Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas at Casa de Hunt 2014

I work seasonally doing deliveries for Edible Arrangments, and since Christmas Eve is one of our busiest nights of the year, I typically work all day and get home around 8pm. Oscar usually has to work late on Christmas Eve as well, so we're not often able to celebrate much of the evening together. Growing up we would celebrate by going out to eat, typically at Market Street Grill. One of my mom's patients would usually give her a gift certificate there for Christmas. Most restaurants close by 8pm on Christmas, so last year Oscar and I had Jack in the Box for dinner (even Wendy's, the closer restaurant, was closed). I'd missed being able to celebrate Christmas Eve with dinner at a restaurant, so when it looked like I'd be home before 7pm, I really wanted to do it this year.

Since we hadn't known I'd be off early enough, we hadn't made any reservations, but I knew Olive Garden usually doesn't take reservations on busy nights since it's more lucrative for them just to seat tables one after another. Oscar got off work around 6:30pm and went right there to get on the list. I wasn't quite done yet, but it made it nicer for us not to have to spend 40 minutes restraining a hungry, mischievous little Tyler. We still had to wait about 15 minutes when we got there, and luckily Tyler was acting very cute and sweet. Once we were sat he spent the time entertaining everyone around him, pretending to be a little scientist with his food. Our neighboring tables kept staring at him and smiling at him, particularly the older ladies in the large booth next to us. And considering the messy food thrower that he is, only an extremely small amount of food actually got on the floor. Hoorah!
After getting Ty to bed that evening, we put all the presents and the stockings out. Mom bought and filled stockings for us as well, and we made one for her, so the 3 of us each got 2 stockings and mom got one. Fry continued his tradition of sitting on all things holiday and made himself comfortable on our presents early the next morning. You can see him on the far left in front of the toy box.

Oscar bought Tyler a Cookie Monster stuffie and stuck it on the tree for him to find in the morning. Ty was very excited to see it and pushed away all the other presents to get to it. We think we're going to make that a tradition here on out, having one toy for each child unwrapped on the tree.

After that we started opening our stockings. Ty enjoyed helping us and snacking on the candy. At that point we figured we should probably give him an actual breakfast, so we took a little break from present opening. Mom made her famous scones and Oscar cooked up some bacon and sausage and whipped up some delicious blackberry honey butter. He used some of the blackberry syrup he'd canned back in the summer, and we also poured it on our scones. Tyler loved dipping his scones in Oscar's blackberry syrup. Eventually he did dump it out and stick it on his head, but at least he ate most of it first.
By the time we sat down to eat, Ty was pretty much done and getting pretty restless since it was almost time for his nap. We gave him a bath, changed him from his Christmas jammies into his Santa jammies, and sang him some Christmas carols before putting him to bed.
 While Ty was asleep, the three of us finished opening our own stockings and started opening our presents. I was very proud of the ones I'd made for mom and Oscar, and they got me some great stuff too. I got mom lots of flavored nuts from Trader Joes and other candies I know she likes, and I found lots of dark chocolate mint flavored treats for Oscar.
For Tyler's baby shower, my friend Erin gave me a smaller package of these dark chocolate Goji, and Oscar ate them all before I even got a chance to try them. To make up for this, he gave me an enormous package of them, little knowing I had also gotten him 2 regular packages of the blueberry/acai and pomegranate flavors. He's out of the doghouse now ;)

When Ty woke up he had fun helping us continue our present opening. He also played with the "TYLER" magnets Oscar had made for him. He's recently broken part of the T, so it now looks like another L.
Here are pics of some of the cool things we got - pretty clothes from mom for both Oscar and I, The Emperor's New Groove and Lakme from Amy, and several management books from Oscar's parents.
We gave mom a sodastream with nearly every diet flavor they offered, salted caramel hot chocolate, and tootsie roll chapsticks.
 Oscar got mom and I various accessories for our phones, like bluetooth headphones and backup external batteries. I gave Oscar anything mango flavored I could find at Trader Joes, and Mike and Shan gave him tan shoes and socks. When we were dating Oscar once showed up at my house wearing a tan hat, tan shirt, and tan pants. No designs or words or anything. Just solid tan. I still tease him about his complete lack of fashion sense. To further tease me, he registered for tan shoes and tan socks so he can wear tan on tan on tan on tan on tan.
And Oscar's parents and grandparents sent us up cards and money, which is always appreciated. Oscar's mom also made Tyler several warm, beautiful sleep sacks. He immediately cuddled with this brown one like he does with his stuffed animals. Cute!
We'd attempted to smoke our turkey as we'd done last Christmas and the past two Thanksgivings, but the wood chip feeder somehow got blocked and then suddenly started feeding tons into the fire after we fixed it. This caused the flames to get crazy hot, burning the outside of the turkey and leaving the inside undercooked. We decided to give up on it since the effort of taking off the burned spots and cooking the rest was going to be more than it was worth. We had extra bacon and sausage left over from breakfast, so mom added them to the funeral potatoes she'd started, and we had that for Christmas dinner. I LOVED it! I think that may become a new tradition too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas in the Northwest: Part VI - Zoolights in Tacoma

Since I'd enjoyed Wildlights so much, I wanted to come down to Tacoma to check out their version of it - Zoolights. It was super cool, but the traffic was hideous. The only way to avoid that would be to come later, which would be too late for Tyler, or to come on a Saturday, which would be super crowded. We were all pretty hungry after about two hours in the car, so we stopped at the cafe to grab some munchies.

Then it was time to explore! There's a good deal more land mass to walk around than there had been at Wildlights, and as such the lights weren't nearly as condensed. Instead there were cute little animal displays all throughout the park, many more than I'd seen at Wildlights.
Some were in fairly obvious spots, like these tigers running through the jungle trees, while others, like these elephants, were in random parts of the park you'd never think to look at.

Like Wildlights they also had a fair amount of fun moving displays, and there were a few actual animals to view too.  

They didn't have an indoor kids area, but they did have a petting zoo. Those goats got pretty darn close to Tyler. 
The Tacoma zoo also has two indoor aquariums, which are still accessible after dark. They were crazy crowded, though, since it was a pretty cold night.

Ty had fun trying to touch the fish. He tried to grab all these jellyfish. One of these days I'll have to teach him not to do that when he sees them in the ocean.

I liked this very relaxed red starfish, and whatever those feather things are look like enormous quill pens.

After warming up we went back outside. There were some gorgeous displays, like this purple tree and blinking light bridge.
Although there were several parts of the park that had ropes closing them off, they still had decorations within them to view from a distance. I loved the seahorses and the reindeer!
Ty enjoyed a nice break from the stroller when we went into the 2nd aquarium. He played on daddy's shoulders and pet a few stingrays.

On the way there we passed the Seahawks 12th Man tree and the most beautiful area of the zoo.
There's a gorgeous polar bear display in front of an incredible display of Mt Ranier. Next to it is the aquarium with an enormous octopus on top of it and ice skating penguins outside. If it hadn't been so cold and I hadn't had a squirmy child, I would have just sat down on a bench and stayed in this spot for an hour.

For more entries in the Christmas in the Northwest series, see

Christmas in the Northwest: Part I - Bellevue Garden d'Lights and Festival of the Nativity

Christmas in the Northwest: Part II - Teddy Bear Suite, Gingerbread Displays, and Pike's Place Market

Christmas in the Northwest: Part III - Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo

Christmas in the Northwest: Part IV - Fir Grove in Everett, Bothell Country Village, and Evergreen Church Lightshow

Christmas in the Northwest: Part V - The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach