Well, Thanksgiving weekend came and went in the blink of an eye. We had a great weekend with lots of family time.
Zach didn't have preschool on Wednesday, so the boys and I got lots of good playing in. We had some friends over and did some playing in the basement, where Drew showed me he loves dressing up as a fireman as much as Zach does.
I've been trying to figure out our Christmas cards, and I've been feeling really bad because our best family picture does not have the dogs in it. I know it's silly, but I just feel like the family isn't complete without those dogs. So I tried really hard to get a picture of the boys and the dogs. I kept thinking of what they say about actors in Hollywood- that the worst costars are children and animals. They're also the worst models for photos. Either Zach's not smiling, or the dogs look uncomfortable and weird, or Drew just plain won't sit for a picture, or something! Then I end up getting totally annoyed, and everyone gets stressed, and the pictures are worse than they were in the beginning. I never did get one I really loved. Here are 2 that did not make the cut.
Thursday morning I got up early to make the traditional Zinn family holiday breakfast- caramel rolls, souffle, and grapefruit. My family has been eating this meal on holidays and special occasions for as long as I can remember, and it always tastes delicious! The best part, though, was getting 2 calls the night before from my sister Sandy, who was making the caramel rolls for her houseful of guests as well, and had a couple of questions about the recipe. Though I was so far away from my family, there was something comforting in knowing at least some of us (I don't know if the rest of the family followed tradition or not) were celebrating with the same recipes.
After breakfast we headed over to Mike's mom and step-dad's house. We always spend Thanksgiving with Curt, Linda, and Mike's grandpa, whom we call Pa. Since we don't see them on Christmas, we also exchange Christmas presents on Thanksgiving.
Zach was excited to wear his preschool-made headdress to Grandma Linda's and Grandpa Curt's. He was very excited for Thanksgiving. In the days leading up to it, he had me make a count-down calendar for him.
Every Thanksgiving since Zach was born, we've gotten a family picture taken at Curt and Linda's. I was actually pretty happy with this picture (I couldn't believe Drew cooperated), but it still didn't make the Christmas card because the non-dog photo is better (aside from the fact that it didn't have the dogs in it).
Zach and Drew love Pa. Zach had been asking Pa to hunt a turkey for us for Thanksgiving. In this picture, Pa is telling the story about how he "caught" our Thanksgiving turkey. He didn't want to say he shot it because he wasn't sure how I would feel about that. I listened to the story intently, noticing that he never mentioned guns or shooting, but also waiting, thinking, "If Zach asks anything about how it's possible we're eating this turkey now, is Pa going to say he wrung its neck?" Thankfully that never came up! And really, Linda ordered all the food from The Machine Shed, and it was all very good. I just love both Zach and Pa's faces in this picture.
When it was time to give the boys their Christmas present, we all headed out to the garage. Curt and Linda got the boys a little Jeep Rubicon to drive around our driveway/sidewalk. Both of our next door neighbor kids have Jeeps, so Zach had been wanting one for a long time.
Here's Zach's face as he realized what the gift was. There's video, too, but it's not quite as dramatic as I was expecting, so I don't know if I'll put it up.
The boys walked to the Jeep and both got right in. So far there has been no fighting about who sits where- it's like Drew knows he's too small to drive and he's content to ride shotgun. I wonder how long that will last...
Curt and Linda's dog Winnie thought it was neat to walk along behind the Jeep. It was a cold day on Thanksgiving, but thankfully the last few days since then have been pretty nice, and the boys have gotten quite a bit of Jeep time in. I have a feeling that soon it will be way too cold for any Jeep riding.
We spent the rest of the day just hanging out at Curt and Linda's. The boys napped there (well, Drew did, anyway), and Pa hung around for a while before heading back to his home in eastern Iowa. We headed home about dinnertime and ate a light supper before watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
On Friday Mike and I braved the mall and were actually pleasantly surprised. I think since we didn't go until 9-ish and the mall opened at midnight, we probably missed the rush. We managed to get everything for the little boy from the family we "adopted" with some friends and some things for the boys. It seems like we still don't really have a plan for what we're getting the boys, but hopefully we will get that figured out soon. Mike and I agreed that it's amazing how we can go out like that, get quite a few gifts, and come home with no idea how much we just spent. It's dangerous, Black Friday, and I can see how it gets people in trouble!
We headed over to Mike's dad's house on Friday night to hang out with Grandpa Kevin, Grandma Cynthia, and Aunt Katherine. Zach was especially excited to see Aunt Katherine, home from college for the holiday. We had a great meal and lots of fun hanging out together.
Saturday we decided to do something new- we took the boys bowling. Mike and I recently went bowling for the first time in about 9 years, and that got us to thinking about how much Zach would enjoy it. We were right. We got to the bowling alley when it opened and were the only people there for quite some time.
Mike and I are quite competitive in a lot of things, but bowling is not one of them. I am a terrible bowler. I have moments of greatness, but I am incredibly inconsistent, which is quite frustrating. Here's Mike working en route to a strike, undoubtedly.
The bowling alley has this ramp, which makes it very easy for kids as little as Drew to bowl.
Half of the time Zach used the ramp, and the other half of the time, he threw the ball down the lane. He loved all of it. Drew enjoyed it for about his first 3 or 4 turns, and then decided he'd rather play with his trucks.
I'm not sure what the final scores were, but I think I lost. If I'd had the bumper rails like the boys, I would have had a much higher score. I never could figure out how their balls could crawl down the lane, touch one pin, and knock over 6, and my ball could fly down the lane (ok, so "fly" might be a slight euphemism), touch one pin, and knock over 3. It just didn't make sense to me. I bet those high schoolers who were working there were messing with me, making the pins not fall over somehow or something. Either way, I did not score well. I won't say how low it was, but just know it was low. I was very glad there weren't more people there to witness it.
On our way home from the bowling alley, we decided to stop at Earl May to get some orchid planting stuff. We were only going to look at Christmas trees and buy later, but you know how that goes, especially when there's a four year-old along who is so excited to decorate a tree. It was a gorgeous day, so looking at trees outside was fun, and we picked out a nice Balsam Fir. The nice thing about going that early in the season is that we had our pick of good trees. Zach could hardly wait to decorate it, but we managed to hold him off until Sunday after church, so that the tree had plenty of time to open up.
Here's Zach showing off his new Superman ornament from Grandma Linda and Grandpa Curt.
Drew didn't care too much about decorating the tree. He put one ornament on, but then mostly he wanted to keep taking off ornaments like Thomas and Percy, and he would not let us put his Cookie Monster ornament from last year on the tree. It's still not on there! He did enjoy helping sweep up pine needles, though.
Here's the finished product- I think it looks pretty good. It's just the right size for where we put it. Last year our tree was so full, it kind of got in the way. This one doesn't seem quite as fragrant, but it's still nice. It helps it feel more Christmasy around here, that's for sure!