series.  There wasn’t much left, so we then put on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which, while being Luciana’s favourite movie of the series, has the beginning that we all like the least.

We only watched part of the movie before Luciana decided that she was ready for bed.  Both girls were pretty tired.

Liesl stayed up a bit longer, first watching something, then she realized that she had forgotten to do her reading in The Witch of Blackbird Pond today, so she climbed into bed and did that before falling asleep.

I had to stay up for several hours to work to catch up a little from the time that I had lost being out of the office today.  It was closing in on three when I finally got the chance to go to bed.

If things go well tomorrow, I am hoping to take the girls to Homeschool 4H in Carrollton, which is right up the road, at half past noon.  I am pretty sure that it is something that they will really enjoy and they only get together once a month, so I do not want to miss it and have to wait an entire month before we get a chance to try it out again.

What an incredibly full day we had!  We had loads of fun and got lots of time together.  And so many educational activities.  It all worked out really well.  And Liesl made a new friend.  All in all, today was a slam dunk of success.

September 11, 2018: Fresh Air Day

Tuesday.  I woke up at seven thirty.  It is so nice out this morning, and expected to stay nice until at least tomorrow afternoon, that I decided to open the windows and move to fresh air for a change.  This is one of my favourite days of the year, the day that the AC is no longer needed.  It’ll be needed again tomorrow or the day after at least, this is the coolest day for a week, but it is the beginning of the end of the summer heat.

My day started out great.  Plenty of sleep, nothing wrong at the office, great weather, fresh air, good mood, feeling good.  And then, just after ten thirty, I go out to get the mail when I hear the mailman stop by, and get the letter than our largest customer has decided to “go another direction”, which we’ve known was probably coming at some point, but still doesn’t feel good.  It’s not a terrible defeat like they didn’t like us, they just wanted to hire someone local to be an internal resource.   And they still want us to continue to be available in a lessened capacity.  But it is still a huge blow and really sucks.  Just as we had been struggling so hard all year and were just getting onto our feet and things were looking so good, another major set back.  A few more months of “doing not so badly” would have been awfully nice.  And technically, we still have a few.  The change doesn’t take effect for a bit.  But it is very unfortunate, all the same.

I did school with Luciana first today, and that went really smoothly.  We had fun and she zoomed through her lessons.  Even doing extra of some things over what she had to do.

Both girls had pizza for “breakfast”.  I ate the cut up melon in the fridge before it went bad for my breakfast.  That was pretty good.

Liesl, of course, had attitude problems for school and got in trouble.  It is such a struggle with her, even when I am the one doing school with her, to make her just either be happy that we are doing school, or at least put on a good face and do the work that needs to be done.  I don’t know why it is such a struggle when just doing it would make it all be over and done with so quickly and easily.  It’s like she wants to make it hard and take forever.

Allan came over this evening to talk sales for a few hours.  It was probably almost nine by the time that he got to the house.

After Allan left, the girls and I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  At least part of it, we couldn’t get that far into it, as it was too late.

We read more of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before going to bed.  Just one chapter.

Both girls did a bunch of DuoLingo Spanish tonight.  They are very excited to be doing it again and Luciana can actually do a lot of it now as she can read.  This will be good not only for her Spanish, for also good for her English reading and writing.