Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A glimpse into life with Troy

Troy.is.funny. Hilarious might be a more accurate word. He has been "teaching" us things in the car lately. As in, "Guys, I'm going to teach you about it..." and thus begins a ten minute-ish "lesson" on whatever animal or bug or vehicle he wants to talk about. When we were driving this weekend to Chicago he told Mike at one point, "Daddy, we need to start over because you talked." Future teacher? Or dictator? Not sure.

So here are some videos. This boy. The energy and zest for life in him, its just too much sometimes. A few songs and "lessons" below. Not the most exciting post ever but if you want to get to know Troy, here he is :)

Flat Top with Friends

When the students are away, the locals will play! Our friends Fred, Sarah and Benjamin invited us to join them for dinner on campus at Flat Top Grill. Love Flat Top and especially love all the options for us low-carbers with the meat/veggie variety. 

Below, a family selfie (loving these, btw) as we waited for friends. 

Cass passing the time. She "colors" now, what?!

This is what you get when you ask two preschool-aged boys to take a pic...

And this...

Finally the real smiles come out at the end when we let them run around a bit before we left. Hardly anyone was there so they happily burned off a little of that little boy energy before we high-fived and said goodbye!

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

Going along with #yearofthezoo, Mike and I (and the rest of the metropolitan Chicago area) took the kids to see the zoo lights on this perfect 50 degree day. It's so different being at the zoo at night versus during the day! For one, there were "caroling to the animals" events happening all over the place. We were near the camels when Frosty was leading a round of song. The camel looked thrilled (not). My son was even less thrilled as he was dying to go right inside the bat house. So in we went. (Side note: the bat house is FAR more active at night versus during the day. The little critters were flying and climbing all over their room in the bat house. Which conveniently doesn't have any netting or anything between the people and the bats. Not a problem when they're all sleeping. A bit freaky when they're all wide awake!)

Another highlight included the polar bear who was proudly noshing on his dinner of a fish in front of hundreds of onlookers. It made me think of the movie "Madagascar" and how the animals would put on their "shows" for the spectators.

Wouldn't be Christmas without some gigantically oversized inflatable, light-up decorations. Here, Troy high-fives a snowman on our way out. You can see just how big the thing was!

Happy Birthday Grampa!

Every year, we get the chance to celebrate Grampa's birthday with him since its the day after Christmas. (Gramma, on the other hand, is a week later and I feel like we never get to see her on her birthday. But we love you Gramma!)

Grampa had the day off work to hang out and play with the kids, and play they did. Since it was 50 degrees and sunny, he was outside showing Troy how to swing a hockey stick and before they even got there, Cass was getting in on the hockey action. Giving my kids sticks to swing around indoors is a BAD idea, haha. We quickly sent the stick outside!

So glad we could celebrate your special day with you Grampa! Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! And a merry one, it was. We had so much fun with the kids this year, sharing in the joy of Christmas and celebrating with them, along with the rest of our family. We woke up Christmas morning and I started breakfast before everyone else came down - deliciously sweet crepes, peanut butter and banana for Mike, a berry compote for me, plain for Cassidy and a little bit of everything for Troy :) 

While breakfast warmed in the oven, the kids got to open their gifts. We continued our tradition of one thing each for the kids - though this year, it was two things that went together for both of them :) Cassidy got her first baby doll and a little stroller and Troy got a lego/duplo table with a new set of duplos. (I'm so looking forward to him to get legos soon, but not quite ready for all those tiny pieces to invade our home yet.) They had fun unwrapping and playing :) Be sure to watch the video below of Cassidy saying, "baby". 

Then it was time to head north! Driving up Christmas Day is always a breeze, since nobody is on the road early in the day. We always let the kids ride up in their jammies, too. When we arrived, Cassidy gave Gramma quite the snuggly greeting. I think it made Gramma's day!

We spent a good chunk of the day relaxing and playing with the kids. The rest of the family wasn't coming over until dinnertime so the kids got to keep playing in their pjs. We also exchanged gifts with my parents, and my mom gave me a scrapbook she has been working on for a long time, covering birth-18 years for me. I think I'll be posting pics of the pages pretty soon on here!

My cutie kids looked positively adorable. Troy even wore a tie for eight whole minutes. He had actually been REALLY excited to wear it but once it was actually on he wasn't much of a fan :) 

Another Christmas tradition is walking down the block to my best friend's parents' house to wish them a Merry Christmas. Next year we'll be wishing their little baby Joey a Merry First Christmas, too!

This pic... Mike said, "Say BABY cheese!"

We also wished their bunny Merry Christmas :) Troy wanted to make sure Cassidy had a chance to "learn" what a bunny was and touch it herself. Always looking out for his little sis!

When we got back to the house, the entire family was over and it was almost time to eat. Here's everyone loading up their plates!

The rest of the evening involved gifts, games and lots of laughter. So thankful to have such a fun-loving family!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Well we're happily in the midst of Mike's annual Christmas/New Year's vacation and having all kinds of fun. After a morning running errands and workouts at the Y (woot!) we had Christmas Eve church to look forward to. Below, a few shots to capture my beautiful kiddos on this special day!

I couldn't get a single pic of these two both smiling together. Enter Photoshop and the splicing of two pics together, haha :) 

Mike looks at this photo below and says, "Hey we DO look thinner!" Why yes we do, my dear :)

We went to Christmas Eve service at church and it was the best one yet, in my opinion. Here's a pic courtesy of one of the tech team people from the service. I'll have to post a link to watch it when its available. 

Tonight's "out of the ordinary" dinner was a parmesan baked tilapia, parmesan roasted butternut squash and roasted asparagus. The butternut squash was definitely the highlight! It was AMAZING.

Can't wait to celebrate Christmas tomorrow with our family in Chicago and keep the celebrations rolling!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Trip to Hardy's Reindeer Ranch

With a house showing in the middle of the afternoon, we decided to take a little drive up to Rantoul to see the reindeer at Hardy's Reindeer Ranch! One of the more random attractions nearby here :) Of course when we get out, all Troy wanted to do was play in the sand. The boy misses summer like crazy!

Cass and I wanted to visit the reindeer though.

Eventually Troy wandered over!

Well hello Mr Reindeer...

Cassidy decided the reindeer said "rarr". Since he didn't say much of anything while we were there, she could be right...

Loving this photo I snapped of her walking through the baby Christmas trees.

Troy and Daddy stumbled upon some hot cocoa so we took a break to warm up. Such a fun place!

It's fun to play at the....

In another life (ok, just the years of 2004-2007) I worked at the local Y. It was a college part-time job turned my first full-time job, when they offered me the gig of youth and family program director. As tough as that job was (the hours were LONG) it will always have a special place in my heart...

My plan after college graduation was always to move back to Chicago to find a full-time job. However, the job search was turning up dry and I was offered the Y job here, where I was already working, weeks before graduation. It was supposed to just be for a year... and THEN I told myself I'd move to Chicago. Fast forward a year. I find a Y job in Chicago, get the offer and then.... turn it down. And I didn't even know why. It just didn't feel right and I thought it was best for me to stay in Chambana. (Thank you, Jesus, for speaking to me before I even realized to be listening for you in giving me direction.) Anyways, less than a month later Mike came waltzing into my life... rather, I came across his profile on match.com :) But yes, the Y... special memories and special place in my heart! I also had the privilege of meeting a couple of special friends who I continue to get to do life with today. A few pics for you below!

Some of my awesome camp kiddos :) 

One of my four camp locations I oversaw! I had a great staff that year and a fantastic group of kids :)

One of my more random responsibilities was to coordinate the annual dads/kids camping trip to Y Camp Tecumseh in Indiana. I organized special events for these dads/kids all year, but the trip to Camp T was a highlight! And I really loved bonding with these kids and more importantly, seeing them make memories with their dads on these weekends away :) 

Fast forward to present day. The Y has built and moved into a fabulous new building on the edge of Champaign, nothing like we used to be in. It's amazing! And we just signed up!

Troy loves the childwatch area while we work out :) He always begs to stay longer.

Cass is doing pretty well in there so far. One day she was a little teary but that's when they took her in by big bro and she did great. Thankful they're willing to think outside the box (and even more thankful for incredibly intense and feel-good workouts for me heading into winter!) Can't wait to use our membership even more in these cold months!

Christmas Cookie Tradition!

This pre-Christmas Day baking and decorating day is now a staple in our house, and might as well be called "let him loose with sprinkles" day. Troy LOVES the process of rolling out dough, baking cookies, "painting" them with icing and adorning them with loads of sugar. (2013 and 2012 posts here.)

Truth - even though this is one of the messier things we do I simply love this tradition. I love that my boy has fun in the kitchen and just wants to watch the cookies bake on our baking day. I hope he continues to enjoy this as he gets older and older, too!

Roll it...

Paint it...

Best part... sprinkles!!!

He's really proud of the end result! As he should be. What a great collection of cookies this year, Troy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cassidy is 14 months old!

Another month of fun with this girl! I feel like I call her "this girl" a lot. As in "This girl. So much cuteness." Or "This girl. Miss Independent!" There ya go Cass, you have a new nickname. But come on, look at this goofy girl to the right....  so much fun!

Eating: Cassidy still loves to eat though she is VERY clear when she is DONE eating and very clear when she IS hungry. When she's done she begins throwing things off her highchair rapid fire. The goal is to stop her before she starts. When she IS hungry she either bangs on the fridge or stands at the pantry, or sits at the little table in the kitchen. Funny girl! Nursing a handful of times a day. She cut two molars this week (still coming through) so nursing more than we were before. I'm sure it will ebb and flow, more some days and less on others, until she's totally weaned.

Sleep: Not consistently sleeping through this month. Two molars plus a nasty cold have thrown her all off. But she did last night, so ya know, it'll come back. Below, snuggling with Olivia the pig, her fav these days.

She's becoming such a little person! Her personality and preferences are really starting to shine through. She is opinionated and active and loves her family tons. She is clinging to Dada more and more these days and gets insanely excited to see him.

Right, working with me on one of our sick days with Troy. We were feeling good though, and sending selfies to Daddy!

She stole Troy's piggy bank at one point, very sly, Cassidy, very sly :)

She was very happy to have Troy feeling back to normal. This girl CRACKS up at her bro. Check this video out.