remembering our Tennessee house

I'm so behind in blogging right now because things have been crazy since Christmas! Most everyone who reads this blog (hi family!) knows that we moved to Indiana at the end of January. Deric had a final interview with the new church while we were visiting his parents for Christmas so we came home from Christmas, took down our Christmas decorations and immediately launched into packing. January went by so quickly between packing, finalizing details with the new church and a moving date, and squeezing in time with all of our friends before we left. Its still surreal to me-- sometimes it'll randomly hit me that we're not just on an extended trip up north. We'd lived in Tennessee for almost six years and it was so sad to leave our church family and friends, but there are so many benefits to moving north that we could look forward to. We now live a town over from Deric's parents and have already enjoyed multiple nights of babysitting, plus we've been able to see Courtney and her kids a few times. Our drive to Port Hope has been cut in half (thank you Jesus!) and even the weather has been good to us--its been in the 60s for the last week!

Before we started packing the house, I took photos of every room so that we could always remember our first home. We've celebrated all of our anniversaries here, fixed up and painted every room (the kitchen twice!), brought home both boys to this house, and watched Jake start to crawl and take his first steps--amidst so many other good memories. We'll miss this little house.

Our living room was off the front door and immediately to the right. Its seen so many different arrangements, especially as we worked to find a way to give the boys room to play with their toys without taking over the living room.

Straight ahead from the front door was our dining room. Those shelves on the wall were one of Deric's very first carpentry projects! A year or two later we got that dresser off Craigslist and painted it to turn it into a buffet.

The kitchen was actually remodeled in November and I got to enjoy a brand-new kitchen for two short months before we moved. The view from the window looked out to the church and the playground so I'd always be able to see Deric coming home from work while making dinner, and usually shortly after watch Deric and Jake playing on the driveway.

A few years ago Deric built this island to put along the back wall of the kitchen. We've had quite a few people comment on it and I was always proud to tell them that Deric had made it himself. He's pretty handy to have around. ;) The door to the right is the pantry, and next to it is the door to the mudroom and garage.

Our spare bedroom never got much attention. It was a craft and guest room before we had the boys and then became a playroom and guest room. Our bigger toys--the train table and play kitchen--took up so much space that they couldn't stay in the living room. I painted the walls a light aqua a year or two back with a "big kid" room in mind but we never got to that point. 

My favorite room in our house was always the boys' room. When I was pregnant with Jake we painted the green walls this perfect shade of gray, hung dark navy curtains for naps, and painted that dresser (Craiglist again!). When it was just Jake in this room, the crib was where the toddler bed is now, and the dresser was where the crib is. Deric put up a shelf above the crib and we hung artwork that has meaning to us. The big print is from Thailand; to the left of the dresser, the navy print is a great motto of sorts for the boys: "Be brave, strong and courageous. Seek adventure and truth." We also hung a map of Thailand and their baby handprints. (Deric later built Jake's toddler bed!)

I love the first twelve month photos of Jake and plan to do the same thing with Reid's photos here in just three months (sob!). Another piece of artwork with the rhyme "Whales and snails and puppy dog tails, drapes as capes and little toys snakes". We made the Jakes Creek Trail sign after hiking along the so-named trail in the mountains. Below the sign I planned to hang his initials but once Reid came along, the room already revolved around Jake so I never did. ;)

The master bedroom! Not much to see in here as we really didn't spend any time in here except for sleeping. Suffice it to say I'm really looking forward to an actual master bedroom and a master bathroom as well. ;) I do remember painting the trim in this room the same weekend that we moved in. The previous renters had started to paint all the trim in the house but hadn't finished and this room was halfway done. The walls were dark brown so this room was one of the first to be painted. We built our headboard with my parents' help a few months after moving in.

And I couldn't forget the best part of our house, our neighbors! Bob and Jackie lived next door to us for four years and babysat frequently. Jake would wander over to their house to say hi, he would help Bob pick up sticks in his yard, and he loved to jump from stone to stone along their path. Bob and Jackie were so good to our family, and we miss them already.


Reid: 8 months

Eight months old! Reid is days away from crawling--although granted, I've thought that since the end of January--and he is scooting, rolling and inching his way around to get to his toys. He's attempting to pull himself up on the coffee table which makes me nervous, but I have a feeling that this is just the beginning for this boy. Deric and I were talking tonight about how he seems to be a little more wild than Jake was at that age. Just in subtle things, so we'll see if our predictions come true. 

Reid interacts with people pretty often now, sticking out his hand and reaching out to be held, but once he realizes he's not in my arms he usually whines to be back with  me. Obviously I don't mind being his favorite person. ;)

We're pretty certain his blue eyes are here to stay, thank goodness! They're so clear and bright, and I think he's got a hint of red in his hair as well--its pretty noticeable to me in these photos, although in different light he still looks pretty blonde. With the blue eyes and reddish hair, we'll see if he continues to favor me (or at least my side of the family)!

While Reid prefers to be near me all day and babbles "Mom" often enough that I'm pretty sure he knows what he's saying, no one makes Reid laugh like Jake does. Its so cute to see Jake say some goofy made-up word and crack himself up, then watch Reid laugh only because Jake's laughing. I hope this is the beginning of a bond that lasts their entire lives!


meeting baby Eli!

The boys and I road-tripped to South Carolina at the beginning of the month to meet baby Eli and spend time with Joel, Aunt Sarah and Uncle Drew! Deric was at a convention with the youth group that weekend so I braved the six-hour trip solo and while I was nervous about handling both boys in the car on my own for such a long drive, all my prayers were answered and we made it to SC and back without any (big) problems. It was a short two-day visit but we packed a lot in and had so much fun.

I took this video probably two minutes after we walked in the door. Kids always get so excited to show visitors their toys! Sarah and I were dying over the boys' antics.

Jake & Joel from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.

^reading the Bible with Uncle Drew before bed. Jake and Joel slept in the same room and surprisingly didn't keep each other up all night!
Jake and Joel raced each other around the apartment a hundred times, Jake taught Joel how to be a robot (just walk around with stiff legs while repeating "I am a robot!" and you're good!) and Sarah, Drew and I traded babies back and forth and stayed up too late every night talking. Always a good time when we see their family, and we're all looking forward to when the babies are little BFFs too! All too soon we'll have four boys racing around and wearing us out. ;)


New Year's Eve at Dollywood

We were still bringing bags in from the car after traveling to Indiana over Christmas when a friend texted to see if we wanted free tickets to Dollywood--but they had to be used that weekend. I've never been to Dollywood and Deric went once back in college so we figured that free tickets made it worth braving the end-of-season crowds and the cold weather. So even though we were pretty worn out from traveling, we loaded the kids (plus a million snacks and warm layers) into the van and spent New Year's Eve (afternoon) at Dollywood.

Bundled up and ready!

And let's just say, I'm so glad we didn't pay for tickets. ;) Jake and I rode a (kids) rollercoaster first thing and as soon as it started up, he started crying. So that bombed and we then couldn't convince him to try much else. He did enjoy riding some preschool-sized rides which bolstered his confidence back up a bit.

And the carousel was a hit after riding the carousel at Disney--plus he got to ride on the dragon! We tried watching a Christmas show and enjoyed half of it before Jake got a little antsy so we walked around the rest of the park to see the lights (the lights are amazing! I've always wished I could put lights on our house like this!) and then we headed home. It was a fun day but like I said, sooo glad we only paid for parking! We don't exactly get our money's worth at amusement parks in this phase of life.

After spending the day at the park, Deric and I were so happy to come home and put the boys to bed, order Chinese food and relax with a movie to "celebrate" New Year's Eve. 2016 was a great year thanks to Reid joining our family, visiting Disney World, Chattanooga and Nashville for the first time, plus all the moments in between watching our boys grow up. I have a feeling 2017 is going to be just as good! (Hey, two weeks in and its 65 degrees in January so yes, 2017 is shaping up nicely!)


Christmas in Indiana 2016

We drove north to Deric's parents house after church on Christmas Day and spent most of the week with them and Deric's brother's family. Jake plays with his cousins non-stop and Reid gets doted on by his grandparents which means Deric gets to read his new books, I get to color in my new coloring book (I still haven't finished Lost Ocean, my gift from Deric last year!) and we're all happy as can be.

Christmas morning is of course the highlight for the kids and the first gift Jake opened this year was a bike! He attempted to ride it right away but the carpet made it tricky so we took it outside the following morning to get some practice. He was also excited for Magna Tiles and has played with them almost every day since. He mostly makes ice cream cones and castles with them. We've already realized we'll have to buy more tiles soon because he's a bit limited in what he can build right now but with more shapes, the possibilities are really going to be endless...for him and for his dad. ;) I'm not much of an engineer but to my defense, I did teach him how to build an ice cream cone!

When we would ask Jake what he wanted for Christmas he'd usually tell us that he wanted trains or another toy he already had, so we made a Christmas list for him. We took a chance with the little guitar since he has no other musical toys and thankfully he loves it! He pulls it out every now and then and strums it while singing totally non-sensical but really cute songs. The fireman costume is also a hit! He'll ask me if there's fire in my room and if I need him to put it out, which of course I always do. ;)

Reid napped through the beginning of morning but woke up later and was perfectly content to rip wrapping paper off his gifts and ignore the actual gifts entirely. I love Christmas with babies!

This little reindeer is always set out by the Christmas tree and of course, Jake pushes the button to hear the song about a hundred times over the course of a week. But this year he learned (most of) the song and I was dying when he sang it for me! He is so funny.

Jake + Rudolph from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.