One of the new things we did in Victoria this time was visit the building where their Senate (is that what they call them?) meets. My favorite thing from the self-guided tour was this story: Originally, England would not accept Victoria’s crest (the stained glass below), because it directly contradicted the idea that the sun never sets on the British Empire:
So Victoria had to re-do their crest, and this is what they currently use:
Once we were back in Seattle, we also had to go back to a coffee place we stumbled on last year called Moore Coffee, which we love for their delicious delicious coffee and their amazing latte art. They gave Stephen the Hello Kitty, which Erin and I appreciated (Stephen, not so much).
I also had the joy of experiencing Christmas with the Cheatums. And I got to participate in their very peculiar and wonderful Christmas stocking scavenger hunt. Erin and Stephen fill their parents’ stockings, and Tim and Betsy fill Erin and Stephen’s (they filled one for me this year too!). But it’s more than just enjoying these gifts, because hidden somewhere in each stocking is the *tiniest* of IOUs for $25 — which the finder only gets to claim when they find it. On Christmas Eve, I witnessed Erin and Stephen completing the ritual of hiding their parents’ IOUs — aided by the use of tweezers to insert the IOUs into the most impenetrable of hiding spots, as well as the use of scissors and tape to cut open and re-tape other objects to throw their parents off the scent (it worked). On Christmas morning, we eventually found ours hidden under the label of one of the gifts:See? Extremely tiny!
But the real Christmas came with my BRAND NEW RACLETTE MACHINE WHICH I WAS NOT EXPECTING, AND WHICH STEPHEN TRICKED ME INTO TALKING ABOUT FOR FIVE HOURS IN THE AIRPORT WITHOUT A CLUE THAT I WAS GOING TO BE RECEIVING MY VERY OWN. AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (Both of my host families in France had beloved Raclette machines, and I have prayed for my own every day since first my first taste of this delicious, delicious melty meal).