A Houston Christmas

We made it to Houston this year to visit my parents at their retirement home. The whole trip was a bit of a scramble to get out the door, get to Houston just in time for a Harry Potter spinoff play, and finish everyone’s presents in the hotel.

But getting everyone together for a couple of great outdoor picnics (due to Covid) made it all worthwhile.

Christmas 2018

We got to Houston for a couple of days this Christmas. ¬†My mom and I coordinated everyone between Austin and Houston, but we came up one stocking short, so we improvised and used a gift bag for Noni’s “stocking”. ¬†Molly wanted to make sure Santa Claus was clear on this, so she wrote him a super sweet note:

Dear, Santa.

The gift bag is for Noni.  We only had three stockings.

Btw: the cookies are stale, you do not have to eat them!

Have a merry Christmas.

From, Molly


Some pics from Christmas Eve dinner, which we got on the table hot and delicious ¬†despite being coordinated across me, None, and Noni’s helper, Patience.


We also saw an amazing and slightly scary performance of A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theater.



Chocolate Reindeer Comes to Life

Molly was pretty excited about her¬†Chocolate Reindeer¬†idea and wanted to try it out before we go to Houston for Christmas. ¬†I warned her it may not come out quite like she imaged and to be ready for a mess. ¬†She acknowledged the rick, and then we went all in on making it happen! ¬†Despite my hesitations, I really wanted to make Molly’s holiday invention work too.

Molly and I had a fun time figuring out how to bring  her vision to reality.  It was an interesting challenge and took a fair amount of planning and research!  In the end, it came out a too goopy to, uh, eat, much less bring to Houston.  But it was a fun experiment, and Molly happily ate up her practice Chocolate Reindeer.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Chocolate Reindeer Blueprint

Molly became inspired to create a new holiday treat called a Chocolate Reindeer, inspired by a Chocolate Mousse. ¬† Her vision is three layers of chocolatey¬†goodness, one layer for each “official” Christmas color: red, green, and white.

Molly’s initial idea was for each layer to be melted, colored chocolate. ¬†After some discussion and brainstorming , we decided to use a combination layers with heavier ingredient on the bottom and lighter on the top.

  1. Bottom layer: red-colored white chocolate
  2. Middle layer:  green-colored melted marshmallows
  3. Top layer: natural white-colored whipped cream

Here’s the blueprint.




Self Portraits

Claire and Molly produced some self portraits true to their age recently.  Claire is enjoying a selfie stick (with a built-in microphone!) that she got from her grandparents this past Christmas.  It is perfect for musical.ly and the occasional self portrait. Molly did a classic first grade crayon-based self-portrait.  (Is she wearing lipstick?) I added myself too, doing a trick that Claire taught me with my lips.  Weird!

Smashing Down the House

Since making her gingerbread house around¬†Claire’s birthday, Molly has been waiting to eat it. ¬†But she doesn’t just want to pull off some stale gummy¬†drops and eat them. ¬†He plan has always been specifically to smash the house and then eat it, tasteless walls and all. ¬†I am not sure why it was deemed necessary to smash the house, but I have¬†always been curious if the walls of a gingerbread house are any good, so I thought sure, let’s do this. ¬†We found out pretty quickly that the walls tasted very much like cardboard, but nobody’s stomach got¬†upset eating them. ¬†We ate just a little bit and tossed the rest in the trash.

Super Mario Sister

Molly is super into Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS that she got from Santa for Christmas.  She got to level three all by herself and was very appreciative when I helped her get to level 4.  Somehow the Nintendo DS is the perfect handheld for Molly at this age.  There is no internet, no texting, no email.  Just fun, solid gameplay that she can handle.  Way to go, Santa!

Galveston Time Lapse

The girls had lots of fun on the beach in Galveston while waiting for Pleasure Pier to open.  There was no shortage of hermit crabs to scare, and the gulf waters were warm enough to wade in, even right after Christmas!

And thanks to Gordon Colcotte’s song for being almost¬†custom made for this video.

Houston for the Holidays

Kit and I worked out a pretty good Christmas schedule, where we had the girls in Austin with Kit and her parents on Christmas morning, and then I drove the girls to Houston on Christmas afternoon to see may parents for a few days.

The girls had not seen a lot of my parents lately. ¬†My parents have been going through a number of medical issues for the last year of so, and while I had made many solo trips to see them and help them, I hadn’t brought the girls for those trips. ¬†This time the girls¬†got two spend two full days in Houston with them plus two partial days. ¬†This is the longest they have spent in Houston in years!

We took advantage of our full days by finally getting to Galveston, which I had been trying to do almost as long as Claire has been alive!  We also hit the mall, in particular the American Girl store for Molly, and saw the 3D movie Sing.  Sing was a really sweet movie and way better than crap like Home Alone 2, which we watched at home with my parents.

The girls loved¬†Pleasure Pier in Galveston. ¬†My dad tagged along and mostly sat on benches while Claire, Molly, and I did rides. ¬†We got there early and played on the beach in the fog for a couple of hours before it opened. ¬†After Pleasure Pier, we went to Rainforest Cafe¬†to live it up all the way. ¬†We made fun of inconsistencies on the menu, such¬†as Jurassic-themed chicken nuggets. ¬†We also envisioned a Texas History themed restaurant, featuring¬†Sam Houston’s Tennessee pulled pork and Santa Anna’s green enchiladas. ¬†(So wrong!) ¬†The we listened to the Anna Kendrick memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody, on the drive back to my parents’ house in Houston. ¬†It had drugs and sex all over the place. ¬†Talk about wrong! ¬†We¬†eventually turned it off and just drove quietly back to Houston.