For the fourth straight year, we spent our Thanksgiving out in the west suburb of Bee Caves with a friend’s family, the Millers. (It kinda struck me as to how weird it was that this was the second time we’d been out to their house for Thanksgiving since the last time we had been to either of our own families’ houses! Well, soon enough.) Thanks again for your hospitality, Millers!

Johnny pays a final visit to a neighbor’s Thanksgiving display, or “Pumpkin Family” as Johnny likes to call it. We visited it at least once per day for a month. And now it’s a Christmas display that we need to visit.

I finished Johnny’s Muppet Wall over the four-day weekend. I then bought some strips of industrial-strength velcro and adhered the paintings to the wall. I can certainly say doing 25 paintings was not my original intent. I did the first 3 paintings in one night in August and that was going to be it, but 3 turned into 6, and then great aunt Alice said if I could do 6 more, she’d be able to use the picture to make a quilt. But after 12 I kept expanding to include more and more characters. There are dozens of more characters, but no remaining ones are well-known, certainly not to a 2-year-old. The most rewarding part of the project was waiting for Johnny to wake up each morning to show him the new ones. He would see me coming in his room with a canvas and pop up out of bed with a huge smile on his face. And I got 150+ likes on Facebook. I don’t plan to go into business painting more, but I could look into selling prints of the existing ones. Several friends have expressed great interest.

The paintings, from top left: Statler & Waldorf (in their box seat overlooking the others), Zoot, Scooter, Floyd, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Janice, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Sweetums, Gonzo & Camilla, Fozzie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, Lew Zealand, Pops, Walter, Beaker, Bunsen, Mahna Mahna, a Snowth, Pepe Prawn, Rizzo Mouse, and Crazy Harry.

With the painting project over, I moved on to Lauren’s longstanding request to build Johnny a “little helper tower” so he can help out with cooking in the kitchen. It’s basically a glorified stool, just with different platform levels and safety railings. The first one I tried from Ana White’s website called for lots of Kreg Jig holes to be drilled into the sides of flimsy 1×2’s which caused them all to split. So I made my own plan using bigger boards and dowel rods and came up with a winner. The platform can be adjusted to be on three different levels, though the top one would be pretty dangerous.

Johnny puts his Little Helper Tower to use after Baxter was forced to test it.

We also had time to put up the Christmas decorations. Johnny accompanied me to Home Depot on Black Friday where we bought a huge 10-foot artificial tree. I had long lobbied for an artificial tree–use it many times, makes no mess, don’t have to worry about weird city disposal regulations–and this year Lauren finally agreed since we’ll be departing the house a week before Christmas. Johnny spotted a “big tall man in hat” at Home Depot–a gigantic resin nutcracker. It was on sale for just $19.88, marked down from $59.99, so I bought the damn thing. Johnny wanted it to be set upright in the van next to him on the ride home, but it immediately tipped over when I turned and made a loud crash, startling John.

Johnny refused to pose for the photo until I bribed him with watching a Humpty Dumpty video. He then jumped in and gave me one of his best ever pictures!