Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Doctor is in.

Rarely does a month go by that our mailbox does not hold a package addressed directly to Henry. Oh and he knows that it will be there. He anticipates. When we come in with the mail he asks us "is dere anyfing for me??" and boy does his face light up when there is something for him. How can you resist elation when Uncle Andy sends you packages that contains such an amazing wonder as a fez? The Doctor is in.

For the few who are in our circle who don't know, the eldest member of our clan is a big Doctor Who fan (and has been since he was only a little older than Henry!) and his affection for the Doctor has definitely rubbed off on his son.

Honestly, Henry has pretty much lived in anticipation all month. Anticipation about where "Shelf" might be every morning (if his poorly focused parents remembered to move him!). Anticipation about advent calendars. And "practicing" his Christmas morning routine with Daddy in anticipation of Santa's visit (get up out of bed! run downstairs! check milk/mince pie to see if Santa ate it! check carrot/water to see if Reindeer ate it! then look under tree!). This year, Henry has just really reintroduced Will and I to the magic of Christmas.

I don't think I made one trip to Target in the last 2 months that I managed to escape visiting the seasonal decor department. That new red & green, sparkly & glittering section at the back of the store, beckoning with all it's flashy lights, was just too much for a 3 year old to resist. Henry loved it (and I didn't hate it either!). Although we browsed on multiple occasions, we really only bought a couple of stocking stuffers for Daddy and one other thing. I really wasn't sure how well toddlers and gingerbread house construction would mix- but I have to say that Henry kind of surprised us! He was in charge of candy placement. He was a hard and proud worker (when he wasn't sneaking a candy into his mouth) and it was so much fun.

Santa preparation on Christmas Eve was another event that was highly anticipated by the Zuill boys. And the Zuill girl. There were lots of things to do- like letter writing and Santa tracking.

We were amazed that we got Henry to sleep fairly easily on Christmas Eve. We were also amazed that we put together Henry's kitchen from Santa with not one part left over. And no cursing. And only two glasses of wine.

Christmas morning was fantastic. Henry was so excited! I honestly do not have one photo of Henry's first peek under the tree on Christmas morning because I was so swept up in his excitement that I totally forgot to get the camera. And I think that's a good sign.

I did come to my senses, however, in time to grab a few shots of him opening his gifts from his aunts and uncles in the UK- and he loved his gifts!

As we do every year, after Santa time at our house we went to my brother's house for a little time with this questionable crew.

Ella Grace met us at the door wearing a most interesting contraption. Apparently, interesting apparel was the theme for Christmas this year. I have to say that my Brit absolutely rocked my mom's 20 year old Christmas sweater vest. That takes talent.

We start the day with an unbelievable country breakfast (complete with chocolate gravy and southern accents). But certain British traditions have slowly starting intertwining themselves with our Tennessee ones. Will introduced my family to Christmas Crackers a few years ago. They are about a foot long and look like a giant piece of wrapped candy. You pull each end, wait for a "pop" and then grab the prizes that were tucked away inside. Typically what you get is a silly Christmas hat, a joke, and if you're lucky a pair of nail clippers. Seriously, they are so much fun. This year I managed to find the biggest Christmas Cracker in existence.

The ridiculous hats were still the same size though.

I love Christmas day with my family. Nobody is on a schedule and there is nowhere to be except just with each other. It's so nice. And as at any house, I'm sure, the kids are definitely the star of the show. They're so entertaining to watch.

And you can't call it a day until you've schooled the young ins' on how to play a proper game of Operation.

It's so hard to believe it's time for 2013 to come to an end. I just have a feeling that 2014 has a lot of good things in store for us and we can't wait to welcome it! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Furry ear flaps.

Winter has undisputedly hit Tennessee. And while I like my fleece lined leggings, sweaters, and boots as much as the next girl I am definitely a spring chicken. Poor Mr. Zuill just isn't cut out for winter either. The words "I hate bloody winter!" may have escaped his lips on more than one occasion.

But there's one Zuill who doesn't seem too bothered by the cold weather. He just throws on his "blue hat with the flaps" and proceeds to go outside to spot airplanes.

Followed by a nice long bath to warm up afterward-

(that spells "Henry", by the way.)

It can definitely be challenging to entertain a 3 year old inside when the weather outside is frigid and very likely wet. Luckily, this time of year also provides a plethora of distractions. Christmas trees, for example.

Henry got his Elf on the Shelf last year and he was donned with the name of "Shelf". Shelf showed up as scheduled on the first day of December. Will and I are what could probably be categorized as lazy elf puppeteers. We don't set up any cute scenes with Shelf making snow angels on a counter covered in flour or pooping chocolate chips into the toilet. We do well to remember to move that little booger each night and more than once have had to scramble downstairs before Henry can make it down there so we could hastily relocate Shelf to a new spot. So far we've managed to keep our cover and Henry adores getting up to find Shelf every morning.

We made a Santa countdown calendar for Henry and he loves adding a cotton ball to Santa's beard each day. But honestly, nothing can compare to the Doctor Who advent calendar that his Uncle Andy and Auntie Cheryl sent over from the UK. He can't get downstairs fast enough to do this with Daddy first thing every morning.

One day last week Henry and I joined some friends at a Christmas cookie party. Our lovely hostess Mel is a brave lady- there were kids and sprinkles abound!

The kids got their cardio in after their carb loading.

(thanks to Melanie and the other amazing photographers there for the photos from the party!)

One of the things Henry is hoping to get from Santa is a kitchen. Mr. Zuill is an amazing cook and I'm so stoked that Henry is taking an interest in it too! I think he has figured out that being in the kitchen this time of year can definitely come with some perks.

It's been really exciting to watch Henry's anticipation about Christmas. Of course, we've done our part to get him excited but I think he's really picking up on the fact that everyone is joining him in celebration. He loves singing Christmas songs. He has a great (and quite original) rendition of "Police Dobidob" (Feliz Navidad). And even though the wind chills factor over the weekend made it feel like it was in the 20°s he was entranced by the "Dickens of a Christmas" festival in downtown Franklin. It made me happy to get two of my favorite things- time with my two boys AND kettle corn!

Hope you're gearing up for an amazing day next week as well! Merry Christmas from the Zuills!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The faces of Henry.

The other day I was able to convince Henry to be still for just a minute so I could take a photo of him for my 365 project. Neither the sitting still nor him being a cooperative photograph subject are common occurrences for that boy, believe me. But for some unknown reason, for once, he did both at the same time. It amazed me how many facial expressions I got from him in about 60 seconds!

He is a boy of many faces and it can go from one extreme to another.

Even though bad weather delayed our trick or treating by a day, the weather on November 1st was perfect for it. We made a trip back to our old neighborhood to do a little visiting and ended up going trick-or-treating with all of our neighbor friends. I don't think Henry could have had a better time! And he was a handsome Ironman if I do say so myself!

Lately, Ironman has been showing up around our house nearly every day. Henry sure knows how to get our money's worth from that $15 Halloween costume!

Of course, he's still getting his moneys worth from his 2T Spiderman pajamas.

The approach of winter is undeniable. The colder weather has definitely driven us indoors and to our favorite inside activities.

Tomorrow Henry and I will be going to submit an application for a building permit! With any luck, we'll be starting our house within the next month. Exciting times ahead!