Happy Holidays from The Holts

2013 Holiday Card
Happy Holiday from The Holts

Dear Family and Friends,

We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We hope your year has been full of successes, but a few challenges just to keep you on your toes.

2013 has been good to us. It’s been a year of opportunity and new experiences. We are all in good health, full of happiness, and loving life in the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading “Happy Holidays from The Holts”

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

Ready for Santa Claus!

We’re ready! Bring on the egg nog. Let the kids write Santa a letter. Let’s bake and bake. We’re ready for the Christmas season.

After arriving home today from Oregon for Thanksgiving, we completed our Christmas decorating by visiting the Stockard Family Christmas Tree Farm to select a good ‘ol fashion Christmas tree for the Holt Family. After much debate and rechecking how much we really needed to spend, we settled on a nice 6.5 foot Grand Fir.

We started unraveling the Christmas lights, buying a few new lights, unpacking boxes, cranking the holiday music, and hanging the wreath last weekend. We love this time of year (not because of the gift buying) and will take any reasonable excuse to get ready for the holiday. This year it was Ethan simply asking us and us caving in faster than you can say “Hot chocolate with whip cream on top.”

Ethan helps his Dad hang up the lights.

The biggest addition this year are the new outside lights. We’ve never hung lights outside since we’ve either never been home for Christmas or didn’t have children old enough to really be interested. We broke down this year and grabbed a couple strands of traditional large bulb red and green lights. I originally bought a few strands of small LED lights but they just didn’t do the trick. I guess Laura and I are just traditionalist and enjoy having what we we grew up with.

This evening we enjoyed takeout pizza from a local pizza parlor while decorating the tree. Ethan really got into to it and, rather than just hang up ornaments, he’d play with them for a bit. He was very excited! Autumn was cute and, after seeing me put the tree skirt on under the tree, she went and got some of her doll blankets to put around the tree to keep it “warm”.

We’re looking forward to this holiday season in Seattle!

Thanksgiving in Yamhill County, Oregon

Thanksgiving 2011

We did the annual trek to Yamhill County, Oregon where Laura’s parents live. I say annual because Thanksgiving is the holiday we spend with her family each year (with the exception of a couple years). Christmas is one we rotate we each year between her side and my side.

We did the almost 7 hour drive on Wednesday (usually takes 3 hours 45 minutes) from Seattle to Yamhill County where we experienced lots of traffic, rainy weather, delicious shakes from Burgerville, and a “cute” Autumn who insisted on yelling every time we played music. We kept the music off.

Thanksgiving day was a very low-key day spent with Laura’s parents, brother Christopher, and sister Marylynn. We enjoyed playing card and board games, playing on the computers (four laptops made it geek central), checking out the continued progress in the newly built barn, snacking and drinking, and enjoying a delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving meal (with three different pies to choose from).

Friday was relaxing as well. Laura and her sister Marylynn enjoyed watching the latest Twilight movie. I hung out at the house with the kids and her parents where Autumn went wild and Ethan enjoyed riding Norm and collecting eggs at the neighbors.

We headed back home Saturday morning and made it in 3 hours 38 minutes. Oh yeah!

Kids love playing with dead animals.
Autumn and her argyle dress
Ethan playing with his monster trucks while waiting for dinner
Autumn and her Mommy
Ethan getting a laugh from his Uncle Chris
Ethan relaxes to watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special
The family enjoys a game of Sorry
Gluten free pies that will rock your world
Autumn says good night to Norm before heading to bed.
The kids look beat the next morning.

Pumpkin Picking Season Arrives!

Picking out a pumpkin at Craven Farm.

Sorry Christmas tree farms, you don’t have a thing on today’s pumpkin patch. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas and will always select my Christmas tree from a tree farm or a national forest, but it’s kind of a boring experience to go and cut a tree. I agree that just selecting a pumpkin is boring. That’s how I did it as a kid. But today’s pumpkin patch visit is more than selecting a pumpkin. It’s about an entertaining experience that captures a bit of the farm life. Craven Farm in Snohomish, Washington offered us that experience. Continue reading “Pumpkin Picking Season Arrives!”

Christmas in San Jose

This past Christmas we spent 9 days in San Jose, California with my family. It was a great trip that offered a lot of experiences with family. Ethan and Autumn had a lot of cousin time while I was able to see visit with my mom and brothers.

Day 1 (Sunday, Dec. 19): We were up at the crack of dawn, well actually before dawn, at 4am to catch our 6:40am flight to San Jose from Seattle. I’ll make recommendation to all families who fly, if you don’t know about the family line going through security then ask if one exists. It saved us a lot of time and hassle and made it a more flying enjoyable experience with the kids.

img_5684My mom picked us up at San Jose International Airport’s new Terminal B. This was our first time in it and we’re quite impressed. I only recommend adding an actual skywalk from the terminal to the parking light like every other airport in the country.

The rest of morning and afternoon were spent relaxing and hanging out. My brother Mike and his family joined us around 4pm. The Holt Brothers  then headed north to San Francisco where Mark treated Mike and I to a great evening at Smuggler’s Cove, a rum and tiki bar that offers an awesome atmosphere. It was well over a decade since the three of us had hung out together. We stayed until Mike and I said we had to head home so we could wake up early with the kids. Party poopers, I know.

img_9855Day 2 (Monday, Dec. 20): After a morning of playing around Grandma Lynda’s house, Santa Clause made a surprise visit to see Ethan and Autumn. Ethan was very excited to see him as he jumped all over the front room upon seeing Santa walk up to the house. Santa was very patient with the kids and brought Ethan a Heffalump doll (from Winnie the Pooh’s Heffalump Movie) and Autumn a new ball. After Santa headed back to the North Pole, the Holts gathered at Red Robin in Morgan Hill for a family dinner and then socialized at Mike and Olivia’s house. It was a good evening for all.

Day 3 (Tuesday, Dec. 21): Family photos were the topic of the morning. We all gathered at a nearby Country Club in Morgan Hill where we had professional photographs taken of the family. It has been years since we got these done so it was good to have them done. Autumn was a trooper and Ethan did his best.

img_5552In the late afternoon, we headed to Santa Cruz where we enjoyed dinner at Pizza My Heart in downtown Santa Cruz and a ride on the Santa Cruz Holiday Train. A couple Christmas’ ago Laura and I missed the train by a couple minutes while the rest of the family enjoyed it. Ethan didn’t mind then since he was only 1 years old. This time we made sure to make it on time. Ethan and Caitlynn, as well Laura and I, enjoyed the festivities. After the ride we spent time at Santa Cruz Boardwalk’s Neptune Kingdom where we had a free round of miniature golf and played arcade games. Ethan used his mad skills to dominate The Claw game and won a prize.

Day 4 (Wednesday, Dec. 22): The day was relaxing and spent at home.

Day 5 (Thursday, Dec. 23): Up early and headed north to Sausalito to enjoy the Bay Area Discovery Museum for children. After a fun morning at the museum, we headed back over the Golden Gate where we played tourist around Pier 39. We finished it off with dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.

img_0390Day 6 (Friday, Dec. 24): After a full day up in SF and north bay, we enjoyed a day around the house. Ethan and I headed over to Grandma’s Park (Edenvale Park) where he enjoyed swinging and playing on the playground. This area is full of my childhood memories. Growing up this park use to be Frontier Village, then cherry orchards. I mostly remember sneaking into the orchard with friends, climbing the trees and eating cherries. We always scared each other about the mystical farmer who would find us in the trees and shoot us. What silly kids we were.

We spent the evening at Mike and Olivia’s house where everyone contributed to a tasty dinner. The kids got to open one gift (a tradition I had growing up) and play, play, play. Mike and I did are annual Christmas Eve run. This is a tradition we have done for over 10 years.

img_0568Day 7 (Saturday, Dec. 25): Christmas Day. We opened gifts in the morning, ate, napped, and then  headed to Mark’s house in the evening. Ethan had a blast exploring the millions of things to see, do, and touch in his house.

Day 8 (Sunday, Dec. 26): We spent the day preparing to leave. We came with one bag to check in and a few carry ons and we were going home with one bag to check in and a few carry ons. With careful organizing and distribution of weight we succeeded. In the evening my Mom ordered delicious pizza from High Five Pizza for everyone. We then headed down to San Jose’s Christmas in the Park.

Day 9 (Monday, Dec. 27): We were once again awake at 4am to catch our 6:45am flight back to Seattle. We were fortunate that Autumn slept most of the way. I was stoked because she fell asleep on me the entire time. This was one of many times this past week that I had the joy of rocking her to sleep. Ethan did excellent on the plane as we enjoyed the views and played with his Chuggington trains. We arrived back at our house around 10am where we quickly turned on the heater and started the fire. 40 degrees was just a bit too cold for us.