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.

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.




All is Quiet on New Year’s Day

I¬†had a¬†friend with kids over for New Year’s Day. ¬†Since nothing was open to go to, we hung around my place, played video games, went for a rather cold swim in the outdoor but moderately heated pool, watched a movie, and ate pizza. ¬†It was a perfect day! ¬†Everyone had lots of fun.

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.

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.

Happy 4th!

This year’s July 4th¬†fireworks were out at the the Circuit of the Americas stadium instead of the usual¬†Ladybird Lake, due to construction at Auditorium Shores. ¬†We didn’t feel like staying up late to watch¬†fireworks in a stadium on the outskirts of town, so we skipped the fireworks and opted for¬†the neighborhood parade in the morning¬†instead.

The parade was a funny mix.  It started with a few active soldiers from Camp Mabry, followed by some Civil War guys in Union blue, then some WWII units in real halftracks (wow) heading down the street.  They were followed by families in old cars and local businesses throwing candy to the kids.  The kids made off with a pile of candy, like a mini-Halloween in July.  Once the parade passed, the crowd fell in behind and headed to the nearby park to enjoy some ice cream (gelato, actually), lemonade, and just run around and play.


Molly was feeling fitfully patriotic and wanted to bring her “America flag” to the “America Day” parade. ¬†Claire was mainly¬†happy to see¬†several of her school friends who she hadn’t seen since school let out for summer. ¬†I was feeling patriotic myself and made a comment about how America is such a big, diverse¬†country with so many different kinds of people and places, and¬†it somehow all just¬†fits together right. ¬†Nobody cared about my moving comment. ¬†Still, it was a good time and a lot better than sitting in a Formula 1 stadium with two sleepy¬†kids.

In the afternoon, I headed off to work like mad on my next app, which I am trying to nail down with a few days off this week.  So Kit had the kids to herself for a quiet July 4 evening.

New Year’s Resolutions (Claire, 2014 edition)

Claire had to do resolutions for 2014 for a school assignment back in January.  I have just scanned it now.  Here is what she came up with.



Adding this retrospectively in April, 2014, I can say that Claire is doing very well on her resolutions.  She has had several sleepovers, done some monkey bars, has continued to not be mean to Molly, has read way over 10 books, and is learning the back stroke at swimming.  She she 8 months left to work on jumping rope, dribbling a basketball, and origami.

Valentines Day 2014

The girls in their Valentines outfits.
The girls in their Valentines outfits.

With Valentines Day here again, one thing I like about the girls is their enthusiasm about things like Valentines Day.  They both dressed special for the day.  Molly wanted to wear all pink, and I mean all pink.  Claire had been saving up a special red shirt with a heart on it for today.  She did not wear all pink or red, but she did wear pink shoes.  There is absolutely no cynicism or irony here.  The girls still just love to dress up in as much of a Valentines theme as possible.  This is one of the great things about their age.

We spent last night scrambling to finish the girls’ Valentines cards to give to their schoolmates. ¬†Molly decided to do handmade cut-out hearts decorated with stickers and glitter. ¬†She skipped the glitter due to some, uh, issues we had with glitter in the recent past. ¬†Glitter does not clean up easily. ¬†Molly had been working on her Valentines for a few days now. ¬†She thought she was done after she did about four of them a few days ago. ¬†She was surprised there were more to do. ¬†So we set up an assembly line where I cut out hearts and wrote the “to” part, then Molly added stickers and scrawled her name “MOLLY” at odd angles near the “from” part . ¬†Claire started slowly a few days ago, putting off the Valentines project, but got busy as the big day approached and finished up last night by herself with no problem. ¬†She gave out pre-made Valentines cards with heart-shaped lollipops (my long-running fight with distributing Valentines candy is basically over). ¬†She wrote a special note to her top six or seven closest friends.

I made a heart-themed dinner featuring strawberries in new heart-shaped ceramic¬†bowls for the girls and heart-accented pot pies from Whole Foods for Kit and me. ¬†The girls came home from school with a load of candy from their friends, and now we must battle through yet another holiday sugar influx. ¬†The girls were so full of candy that they didn’t even want the tiny heart-shaped cake we had ready for dessert. ¬†We’ll start up on the usual standard of two candies per day tomorrow!