life lately

 Well, there went February and March (and most of April)! I continually intended to post some photos in order to remember these first few months in Indiana, but we've all been adjusting to a new rhythm and its been a little hard. We all miss Tennessee and our friends there and we've been wading through the newcomer stage at church, slowly getting to know other families at church and meeting for playdates during the week. Both boys got the flu so we spent a solid two weeks cooped up at home, missing church, Bible study and other opportunities for us to continue making friends (and to go to Ann Arbor for Grandad's birthday). The house hunt is slow going but we're staying optimistic that spring weather will bring more houses on the market.

Grandma and Grandad came to visit the first weekend we were here!

Hard to believe that this was all the snow we've gotten! We bought a sled for Jake and he and I took turns on it one afternoon. Even with minimal snow he loved it.

We've absolutely enjoyed seeing Deric's parents frequently, usually every weekend and occasionally on a weeknight as well. Deric and I have gone on more dates lately than ever before and we love it! We celebrated my birthday with dinner in downtown Indianapolis...

Later we took Jake to Giordano's Pizza so he could see the skyscrapers and get some one-on-one time with us. We're looking forward to exploring more downtown.

Within the first week of moving, we bought a family pass to The Children's Museum in Indianapolis and we've already visited a handful of times. We got to meet Courtney and Cana one day and just last week we were able to meet friends from Tennessee at the Museum for the day.

We've gotten together with the Dunns twice now while they're on furlough from Ethiopia, and I'm hoping we can squeeze in one more visit before they fly back in July!

We've been able to spend a few weekends with the Fairs, which we love! Courtney brought the kids down one weekend while Tim was on a trip, and we went to visit them last weekend for a night. I love to see Jake playing with his cousins and know that we can see them much more often now than before. Jake and Cana are best friends from the minute we walk in the door and its so fun to see them playing and giggling together.

I'm behind on Reid's monthly updates so I'll have to catch up soon, but he is crawling--fast!--and pulling himself up frequently. I foresee him walking around his first birthday, which is about a month from now. I can't believe it!

Jake has logged a lot of miles on his bike thanks to a fairly mild winter! We found that Nemo helmet at the store for $5 and I can't get enough of him wearing it. Our typical park outings start with fairly long bike rides while I push Reid in the stroller and then we play on the playground. We've got our double jogging stroller finally fixed so very soon, I can get back into a routine of running! I assumed I'd be pushing both boys in the stroller but I think Jake will be able to keep up with me on his bike.

Its things like this--learning to ride with no hands!--that just take me completely by surprise. How is he already big enough?!

Little brother wants so badly to climb on the playground too!

Jake got up the courage to climb all the way up this rock (which is higher than it looks in the photo) and it was a big deal for him to overcome his fear of heights! Learning to climb down was stressful but I'm still so proud he was willing to try it.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, we've been out exploring our "backyard"--the church property behind our house. In one outing, we saw a crawdad, ducks, a muskrat (?), horses and goats.

If I had to pick one picture to summarize the last few months, this would be it. Jake plays K'Nex every day and they're often spread all over our table (which is the only place they're safely out of Reid's reach). Now that Jake doesn't nap, he has quiet time instead and plays with K'Nex for over an hour every afternoon with no complaints. He loves them!


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!)