Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Out of all the things I've tried to replace buying from the store and making myself, broth-making is my fav. About once a month, I simmer chicken bones and such on the stove all evening. Tonight was that night...thankful for another stockpile of rich broth, and no need for buying the cans!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch Visit

With warmer temps today, we decided to take another outdoor adventure and visit Hardy's Reindeer Ranch! Troy and I visited once last year and with passing up their educational "reindeer tour", this is a free activity! It was fun to check it out again; there seemed to be many more reindeer this year as opposed to last, but that could just be my memory failing me!

Mike said this would be the only tree he'd be chopping down had we participated in the "chop down your own Christmas tree activity" at the ranch.

Granny, Steve and Troy all bundled up in front of a relaxed reindeer.

Cunninghams :)

We made a visit to the store afterwards and I just had to sit Troy on this reindeer again to compare to last year's photo. Once again, he was in awe of the train driving right in front of him; he has nearly the same look on his face. How many years do you think I'll be able to get him to sit on a big stuffed reindeer at the ranch?!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Parade of Lights

Tonight we broke away from football games to watch the Parade of Lights in downtown Champaign. Fact: its winter and quite cold. We were (mostly) all bundled up and able to enjoy the parade. Tips for next year: skip the tree lighting all together, make it there for the beginning and watch from a side street again (like we did this year!). I saw the main streets and they were MUCH more crowded than our little stretch :)

Not many good photos from this event, but we do have a video. What was Troy's favorite part of the parade? The drums, of course! And this marching band had all their instruments lit up as a bonus! (I personally thought the coolest part of the parade was the Garcia's float that had a hot air balloon basket with the fire jets shooting out the top.)

Hopefully we can make this parade an annual tradition!

College Football Saturday: Extreme Edition

It wasn't until about an hour before Granny and Steve arrived yesterday, that Mike looked at me and said, "Amy, Jeannie and Steve are going to be here...TOMORROW." To which I replied, "They'll be here today!" And then I realized what he was saying. The biggest rivalry of the year, Alabama vs Auburn. And we would witness it firsthand.

Thus began College Football Saturday: Extreme Edition.

It was a good thing we chose first thing in the morning to set up the Christmas tree because as soon as the first game kicked off at 11, our house was sucked into football for the day!

Troy and Granny kept busy while the tree was put together. In Troy's words, "It's coming!"
Yay! Christmas tree is all set up!

Let the games begin! Snacks on the couch in front of the Michigan/Ohio State game.

Things started out nice enough before THE game kicked off. Bear looks worried though...

...and then things got downright crazy as Alabama trampled Auburn. Granny went crazy and poor Steve sat back on the couch :(

<<<scroll down to comments to read what will inevitably be some comment from Uncle Brian that includes the phrase "War Eagle!">>>

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dancing for Granny

Upon returning from Thanksgiving in Chicago, we welcomed Granny and Steve for the weekend! What a nice surprise for Troy upon waking up from his nap :) He was definitely hamming it up for them tonight, dancing to his favorite video on YouTube right now!

Thanksgiving 2012

Turkey, at last!
All day long, Troy would go check on the turkey with Gramma to see how it was cooking. I don't know what he expected, but it certainly was worth the interest throughout the day for him!

He was also thrilled to get his wagon out and go to the park...seriously, Thanksgiving in Chicago and they were playing at the park!? That last warm weather streak was definitely enjoyed :)

He ate dinner like such a big guy; he continues to amaze me with how well he eats!!

And we certainly couldn't forget dessert...he was happy to share some of Gramma's pie. It was a really nice Thanksgiving day and night spent with family :) Thanks so much for cooking, Gramma! We certainly have much to be thankful for this year!

Thanksgiving Food Boxes

This summer and fall, I've had the pleasure of regularly serving dinners to the folks living at Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign (shout out to my former small groupies for the first time we did this on a regular basis!)

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Wednesday night dinner crew has teamed up with our food pantry at the Vineyard to serve dinners in conjunction with food box (and in December, gifts too) distribution. I love this! It gives us even more time together and bless these families with a meal.

Troy was my very happy helper, as he loved pulling the large garbage can around on its wheels as we cleaned up. He even listened when we told him to stop and took his job very seriously :)

We also had some worship led by the lovely Susan after dinner and before the food box distribution. Many of the kids that were there were so sweet, listening to her sing from the area right in front of the stage. Check out the photo below and you'll see Troy in the red shirt. It was only a matter of time before some of them started crawling up there to get a little bit closer, but this was awfully nice while it lasted :) Can't wait to do it again for Christmas in a few weeks... let me know if you want to come join us!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Illini Volleyball: 2012

Troy went to his second volleyball game tonight. (Fact: we kinda like sports in our family.) While we went with some neighbors last year (who has since moved away), tonight we went with the new volleyball person hired on at Mike's company and her fiancee. It was my first time meeting them and we really enjoyed hanging out. Troy's rundown after the volleyball game? "Fun! Fun! Drums..see ya!" I always feel glad when we do something that gets the Troy "fun" stamp at the end :)

"animal truck"

This is the activity of the week (maybe month??). Playing with little people and animals. He loves to stack them onto things with wheels and give them a ride. Currently I'm looking at a fire truck with a person and a reindeer sitting up front driving, with a whole crew of animals in the back. He's always so proud when he gets them all loaded up, like he did with this truck yesterday. It keeps him busy for SO long, and I love to hear him talk to the people and the animals while he plays!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

destination: urbana

We didn't take many photos on the drive home. We drove from 7am-7:30pm. It went remarkably well (again) though. My original plan was to take a photo at each of our stops along the way- we stopped near every big city: Birmingham, Nashville, Louisville, and Indy. Some stops were really quick and others like lunch involved time in the McDonalds PlayPlace.

We also selected a song as a theme to the road trip. After listening to hours upon hours of country music (because what else do you listen to in Alabama?!?) we picked this one. Thanks Craig Morgan, for the memories! (I especially like the line about "yeehaw and ya'll come back again". I had two spontaneous "ya'll"s this weekend. It just happens!)

1st self portrait

Ellen, I think August does a much better job with his self portraits than Troy does! haha


Someone was supposed to be laying down to sleep in the hotel...and neither mike nor I could resist playing along with this game!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Troy at Troy

I've always looked forward to Troy's first trip to Troy...this weekend has been amazing! (Revisit this blog post from Mike about why Troy is named Troy here.) Troy has been a dream on this trip and all three of us have had a truly enjoyable time! We were able to stay and enjoy the entire basketball game last night (first night in the new Trojan Arena...and a win!) and the football game today too (another huge Trojan win!) Plus plenty of other enjoyable excursions in between :) I'm so thankful we were able to come down here so when Troy is older we can tell him all about his first trip... to Troy! (Warning: this post contains many pictures!)

Trojan Arena...the brand new basketball arena! We were there for the inaugural game...and a huge win at that! 
Quick visit to the football field to run around...
Off to 2pm track practice. He chased some of the athletes as they warmed up with a lap around the track!
Yay! We found Gill hurdles!

Opening night at Trojan Arena!

He just loves basketball! 
Mike, Troy and Coach Bob Lambert. The head track coach when Mike was at Troy, and a pretty fantastic guy who had a great influence on my husband during his time here :)
Today we walked around campus and tried to find Mike's brick....success!!
Showing it off to Troy!

love this
I let Mike tackle this one, lol

Football game! Trojans win!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Olive Garden with friends

When I found out our friends Alyssa and Nate were moving to Bowling Green this fall, I was very excited... that's our halfway point to Troy! We got to visit them in their new town and enjoyed dinner at Olive Garden. Troy ate so much salad he should have had his own giant bowl :) Thanks for the great company, guys!

Destination: Troy

Mission: 12 hr road trip to TROY Alabama

I thought it would be fun to take a photo every hour on our way down you'll see, this is one happy kid. Whatever I dreamed up as "best case scenario" for Troy on the way down here... well he pretty much knocked this trip outta the park!!

Leaving Urbana..."we're going WHERE!?"
Hour 1
Hour 2...looks a lot like Hour 1
Hour 3...snack time!
Hour 4... driver switch! 
Hour 5...almost time to stop for the night!
Hour 6 (the next day)... still waking up 
Hour 7...busting out a new puzzle toy to keep busy
Hour 8...Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful 
Hour 9...revisiting old baby toys. He immediately recognized this from the book! 
Hour 10...time to "color". He said that he was drawing trees and boats.
Hour 11. Lunch time and getting sleepy. Never fell asleep though.
Hour 12... pulling into Troy and so excited!