March 3, 2017: Avola

Today is our day to go check out the beach at Avola.  We wanted to do more, but there just is not the time to do a trip to Palermo before Ryan needs to get on the road.  So Avola was about the only thing that we could get to easily without being so far away from the house that it would cause problems for Ryan getting to his overnight train which leaves Siracusa tonight a little before ten in the evening.  Avola is the next city to Noto, just about ten kilometres away down by the sea to the east of us.

We thought about getting an early start, but that did not happen.  I managed to get a lot done, though, before everyone was up and moving so that was not a problem for me.  We got one of the earlier buses heading down the mountain and that worked out well.  The trip is only about fifteen minutes.

On the way to the bus, though, both girls ran in their flip flops and Luciana fell on the pavement and hurt her knees pretty badly.  She had blood running down her legs while we road the bus.  It did not make for a happy start to the day, which was awful as the girls had been so excited when we left the house just minutes before.

We were not sure where to get off of the bus so we just got off downtown and walked towards the beach.  That was probably not the best decision as it was rather a long walk and Luciana did not feel that she could walk at all because her knees hurt which left me carrying her, again.  My back is really feeling it today.

We stumbled on a truck selling strawberries and nothing but strawberries.  We tried to buy just two packages but they were selling them by the palette so that is what we bought.  But the price was great.  Eight Euros for eight packages of strawberries.  We easily pay two fifty each up in Noto on a regular basis.  It is almost worth riding the bus down to Avola just to buy them down here!

Dominica in Avola with Strawberries

Next to the strawberry truck we found an awesome little cafe that did all kinds of baked goods and sweets.  We got coffee for the adults and tried to desserts for the girls.  Our girls really do not eat dessert much so that is a struggle, but one we are happy with.  Luciana found a little ricotta topped cookie thing that she loved and said that it “tasted like birthday” and Liesl eventually settled on some puffo gelato that she absolutely loved.  This puffo had some mint in it unlike the one we get in Noto.

Luciana at the Cafe

After we were done eating our pastries and drinking our coffee we made our way down the long walk to the beach.  We were surprised to find a wide street lined with beautiful, mostly modern and very large homes.  It felt a lot like the nice new homes that we saw on Crete a year ago.  Luciana and Liesl (and I as well) entertained ourselves identifying our favourite houses and talking about which ones we would most want to live in.

My pick was one with huge glass windows looking out on the street about halfway down.  Luciana picked one more towards the center of town that had a huge garden in front and a large terrace above the front door.  She liked it because it would have room for all of her future cats.  Liesl liked a long and narrow ultra-modern condo structure very near the beach.  There were a lot of great choices on this stretch, this would be a great place to have a home.

The beach was great.  The sand went very gently very far out and the water was very calm.  It was perfect for the girls because they could go out a really long way and even they were barely up to their knees in the calm water.  And the water was incredibly clean and clear.  Just beautiful.

We stayed on the beach for a few hours.  It was such a nice day.  I took some pictures and some video.  Dominica and I did not go swimming, but Ryan did and the girls were in the water the entire time.

Some locals came by with some kids younger than ours and we thought that it was very funny that our kids were in swimsuits and having a great time swimming for hours while the local kids were in heavy boots and winter coats and avoiding the water itself as it was “so cold.”  It was certainly not a hot summer day, but definitely warm enough for the kids to be in the water!

Avola even provides free public wifi out on the beach, so I was able to stay busy and in contact the entire afternoon.

Overall we had a really nice time.  We were not able to catch the first bus back up to Noto, there just was not enough time for that.  We waited for the second return bus and it was already starting to get a little bit darker by that point.  We really managed to get a lot out of the day.

The walk all of the way back to downtown was long, but at least Luciana was able to walk now and no longer complaining about her knees.

We had maybe forty minutes after we got back to kill before our bus was supposed to come.  So we took some scouting trips and after quite a lot of walking managed to find one pizza shop that was open.  Ryan and I grabbed some pizza and pastries and brought them back to Dominica and the girls who were waiting at the bus stop.  Everything got eaten pretty quickly.

The bus was on time and an easy ride back up to Noto.  The bus is nice and clean, but Dominica really struggles with motion sickness as they all seem to drive like maniacs.

Once we were back, Ryan really needed to get up to the house to shower and get ready to catch the bus to Siracusa.  So I went to the panino truck and got dinner for everyone while the rest of the family went back to the house to relax for the evening.  The food took forever and I was lucky to be able to get it back up to him before he had to leave.

I got back, gave Ryan the food that I had brought and he was out the door to catch his bus, which he made without a problem.  His bus took him to Siracusa where he got directly onto the overnight sleeper train that took him on the cool ferry trip over the Strait of Messina and up to Napoli.  He’ll be visiting Pompeii tomorrow.  Dominica is very sad that we’ve not been able to do that yet, but the girls are just not old enough to appreciate the gravity and importance of that site.  When they are older we will definitely be going there.

Luciana had made me promise that we would go to the playground when we to back.  I tried to make a deal to take her tomorrow instead when it would be warmer and the blow up slides might be there but she insisted that we go tonight.  Liesl did not want to go tonight and asked to go tomorrow.  Oh the problems with two kids instead of one, so I was stuck taking Luciana tonight since I had told her that if she was good that I would.  The struggle is that Luciana has no sense of delayed gratification and Liesl has a strong one so when something like this comes up and there is a good tradeoff from waiting on something, Liesl will jump on the logic of waiting but Luciana just cannot bring herself to wait for the bigger payoff.

We walked down to the city park, just the two of us.  Luciana was there only for a minute in the dark and the cool of the night playing alone before she came and hugged me and said that she was sorry that she had made a bad decision and she hoped that Liesl would have fun tomorrow when she got to come to the playground.  I told her if we went straight back home that I would let her come with her sister tomorrow.

We walked back home and ended up having a nice time just getting to talk the two of us.  We went and sat on the steps of the church across from the house and just hung out talking for at least half an hour. It was a really nice evening.

We got home and put on some Star Trek: The Next Generation before calling it a night.  We are on the first season and the girls are slowly warming up to it.

March 2, 2017: Siracusa

Thursday.  Today is our trip to Siracusa.  The alarm went off at six thirty this morning.  It was for Dominica but it woke me up immediately so that was the end of the night for me as well.

I had about an hour to kill before needing to be really ready to get out of the door.  So I did some posting and catching up this morning so that things would be good before we left for the day.

We did decently well on time and all five of us were out the door at just after eight.  We were all pretty tired.  This is way earlier than we normally get up here and Ryan and Dominica are both suffering from jet lag on top of it all.  The girls were nearly asleep walking down the street and I had to carry Luciana in the backpack carrier the entire way down to the train station which is rather a long walk and even though it was really nice outside all morning I was very sweaty by the time that we got to the train station.

We got to the station with about ten minutes to spare before our morning train was due to arrive.  True to rumoured form, though, the Sicilian local milk train did not arrive for another fifteen minutes after that.

The wait at the platform was fine and it gave me time to cool down from the walk.  While we were standing there a good size lizard darted up from the tracks and ran across the platform basically running at where the girls were sitting.  I joked that he was going to run right at them but he changed direction and ran literally onto my foot!  He was headed up my pants had I not jumped back quickly.  I managed to get away before he had to be flipped off of me so he ran back to the rails unhurt.  These lizards are so lightning fast, if they want to get on your foot there is very little that you can do and you can’t do anything but get away as they are so fragile.  He must have thought that I was a tree or something.  So that made for a very surprising start to the day.

The train was tiny, just two cars.  We got into one that had only one other person in it, so we brought the total up to six.  We saw at least two people climb into the other car and there was likely someone already in that one as well.  This tiny train starts just one stop past us, I believe, and only goes as far as Siracusa with only a few stops in between.  It’s the very slow local train, but it worked great.  It only goes about forty five miles per hour maximum, and it makes only a handful of stops.

Trenitalia Pulling into Noto

The train was old but perfectly comfortable with nice seats, a window that we could open and plenty of space.  This is a great option for getting to the local city easily.  The ride up to Siracuse was comfortable and pretty quick.  You could definitely commute like this very easily, although the trip is a little expensive if it was a daily thing, but I suppose if it meant that you did not need a car and if they have any commuter discounts it would be fine.  It was nearly four Euros per adult, cheap for a day trip but a bit for going to work every day as that was only one direction.  Kids are half price.

The girls were grumpy and tired on the train.  We got them up so early compared to their normal schedule.  That made it tough on them all day.

Once off of the train in downtown Siracusa we headed towards the island and the old part of town.  Liesl walked, but I carried Luciana on my back again.

After a while we found a small park with a collection of small playgrounds so we stopped to give the kids a ten minute playground break, which they needed.  That helped to jumpstart the day.

Ryan had researched some cafes nearby, so our plan was to stop for coffee and breakfast in that stretch before getting to the expensive old town where the tourists would be.

Luciana with Pancakes at Angelina’s Bakery in Siracusa

We found a little bakery and cafe that was absolutely perfect – Angelina’s Bakery and Bistro.  The sun was bright so the girls wanted to sit inside, even though the breeze was nice.  So it was a little warm, but the door was open.  We totally lucked out and this place didn’t just have breakfast, but it had an awesome menu including real pancakes with maple syrup, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon bagels and such.  It was perfect.  We had an amazing breakfast there and some coffee before we continued on our way.  If Siracusa was making us a pitch for which city on Sicily we would want to move to, this cafe went a long way towards showing that normal life here could be pretty good.

Dominica and Ryan at Angelina’s Bakery in Siracusa

From the bakery it was a short walk to the island on which old Siracusa was built.  Getting near the bridge it was clear that the old town was really beautiful.  We were quite impressed.

We had a lovely walk through Siracusa on the island.  We found the bazaar going on and worked our way down to the waterfront, which was gorgeous.  Mt. Etna is still smoking today after having gone off two days ago, so we could see that as the volcano is visible from all of this region.

The girls played for a while by the water, then we walked through the old town to the castle and did the castle tour on foot which was nice.  Not a tonne to see, but it was a nice little tour anyway and in a cool part of town.  The girls really enjoyed getting to see the old castle. Part of it was under construction, though, or reconstruction I suppose, so we did not get to go inside of all of it.  There was a small museum there that had real, ancient hand grenades in it that were super cool.  Like from the 1400s.

From the castle we walked back alone the waterfront to where all of the restaurants are there and settled into one that we had checked out earlier.  Ryan and Dominica got pasta, Luciana got calamari and Liesl got vegetable soup, which she loved.  I wisely ordered nothing and just ate the leftovers that the girls did not finish, which was plenty for me.

Liesl Was Quite Excited with Her Soup

From the restaurant we walked back the way that we had come and went to a small beach that is located there.  We were there for easily an hour or more.  The girls played in the sand for a long time.  There were maybe a dozen other people on the small beach with us.  Only one person swam the entire time as it was quite cold in the water.  But there was a dog that kept chasing rocks out into the water which was quite entertaining.

After the beach it was time to head back to catch the five thirty bus back to Noto.  Luciana needed to be carried and fell asleep on my shoulder, making for a very long walk back!  She woke up, however, right as we were passing a playground.  No idea how she did that, she slept for a really long time and woke up only right at that moment.  Very suspicious.

So we let the kids play there for fifteen minutes.  Get a little more energy out of their systems before we were done for the day.

We caught the bus back to Noto.  That was quick and easy.   Public transportation here on Sicily is great.  Cheap and effective.  Both girls passed out almost the moment that they were on the bus.  They got a good nap in and had to be woken up to get them off of the bus.

We had to walk back up the hill.  We were all very worn out this evening.  It was a long day, but a really good one.  We did a good job of getting to see Siracusa today. That’s one sight down for this trip.  We have a lot more stuff to squeeze into our schedule before we leave Italy, though.  This is going to be tough.

We are trying to figure out what we are going to be doing tomorrow.  Ryan is kicking around staying here for two days or possibly leaving tomorrow evening.  He would like to do a train trip in Italy like we did and he wants to see Napoli and Pompeii if possible.  That’s a lot of stuff and he flies to the US on Sunday night.  So his time is getting tight.  His trips are always short.

Everyone took some time to nap this evening except for me.  I just worked on getting caught up after having been out of the house all day long.  Dominica went to bed really early.

Ryan napped but then he and I hung out in the evening.  Probably till about one in the morning.  His final plan is that we will go to Avola tomorrow to see that town, then he will get on the bus or train for Siracusa tomorrow evening where he can catch the overnight sleeper to Napoli and see it on Saturday morning.

 

March 1, 2017: Walking Noto

I was up long before anyone else this morning.  Both Dominica and Ryan have a lot of catching up on sleep to do before they will be functional.  Dominica was awake hours before Ryan was.  When Ryan visited us in Spain two years ago he nearly slept through the entire trip.  This time he has allotted a lot more time and knows that he has to power through the exhaustion or he will miss everything again.  At least he was able to see a lot of Rome on his way here two days ago so he has a lot of sightseeing under his belt before even arriving.

Dominica and I went down to the big grocery store this morning.  We are extremely low on groceries around the house.  So it was a big trip down.  Probably our largest grocery trip to date here in Noto.

At five thirty Ryan was really awake and ready to do something.  So since there was no time to go anywhere we figured that a good hike around town would be the next best thing.  The best use of what resources we have at hand.  I had two hours before my one phone meeting of the week, so we took the two hours and did a long walk around town.

We started by going north to the top of town and out west and then down alone the ravine.  We got to see loads of town that I have not yet seen.  It was pretty interesting.  We covered a lot of ground in about two hours.  We stopped along the western edge of town for coffee, as well.  And we found a small grocery store over there, a tiny version of the big one that Dominica and I normally go to.  We stopped in so that Ryan could check it out and miraculously I found Hellman’s mayonnaise which is the only thing that Dominica will eat!  She is going to be very happy.  They had pistachio liqueur, too, so we grabbed some so that Ryan could check that out.  The same kind that we had previously.

This evening, after my call, Ryan and I went out for dinner again.  Dominica stayed home, she did not feel like going out at all. She is still very tired and working to catch up from the week in Florida and the last three days of travel.  So Ryan and I checked out the restaurant right up at the top of our little back street, the one that I saw that first night while I pulled the luggage up the hill to get it to our new house, back in January.

Tannur in Noto

The food tonight was excellent.  We both got pasta again, and wine.  And we got pasta to go to take back for Dominica.

After dinner, and after dropping off Dominica’s food, Ryan and I took a walk down to the train station to determine exactly how to get there and how long it would take and how hard it would be for the kids.  It is certainly a good hike, but one that we can do.  Much farther than I would have hoped, though.

We tried to get everyone to bed early tonight.  Luciana has been sleeping on the couch and Liesl in the bed with us.  Ryan has the girls’ room upstairs.  Tomorrow we are heading out to Siracusa for the day and the train comes early in the morning, way too early.  We already have our train tickets for tomorrow.  So our plan is pretty set.  We will be in Siracusa nice and early, our first outing in Italy since Rome!

February 28, 2017: Etna Erupts

Dominica comes home today!  It’s been eight days since she left to take the bus to Catania.  I got up at nine, did some writing, some laundry, showered and got the girls up to try to get them to the local market before it closed.

It was a struggle, but I got the girls out the door minutes before noon and we made our way up to the grocery and panificio and got a few basics.  The girls picked out a chocolate covered snack cake called Mix Max which was actually incredibly tasty.  Liesl loved in, but said that it was not as good as the giant Swiss cake rolls that we used to get in Greece.  I had forgotten about those, we used to get them all of the time.

Dominica and Ryan slept in and missed the first bus, and then figured that they should get lunch before leaving Catania, so missed the second bus as well.  That gave me a lot more time to clean the house.

While making coffee this morning I got interrupted and forgot that I had coffee on the stove and I cooked down the coffee and melted the percolator.  That was interesting.

We did loads of cleaning today.  Dishes, laundry, floors.  Luciana has been trying to sweep the floors for the last few days, too.  Liesl has been super busy cleaning up things all over the house to get it ready.  They’ve both been great helpers.

It was mid-afternoon when it was finally time to go down and meet the bus with Dominica and Ryan arriving.  So the girls and I walked down to the playground near the bus stop and they played for a bit while we waited on the bus to get close.  While we were there I ended up striking up a conversation with some tourists from Alba who were visiting Noto and they were from just across the ravine from the village where we stayed near Alba five years ago.  Small world.

The bus was only a couple of minutes late.  Dominica could see the girls running across the parking lot waving to her as her bus came up the street.  They were very excited to have their mom back home again.

The girls had a lot of pent up energy so we took them to the playground for a while and there were blow up bouncy houses there.  It was four Euros for the two of them and they played for twenty minutes or more, maybe even half an hour.  There was a bouncy house and a big bouncy slide.  They had such a good time.  They have been wanting to play in one of these for a long time now and never get a chance.  They’ve been seeing these deflated in the park so were super excited to see that they were in use today.  And this gave the rest of us a chance to just sit and hang out at the park.

After the playground we stopped by the main square for coffee and gelato.  Although we picked a new gelato place and it was not very good, but not cheaper than the good stuff.  I guess that we were getting a pretty good deal before and just did not know it.

From there, up the hill to the house.  We discovered pretty quickly that Mount Etna, the giant volcano here on the island, started erupting today for the first time in eight months.  And it started just an hour after Dominica and Ryan left Catania (the city at the base of the volcano) so they did not get to see it even though they were right there.  It was a real eruption with it blowing its top and everything.  Lots of lava shooting into the sky all evening, we watched live video of it.  Noto is just too far away to see it.  If we were around the other side of our mountain, I think that it would be visible, but we cannot see it from the house as we face the wrong direction.  Everyone is very sorry to be missing that, especially after the girls watched Journey to the Center of the Earth which features it and we had talked about volcanoes so much this week, and Etna in particular.

Dominica was exhausted tonight, but Ryan was ready to go see some stuff as this is his first night in Noto.  So we set out to walk around town and look for some food.  Dominica wanted pizza, but we went down to the normal pizza place and they were closed tonight.  So we ended up setting off for a long exploration around town looking for alternative pizza options.  To make sure that we managed to get something for the kids, we started with a quick trip to the food truck to pick up fries for them and dropped those off at the house before setting out on a longer search.  On this walk the girls came with us and we made rather a long scouting trip looking for restaurants that were open but found very few and none that did pizza.

Panino Truck in Noto

It was a long walk, several miles, and we went all over but eventually ended up on the west side of town and discovered two places that were open.  One was EuroPizza which had some really interesting sounding pizzas including one with a pistachio pesto, but it was just a take out place like the one on our side of town.  Then we found a fancy pizza place down in the ravine that we checked out.  We ended up at Casa Matta Noto.

The place was actually super busy and we were lucky to get in without reservations!  There were just two small tables left in the whole place.  Their outdoor seating was full, but we got a spot near the kitchen.  The restaurant was great.  Great food and service and the atmosphere reminded me of an upscale Roman restaurant.

I had chicory filled ravioli and we split a litre of Nero d’Avola.  Dominica had wanted pizza so we got take out for her.  Two small pizzas, one a traditional Norma (a standard pizza but with eggplant added to it) and an Enzina which has no cheese but is covered in chips (French fries.)  Very different and only in Italy.

Chicory Stuffed Ravioli

It was pretty late when we walked back across town to the house.  But it was a successful evening out. Dominica really liked the pizza that we brought back, too.

 

February 27, 2017: Dominica Returns to Sicily

Dominica got into London early this morning while the girls and I were still asleep.  She has a lot of traveling to do yet today.  Ryan got into Rome this morning and he is sightseeing on foot around the city all day.  Tonight he and Dominica are on the same Vueling flight from Rome to Catania so will be near us in Sicily late tonight.  They should be arriving around nine.

Our fruit delivery guy came this morning, but he did not have the strawberries that we had wanted that he thought were going to be available today and Luciana asked for more oranges, which he did not have either. But we bought a bunch of other stuff from him.  We are well stocked on fruits and veggies.

Dominica had no issues getting from London to Rome late in the morning.  It was early evening when she got to the Rome airport.  Ryan was still out sightseeing for quite some time, but he was able to join her at the airport for dinner before their flight which was already known to be delayed by mid-afternoon.

Our fruit seller returned to the house in his car in the late afternoon and pounded on the door. He had located oranges and strawberries and delivered them up to the house just for Luciana!  That’s not something that you would ever see happen in the United States.

In the end, the flight from Rome to Catania was delayed about three hours which meant that rather than nine, which was going to be a logistical challenge as it was as the buses and trains stop running by then, it would be midnight when Dominica and Ryan would get to Catania.

This is the last night of the girls and I getting to just hang out on our own.  We watched some television together tonight and read our Nancy Drew book before going to bed.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day of cleaning to get ready for Dominica coming home.

February 26, 2017: Dominica Heads Back to Italy

I got up around nine this morning.  I went up to the office and worked for a little while.  Around noon the girls got up and I found them downstairs putting on their Barbie Puppy Rescue movie that we bought for them yesterday.  This was their third time watching the movie.  I think that it is safe to say that we will be getting our money out of that one.

The girls were very convincing and got me to buy them the sequel Barbie pet movie.  Same price, always on Amazon.  They watched it immediately and then watched it again.  So like the other one, they got two views of it in on the first day.  Another hit.

We had to deal with the Internet being out for much of the day today.  We had about three hours without it this morning and then sporatically throughout the day.

I played my new game Renowned Explorers: International Society today.  This was my first time actually playing the game.  It is not nearly as long or as in depth as I would have hoped, but it is a really different style of game and quite a break from what we normally play.  So that aspect of it is really good.  I played one entire round through it and part of a second.  I like a lot of things about it, but already I feel like I’ve been through a huge percentage of the content.  The game is hugely challenging, which is less what I was looking for, and light on content.  But what is there is pretty good.  In my short afternoon of playing I collected nearly one third of all badges in the game, for example!

It was seven o’clock this evening here in Italy when Dominica dropped off her rental car in Orlando and was on the shuttle over to the airport to get ready for her trip back home to Sicily.

We finished watching Journey 2: The Mysterious Island tonight.  Both girls really liked it.  I was hoping that they would decide that they want to read Jules Verne novels now, but that did not happen.

Tonight Liesl and I watched the movie The Day After Tomorrow which I’ve always liked and she enjoyed a lot.  We had to pause it every few minutes to discuss climate change and she had loads of questions about why the people in the movie didn’t do smarter things, how the weather could do that and so forth.  It ended up being really educational, as well, which was great.

Luciana felt like being on her own much of the evening.  Either in the room with us, sitting on the couch but with her headphones on watching one of her shows on her iPad, or in my bedroom just being alone.

Dominica boarded her flight while we were watching our movie.  She is due to arrive in London early in the morning while we are still asleep.  Big storms in London in the morning.  We had rain all evening here.  Heavy rain. The water came in torrents down the street in front of the house.

Both of my girls love the rain, just like me (and my dad.)  They wanted to go out for walks, but it was very cold and it was a lot of rain.  And we don’t have any clothing that would allow for that.  They both stood for a long time in the front door watching the rain and leaning out to let the rain fall on their hands and feet.

Two more chapters of our first Nancy Drew novel, The Secret of the Old Clock tonight.  We are making very good progress but will not finish it before Dominica gets back home.

February 25, 2017: And I Turn 41

And today I am forty one years old.  Boy time flies.  I had actually forgotten that I had a birthday even coming up until a friend in Dubai wished me a happy birthday last night and I was about to correct him and went to figure out how many months it would be until my birthday and realized that in Dubai, it already was!  So surprise to me.

I was up at nine this morning.  Last night Liesl made a big deal about wanting to wake up early, before me, so that she could make me breakfast and clean the house to have everything ready for my birthday.  But I knew that that was never going to happen.  The girls rarely wake up before noon.

I did the laundry this morning, too.  So much to do when you are a single parent for this long.  Can’t save anything for when Dominica gets home, that’s still at least four days from now!

I got out to the shops and got more water, cheese and bread.  When I got home Liesl had just woken up.  She set right about making breakfast for me which consisted of bread with butter and honey and a yellow delicious apple.  She did as much of the prep as she could and used the new loaf of sesame bread that I had just gotten at the store – delicious.

Breakfast by Liesl

Liesl ran around the house attempting to decorate it for my birthday as much as she could on her own.  She has some little paper confetti streamers that they were given in the park the other day that she laid on furniture to make it look festive.  Luciana woke up and helped her as well.

Luciana did not want to be left out and so went to the kitchen and took a piece of bread and tore a heart shaped hole in the center of it, added butter and honey (with my help) and prepared an apple for me and placed it in the center of the bread for my lunch.

Lunch by Luciana

My girls are the sweetest.

I did a little writing while Luciana came upstairs and played their Barbie Puppy Rescue video game on Steam.  Liesl used the time to be alone down in the living room.

Luciana asked if they could buy the movie that goes with the video game.  She conferred with Liesl and they both agreed that it would be a perfect movie for them. So I finally gave in and bought it for them on Amazon.  They immediately set up in the living room and watched it not once but twice, right in a row.

This game me some time to write and then to fire up the video game Renowned Explorers that I have been wanting to play and gave it a try.

I managed to do laundry, as well to do the dishes.  We had cleaned the living room last night.  Luciana grabbed a broom and swept up much of the house, too.

We had a surprise tour of the house to give this evening.  Of course we had laundry out, the house was a mess, I was in pajamas… we had no idea that someone was coming by for a tour.  Oh well.

I got several articles written today.  A few chapters on a book on System Administration written; plus a few articles on my Linux Administration book.

For dinner we went out and got pizza and French fries from the panino truck down on the square.  Lots of people out tonight, town is very busy.  The food truck was packed with people.  Lots of locals, you can tell that most are not tourists and some I recognize that I’ve seen a week or more ago.  The girls played on the square while we waited, as always.

We got home and put on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island that we watched while we ate.  Luciana ate one entire pizza on her own, plus her fries!  She was hungry.  She has moved from her previous tastes in pizza, she is eating Margarita pizzas now.  Liesl gets pizza russa, which is “tomato pie” back in Utica.  Liesl really liked the movie.

Once we were done eating it was game time.  We moved upstairs and adjusted the video game rig so that it was projecting above the bed rather than in front of my desk.  This way we could all snuggle in the bed while we played and the screen was much larger than before and square rather than slightly skewed, which worked out really well.

Our first game for the night was Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing.  We did about a dozen races.  Then Liesl put on The Book of Unwritten Tales and worked on Chapter Two.  Adventure games from the bed work really well.  We have the Amazon Echo thing for audio, which works quite well.  So much better than what we were using last year.  We are slowly figuring this stuff all out.

At a quarter after one it was time for teeth brushing and then down for a little bit of time playing Minecraft and then time to read our chapters in our Nancy Drew novel that we are reading.  We are about halfway through the novel as of last night.  We will not quite be able to finish it before Dominica comes back home, which will likely be on Tuesday.

It was a really nice birthday.  Lots of time with my kids.  They spent the entire day doting on me and spending time together.  It was sad that Dominica could not be here, but there was no way to fix that as the wedding was yesterday and even if she had caught a flight last night directly after the wedding she could not have been down here in Noto in time to make it for my birthday.

It’s been a great week getting loads of time with the girls, though.  We are spending all of our time together and it is a nice change.  It has been a while since we were able to do that.  They are really enjoying having a break from school and responsibilities, too.