a weekend retreat for everyone

Over the weekend Deric and I hung out at our alma mater with our student ministry kids for a middle/high school Spring Retreat, and Jake had the time of his life apparently at our friend's house.

 I can't stop laughing at his face! My friend texted me this picture 
and said Jake was cracking himself up over the puppy towel.

Jake played hard all weekend, running around with our friends' two kids and their puppy. I'm sure he was never without entertainment between those three. Their little girl is especially caring and probably every single one of Jake's needs were anticipated and met instantly (which explains the surly attitude he had with me when we got home yesterday...but its good to know he was so loved all weekend!) Jake got to go to Chuck E. Cheese, play at the park, enjoy a whole houseful of new toys, and oh, sleep in like an hour more than normal. Figures.

Our weekend rundown: cafeteria food, stomach conundrums, wised up and ate only salads, stayed up late, got up early, laughed so hard with our students and played a million rounds of pool and a game called Signs. (And in between all that, we listened to some great talks about unity that hit home with both the kids and with us, because unity among God's people unfortunately doesn't magically get easier when you get older. It made me so thankful for the church family we have because everyone is very supportive and encouraging with one another; even our students are exceptionally kind and loving towards each other.)

Now we're back into the weekly routine and I'm pretty happy about it. In the time leading up to the retreat I had been reliving college memories and over-glamorizing it in my head: all that time to myself! no cooking or cleaning up! friends close by! fun and spontaneous weekend plans! While those things were great for a time, I'm so much happier in this stage of life. I've got Deric (and Jake) to hang out with anytime, I'm never lonely and wondering if someone's hanging out without me, cooking (and okay, cleaning up) means I control my own menu and eat what I like, and I'm perfectly content with lazy weekends and a third wheel on dates. (And no homework ever, of course.) Life as it is right now is pretty dang good.

Bathtime from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.


Easter weekend 2015

Our Easter weekend kicked off last Thursday night with the annual Seder supper at church. The Seder celebrates Passover and is a rather long meal so I debated briefly if we should bring Jake or not. Last year we brought him but he was still pretty little and tame ;) This year he's definitely louder and more opinionated, but he steadily ate his way through a cup of puffs and apple slices until the main course, when he lost it and we left early. But "early" was at 8pm, past bedtime, so the supper was a success in my book; I wasn't sure we'd even make it to the main course. Its a goal of mine to at least attempt situations like this that require patience and learning to sit still in hopes that he will rise to meet our (age-appropriate) expectations. And even though he was mostly unaware of the meal and any of the significance, its still important to me that he participate because eventually he will come to understand why we honor traditions like the Seder supper, and his experiences will encourage questions about the events surrounding Passover/Easter.

{I should mention Deric and I gave up "excess sugar" (i.e. no sodas/sweet tea, desserts, or unnecessary sugar fixes) for Lent and it was our first time participating in Lent. It was a stretching experience but so good for me and obviously we were looking forward to Easter a little more than usual since we could break the sugar fast. But on Thursday while we were at church helping to get the Seder supper ready, Deric shoved his phone under my nose and I saw he had googled "when does Lent end?" and it actually ended on Thursday. So we got to eat our sugar earlier than expected, although I briefly considered holding out until Easter regardless...but I didn't. ;) Made the whole weekend a little more exciting.}

Moving on. Friday was relatively normal as it was Deric's day off. We went to Lowe's to buy supplies for corn hole sets Deric is making for a friend and relaxed for the rest of the day. On Saturday evening, Jake got to participate in his first official egg hunt at church and I surprised myself by getting a *touch* too excited/competitive/greedy, hurriedly pointing out each egg nearby so that he'd be able to get enough. I'm not sure if I was motivated by the desire for candy (because let's be honest, he's not getting any of it!) or if I wanted to make sure Jake got to enjoy finding eggs, but I realized I needed to chill out. Thankfully I was the only greedy one in the fam; Jake enjoyed picking up the eggs and taking all the time in the world to open each one before putting them into his basket. (Let's hope his leisurely, non-competitive self sticks around for future years' hunts.) I did do better on Sunday's egg hunt and let Jake go at his own pace which let me enjoy watching him discover the contents of each egg.

On Sunday morning, I was on the ball enough to finish prepping dishes for lunch *and* get one shot of Jake (smiling, no less!) in his Easter outfit lest I forgot later. (Standing on the couch because he's not allowed to usually, and I knew it'd bring a smile when nothing else does. His little pose was the cherry on top!)

Deric sang in the Easter choir and they sounded fantastic, bringing extra energy and depth to the service. We ate lunch that afternoon with quite a few friends while Jake and a little buddy of his belly laughed as they ran around on our friends' trampoline, falling down just to stand up and immediately fall over again. Hilarious, and now I'm thinking a trampoline could serve us well...

We all napped hard (until 5:30!) that afternoon and ended a great Easter with an hour playing at our favorite park, where I snuck in a selfie while Jake perma-smiled at the train chugging by.

I always enjoy Easter Sunday traditions, but they would be empty if not for the joy that Jesus' resurrection has given me. I can't fathom the punishment I should receive for my sin and I don't want to. I'm grateful that Jesus' life did not end on that cross and that he came back for us, bringing hope and the promise of eternal life with him.


so happy togetherrrrr

Well, at least two of the three are.

I promise Jake was enjoying the afternoon (and loves us), but he was completely and utterly concerned about whether or not a train would be visiting our favorite park. So concerned--no, obsessed-- was he that he wouldn't play on the playground and couldn't take more than one bite of his lunch without asking "train?" and pointing to the tracks. We finally all settled onto the park bench to wait for a train (that never came) and eventually Jake began to wander around, giving Deric and I a few moments to sit back and enjoy the perfect weather. Jake rarely explores on his own, usually asking either Deric or I to "tome" with him, so we were happy to see him exercising his independent side.

Back at home, Jake went down for his nap while Deric and I knocked out weeding a flower bed and cleaning up some stumps we had removed a few weeks ago. Dinner with friends rounded out a pretty good Saturday in my book. And now on to a week that, so far, has temps above 60 every day!


a good start to Spring Break

Not that Spring Break is actually any different for us than any other week, but 70 degree sunny days at the start of the week sure did make it feel like a vacation from the norm. We were outside all day every day from Sunday to Tuesday, playing hard and even getting slight sunburns! We hit up the park, the playground, grilled burgers in the backyard with friends, went for a run, geocached with friends, and kept the windows open all day. Cooler temperatures today are a bit of a disappointment but at least we squeezed all we could out of those gorgeous few days!

Enjoying a pizza dinner with some of our college students on a rare Sunday night at home.

Walking over to pick up Dad from work.

We'll have to try this geocache again, we looked everywhere! Even Jake helped, tapping the bricks and looking in the cracks.


Jake // 22 months

Jake is too quickly approaching two years old so I should probably stop thinking of him as my baby, but I just can't! While he's definitely a "kid" in a lot of ways, he's still got some babyish traits lingering that I love, like when I pick him up when he's tired and he immediately shoves his hands under his belly and sticks his booty out. Or when he gets his pacifier before naps/bedtime, he'll start murmuring contentedly. But you know, other than those two things, I can't think of many baby traits left. Sigh.

Jake's definitely not a morning person (wonder where he gets that from?) and while he'll usually call for me in the morning, he's much happier if Deric's the one to go get him. He's for sure an introvert, taking quite a while to warm up to most people and situations but eventually having a good time. He continues to be incredibly helpful, especially if we need anything thrown into the trash or vacuumed with the hand vac. 

If he's feeling funny, Jake will yell out "cupcake!" or more recently "peaches!" and belly laugh until his face gets red, which makes us laugh too. In his not so funny moments, he gets frustrated very easily and will throw anything nearby to show his anger, but is good about picking up those toys and putting them back where they were. Any sternness from Deric sends Jake into tears because man, does that kid love his dad. Thankfully, he's quick to get over his frustration and can be back to smiling in no time.

Jake loves to count to himself (1-3-5-6-7-8910!) and recite his ABCS (A-B-C-H-I-J and repeat), and the ABC repertoire especially makes me laugh because he's just so proud of himself. The kid's got a lot of quirks and we love every bit of him, even when he's a scowling introverted early waker.