Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in the Grove.

I think our second Christmas in College Grove has been even better than our first. This year our house felt much more like our home and was filled with lights and Christmas smells for nearly the whole month of December.

The only bad thing about Christmas this year was that we didn't get to see our Ohio folks. With Robyn and me both being pretty pregnant at this point, travel was not particularly appealing to either of us. So this year each family branch did their own thing, with hopes of all being reunited next Christmas with our newest family members in tow.

On Christmas Eve, Gaga & Pappy came to our house so we could all spend some holiday time together before they headed up to Ohio for Christmas Day. Mom, Will & I cooked our traditional Christmas breakfast together. Thank goodness it was nearly 70 degrees because open windows were mandatory when I smoked up the entire kitchen and living room baking biscuits. Oops. After stuffing ourselves silly we all relaxed for a little gift exchanging. We agreed to keep gift giving to a minimum this year. Henry made a painting for Gaga & Pappy of their tire swing and pond and also picked out a couple other gifts for them. Such fun.

Henry's favorite gift from Pappy & Gaga was this guy-

And little girl got a very special gift from them. So glad Pappy made this for her in spite of my saying that he really didn't have to. What a treasure.

After the gifts were exchanged we took a family pic, then followed it up with a little Uno & Sorry throw-down. Mr. Zuill was a little surprised at my mom's competitive streak. She is not sorry at all during Sorry and looks very happy with herself when she makes you draw two.

Later last night after we were all settled into PJs, Santa prep began. Santa got his traditional mince pie and milk. Rudolph and company weren't forgotten either.

The full moon last night was just beautiful. The skies were clearly perfect for trying to spot Santa.

And then it was on to the "practicing". Every year, same thing, and I love it every time. Henry lays in bed, pretends to be asleep. Will runs in to "wake" him, and they both tear off down the hall to check to see if Santa's been. After a few practice rounds and a couple of Christmas stories in bed Henry was done for the night- so Santa's elves got busy filling his new Santa sack with goodies.

This morning we had been out of bed for about 3 minutes when Henry came rushing into the living room and started pulling his treasures from the sack.

The rest of the day we've spent in PJs (allllll day)- building legos and playing with our new toys and Skyping with family that we weren't able to see in person. Just a nice, slow Christmas day at home with the people I love most in the world. The best gift of all. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Yellow belts and Christmas mayhem.

For the past few months Henry has been taking TaeKwonDo. I think he pretty much loved it from the get-go. His level of focus (along with most all of the kids', really) can be pretty impressive. His instructors have been great. And when the chance recently came up, Henry was all about testing for the next level belt.

During testing, Henry's group of three white belts were the first called up. They were all so good. Henry was asked "What is the TaeKwonDo promise?". I swear that boy didn't miss a beat. "I promise to use TaeKwonDo in class and to escape from strangers. I will not use TaeKwonDo to cause trouble”. On Friday night he got to go to his awards ceremony- and got his highly anticipated yellow stripe belt. He was so proud of himself. And with good reason. He has worked hard.

It's funny how every year I'm just shocked that Christmas has crept up on us again so quickly. December 1st sets a nice tone for the rest of the month for sure. "Shelf the Elf" arrives and the excitement truly begins. Particularly because Shelf's arrival involves getting a Lego Advent Calendar. Because we needed more Legos.

Not to be forgotten is the gingerbread house. Those windows are the devil to do with that icing, aren't they? I loved watching Will and Henry decorate the house together. I'd say about 80% of the candy went on the house. The other 20% vanished somewhere near Henry's face.

This year Henry and I decided to try our hand at Christmas ornament making. I found a recipe online consisting of a ridiculous amount of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and good old Elmers glue. And of course Will Jr. grabbed his favorite cookie cutters to help contribute to our project. Those were some good smelling Daleks.

Those same cookie cutters came out again when we were getting ready for a little cookie decorating fun with some of our favorites.

Last weekend we went to College Grove's Christmas parade not knowing what to expect. It was fantastic. Henry was having the time of his life. But before the parade, we had some important holiday business to attend to.

(a huge thank you to Mandy Johnson for these photos!)

Henry crafted his very own Holiday Greeting card this year and it's my favorite card ever. Merry Christmas from the Zuills!

Monday, November 2, 2015


Dear Henry-

Last week you turned five years old. That doesn't even sound right to my Mama ears. Since you have an October birthday, that means I get another year of having you home with me before you start Kindergarten. I have zero complaints about that. You are talkative and relentlessly inquisitive. You are hungry all the time. You love to be read to. You love music and know the words to a surprising number of songs. And although you aren't crazy about having your picture taken by your camera-crazy mom, you aren't above bribery either.

You are not, however, the best at hiding how much you'd rather be back at the house playing with your new birthday legos.

There are some things that haven't changed all that much since your last birthday. But just to be on the safe side, let's update a few things-

what is your favorite color? red
what is your favorite toy? my legos
what is your favorite animal? dogs
what do you want to be when you grow up? an astronaut
what is your favorite breakfast? waffle with peanut butter
what is your favorite dinner? pork roast
what are you best at? beating my daddy at races
what is your favorite thing to do at school? go outside
what is your favorite holiday? Halloween
where is your favorite place to go? Monkey Joe's
who is your best friend? Jamison

This year we had your birthday party at Pump It Up. What a fun afternoon! And you were really excited about birthday preparations.

Just like last year, we Skyped with Uncle Andy, Auntie Cheryl & Grandad while you opened the birthday gifts they sent you. I have to say, you are pretty darn spoiled. And your birthday gift from Daddy and me this year got a nearly immediate test drive after being opened- by both boys.

There are always a lot of fall activities surrounding your birthday. October is a fun (and busy) month for us! Last week we carved pumpkins with our best pals. A few days later me, you, & Daddy took a day to go to Lucky Ladd Farms together. We had perfect weather and a great time!

Happy birthday Henry. I really hope you know just how very loved you are. You just get better by the year and we are so happy to have you as our boy!