12.03.2016

six months with Reid!


Six months have flown by with this nugget keeping us busy every day! Having two kids has all the sudden hit me kinda hard, possibly because Reid has outgrown the sleep-anywhere-eat-anywhere newborn stage and we now need to cater to his schedule to keep everyone [him] happy. For the most part, he's a happy and easy going baby but he does much better if I can get him down for naps on time. He is a champion sleeper at night but naps can be hit or miss. He sleeps in the bassinet still because as soon as we lay him in the crib, he rolls over and wakes himself up (even completely swaddled!). Not really sure what to do to make that transition easier because Jake was content to lay still in his crib and Reid definitely is not. That baby rolls around constantly! I'll put him down on the rug and come back a minute later to find him up against the couch five feet from where he started. 


And man, diaper changes are ridiculous! How are babies so strong when they want to be?! I've never felt weaker than when I'm halfway through a diaper change and he's trying to flip onto his stomach...or when I'm trying to release his grip on my hair. He's amazingly quick to pull off his socks and shoes too. They're his favorite things to chew on and he can pull off a sock before I can get his shoe on his foot. So most of the time when we're home, he's barefoot. Its just not worth it. ;)



Reid has tasted rice cereal, bananas and sweet potatoes so far and he loves all of it. Feeding him requires a bib and a stack of napkins because that constant moving of his means food gets dripped and spattered everywhere!


I'm so excited to see this little boy's personality develop in the coming months as he learns to sit up and then becomes mobile soon after. He is the most curious, kissable baby and he brings all of us so much joy!

11.30.2016

3 1/2 year old Jake

Its too much! I can't handle Jake so quickly becoming a "real" kid so quickly, as in no longer a baby, no longer a toddler...ugh. We've been introducing him to board games lately which in my mind is like a mini milestone because he can move his piece the correct number of spaces, take turns and understand the rules of the game. Among others, we've played Trouble, Chutes & Ladders and a kids' picture Bingo. While Chutes & Ladders is definitely not my favorite and may have been shoved out of sight, its fun to play games with definitive rules since usually his make-believe games are a tad hard to follow. ;)

Anyway, I have a running list of things he says on my phone that direly needs to see the light of day! Some of these quotes were from the summer and they still make me laugh. I love little glimpses into that brain of his.


"You know what an ocean is called?....Lots and lots of water!"

He came around the corner one day with his little play oven mitt on his foot and said "Its like an awkward sock!"


In the car one afternoon I tried to pass the time at red lights by teaching him how to play I Spy. After a few practice rounds I let him try. Jake said "I spy something blue." [A fire hydrant] 
Me: "Is it the fire hydrant?" 
J: "Oh where?!"
Me: "The blue thing down on the grass."
J: "Oh where?!"
Me: "Is that what you saw that was blue?"
J: "Where's blue?!"
...Better luck next time.


A sweet older couple babysits for us occasionally and when we arrived home, she told us about a conversation she and Jake had. She asked him, "Why do you have holes in your crocs?" to which he replied, "So I can see my feet!"

"If you're brave that means you have to shoot bad guys. But I'm brave! So I'm gonna shoot the bad guys."



More often than I can count, Jake will ask me a question that really has no answer (in the car, he'll usually ask why a building is where it is) and once I reply, he'll say "Oh, its actually because..." and then answer it a different way. So I finally asked him why he asks me questions if he already knows the answer and he replied, "I have to ask you all the time so I can talk about what you said!"

After dealing with a grumpy attitude, "I told myself I was gonna talk nice and not talk bad."

Back in October on one of the first cooler days, Jake was wearing jeans and we were getting back in the car. I noticed he was having trouble getting up into his car seat and I asked him what was going on. He was all frustrated and said "I can't get into my car seat because my jeans are too strong!"

^^a common occurrence while reading books before naps--Reid diving into Jake's lap :)

I asked him to play with Reid who was getting fussy and Jake said he didn't want to. I told him that big brothers play with little brothers and he said, "Well, that's not exactly true."

After giving him a hug he told me "You're getting SO big!" Not exactly a compliment when you're an adult. ;)


I can't remember how we got on the topic but Jake brought up the concept of changing the world and he told me so matter-of-factly, "Changing the world is just taking care of people." 

And lastly, yesterday we broke out a countdown to Christmas coloring book and the first activity was to write a letter to Santa. So I talked him through the idea and he scribbled on the page for a minute. When I asked him what he wrote, he said "Dear Santa, I hope you have a fun day. [That's what he usually dictates for friends' birthday cards.] Remember to talk nice and to be a Ninja Turtle!"


11.07.2016

Halloween 2016

Ya'll, Halloween about did me in this year...four consecutive nights of parties or trick or treating was such a blast, but that is a LOT of candy and forced social interaction for a three-year-old who's just starting to come out of his shell around people. Good news is, we definitely got plenty of use out of the boys' costumes! And of course now we have plenty of chocolate for after kids' bedtimes. To be honest, I was about to bow out of trick or treating on actual Halloween night because Jake wouldn't have any clue and I was pretty worn out. But then I got to thinking and realized its never a good choice to miss out on free candy! Monday night proved to be the most lucrative night in terms of the good candy--one house gave out full-size Snickers!--so obviously we're all glad we stuck it out. ;)

We kicked off the weekend with trick or treating at one of Jake's favorite parks that he calls the "baseball park" thanks to the two baseball diamonds near the playground. We walked the loop with friends, spent time on the playground and tried not to sweat to death because its been 85 degrees here. What is going on with that?!

Probably one of my favorite pictures right there! I love those guys.

For Narnia! ;)

On Saturday, one of Jake's little friends had a Halloween party. We ate killer stuffed crust pizza, decorated pumpkins with sticker faces (brilliant! so fast and not messy) and then the kids watched a Mickey Halloween movie while the adults talked around the fire. Deric helped Jake put stickers on his pumpkin and couldn't stop laughing at how tiny the face was on such a big pumpkin. Jake was so proud of his pumpkin face! He just learned the concept of jack-o-lanterns over the weekend so even though Halloween is over, I think we still may carve our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Stickers are fun but you can't beat pulling slimy seeds out of a real pumpkin!


Sunday night was the Trunk or Treat event at our church. To go along with the boys' costumes, Deric and I "built" a castle out of sofa boxes, duct tape, scrap wood and leftover church play decorations. (And to be fair, I saw the idea of a drawbridge on Pinterest, of course.) I was pretty proud of our castle considering we did it all for $0! We put our candy in the trunk of the van so kids had to walk on the drawbridge and reach inside for the candy. Most kids were pretty excited to see the castle and walk on the drawbridge, which is all we hoped for! (It also made a good backdrop for pictures of our knight and dragon!)
Helping Dad make the drawbridge on Saturday morning.

A knight defending his castle!


Pausing while in line for a trunk to take a picture WITH my boy rather than just of my boy!




And finally on Monday, we ate dinner with our friends, the Bryants, and trick or treated in their neighborhood since our neighborhood doesn't do trick or treating. We've already got plans to go back next Halloween because did I mention the full-size Snickers?! Jake and his little friend Bailey were each other's moral support as they worked up the courage to say "Trick or treat!" and "Thank you!" loudly enough to be heard. It was so sweet to see them encourage each other to hurry to the next house and then to beam with pride when they went to the doors all by themselves.


The dragon just couldn't hang...maybe because he knew he wouldn't get any candy.

The back story on the boys' costumes: We (mostly Deric) have told Jake mostly made-up stories at bedtime for probably a year, at least. His most favorite story is called "Jake and the Princess" and is Deric's CliffNotes version of "A Horse and His Boy" by C.S. Lewis,  one of the books in the Narnia series. From that story stemmed "Jake and the Princess Go Fishing" and a few other stories. Recently I've been telling him a shortened version of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" and he just eats up these stories. They always involve knights and dragons and fighting for the good king, so it really wasn't hard to narrow down what Jake's costume should be this year. We did deliberate between a few other choices but after we got Jake the sword and shield from Disney back in September, I knew he needed to be a knight. I'll always be able to see this photos and remember this stage of playing knights and dragons and telling stories at night.


I scoured Pinterest a few weeks back to figure out a game plan to make their costumes and I was a little worried about how I'd find the base for Reid's dragon suit but I totally lucked out and found the fleece onesie at a consignment store for $3! It was actually a Ninja Turtle costume so I covered the Turtle belly with fleece; added horns, wings, spikes and a tail and Reid was the cutest dragon I've laid eyes on. It was even cuter when Deric would fly him around to chase Jake, who always insisted that Reid was a good dragon.


Jake's costume took a little longer since I had to actually use a sewing machine rather than a hot glue gun, but I'm so happy with how they turned out and most importantly, Jake loved his costume. Reid's was a *bit* warm but no one predicted it'd still feel like August at the end of October! (He mostly wore the dragon get up for photos and then we would strip him back down to a onesie.)


Holidays are just so much more fun with kids! Even though as adults we do more of the planning and preparations--and fund the whole shebang--its so fun to watch the boys experience new-to-them traditions that I remember from childhood, plus add in new traditions to our family. And now we can get excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas--as soon as the heatwave is over!


11.02.2016

reidle beats, five months old

Five months! Possibly the thing I love most about this baby is his big grin from behind his pacifier: his cheeks plump up, his eyebrows lower and his eyes light up! That grin comes out best when we tickle his legs or his neck and when we "surprise" him and say boo! Even when Jake surprises him just a little too intensely, Reid will recover from the shock with a big ole smile. I just have this gut feeling that he's going to give us a run for our money here soon.


From this....

to this...His entire face changes shape when he smiles! Those cheeks and that little chin...too much, I tell ya.


When I've got both boys in their rocking chair with me to read stories before naps and bedtime, Reid cannot keep his hands from reaching for the book. And as soon as I raise the book out of his reach he turns to the side, hands out for Jake like he's going to crawl onto Jake's lap any minute. Thankfully Jake loves it and will hold his hand while we read. (I have to brag for a minute about Jake-- the other morning, Reid was playing in his exersaucer and I came around the corner to see Jake wiping Reid's nose with a napkin. He told me Reid's nose was running so he wiped it for him! I couldn't believe he had taken care of him like that totally unprompted. You better believe I praised the heck out of Jake for being so kind and taking such good care of his little brother!)



We decided to let Reid try rice cereal a little earlier than the six month mark because he is so aware of when we're eating and will grab for anything and everything when he's on our lap at the table (which is often). He'll see me take a drink from a water bottle and fuss until he gets to gum on the top of it. And there's been a few times where I've nursed him and felt like he was still hungry, so I defrosted more milk for him and he'd eat another 3-4 ounces. The first time we fed him cereal he of course didn't know what to do with it, but he liked the spoon! Since then he's gotten slightly more adept and can keep most of the cereal down if I give him miniscule amounts at a time. It makes me so excited to really start introducing new foods to him! I loved making Jake's food and trying different combinations of flavors. I have a feeling Reid is going to love it all...after he gets through the rice cereal, at least. ;)



Reid rolled from his belly to his back for the first time on Deric's birthday! He rolled a few times over the weekend and since then seems to have forgotten his little trick. He still manages to rotate around his playmat, however, so it won't be long before remembers how to get where he wants to go.


Reid's totally been spoiled (by me) into needing to be rocked and shushed to sleep still. I love rocking him but admittedly I need to teach him to fall asleep on his own because it gets a little tricky when he needs a nap right in the middle of me making dinner or in church, etc. And speaking of, I think his days in "big church" are limited as that baby is definitely finding his growly little voice! He is just the sweetest, smiliest boy and I cannot imagine life without him just five short months ago!


10.29.2016

Deric's birthday + the pumpkin patch

Deric turned 33 last Friday! We had dinner plans with friends set for Saturday night--when a babysitter was available for both families--and so we planned to take it easy on Friday. That afternoon, a friend of ours called and offered up tickets to a concert downtown that she was no longer able to attend, PLUS offered to watch the boys for the night! The concert was Alabama and Charlie Daniels and while neither of us are diehard fans, we know and like their popular songs and we definitely weren't going to pass on a free date night and sitter!

We headed downtown and so enjoyed being in the city on a Friday night for the first time in a few years. The air was brisk, we weren't in a rush or entertaining kids, so even when we were halfway to the venue and realized I'd left the tickets in the car, it couldn't kill the mood! The concert was good but just being out with Deric was the best part. After the concert we stopped in a little coffee shop and shared a fantastic white chocolate mocha while we talked on the way home.


Deric has always wanted to try a Brazilian steakhouse in town so we asked our friends to join us and went out on Saturday night. Various cuts of meat are brought to the table on skewers and you eat as much as you'd like. They had ribs, sirloin, bacon-wrapped filets...everything! Even garlic bread came on a stick. It was a delicious meal and the birthday dessert was incredible: chocolate cake with turtle cheesecake on top! You know I "helped" Deric finish it off.



To switch gears a bit (prepare yourself for way too many photos!), earlier on Saturday we visited a nearby farm/pumpkin patch. It was so much fun! They had so many activities for kids that nothing felt crowded even though there were plenty of people at the farm. We spent the majority of our morning watching Jake on the slides that looked so fun I wanted to take a turn. ;) There were two slides made from that plumbing or piping--whatever it is--and one of them had a ladder and drawbridge to cross. The first few times Jake was a little hesitant on the bridge but he quickly gained some confidence and would hop up after sliding down, immediately saying he was going to go down again.



Kids shot out of those slides like rockets. I seriously wanted to give it a try myself. 


Check out the video of Jake on the drawbridge & slide! You can tell he was having the best time. (Sorry for how big it is! Forgot to turn my phone sideways.)

Deep Well Farm from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.

Climbing up and jumping off hay bales. Simple, yet so entertaining--and itchy!


This slide was double the length that you see in the photo. It went all the way down a big hill but most kids weren't heavy enough to go very far. Dads, on the other hand, go just a bit further. ;)






We rode the hayride out to pick pumpkins and took so long to find the right ones that we were the last ones back on the hayride. Whoops! Also, this may be the only cornfield I've ever seen around Knoxville. And after about two months without rain, it was just a *bit* dusty out there!






Scouting out tiny green pumpkins tucked under the leaves:



Somehow this is the first time we'd taken Jake to a pumpkin patch! I know last year I was too nauseous and newly pregnant to feel up for it, but I'm not sure what our excuse was the year before. ;) 



Lest you think we forgot to bring Reid, here's proof that he came with us:



One day too soon he'll be sliding down those slides with his brother! But for now he's content to nap and check things out later. He did wake up after we picked pumpkins and headed to the playground a second time. This day was one of just a handful this October that have actually felt like fall! It was perfectly chilly but unfortunately its been in the 80s since then.



Playing in the corn sandbox! Cornbox?


The sun was so bright that we had to snatch Reid up as soon as we took this photo! Jake was quick to tell us the sun was hurting his eyes so the family photo below is quite the gem. ;)



Visiting the farm was so much fun for all of us that we'll absolutely be back next year! It'll be even more of an adventure when Reid can attempt those slides too. ;)