DC Taco Party

My first week of summer vacation with the girls this year was a trip to see Uncle Tim and Aunt Cindy in DC (okay, technically Arlington, Virginia).  The official reason/excuse for the visit was that Tim and Cindy were having a taco party.  So naturally, we were in!

As usual, I’m mostly going to slap some pictures in here as a reminder of the trip. ¬†But let me take quick note of a few funny or noteworthy things from the trip…

The taco party was catered by District Taco¬†ūüėč

Some other girls around Claire and Molly’s ages showed up too. ¬†The older girl, who was 213 like Claire, was a little snarky and didn’t want to talk to anyone. ¬†When leaving the party, her very polite mom said, “Remember to smile!” and the girl said, “I already did.” ūüėā

Claire and Molly got a little bored and headed upstairs to play Roblox for much of the party.

We spent most of one day at the National Museum of Natural History. ¬†I kept talking to the kids about how fascinating the stuff about evolution was and the fact that dinosaurs were real. ¬†I hope I didn’t overdo it. ūü§∑ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ

We saw a movie there about evolution. ¬†It started out with a monkey looking through a scrap book of his “relatives” (other mammals) and planning for a “family reunion” with them. ¬†It made evolution look silly! ¬†But the film got better from there.

When Molly talked to her mom on the phone, her summary of the trip was “I spent $6 on candy, and I liked eating it.” ūüėÜ

Tim, Claire, Molly, and I made a massive Jenga tower at a food court after dinner. ¬†We just kept saying “this is the last move, you’re out of blocks!” and then someone made it work. ¬†It was crazy. ¬†See pic below.

We took Lyft all around town.

Claire had a running and completely made-up joke that our first Lyft driver was complaining that Molly fell asleep in the back set while he was driving. ¬†“She shouldn’t be doing that. ¬†That’s disrespectful.” Claire claims (falsely) that he said in a flat deadpan voice. ūüėā

I had a lot of fun conversations with the drivers, including an exceptionally nice and clean cut immigrant form Tajikistan.  I distinctly remember talking with another driver about history and us both noting that history was unfolding right now in DC (the Trump Russia scandal and possible impeachment).

Over and out.


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.



Fire and Ice in Houston

We made a quick trip to Houston this weekend to see my Dad for his birthday.  Kit stayed home to study for some big doctor test coming up in August.  We were in Houston for one full day and a morning.

Highlights included ice skating at¬†Memorial City Mall, Molly’s first time to skate. ¬†It took about 30 minutes for Molly to make¬†her¬†way around the edge of the skating rink while she¬†held to the side on for dear life. ¬†On Claire’s turn, she didn’t fare much better. ¬†Both girls really liked the American Girl store across the hall from the skating rink.

Also, there were hours of swimming in the townhouse pool, featuring the big deep end and lots of sunshine (and lots of sunscreen).

We had chocolate¬†pie and James Coney Island for my dad’s birthday. ¬†He and my mom went to the Astro’s game while the girls and¬†I headed back to Austin.

Before we left, I managed to do a quick baseball home run session¬†with Eric in the blazing sun at our¬†old junior high. ¬†Eric’s¬†five-year-old son, Luke, took a few solid swings but didn’t connect for a homer. ¬†When Eric and I were batting, Luke was in the dugout, safe from¬†the flying hardballs. ¬†But we did have¬†a couple of game delays when¬†Luke yelled “Firefly!” and ran out into the field to chase a firefly. ¬†What a great little kid moment, even if it was someone else’s little kid.

Fourth of Juliowa

We made it up to Iowa for a Fourth Of July family reunion (Kit’s mom’s side) this year. ¬†This trip was Molly’s first to Iowa and her first time to meet most of the Iowa¬†side of the family.

The girls had a blast. ¬†They met their first-cousin-once-removed,¬†Jayvon, who was a boy but was close to Claire’s age and was lots of fun. ¬†He and Claire really hit it off and spent lots of time playing tennis, basketball, and just goofing off during the boring family farm meeting at the hotel. ¬†Molly tagged along some with them too. ¬†I keept an eye on them, but Claire didn’t want me to hover too close.

The whole family¬†got to ride in the (locally) famous Yale, Iowa 4th of July parade, which really was a heck of a parade for a tiny little farm town. ¬†We set off daytime fireworks on the family farm. ¬†We¬†spent hours in the hotel’s indoor pool. ¬†Molly was the lucky recipient of a swimming noodle with a head and tail. ¬†We named it Hydra, and she spent hours riding it around the pool. ¬†Hydra got silly and mad and tired. ¬†I spent 95% of my attention making sure Molly didn’t drown herself, so I didn’t get to play much with Claire in the pool. ¬†Luckily, Claire got to play with¬†Jayvon and his dad, Scott, who had some really good ways to splash and toss the kids.

Here are some photos of the fun and patriotic weekend.



Over dinner, when Kit is not yet home from the hospital, Claire and I often find ourselves playing different fictional characters that we just make up as we eat.  Molly does not really join in, but she does seem to enjoy the amateur performance.

Our¬†favorite characters recently are a father (me) with a heavy Russian accent. ¬†I am simply known as “Papa”. ¬†I speak of my time back in fatherland Russia, where “if you want to eat, you do not go to grocery store. ¬†No. ¬†You chase down dinner and eat it. ¬†Or maybe if you’re not so fast, it eat you.” ¬†I have no idea where this comes¬†from.

I tend to carry on about dinner. ¬†“I work and work and make good dinner, and you turn up nose!”


Claire is Minka.   Minka is my daughter, but she is not Russian.  By her accent, she seems to be from South America or maybe Southern Asia.  She grew up in America and is spoiled by things like grocery stores and chicken nuggets.  Something is not quite right with Minka, who is afraid of televisions, iPads, or really anything electronic.  And she gets confused by forks and spoons.

Minka loves her dog, Cubbie (Muffin).  I adopted Cubbie back in the fatherland, where she helped me survive on the tundra by hunting down dinner with me every night.  Cubbie joined me on my trek to America and is always kind and patient with Minka.

Molly is Minka’s little sister. ¬†We tried to include Molly in this story, but she does not want to join in. ¬†We tried to name her Pepe, but she insisted that she is Molly. ¬†Molly is “normal American kid who loves chicken nuggets and television”.

We’re not sure what happened to Minka’s mom. ¬†She may¬†be back in Russia fighting her way through the frozen tundra. ¬†Or maybe she’s stuck at the hospital. ¬†We’re not sure which is worse.

Enchanted Rock

We finally made it out to Enchanted Rock on this¬†beautiful Saturday afternoon. ¬†The kids were tired by hiking up the rock but had a good time. ¬†I’ll just let the pictures do¬†the talking on this one.

A Corpus Christi Christmas

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.