Friday, November 29, 2013


Cassidy is starting to remind me of Troy as a baby a little bit. While not identical, you can definitely tell they're sibs now :) See if you can tell!

Deck the Halls

Its the day after Thanksgiving which means... time to decorate for Christmas! Troy and I were both VERY excited :) First thing this morning when we unpacked the tree, I had to tend to Cassidy for a minute and turned around when I heard Troy say, "Mommy, its SO pretty!" He had stuck the top of our tree into the base and was ready to call it quits. A perfectly Troy-sized tree!

We did it in stages today. Ornaments waited until after naptime, so I could have plenty of time to work on the lights and fluff the tree. Troy was a great help with all the ornaments and has his own little cluster of his favorites on one side :)

Now, Mike and I are enjoying a few quiet moments downstairs by the light of the tree, while both kids snooze upstairs. Even if it only lasts a few more moments, I'm soaking it in! I love the Christmas season!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Busting out of the "norm" our family had an early Thanksgiving this past weekend while we were in for a visit. Mike was out of town standing up in a wedding, but Troy, Cass and I enjoyed turkey and more with the Chicago gang. Then, when Mike got home, we kicked off five days of Cunningham stay-cation. So far, its been glorious!

My morning began with some early morning snuggles with this little turkey :)

Later on, Troy and I had some one-on-one crafting time while Daddy and Cass took a nap on the couch. He made this turkey with a little bit of help from me. We practiced cutting and gluing, two of his favorite things.

Here they are watching the parade together and snuggling.

Dinner's ready! Roasted chicken with traditional Thanksgiving sides.

They say the days go by slow but the years fly by fast. I know I'll look back fondly on the year I ate Thanksgiving dinner as I nursed a baby and watched a toddler zooming by. So much to be thankful for!!

Cassidy rolls over!

First, smiles at two weeks and now rolling over at five?! This girl is going places :) Check out her new skills below.

Its also worth mentioning she had another "first" this week. Cassidy slept all night on Tuesday (10-6:15) and again last night (10-5). Who knows if it'll be here to stay but I sure appreciate the trend and pray it continues!

Restoration Dinner and Thanksgiving Food Boxes

Now an annual tradition for us, we had a dinner planned to go along with our church's food box distribution at Restoration Urban Ministries. I coordinate the dinner part of the outreach and have the help of many, many people to make it happen. Our great food pantry director coordinates the rest of the evening and she asked me if we could once again do a dinner after last year's success!

On Monday, I was definitely feeling a bit like super mom. I did my first drive back from Chicago by myself with both kids. Got everything unloaded in the house and unpacked too! They took simultaneous afternoon naps for a couple hours!

And then they kept sleeping... and sleeping... and I had to wake both of them up so we could get ready for the evening's plans. Neither one enjoyed this interruption :/ Troy was supposed to go to a friend's house to play so I'd only have to juggle dinner and Cassidy instead of dinner plus both kids. He had a meltdown when I told him I would be dropping him off though, and I couldn't risk driving all the way out to Mahomet just to end up bringing him along anyways when he didn't want to be left :/ So I nervously packed both of them up and prayed for the best.

The night was a great reminder of why I shouldn't worry about these things. And also a great reminder that I don't have to do it all on my own. From the time we pulled up at the church to pick up food, we were swarmed with eager teens ready to help out that night and load and unload that night's dinner. Then there were an abundance of volunteers willing to work the food line at Restoration as we served dinner.

Since all my areas of responsibility were covered, I ended up with the pleasure of having dinner with a young family new to Restoration. It was a great experience and a nice example of how a night may not look exactly like I planned, but it ends up even better than I imagined!

A big prayer circle to kick off dinner and the evening's events.

Dinner is served!

My little munchkins "helping" by listening to me (Troy) and chilling in her stroller calmly. (Cassidy)

Worship time with a packed house!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chicago fun

Troy's past weekend wasn't too shabby either! There were many fun things planned for him to do while we were visiting the city. The fun kicked off on Friday when Gramma and Grampa took him on a special date to see the circus. He loved the elephants, of course. I heard Grampa say they danced to Gangham Style... you don't get to see that everyday!

On Saturday morning, we went to Jump Zone, our new favorite Saturday morning spot near my parents' house with Uncle Andy and Auntie Daria. Uncle Andy was a pro at hoisting Troy onto the giant inflatables so he could climb them, bounce and slide down with glee. (Fun fact: our first visit to Jump Zone back in January was the first time I had an inkling I was pregnant with Cassidy. Climbing the giant inflatables and feeling completely exhausted was a tipoff that something was different than normal...I found out i was pregnant the next day!)

We wrapped up the weekend with a visit to my favorite mall, Woodfield. Troy was very into the (pretend but very realistic) alligator and other animals at the rainforest cafe. We stopped by there three different times.

He also had a ton of fun at the lego store. We're still a little ways off from the lego chapter of our lives but this boy is going to LOVE them, I have a feeling.

Troy "made" a build-a-bear for Cassidy for Christmas. He recorded an adorable message for it but weve already accidentally erased it and had to re-record. Hoping that doesnt happen again!

Big cousin Emily chased Troy around the massive play area while I fed Cass and visited with my aunt. A lovely way to spend an afternoon!

Cassidy's Tour de Chicago

Cassidy had her first road trip to the big city this past weekend! While Mike was off in North Carolina standing up in his friend Layne's wedding, we had an early Thanksgiving celebration and the kids and I spent a long weekend with the fam. We were showered with lots of love and attention and everyone was eager to get some snuggles with our sweet girl. Here's a few shots from the weekend! (Many of the same faces are featured here as during Troy's first visit to Chicago nearly three years ago!)

While Troy was off at the circus with Gramma and Grampa, Cassidy and I enjoyed a lunch date with Beema (Cassidy's great grandma). Since she slept all through lunch (thanks Cass!) we retreated to Beema's peaceful condo afterwards so they could get in some snuggles.

Both Gramma and Grampa had lots of opportunities to hang with Cass and Troy while we were staying in their home!

My mom's longtime friend Gayle stopped by on Saturday to hang with Cassidy while I helped Mom get ready for our big family dinner. She did the same thing with Troy when I took him up to Chicago for the first time and there was a big family meal to get ready for!

Aunti Patti (my aunt) got her hands on Cass right as she fell asleep, so she got some of the most peaceful snuggles of the evening.

Next up was poor Aunt Sue, who got Cass as she was waking up and working on a rather large and explosive poop. Sorry, Sue!

Big cousin Emily looked so proud and grown up as she held Cass. A great babysitter in training, this one!

Auntie Daria also got a peaceful napping baby towards the end of the night.

Later in the weekend, Cassidy and I paid a visit to my best friend Nat and her husband Joe at their beautiful new home in the city. These two are also celebrating their second anniversary this week. Happy Anniversary you two!

As we were getting ready for bed our final night, Cassidy began to show off her impressive neck control. I'll have to get a better picture of her doing some tummy time soon. I can't believe how strong she's getting!

This is why I'm thankful...

I recently had the opportunity to write an article for on why I'm thankful this Thanksgiving. I thought it was appropriate to share here too :) 

I'm thankful for my son, while he has had some rough days adjusting to our new rhythm of life, its incredible how much he's able to do as a two year old. A few moments ago I was feeding the baby and he got me a pillow, let out the dog and went back to playing with trucks under his train table. Love him. I'm thankful for his brilliant imagination, as I sit here just listening to the scenario he's worked up in playing right now.

I'm thankful I'm getting to know my daughter. I'm thankful that I learned that right after I feed her she will happily swing for about 20 minutes (usually). Perfect time for me to eat or give my son closer to 100% of my attention than he’s normally getting these days. I've already learned I can't rush her and if she wants to take 60 minutes to eat, I best just let her go and she'll be a happier baby at the end of it versus me rushing her through. So much of her personality is already shining through. I’m thankful she’s here as a part of our family.

I'm thankful for my husband. I'm thankful that even though bedtime was my "thing" since we became parents almost three years ago, now he and our son have their own little routine and I usually hear them laughing together upstairs during that time. I'm thankful that when he comes home he takes the lead with our son and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to handle a toddler potty trip while nursing.

I'm thankful for my mom. I'm thankful that even though she's already spent a week taking care of all of us, she's offered to come back again to help out while my husband is traveling. I'm thankful that she can come into my home and just pick up on routine and it just feels natural. Moms are amazing, particularly mine (not that I’m biased at all).

I'm thankful for meal trains. I'm thankful that I haven't had to worry about what my family is going to eat for the last three weeks (and still going!). I'm thankful that people keep sending me things with vegetables in them so that I don't feel guilty when we’re eating cookies for breakfast.

More importantly, I'm thankful for what the meal train represents. I'm thankful for the community of friends and family who have surrounded us during this transition, making it as easy as possible for us. I'm thankful for the people thinking of us that just drop by with a plate of cookies or text asking if they can pick up my son for a couple hours that day or come hold the baby for a little bit.

I'm thankful for lactation consultants (and La Leche League leaders... and a doula... and friends). Breastfeeding is always hard in the beginning but this has been HARD. I'm thankful that there's a support net around me to help troubleshoot, reassure me and support me in whatever I decide. We are so fortunate to live in a community that has such fabulous resources!

I’m thankful for an amazing church family who jumps at the opportunity to pray our family through our day-to-day hiccups. Whether it’s a failed newborn hearing screening or a particularly stressful day full of toddler meltdowns, they’re always there to encourage me and my family and love on us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Box

Now that we have a nearly three year old (yikes!) who completely and totally understanding the idea of receiving gifts, I wanted to make sure this Christmas we spend plenty of time giving gifts too. Our radio station, WBGL, had been talking about Operation Christmas Child quite a bit and I decided it'd be a good thing for us to try. You get a shoebox sized box and pack it full of goodies for a child somewhere on the other side of the world, in turn sharing Jesus' love with them this Christmas.

We talked about this idea for about a day before we went shopping and Troy took a few moments to get used to the idea of shopping for someone else :) But once he grasped it, he really embraced it! It helped that we were shopping for a boy 2-4 years old. Some of the things we included were matchbox cars, a toy firetruck, stretchy lizards/snakes (a Troy fav!), a basketball sweatshirt, a toothbrush/toothpaste, crayons and a Christmas book. Troy enthusiastically packed the box when we got home from shopping!

Then he said he needed to color a picture to put in there, too. Great idea, Troy!

I was one proud mama when we stopped by Meadowbrook Church to drop off our box and we stopped to pray for the little boy before we handed it over. I asked Troy if he wanted to pray and without pause, he prayed, "Jesus, I pray for the little boy with no toys. We love him. Amen." 

Also a really cool feature is that you can make your $7 donation to cover shipping costs online and print off a label for your box. They'll send you an email telling you where/when your box arrives next month! How awesome is that!?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cassidy is 1 month old!

Cassidy is one month old today! I can't believe how fast this month has flown! But then I think about all she's already been here for and it feels like she's been with us a long time :) And that whole "ten days late" thing is totally a distant memory!

We took her in for her one month check up today. Troy was quite insistent that we were just there for Cassidy to have a checkup and that it wasn't his turn until after he was three years old :) We just saw the nurse practitioner today since we couldn't get in with our doctor. I saw her a handful of times with Troy and liked her so it didn't bother me. She's a sweet older lady who has an ease in how she deals with the kids. I was thrilled to find out that in the last week Cassidy has gained 8 ounces! After dealing with milk supply struggles, among other things, its reassuring to know she's growing so well now! Janet was thoroughly impressed with Cassidy's strength and how she's practically rolling over. She even gave her some smiles, to which Janet responded, "are you SURE you're just one month old?!"

Eating: going much better now! Obviously Cass is getting all she needs, so now I just need to get fully healed up from our initial breastfeeding troubles and we'll be in good shape overall. I keep thinking about how "easy" breastfeeding got once Troy and I became more comfortable with it and I would love to get there with Cass sooner rather than later too. She eats 8-10 times a day right now. Usually for 30-45 minutes or so. 

Sleeping: this girl can stay AWAKE a long time! Not a newborn who sleeps 20 hours a day or anything. She was up seven hours straight yesterday (wayyy too long!) She's getting up around 8am, napping once in the morning and once in the afternoon (and hopefully once in the evening) before going to bed anywhere between 8 and 10. I put her to bed after Troy goes to bed. She is thankfully giving me a long-ish stretch to start the night, between 4 and 5.5 hours. Depending on when our night starts and ends, we're up once or twice most nights. One night this week we were up three and I realized how spoiled I've already become. We're working on getting her down in her bassinet for naps/sleep more often now. 

Playing: she likes her activity mat and doesn't mind tummy time really. Aside from that we don't do much with toys. She enjoys books a LOT and will gladly sit and listen as I read to Troy (as long as she's fed and rested, of course). 

Clothes: All 0-3 month right now. Size 1 diapers.

Likes: Being held. Eating. Snuggles. Carseat/stroller and car rides. Baths. Reading.

Dislikes: Not being held. That's about it. 

New things she's doing: Well everything is new this month. Notably, she smiles. And holds her head up ridiculously well. 

We're so glad you're here, Cassidy Lynn! Can't wait to see what the next month brings! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cuteness, cuteness and more cuteness

This post is basically a photo dump of recent pictures. Insert "awww" here as you scroll down :)

Illini Street Fest: Illinois vs Ohio State

With (relatively) warm fall temperatures, Gramma and I told Troy we were going to go out somewhere first thing Saturday morning. First he asked what store we were going to and then asked if we were running an errand. I didn't tell him what we were doing since it kind of hinges on finding free parking easily. This apparently added to the suspense and he said, "is it something EXCITING!?" I'm just glad it worked out so he was disappointed :)

We walked right up behind the band as they welcomed the football team. In Troy's world, this is all he needs to celebrate a college football Saturday. He doesn't even want to see a game, just wants to see the band and their horns and drums :)

Gramma is back!

With Mike traveling again, and still trying to settle into something of a rhythm around here, my mom returned to stay with us for a few days (insert shouts of joy from me!) This visit was, for me, even better than the last since I feel more like myself and not only appreciated the extra hands with the kids but the company too :) Thanks, Mom, for all your help!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Indoor Playground fail

In the past, I've been a raving fan of our indoor playground. And in theory, it sounds like a great place. But the last time we were there (a few weeks ago) Troy had multiple run-ins with children who weren't being supervised by their parents. Nonetheless, yesterday we were nearby and I knew Troy could use some running around so I gave it another try. Sadly, this time didn't work out so well either. With the influx of older kids in the after-school hours, my observant son spent time watching them do all the "big kid" things at the playground. And then proceeded to push beyond his own toddler limits to try many of them. End result? Face plant down the fire pole. I'm thoroughly pleased that all he has are scrapes and nothing worse.

After that, the poor guy spent some time playing with the blocks until it was time to leave :(

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First snow of the year!

Troy was pretty jazzed for the first snow of the year today! Daddy, not so much :/

Last years blog tells me we didnt have snow like this until just before Christmas. We may have a snowy year in store!

Sunday, November 10, 2013