Saturday, June 30, 2012

bloomington trip success

I spontaneously decided to take a mini-road trip with Troy when I woke up today (as long as he seemed happy upon waking up). He did, so off we went! We visited the Children's Discovery Museum once before, and it has still proved to be one of the best "attractions" in Central IL. It only gets more fun the older Troy gets. And considering how fabulous he was in the car today, we may have to visit more frequently!

the whole train area kept Troy busy for awhile

I let him paint this time. If its not messy, its not fun, right?
He thought this compost bin tunnel was a slide and said "wheee" as he scooted down the chute
Yep, we hit the water table AND the paint area!
We may have to accept the train table offered to us by a friend after seeing how much he loved this one!
We walked past this wall mural after grabbing lunch and Troy played in front of it for a few.
After leaving the children's museum, we swung by the splash area at Miller Park to see if it was all turned on...and it was! (I'm actually starting to learn my way around Bloomington-Normal and finding all the fun spots!) Troy had fun out there for awhile and found lots of other kids to play with while keeping cool :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

meal planning update

I'm excited for this (extremely long and maybe not that exciting to you) blog post. I've been planning to write this blog post to share my "success" for nearly a month. But I thought I'd wait until I was truly "successful" to post it. And it is!

In May, I embarked on taking my meal planning to a whole new level. Before, my habit was to choose 3-4 dinners to cook throughout the week, and grocery shop for those items as well as anything else we might need. I figured that I'd wing it the other nights or use up leftovers.

Flash forward to the new system- a google calendar (yep, that's me) that has a plan for dinner seven days a week. You'll see when I include the meals below I'm not making gourmet meals every night (but I am some nights!) Some nights we eat out or have plans with friends/family, so I don't include those in the list below.

I also have found it extremely helpful to plan a week in advance- Sundays tend to be a good meal planning day for me, but if I meal plan on Sundays, then when do I do my grocery shopping for the week? Problem solved. Plan dinners a week ahead! That way, I can grocery shop anytime Saturday or Sunday, regardless if I've had the time to "plan". And should something come up (because face it, it does), I have a week buffer to get my meal planning done which is more than enough time. (Ahhhh! Still so excited this plan is working so well!)

So what kind of impact has this had on our family? Several different things :) 1) I LOVE meal planning! I get so excited to sit down and do it. 2) Grocery shopping is a breeze now. 3) I've pretty much eliminated the age old question of "what's for dinner tonight", thus curbing spontaneous trips to the grocery store, or worse, out to a restaurant for convenience. 4) We're saving money.

Because I like numbers (and I've had a couple people ask), I'll be glad to share on that one. Over the last two months, between meal planning, and increased trips to Aldi, I have effectively slashed our grocery bill by $80-$100 below our "old" monthly average. No coupon increase really, just solid planning. This adds up to a lot over the course of the year. We've also reduced our restaurant spending, but that could also be due in part to the fact that Mike and I haven't had a legit date in something like three months. (Are we on vacation yet?!)

I can't emphasize these two points enough. Meal planning has made my life EASIER not harder. Its enjoyable and doesn't take a lot of time at all. And we are eating GOOD food; food that tastes good and is feeding all of our bodies well (for the most part). If you want to talk about meal planning and how you can start, let me know!

And now for some weekly calendars, with links (where applicable) to the recipes on pinterest :) Many of the others are Cunningham family favs!

Week 1 (5 days planned)
Chicken and black bean casserole
Hoisin salmon with quinoa
Burgers and fries

Week 2 (6 days planned)
Frozen pizza
Pulled pork sandwiches with broccoli mashed potatoes (those were delish!)
Breakfast for dinner
Greek chicken with steamed zucchini and squash
Steak with vegetable brown rice
Pizza (again)

Week 3 (6 days planned, plus a lunch bonus!)
Easy chicken lo mein
Penne with zucchini (I added tyson cooked grilled chicken strips to this meal)
Hot dogs and fries
Tex mex chicken salad
Homemade one-pot mac and cheese

Week 4 (5 days planned)
taco chili and peanut butter cup cheesecake
chicken in basil cream sauce
steak, mashed potatoes and sweet corn

18 month check up and list of words

We had Troy's 18 month checkup today. He cried off and on until the doc came in, and once Dr T came in, he did great and she had him laughing even. (His favorite thing she offered to him was the plastic cup and popsicle stick drum set.) His diaper rash is looking great; she said that battling a diaper rash this time of year is always difficult but his is healing up just great.

He weighed in at 30 lbs 14 oz and measured 33 1/2 inches. He jumped up to the 94th percentile for weight... I knew he was getting bigger and bigger! And stuck right around 80th percentile for height. She was very impressed with his vocabulary and asked me how many words he says. I told her I had no idea but it was a lot, at least 20. I'm super proud of my little guy and would love to document where he's at developmentally with a list of all the words (I can think of!) that he uses consistently (he repeats words well, and is starting to catch some names, but not consistently that I would consider them in his "vocabulary"). It is getting SO much easier to understand what he is saying, and tantrums have dropped off considerably as a result. Hooray!

List of words, in no particular order:

  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Bear
  • hi
  • bye
  • more
  • please
  • thank you
  • all done
  • ouch
  • uh oh
  • truck
  • tractor
  • car
  • cow
  • dog
  • two and three (if you start with one)
  • "Melmo" (Elmo)
  • juice
  • milk
  • snack
  • cracker
  • strawberry
  • cheese
  • cookie
  • slide
  • whee
  • no
  • yes (finally! this has been a huge breakthrough in understanding him!)
  • choo choo or train
  • beep
  • baby
  • Jesus
  • church
  • potty
  • peekaboo
  • ball
  • chicken
  • duck
  • goose
  • moo
  • baa
  • woof
  • quack
  • rarr
  • bawk (chicken noise)

No shirt, no shoes, no problem

Who needs to wear a shirt when you're this guy?!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

visit from family: gramma and emily

My mom brought my cousin Emily down for a visit today. We decided to "beat the heat" and head to the pool this afternoon. Troy had a blast on the water slide (as usual), learned how to jump in the pool from a standing position and tolerated the lazy river in Gramma's lap :) Here's a photo to capture the moment.
Troy enjoyed having someone new to "read to" after our time at the pool

After Troy turned in for the night, Emily and I headed over to the U of I campus for some cosmic bowling. But first we had to take a quick stop at the Alma Mater... I've already pegged her to be a Fighting Illini in 2022!

dinner "with" daddy

Earlier this week, Troy got to FaceTime with Mike during dinner :) He was so happy to see Daddy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


My hubby is coming home with a little more ink. Can't wait to see it! (and I'm trying to get him to write up the story behind it). He's been talking about getting this since I met him!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

pool tuesdays continue

I absolutely love our "regular" pool time on Tuesdays around 3:30. Seriously, people, there is NO ONE there at this time and its amazing. We went today and even though it was 85 degrees and sunny it was the most empty I've ever seen it. Troy loved being able to do the slide over and over and over with no one in his way and it made watching him much easier too! I even got the chance to snap a few photos since things were so chill today. Enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

these shoes were made for walking

Troy got a new pair of shoes tonight. After we bought them, we went over to the park to break them in. Considering he did more running than I've ever seen him do in a trip to the park, I think they got the Troy Cunningham seal of approval :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Troy's intro to the Olympic Trials

The Olympic Trials are a big deal around our home for many reasons... tonight Troy got in on a little of the action by watching one of Daddy's friends win a race and secure his ticket to the Olympics this summer. I wish we could have seen Daddy walking across the TV screen or something but we'll have to settle for watching the guys that are competing get all the camera time :)
zoned in :) Go Justin, go!

checking out the taste

After naptime today, Troy and I headed over to the Taste of C-U to check things out. I always really enjoy the Taste. Its one of the (many) events that reminds me what a great town we live in. Gorgeous park. Live music. Great food. Kids running around with faces painted, balloons in tow. Its like what you see in movies.

Rewind two years to the Taste (the last time I went) and I felt Troy move for the first time (after having some delicious Coldstone ice's first sugar rush!). Rewind five (gasp!) years and I remember sitting outside the YMCA tent talking to my new boyfriend who was away on a business trip (you know who that is!) Long story short, the Taste is tons of fun and I have lots of great memories there.

Knowing they had plenty of bounce houses just for little kids, I thought I'd let Troy try one out after last month's disappointment in not getting in one. After less than a minute in there, he decided he wanted out and it just wasn't as fun inside as it looks from the outside. Maybe next year buddy :) We did get to enjoy some delicious thai food and the Brat Pack 80s cover band was playing. It was a nice way to spend a summer afternoon!
nothing like some pad thai from the comfort of one's stroller :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

trip to Amish country

After telling Beema about last month's trip to Amish country, we decided to head on down the road to check it out today. It was a beautiful morning for a drive and the weather was great early on for walking around. There was even a big festival going on to celebrate this group called the Walldogs visiting Arcola for the weekend to paint something like 20 murals around town so there was lots of excitement around.
Glad to catch this sweet moment on camera :)
After wandering around Arcola, we headed to Rockome Gardens to check out the trains and grab a delicious lunch. 
This train is up and running now! A fun thing for a one year old boy to watch :) And a couple of adults too!
Horse and buggy riding through the park
Troy's first ice cream cone at lunch. He thought licking it was hilarious and was laughing the whole way through :)

another iPad fan is born

a two minute tutorial and Beema was swiping away!

neighborhood playdate

Troy had the chance to get together to play with not one but two neighborhood boys this weekend! We had never met Teddy before but it was fun to meet a new neighbor and see him, Troy and Liam all playing together. Not only did they entertain each other, but they entertained all of us too! Thanks, Su, Liam and Clara for having us over to play!

At one point, they were all on riding toys. But Liam and Troy decided to share one anyways :)
Beema gets a few moments with brand new baby Clara
Afterwards, I drove the car down to the house and Beema and Troy walked home. It looks like Beema is chasing after Troy in this photo! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

dining out

Troy and I were excited to welcome "Beema" (my grandma) for a visit today. We went out for dinner after Beema arrived and she snapped a few great pictures of me and my handsome little dude once we had finished our meal :) Looking forward to more fun in the days to come, Beema!

landscaping: before and after

We try to plan for one "big" home project each year. (You'll recall last year's paint project...a major upgrade!) Well, this year was an exciting one for us! We had some landscaping done in the front of our house. And it looks completely different (SO much better!) now! I love how it turned out. Check it out.

the token "before" picture
and grow, plants, grow!

my favorite little corner, these will be SO pretty and colorful when blooming!
You may be wondering what the name of the nursery was that did it for us. We went with Schuren nursery in St Joe. They were very affordable and came recommended to us by some neighbors. However, they will not be making the famous Cunningham recommendation list. While great at landscaping, they were NOT great at communicating, which unfortunately for them is my specialty, so it really bothers me when its lacking :/ Nonetheless, we're very happy with our landscaping and I'm glad to see it through completion!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"wait, mean I'm NOT going to Hawaii?!?!?"

I saw this lei laying around kids church this morning and just had to put it on Troy :) Practically counting down the days now...time to get excited!

Father's Day weekend

Troy already so looks up to Daddy!
With Daddy at home this weekend, and temperatures soaring outside, we had another weekend filled with playtime in the yard. Man, do I love that we have a fenced in backyard, with enough room for things like a pool and a slide to fit! Here's a few shots from our yard this weekend.
new octopus sprinkler from granny provides lots of water-time fun!
I thought this shot of Bear in the background was pretty awesome, haha

Friday, June 15, 2012

Troy learns his name


Summer rocks. That is all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

trip to the airport

The original plan was that Mike would be returning home long after Troy's bedtime tonight. Needless to say, Troy and I were both excited when we found out he'd gotten a spot on an earlier flight! This gave us the perfect opportunity to go watch the plane land and greet Daddy at the airport together :)

This ain't O'Hare airport folks. You park your car right in front and can walk right up to the fence to watch the plane come in. Just when Troy was starting to get bored, the plane appeared! He ran along the fence as it pulled up, trying to get closer. And of course he said his favorite word these days, "WOW" over and over :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

double-y fun wednesday

We had not one but two fun things to enjoy after Troy's nap this afternoon/evening! We made (another) trip to Prairie Farm in Champaign, our new favorite place in C-U, because as I explained to Mike, "chasing goats (and donkeys...and mini horses) is always fun!"

Then after dinner tonight, we headed to our first (of many, I hope!) neighborhood concert in the park. Troy thought just sitting on a blanket on the grass was fun. Then the music started playing. Then we added popcorn into the mix. It just kept getting better and better! He was being super sweet (maybe attributed to the fact that it was practically bedtime and he was being snuggly) and doing lots of people-watching the whole time!

I've got the cutest kid in all of Urbana!
Troy isn't really much of a dancer, I've noticed. He's a big clapper. And aside from that, he swings his arms and maybe bobs his head. For a glimpse of the authentic, Troy Cunningham head-bob (and the epitome of cool) check out the video below.

Javonda's wedding

This past weekend, Mike and I got to attend the wedding of my former office roomie from the American Cancer Society, Javonda! Back when I first met her, I remember her talking about having a full blown orange and blue, Illini-themed wedding if and when she and her boyfriend Trent ever married :) And that's exactly what they did this past weekend! This was the first wedding I attended at the relatively new venue at Memorial Stadium and I have to say, it was pretty awesome! (Especially for a couple that talked about an Illini wedding years before getting engaged!) 

When we arrived, we grabbed a drink and sat outside to watch the bridal party take pictures and play football on the field. 

Later on after dinner, all the ACS gals gathered together for a photo op. I don't see these lovely ladies too often (aside from Alicia!) so it was a nice opportunity to catch up with what everyone is up to these days :) Weddings, babies, moves and more!

Congratulations, Javonda and Trent! Best wishes for many, many wonderful years!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

18 months old...half birthday!

Happy half-birthday Troy! Now officially "one and a half", you're toddling your way to the big TWO!   Let's get some new updates on you to be forever logged in the blog world :)

Eating: Nothing really new and exciting here. I think he's eating a little less than he was before, but he's still eating a great variety of foods. Three meals, two snacks (at least). He's also teething (two bottom molars, yuck) so that may have something to do with not wanting to eat as much. He loves veggies (cucumbers and zucchini are big hits) and fruit too. Not such a fan of pasta, though he tried ramen noodles for the first time (as part of a stir fry dish) and really enjoyed those. Troy, you won't eat ravioli or any yummy good-for-you whole wheat pasta, but ramen got the Troy Cunningham seal of approval :)

Sleeping: We took our crib down this week! We were using it as a toddler bed for the last month or so but one night this week, Troy woke up in a frenzy and his arm was stuck in one of the slats. It was very scary for all, but mostly for him. So we figured we'd take it down and just do the mattress on the floor thing for awhile. It works great for us, and who even knew we had basically made Troy a montessori bed? We just are doing what works. He's had a few days getting up VERY early lately (5am), but we installed a light blocking shade in his room a few days ago and he's been sleeping a little later since then. I also had been putting him to bed a bit early :/

New words: Lots of animal names! I've just started working on some colors but need to step that up a little bit. We've just been reading for fun a lot lately, and not doing as much "what is this, Troy?" kind of reading.

Potty news (a new regular update!): We got Troy a potty awhile back. The last few weeks he's shown an interest in it and has been open to sitting on it and we've actually had quite a few successes! The more focused I am on it (i.e. a four day weekend i had over memorial day), the better he seems to do. It'll take awhile, I'm sure, but I'm excited to save just a few diapers as we move forward in this :)

Other: Hm let's see. Troy has been battling a diaper rash all month. I've tried so many different things (including a trip to the pedi) and it will improve, and then get all red again. Poor guy, I really feel for him. It was especially bad after we went swimming a couple weeks ago, so I'm praying we can clear this up quickly so we can get back to the pool for some summertime fun! We're probably going to call the doctor again this week for advice on what to do.

Well not wanting to end on the topic of diaper rash, I'll just say, LOVE YOU TROY! You are one very-loved little boy, not just by your daddy and me, but so many family and friends too. We are so very blessed!

practical toy

If there is one chore that I actually do "love", its got to be cleaning the floors. Whether its my shark vac n steam for the kitchen/bathroom floors or the bissel pet vac for all the carpets, I really, really love clean floors. Troy really love watching Mike or I while we're vacuuming, too.

When we were garage sale-ing this past week, Troy spotted this toy and I was glad to pick it up for him. He has been playing with it a ton. Check out this video. My boy knows just what to do with a vacuum!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Smooth ride

Check out this garage sale find from yesterday. Easily worth the $3 I paid for it!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

trip #2 to the farm

Mike was home this afternoon, so Troy and I decided to introduce him to the farm that we visited for the first time just two short days ago :) I love when our "field trips" include Daddy!
the goat was nibbling Troy's shoe
Troy would have been happy just watching the fish from the bridge. I was thankful for the chicken wire on the bridge so he couldn't just hop in!
As Mike said, "this always works out well on TV".