Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas in Houston

In the 5.5ish years Grant and Ruth have lived in Houston, this is my second trip to spend Christmas with them.  (Also went once in February and once in May.)  It's a little pricey going there and I'm crossing my toes that their next residence is closer (and Thank You, Jewel, for just moving to Vegas!).

I always take a picture of Timp when I'm flying out/in, and apparently the route to Phoenix is further out than the route to Vegas (west of the Ophir range).  Ruth's yummy Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas "crackers" (crowns and trinkets) were also shared with a friend, Firmin, who came from the Congo to Houston via political asylum, and after years of saving towards bringing his family, two sons, 5 and 8, arrived the 18th! Three more children and the wife, to go!  The ward helped them a lot, and it was nice to be part of the experience.  The boys speak French.  After dinner, Firmin helped his boys, Reagan and Morgan, put a puzzle together, and Grant helped his girls do another one, and the competition to finish grew fierce the closer they got, accompanied by lots of laughter.  With the last piece, I called out, "Voilà!" and they all laughed.  The boys will be going to Lucy and Hazel's school.

The girls awoke before the parents on Christmas morning, though not particularly early, so apparently the season's hype wasn't of influence.  They were good to wait until I got the bed turned back into the couch, and Mom and Dad arrived.

 Divvying up the stash:

 This is a Razor 360 - and yes, you can swing it around full circle+.

 Sunday dresses - Hazel's requested first long one.

After presents, Ruth fed us a delicious omelet, and then stockings were opened.

Went to a park, daily, which is a normal routine on nonschool/church days.  Ruth came down with a heavy duty cold, just in time for Christmas Eve, and so she got some quiet recuperative naps each day while we played.

This is Grant reading Virgil while the kids played.

Eventually I gave Lucy my phone camera, and then Hazel, and she was caught by Grant taking pictures of him behind his back, and this is his mock reaction and promise to take pictures of her drooling in her sleep to send to all her friends!  

Besides taking their bikes and scooters to the park, Grant brought a styrofoam glider. 

(One of the days Grant took the girls to a field next to Firmin's apartment, and three adults and the four kids played soccer.  Another day, he dropped off treats to one of his home-teaching families, and then they joined us at a nearby park.)

Lucy and her friend Emma.

These noisy birds are rather interesting.  Grant said they are called grackles - from the blackbird family, with dark blue iridescence and a longer tail.

Waiting for Dad's breakfast pancakes:

Friday night we went to the amazing Zoo Lights:

Attended church on Sunday and enjoyed a great meal afterward of Ruth's fresh hummus
with a variety of dipping veggies, crackers, and roasted almonds.

The last day, we went to lunch at Jerry Built:

 Besides delicious food, the place is über kid-friendly:

One wall is a chalk board - Lucy's on the right, Hazel's on the left.
Note the fancy Rice U. chalk drawing.

Note the fancy soda vending machine, and to it's right,
the wash-up machine when you're done chalk-drawing.

Hazel posing as we left Jerry Built:

On the way to the airport, we stopped for gelato
(coming to Vegas, Jewel!):

Holiday Catch-Up

Halloween at the office.
The last several years I dressed up including a wig, but couldn't stand the thought of that all day until everyone left so I could take the wig off, and then have to stay to run the yearly WPU reports, so I just sprayed my hair neon and wore a psychedelic hat to match.
 We make it as dark as we can (and still work).
 Couldn't get a snap of it, but this cauldron makes great mist, and those are purple lights around the window.
One of our techies and his kids.  We fed our visitors lunch, sandwiches, apples, doughnuts.  That's because the boss tells fortunes so they need some entertainment besides the spooky music, while they wait.
This was fun.  The fruit of the day at the schools was tropical rambutan,
which actually looks like an eyeball when peeled. Very tasty!
(And the pumpkin on the counter plays an eyeball song,
and mixed in with the candy were gushy trinket eyeballs.)

This is Jewel coming to pick up up when I flew down for Thanksgiving -
traffic at a standstill from passenger pick up
(you can see the airport parking towers on the left) clear out onto the freeway)!!
This is the traditional table decor.
Spiffied up this year with new paint on the walls, new sun-blocking curtains,
and new flooring.
They hired the tile done, Jewel painted and did all of the new baseboards.
Johnny painted and did all of the wood floors
in the great room and living room/entry.
(Last two pictures pre painting, except for the burnt red in the kitchen.)