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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
I took Claire and Molly over to the Trail of Lights just before Christmas this year. I love the Trail of Lights in theory, but so far it always turns out to be an exhausting death march, even this year it was just a short walk from my place. We waited through an extraordinarily long and fast line to get in and waited in an extraordinarily slow line for food at the Chi’ Lantro trailer, where we had to settle for kimchi fries instead of chicken wings. The final insult was dessert at another trailer, where Molly and I got pretty good ice cream sandwiches, while Claire opted for the “warm chocolate brownie”, which turned out to be a cold chocolate cookie. We got back home late and with our energy and senses utterly exhausted. Still, I’m glad we made the effort, and at least it wasn’t cold the year.
Had had a rare Christmas week off the year, something that will only happen once a decade or so. Since she could travel this year, we decided to head down to her parents’ house in Corpus Christi for Christmas for a change. The girls will stay on in Corpus for a few more days of their winter break before heading back home to Austin next week.
In Corpus, we had Kit’s parents, Kit’s uncle Bob, and my parents. We had a great, slow Christmas day with the whole family. We stuffed ourselves on ham, green beans, salad, and pecan pie. We watched Home Alone and sat around chatting while the kids played. It was a good day. People were curious and excited about my new job at Whole Foods. We also headed down to Corpus Christi waterfront for a sunny afternoon walk and to let Molly try her Plasma Car on a big, wide sidewalk.
We also got to visit our friends, the Carroll’s. The highlight of that visit was Claire and Ze doing a “science experiment” from one of their Christmas presents in the Carroll’s bathroom. They overdid an ingredient from the experiment and clogged the bathroom sink, left a mess on the hall carpet, and ruined some bathroom towels. We were concerned that the kids might have gotten some science goop in their eyes or mouths, but it turned out alright.
This year, with Kit working 70-hour weeks leading up to Christmas, and me starting my new job the week before Christmas, we were overwhelmed and frankly almost did not get all the presents we needed. We just eeked it out this year! Basically Kit and I need up with a two-hour window on the Sunday before Christmas to focus on shopping. We had between 3:00, when Kit was done with her work, and 5:00, when the babysitter had to leave, to talk and shop. This was not for lack of planning. Kit and I had been trying to do this since Thanksgiving, but we barely had time to talk about it, much less actually shop, at least when Kit was in a state where she could spare the brain cycle for it.
Anyways, Santa managed to find Claire a remote controlled indoor/door min-drone. It is a quadra-copter about the size of your palm, and with practice, you can fly it around the house. It was a tough start, getting hung up on the ceiling at first and later getting tangled up in Muffin’s tail hair. But Claire started to get a hang of it with practice. Santa gave Molly a Plasma Car, which is a 4-wheeled scooter you can ride around the house or a sidewalk. It was a perfect fit for Molly, and she spent most of Christmas day wheeling around the house.
The pile of presents from each other was huge and sweet. A highlight was a hand-made book telling the history of everyone in our family, both Purdy’s and McGonigle’s. It was meant for Claire and Molly to have and read decades from now, but we all got a copy of this amazing book. There were lots of other presents, everything from Playmobil sets to fitness bands to the Claire & Molly annual art calendar that I normally make.
The morning after Christmas, the girls and Kit stayed back in Corpus while I headed home to my new job and to try to restore some sanity to the tornado scene that is our house.