The Gill Family Webpage

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

What a wonderful life, indeed! Our Christmas was everything it should be: full of wonderment and happiness!

On Christmas Eve we went to the Opryland Hotel to see the lights and Santa. Zoe did pretty well with good ol' St. Nick - even told him "hiiii!" - but she didn't want to sit on his lap. So she sat on Momma's lap and flashed a great big grin (or grimace, depending on your perspective) for the camera. Zoe then rode the train with Grandma and I thought she was going to explode with excitement!!

Afterwards we had dinner and can you believe that Zoe actually ate some calamari!? Yes, my daughter ate fried squid! She had nothing for her beef raviolis though. Oh well, can't get a girl to everything! She did take a nap while the adults finished our dinner with some decadent desserts. Since she only took a 15 minute afternoon nap, the unanticipated dinnertime nap was welcome by a tired Mommy and Daddy!

We ended our evening with a walk around the hotel to look at the beautiful lights. I just love those huge poinsettias in front of the hotel! We then rushed home so as not to miss Santa!

I guess Zoe was an extra good girl this year judging by the sheer volume of presents under the tree! She loved opening her presents. She would take a present, start to open it, then say "hep!", and one of us would then "help" her open the present by tearing a corner. Zoe took care of the rest!

I think her favorite toy this year was her new baby doll, although the play food, and the banana in particular, got a pretty good response!

We had some friends over for a Christmas dinner of smoked meat (started at 5 am), sweet potato casserole, roasted green beans, and so much more good food that I'm getting full thinking of it all! Zoe shared her new toys with another little girl and all was good.

The night ended with a reading of one of Zoe's new books - "Goodnight Tennessee".

Goodnight Tennessee.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas traditions, continued

Since 1968, our family has been lucky enough to receive a personal visit from Santa every Christmas. I remember being a kid at my Grandma and Papa's on Christmas Eve. My cousins and I would all sit around and wait for Santa...singing a carol would make Santa arrive even sooner so we'd sing our hearts out! Unfortunately, my Dad was never around to see Santa. I don't know why, but he always seemed to be out getting extra batteries or something. Poor guy, he missed Santa's visit this year too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas traditions

Christmas traditions are rampant this month! Everett and I are still making our own, borrowing from each of our pasts. We decorated the tree while listening to polka music. That isn't a new tradition (although Everett can dance a mean polka!), but was something we used to do in my family. You know, decorate the tree, listen to polka music, and dance around the living room like fools. Good family times.

Zoe loves the tree ("treeeeeeeeeeee")! I'm trying to teach her to look and not touch. Hmmm, can you see how well this lesson has taken?

One of the Christmas traditions that we've made is to get ornaments from all our travels to adorn our tree. This is not an original tradition by any means, but it's very personal. We look at the individual ornaments - be it the tanned Santa from St Thomas, the shiny red die from Las Vegas, or the yearly family ornament - we like looking at the ornaments and reminiscing about travels and events past.

Finally, what Christmas wouldn't be complete without a gander of the tree from beneath.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All my children

That's right. I have 2 kids. One I gave birth to, and the other I married. Here's a picture of Zoe in the Mickey ("mic mic") Mobile last weekend at Toys R Us*. And there's Everett in the background trying to win "Christmas Homer" out of the claw machine...which he did win! What a guy!

* By the way, I think Toys R Us is my new least favorite store ever! Too many people in too many very small aisles. I think I'd rather ride the tiny train again!

Bath time!

Zoe still loves her bath for the most part. She really likes "bu bulls", or "bubbles" in adultese.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lessons taught

I'm having fun teaching Zoe all sorts of things from brushing her teeth to our current lesson of pulling her pants up or down in anticipation of Potty Training with a capital P and T.

Auntie Tara likes it when I post videos, so even though I've already told you about Zoe's newest trick of knowing what sound Santa makes, here's a video of Zoe in action displaying her newfound knowledge:

Now, Everett teaches Zoe things too. Different things. Like remember when I had the goal of teaching the pre-Zoe Zuzu the ABCs? Everett tried to teach Zuzu how to count through my belly. Although that party trick didn't work out, this newest one is sure to get Zoe the label of "geek" before her time:

That's right - while I teach Zoe about Santa Claus, Everett teaches Zoe geometry. Yes, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Choo choo!

Every day Zoe lets me know that she knows more and more. The other day I learned that Zoe knows that Thomas the Train, and trains in general, say "Choo Choo!" Today I found out that cars go "Beep! Beep!"

Last weekend we braved the mall to do some shopping. We were thinking of visiting Santa, but the long line deterred us. And then Zoe spotted the "choo! choo!" and we really only had one destination!

She loved going around and around and around in the stuffy, small, claustrophobic train car. Mommy didn't mind either. At all. Breathe, Mommy, breathe. The only thing that made the Lilliputian compartment bearable was the fact that Zoe was transfixed by the experience and kept saying, "ho, ho ho", "ho, ho ho", "ho, ho, ho" very sweetly and very absentmindedly. Just melts your heart!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

You know you're a redneck when... are in love with your husband who shot you down some mistletoe from a tree top and then you decorated it with a red bow!

But seriously, how much do you know about this kissing plant? For instance, did you know that it is a parasite that attaches itself to a tree branch or shrub? Or that it's a poisonous plant from the Scientific order Santalales that could lead to diarrhea if ingested? Or that the etymology of the word "mistletoe" may be derived from the German word mist for dung and tang for branch?

Mmmmm, nothing says, "Give me a kissy kissy!" like standing underneath a poopy-inducing dung-branch!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jingle Bells

Christmas preparation is in full swing in the ol' Gill Household. It began with teaching Zoe "What does Santa say?" At first he said, "ROAR!" like most things, but Zoe has learned that he actually says "ho ho ho!" I've been trying to capture that on video ("way-yo" in Zoe-speak), but Zoe remains more interested in looking through the camera than on being on the other side. Such is life.

We have put up our tree, but that is a story for another time (here's a preview: it includes polka music!!), but today I want to recount our morning drive to you.

Let me start by saying that I love Christmas music! It made my day yesterday when I found the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time-except-when-we-play-commercials-which-is-quite-often station (Mix 92.9 for those in and around Davidson County). I love singing the songs to Zoe, and have been doing so since the times when she was known as Zuzu. And Zoe loves my singing! I don't know why, but it really calms her down when she's freaking out. It may be called a gift, but it can also be a curse. And here's why:

I have to sing Jingle Bells. A lot. And if I don't, the wrath of Zoe is unleashed. Although the following transcipt really doesn't do the exchange justice, here's an excerpt from our morning commute:

Mom: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!

Zoe: More cheese. (Translation: More, please.)

Mom: How about this one, Zoe? Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very...

Zoe: No!

Mom: Okay, how about: Away in a manger, no room...

Zoe: No! More cheese!

Mom: How about the radio?

(Radio is turned on, volume is slowing increasing...)

Zoe: No! More cheese! More cheese! (This time it's said with more determination and hand gestures.)

Mom: You want Jingle Bells?

Zoe: Ya! More cheese!

Mom: Okay, okay. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!

After about a thousand renditions, Mommy is ready to dash through the roof of her no-horse closed-top car!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Of turkeys and donkeys

Among other things, Thanksgiving week entailed:

- A 540 mile drive to Lake City from Nashville to see Grandma Gill.
- A 190 mile drive to Poinciana from Lake City to see Grandma, Papa, and Auntie Tara.
- A 202 mile drive to Live Oak from Poinciana to see Granny, Granddaddy, Great Grandmother Gill, and a whole mess of aunts, uncles, and cousins.
- And finally, a 523 mile drive back to Nashville from Live Oak to get back home.

Despite our single-handedly supporting the gas industry (we saw gas for only $1.57/gal in one place!), we had a blast! Zoe had so much fun seeing all her extended family. We started the trip at Grandma Gill's where Zoe enjoyed playing with Lila The Dog and all of Grandma's garden creatures. We spent a whole afternoon playing with the plastic frogs, squirrels, ducks, and turtles that adorn the garden area. In fact, we had to take the turtle with us on one trip downtown because Zoe just wanted to give it so much love!

We next drove to see Grandma, Papa, and Tara. We also saw Zoe's 2 honorary aunties, Liz and Janet. And of course there was Sadie The Dog for Zoe to get worked up over! Sadie is a barker - or rather a yapper. A harmless yapper, but she is quite loud. Zoe didn't care though - she laughed along with the yaps! And despite living in an "active retirement community", there is a great big playground where Grandma and Papa live. She loved playing there! In particular, Zoe liked the slide the best! She would slide on down and then walk around to the ladder to climb up and start all over again. "More please" (which really sounded something like "more cheese") she would say as she ran over the to the ladder once again.

Finally, it was time for our last leg of the trip: Granny and Granddaddy's for Thanksgiving day. Zoe had the most fun playing with her cousins there! Granny once again put out a spread that would make your pants' elastic pop just looking at it. And she made me my favorite Gill Family recipe: a deliciously sinful sweet potato casserole. Mmmmm. That and the turnip greens I think were my favorite foods.

Zoe also got to feed the donkeys - or "donk donks" - carrots and apples. She loved it! I thought maybe she would be scared, but not my child! She couldn't get enough of the donk donks and the cows! Yes, there were cows - 4 of them - that moo'd almost as much as Zoe did! Zoe is into making animal sounds now and she's really good at impersonating good ol' Bessie. There was also a pony, but we stayed away from him as he has a tendency to kick.

When we made it back home, we were a little heavier but also happier after being with our loved ones. We are so lucky - and thus so thankful - to have such wonderful family!