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.



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.

Quick Trip to Houston

With Kit on vacation this week, we were able to make a quick trip to Houston to see my parents, for the first time in about a year (they had been to Austin several times, though). ¬†We were able to leave Friday after school and spend two nights at my parents’ house. ¬†This gave us all of Saturday in Houston, where we went to Hedwig Park, had Mexican food, and visited Kit’s cousins Cindy and Duane, who were in town at the medical center.

Claire was anxious to go swimming while in town “because it’s a tradition.” ¬†It is true that we have had many great swim sessions at my parents’ big, warm community pool, but this time it was February and not warm outside. ¬†I was not enthused, which is rare for me and swimming, but we brought along our swim suits and tried swimming at¬†Cindy’s apartment complex. ¬†It was maybe 60 degrees outside, and the pool was too cold to be fun. ¬†We all dipped our feet and legs in the pool and eventually, much to Claire’s disappointment, called it a day, opting to explore the apartment complex in bare feet and swim suits instead.

We’ll get back to Houston in the summer sometime, so we can swim and splash in the warm water all day!

Winter Trip to Houston

The girls and I made ¬†a weekend trip to Houston over the President’s Day weekend. ¬†The girls had three classes between them on Saturday (Molly swimming and ballet, Claire art) so we headed up in the late afternoon after the classes were done. ¬†it was a fun but quick trip. ¬†We mostly chilled out, and visited my old haunt, Hedwig Park. ¬†The girls were not ready to come back home on Monday! ¬†I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Noni’s birthday

The girls’ paternal grandmother, aka Noni, aka my mom, is turning 70 this month. ¬†To celebrate, we took the girls for a weekend trip to Houston. ¬†My brother Tim and his wife Cindy fly in from Virginia. ¬†My mom seemed delighted to have everyone together in the same house, if only for one night.

We had about 24 hours together. ¬†All we did was hang out in the house and at the pool. ¬†There was lots of swimming. ¬†We topped it off with a great birthday feast at Harvest Grille. The girls had lots of fun swimming and playing with Noni’s special toys and crafts. ¬†Molly even enjoyed her new inflatable travel bed (no more Pak ‘n’ Play!). ¬†It really was great getting everyone together, and the car trip was not too bad this time around either.

Below are some pictures. ¬†One of Noni’s friends took some family pictures on Sunday morning, trying to beat in the August sunshine.

Birthday feast

Noni and the girls

Molly asleep on her new travel bed

Off to see Tut (and the grandparents!)

King Tut is visiting Houston, and we made a special family trip to see him, and perhaps even better, see my parents.

Due to Spring Break traffic and a severe downpour, it took us seven hours to get the kids and make it to Houston.  Usually it’s about a three-hour trip, but we spend a few extra hours stuck in traffic in torrential rain on Highway 71 and Interstate 10.  We made it to Houston a couple of hours past the girls’ bedtime, but everyone was in good spirits and happy to see Noni and Grandpa Phil.

King Tut Entrance
King Tut's jackal. No pictures inside!

Ostensibly, we made the trip to see Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs at the Museum of Fine Arts.  When we got the tickets a few weeks ago, Claire’s interest in ancient Egypt was at its peak.  Since then, her interest has waned some, mostly in favor of dolphins and puppies.  When we pulled up to the museum on Saturday morning, Claire said, in a joking tone, “I don’t know why we have to go see this King Tut thing.  You thought I was interested to see it, but really it’s Dad who’s interested.  I mean what’s the big deal?  He’s dead.”  This really cracked me up.

Once inside, we waited in line for the big show.  There was a short introductory movie narrated by Harrison Ford, and then the exhibit doors magically swung open.  The crowds slowly entered and began to examine the ancient treasures with quiet awe.  Within the first minute after entry, Molly had broken the near silence with loud crying and yelling.  She really wanted the museum sticker on my shirt, but I could not let her have it since it served as my proof of admission.  She got frustrated and began screaming.  So I headed with her to the exit, which was all the way through the large exhibit.  By the time we got to the exit, Molly was calmed down, and we did the exhibit in reverse.  There were some really cool things.  Some of Claire’s favorites were the ancient toilet seat used by the pharos, and the ancient cat coffin.  She also liked King Tut’s bed, a colossal state of him, a small decorative coffin used to preserve his stomach, and an equally disgusting reproduction of the Tut’s remains.  I am happy to say that Claire was pretty engrossed after all.  We have no pictures of the exhibit since they were strictly forbidden.

Girls and grandparents
The girls and their Houston grandparents

The main attraction for this trip was really the grandparents.  It had been a longtime since we had been to Houston as a family.  We mostly stayed around the house to maximize face time between the girls and their Noni and Phil.  Claire had woken up very early Sunday morning and went down to get Noni.  She and Claire drifted in and out of sleep until 7:00 or so and then got up and hung out until the rest of us got up.  This is Claire in her element… hanging out on a lazy weekend morning with a grandma.  As interesting as King Tut was, this kind of morning was probably even more fun for Claire (not to mention Kit and I, who got to sleep in a little).  We got home on Sunday afternoon, where our tired Claire fell asleep on the couch watching Finding Nemo, thus accomplishing her first nap in years.

Molly’s First Trip to Houston

I have been trying to avoid long posts, and I have found that posts about travel and holidays are nearly impossible to keep short.  They can quickly get out of hand, resulting in long, rambling posts (and much lost sleep on my part).  I was reminded of this just recently.

That said, it is worth noting that Molly took her first trip to Houston this weekend, to see my parents.  Claire, of course, came along too.  It was a busy and fun trip.  We accidentally overcommitted on Saturday’s plans, which included two play dates, lunch out, and swimming.  Molly’s favorite activity was probably sorting hair bands into a little plastic bag, which she did for at least an hour.

Molly also made her first trip to Corpus Christi recently, to see Kit’s parents.  I managed to keep that post short too, which was especially easy since I did not actually go on that trip.