A Very COVID Thanksgiving

If you had asked me a year ago if I wanted to spend all of Thanksgiving week locked down at home with the kids, not seeing any family or friends all week, I would have said, “Uh… no.” But things have changed. The girls and I had a pretty amazing pandemic Thanksgiving to ourselves.

It was so good, in fact, that I forgot to take any pictures of the kids, so this is going to be a mostly photo-free post. 😉

For nine days, we all chilled and barely left the house. The kids got lots of rest and down time. I worked most days, and the girls settled into a relaxed groove alternating between relaxing for a while, and then hanging out for a while. 🤔

At the end of the week, I asked the girls if they ever got bored. “Yesss!” they both said in unison. “But it was good!”

A few highlights:

  • Molly set up a pillow fort in her room dedicated to reading Fever 1793.
  • We had some seriously crazy games of Uno. I didn’t know that game could get so crazy. 🤷🏻‍♂️
  • We watched Jojo Rabbit, an astonishingly beautiful, sad, and funny movie about a Nazi youth. 🙃 I assured the girls ahead of time that it was heartwarming, made fun of those stupid Nazis, and it even had a funny Hitler. 🤔
  • We played some Among Us and had some good laughs.
  • I took a walk with Claire during which we exclusively discussed nuclear power and radiation poisoning. 🤷🏻‍♂️
  • The girls discovered the joys of my PC and worked out a peaceful PC-sharing system. I did not have to get involved. ✌️
  • Claire and I joked a lot about the “most definitely” Roblox guy on Twitch. 😆

I told Molly I was going to have to serve 81 meal portions over nine days, if you could three meals a day for all three of us. That is a lot! I told her I thought we could get that down to 54 portions if we all just skip one meal a day. “Noooo nooo! No!” Molly said. “You’re trying to trick us!” 😆

So we cooked a lot.

We made our favorite “Very-aki” chicken from memory. We made what Claire described as a “modern Mexican Thanksgiving meal”. Between the apple crumble dessert and making Claire’s apple birthday cake, we peeled, cored, and shredded 6 pounds of apples. 😮

Best Thanksgiving ever!

Note the “most definitely” that Claire added to the wall chalkboard. 😆

Just Like Mendl’s

Claire and I love the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. We’ve watched it together a few times over the years. In the movie, the pastry from Mendl’s not only looks delicious, but it also plays a major role in a prison escape.

The iTunes Extra” included instructions for making the infamous Courtesan au Chocolat. Instead of just idly watching these tantalizing instructions, we decided “Let’s make and taste a Courtesan au Chocolat!”

It’s the perfect pandemic lockdown activity. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Claire did almost the entire recipe herself. The kitchen was a mess, but the result was amazing. It’s a light, creamy, slightly sweet pastry. It tastes even better than we expected. We did not include pick axes to get anyone out of jail, but maybe we will next time. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Way to go on making this happen, Agitha — I mean Claire! 😀👍😋

Rainbow Claire

This is a picture of Claire in her handmade paper-and-tape Rainbow Dash costume.  The lovingly-made costume is a tribute to Claire’s enduring fascination with My Little Pony.  She is even talking about publishing to YouTube a video of her playing with the My Little Pony.  There are video like that that have over 30,000 views.

One time I said something offhand to Claire about, “When you move on to the next thing after My Little Pony…” and Claire, shocked, said “What?  I will never move on from My Little Pony!”

The only other rival for Claire’s attention is the movie Frozen.  Claire and Molly both know all the songs, etc. and talk about who is better, Anna or Elsa (the consensus is Anna, although Claire has some sympathy for Elsa).  Claire and I can perform the song “Reindeers Are Better Than People” with me on guitar and Claire on vocals.  It actually sounds okay.  Maybe we should put that on YouTube, huh?

Still, MLP is king no matter if some people Claire’s age think its “babyish”.  Claire is a loyal and proud fan, and her paper costume shows it.

Want to watch TV? No? Really?

I had a loose plan to record the girl’s favorite TV shows and movies every few months, thinking it would be fun and maybe silly to look back at what they used to watch.  I am happy, I think, but a little confused, to say that there is not much to report.

Molly still has no interest in the TV.  She just does not care to sit still and watch some silly show when there are so many things to mess with around the house.  We have actually tried to get her to watch a little TV, with fairly disastrous results.  Why would we want her to watch TV?  We thought she would like Sesame Street, due to her fondness of Elmo, and maybe  get some small educational value out of it.  And yes, the idea of Molly sitting still, not messing with anything, for 30 straight minutes was appealing.  But alas, she has outsmarted us and will not have any.

Even Claire’s once fine interest in TV has waned.  She does not really watch TV shows, opting mainly for movies.  So I guess she is a film snob.  She will usually pick a movie and watch it over and over in bits and pieces.  The first time, she is absorbed, if it is a good movie.  The second time, still fairly absorbed.  Then her interest fades but she keeps kind of watching until she just doesn’t care about it enough to watch any more.  Sometimes we rent a movie at the RedBox when we want her to spend a little time on the couch settling down.  Since she no longer naps, this is our best bet at something resembling real rest time for Claire during the day.  But she has even turned up her nose at fresh rentals lately.  We rented The Muppets (her choice) last weekend, and had to return it the next day unopened.  Claire has even actively declined the use of her DVD player on the last two trips our of town.

Claire Pease Park splash pad
Claire doing something apparently more fun than watching TV.

Like Molly, I guess there is just too much more interesting stuff going on for Claire to sit down and watch a long movie.  Still, Claire does watch some movies.  She likes to have her current movie on briefly during breakfast before school.  Sometimes I skip turing on the TV, and she usually does not say anything.  And there is valuable little time in the evenings after school.  Claire watches some TV (movies) on the weekend, but preferably if someone else will sit with her while she watches to talk about the movie or just act silly.  She seems to be a social watcher.

I should note that we have never had strict time limits on Claire’s TV watching.  In the past, when she used to watch more TV, we would occasionally encourage her to do something else if she had been watching for a long time.  Not so much like, “Get off your lazy keyster and go do something productive!” but more like, “Do you want to help cook dinner?”   Personally, I think strict time limits may backfire by making TV seem more alluring and valuable to kids.  All I know for sure is that Claire does not especially value watching TV unless someone is sitting next to her cuddling and talking about it.

Anyways, Claire’s current favorite movie is Bye Bye Birdie, which she watches occasionally, thanks to her mom’s recording from Turner Classic Movies (Claire does tend to like the 1960’s musicals.)  Claire especially likes to watch and giggle over the ads for the other movies at the end, especially the 1938 edition of Robin Hood.  She roars and says that the guys look like babies when they are sword fighting.

Kit and I are hoping to get Claire into the upcoming Olympics, though.  We have fond memories of watching curling on the 2006 Winter Olympics while cuddling with little baby Claire.  Maybe that is how she got started on the whole social watching thing.

History Buff

The other day, Claire said she wanted to have a party at our house.  She wanted to have either a Valentines party or a history party.  That’s right, a history party!  The idea would be for people to come and dress up as mummies, cowboys, etc. and, you know, do historical activities.  I loved the idea and started to dream up historical snacks and drinks.  But I had to explain to Claire that we probably could not manage a party.  There are already so many birthday parties, and we can barely scrape through a weekend as it is just getting our basic chores and survival done, and hosting a party was going to be a tall order.  Still, I love the idea…

Anyways, it is nice to see that Claire’s interest in history has continued well past her trip to Washington DC, where she first discovered those glorious mummies and all things Egyptian at the Smithsonian.  Her Egyptian fascination continues.  She has lots of questions.  Is Egypt a real place?  What did the mummies do before they died?  Did the Egyptians ever come to Austin?  Who came before the Egyptians?  Do people live in Egypt now?  “No fair!  I want to live there!” she says and mock cries when I tell her yes, Egypt is real, and yes, people do live there.  It is almost like Egypt is Disneyland for her.  It is a place of golden masks, great pyramids, mysterious gods and goddesses, and fashionable wigs and sandals.

Claire’s interest in history continued when we got Claire a copy of the movie Night at the Museum and its sequel, which is set at the same Smithsonian museum that we went to in DC.  In the movies, all the museum’s characters come to life at night, including Teddy Roosevelt, a Roman general Octavius, Napoleon, Attila the Hun, an Easter Island statue, a playful dinosaur, and yes, a (fictional?) Egyptian king named Ahkmenrah.  Claire got really interested in the characters and was fascinated that they were (mostly) real people, not just storybook characters.  We have spent a lot of time telling Claire that such and so story or character is not real, only a story (Star Wars, Ponyo, Barbie), so it was pretty wild for her to think that all these interesting and sometimes scary people really did exist.  She had more questions.  Was Napoleon a bad guy?  Was Custer from Europe?  How did Amelia Earhart die? Was Octavius a real Roman general?  Were there Ro-women too, or only Ro-men (i.e., Roman)?  (Really, that was a question.)

But I don’t want to push this history thing too hard for fear of spoiling it for Claire.  Well hold off a few years before tackling the Oxford History of the United States.  She should be at least 9 or 10 years old, right?


If there is a single song which defines this time period, it is the Ponyo song, hands down.  Claire loves the movie Ponyo, as do Kit and I.  But Claire and Molly really love the theme song, Ponyo On the Cliff By the Sea, sung by by Frankie Jonas And Noah Cyrus.

This all came about when I made a movie-themed CD for the girls to listen to in the car.  The CD had the Ponyo song and a few others including a couple from some Barbie movies.  Claire was pretty happy about this, especially the Ponyo song.  And after a few listens, Molly was nuts for the song.  I think its cheerful melody and squeaky voices play well to the budding toddler set.  Literally every time we get in the car now, Molly says, “Pono please!” (the “y” sound is still a little tricky for her).  When the song ends, or even when it takes a momentary lull, Molly says, “More Pono!”, putting her fingers together to sign “more” for emphasis.  Sometimes she even gets quite perturbed when the song is not immediately restarted.  we must have heard these words hundreds of times by now…

Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo fishy in the sea.
Tiny little fishy, who could you really be?

Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo magic sets you free.
Oh, she’s the little girl with the round tummy.

Molly has even learned to sing small pieces of the song, usually just a syllable or two at a time, but she gets the right sounds and the right timing.  This is officially the first song I have heard Molly sing, at least on her own.

After a couple weeks of this, even Claire was getting sick of the song, and I was tiring of it too.  But not Molly, she is all about the Ponyo song.

Rainbow Star Wars

We made the mistake of recording Star Wars again, this time the whole original trilogy, episodes IV through VI, and letting Claire know about it.  She was really excited to get a chance to watch it some more after her initial teaser a few months ago.  On the plus side, she finally got to meet Yoda.  Her favorite episode is Return of the Jedi, although she can’t tell us why.  Maybe the ewoks?

Claire notices a lot of things in the movies like people’s outfits and even the colors of their lightsabers.  She says that if she had a lightsaber, it would be rainbow-sparkle colored.  She asks a lot of questions about what people are doing and why.  She is fascinated with Darth Vader and the idea that he is kind of nice after all.  But when Darth is being mean, she calls him ugly names like “mustard syrup” and says that she would poke him in the eye or kick him in the shin to make him go away.

Even though Claire likes Star Wars, she insists that does not mean she likes “boy stuff”.  As if to punctuate the point, she sometimes wanders off mid-movie to go play with her My Little Pony toys.

Season’s Favorites

This Christmas season, Claire does not have any obsessions like she did last year with the music from Charlie Brown or the movie The Polar Express. But she does have a couple of standout favorites this year for Christmas. Her favorite holiday song this time around is definitely the 1970 Jose Feliciano classic “Feliz Navidad”. She loves to sing along to the song, which of course is quite easy, being only two real lines. She likes the Spanish part best, where it says “Feliz Navidad” over and over. Claire’s favorite Christmas movie this year is Elf. She especially likes when Buddy is in the North Pole, oversized for everything, including his adopted dad’s lap. She also likes the music, and we listen to a CD I made partly of the soundtrack (along with “Feliz Navidad” and others) to and from school.  I also included her favorite from last year’s Peanuts obsession, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, but Claire prefers to skip over this touching song for Jimmy Durante’s spirited rendition of “Frosty the Snowman”.