Christmas Morning, Round 1

Christmas morning with Deric's family was the usual flurry of wrapping paper, squeals of excitement and picture taking. Jake enjoyed digging through his stocking but didn't quite understand the purpose and very generously offered each present to someone else, eventually bringing the entire stocking to his grandpa. His unwrapping skills haven't gotten much faster since last year, as he likes to rip just the tiniest pieces and hand each and every one to us before moving on to the next piece. (Savoring the morning, maybe?) We quickly learned that he was happier when he could enjoy one present for a while before moving on to something new, and that stacked presents make great roads for toy cars (...and that he really didn't need much more than new cars!). A few toys couldn't be set up until we got home but his racecar track was a major hit, even with his cousins. We are definitely thankful for family that indulges our every wish [list] and for traditions that we look forward to every year!


19 months young

Clean freak in the making--always wiping down the table, his tray, his face.
Obsessed with drinking from Dad's cups.
Latest words include "help", "told" [cold], "oc ball" [soccer ball] and "ask ball" [basketball].
Slowwwwly learning to obey when I ask him to "Come here". (Fingers crossed that Christmas with grandparents doesn't set this new skill back, cause everyone knows grandparents are softies.)
Loves to perch on the counter next to me as I make sandwiches, cut up fruit, etc.
Still no sign of sideburns, as evidenced by the wavy-bowl-cut look. 
Moves fast enough that the wavy bowl cut is almost not noticeable (almost). 
Sweet enough to comply with my incessant requests for hugs and kisses, because who doesn't love an open-mouthed attack of drool?!


merry and bright (lights)

The other night we braved freezing temps barely long enough to explore the lights at a local park, much to Jake's delight. Between the trees made from light strands and the huge evergreens decked out in giant ornaments, Jake couldn't pick a favorite. His little fingers were frozen after one quick loop through the trees so it was a short but sweet visit, a great first time to see the lights.

I can't get over the sheer joy captured in these pictures. Deric and Jake's latest game is to start the sentence "I...love…" and fill it in with all kinds of things, but the most enthusiastic response has always been "Dadddddyyyy!", as seen in the smile below.

Watching Jake's enthusiasm over simple Christmas lights gets me so excited for Christmas morning, and for all the Christmas seasons coming up! I so look forward to involving him in more Christmas traditions as he gets older and can help bake cookies, hang ornaments, wrap gifts and enjoy the anticipation of the season of Christmas. 


my two favorite guys

Blurry, but perfect. A perfect capture of the blur that is a toddler boy, and his dad steady and still behind him.


"winding down"

Beds are not for sleeping, didn't you know?


Thanksgiving 2014

Thankful for time with both sides of the family, a perfectly roasted turkey, jumbo chocolate chip cookies (and the rest of the dessert table), a dusting of snow, a six mile run and best of all, a brand new nephew!


a limited vocabulary

We (already) regret teaching him that "no" is funny…

IMG 2961 from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.


18 months

I started reading the book "Raising Your Children With No Regrets" on a friend's recommendation, and I'm only halfway finished but one piece of advice has stuck with me over the past few weeks. The author said to "Become a student of your child"-- to study them and learn their mannerisms, their moods, their reactions and personality traits-- because parents teach their children about themselves. Parents help children begin to understand themselves and we may misguide our children if we only see what we want to see in our children, or if we only see their shortcomings and the things they do that drive us crazy. Our perception of them affects their perception of themselves, so we want to understand them well!

I've reminded myself off and on throughout the days of this advice and tried to really observe Jake, rather than coexist with him and make it through another day. I watched him last night before bed as he flipped through his Bible, moving his head left and right to study the pictures on each page before flipping to another page and I thought, "He is thorough". I've realized that he is very cautious outside because he motions for my hand as he steps over roots or down uneven ground. He can do his own thing for a while, playing with toys or books in the living room, but he always comes back to me and gets involved in what I'm doing. If I'm in the middle of cooking I do my best to get on his level for a minute and give him a hug, but a hug usually isn't enough so up he comes onto the counter to watch what I'm doing. Jake loves to help me unload the dishwasher or put clothes into the dryer, and he brings me things from all over the house which I have to take from him (and keep, there's no fooling him). He either talks or he doesn't, and it takes some coaxing to talk if he's feeling quiet. I'd guess he'll be an introvert because he rarely talks to other people until he's spent some time with them. Last night we were at church and I watched Jake wander through the room for quite a while, but he resisted every person's attempt to pick him up and I saw a little of myself in him: I like to be around people, but I don't always need to interact with them. Based on how many times throughout the day he sits in my lap while we read books, I think one of his love languages may be quality time.

You're our favorite kid in the entire world, J. We love you too much!


fall at its finest

We've lived in this house for three years and last night was the first time I've ever raked our yard (I didn't even realize we owned a rake!), and Jake's face in these photos made my sore shoulders worth it. He wasn't interested in jumping into the piles but loved to kick his way through all my hard work, and of course he loved to throw the leaves every which way. Kids make everything better, even already good things like crisp air and crunchy leaves.


October recap

October was a whirlwind of weekend trips, park dates to soak in the perfect weather, and adjusting to a new schedule with the start of basketball season. Here are a few moments that didn't make it to Instagram but are good memories nonetheless!
making himself at home at the Lane's // throwing leaves in the river // strolling in the park // shopping for a new winter hat (those ears!)
riding shotgun on Jake's train // whatever makes you happy, man // practicing animal noises (and motions) // things got too quiet one morning, found J reading his Bible
using sticks to explore the water // morning yogi // blossoming gymnast // playing with crisp leaves


Halloween three-peat

Trick or treating was a three night, two weekend event this year...on purpose, and not just because of the candy. I'd decided about a week in advance to sew a Native American costume for Jake and with all the sweat and frustration that went into that costume, I was determined he would wear it as much as possible. I finished sewing it about half an hour before we took Jake to a local park for the town's trick or treating event, and I was in disbelief that I had sewed something wearable...and that I'd finished it on time. And he rocked it. That little red feather sticking up behind his giant noggin, the striped cheeks and the sticks (in lieu of arrows) inside his quiver. Chief Little Britches was cuter than I imagined he would be. 

Next up was our church's Trunk or Treat event on Sunday night. Jake enjoyed looking at everyone's decorated trunks but he didn't quite understand what was going on. He had no interest in collecting candy or even holding his bucket, and ended up spending most of the evening chillin' in the back of our van with a few high schoolers and some sticks and candy wrappers for entertainment. Life of the party right there!

On Halloween night, we partied at a friend's house and trick-or-treated on their cul-de-sac which was great since our street isn't trick-or-treating friendly. After a few houses where people shoved an entire bucket of candy at Jake and let him grab what he wanted, Jake picked up on the whole idea and would march up to porches, brushing their offered piece of candy aside and trying to get at the bucket instead. It was fun to see him start to get the hang of it, but sadly freezing rain cut into our plans so we stayed inside for the remainder of the evening.

Holidays are much more fun now that Jake's more involved, and it makes me so excited for Christmas this year!


thirty one

We celebrated Deric's 31st birthday last Tuesday and per his request, kept it low-key but still had a good time. He went into work so we mostly celebrated with food, eating Chick-fil-a for lunch and then an entire large 'mighty meat' pizza for dinner. Our neighbors joined us after dinner for German chocolate cake at home, and then on Friday Deric played a round of golf with some friends as his birthday gift to himself.

Deric is the funnest and most caring dad I know, an incredibly helpful and loving husband, a hard worker and a faithful disciple of Jesus. He brings our family so much joy and we love to celebrate him every year!

...and he shares his sweet tea on his birthday. Only the best dads do that ;)


Sarah & Drew's shower in Charlotte

We traveled to Charlotte last weekend for Sarah and Drew's baby shower and while we were there less than 24 hours, we were so glad we were able to see them before the baby arrives (so soon!). We left Friday morning to give us plenty of time to stop and explore along the drive since we'd never been to Charlotte. Our pit stop for lunch included burritos and meandering around a town square that included a pretty elaborate toy store and some fun outdoor stores. We arrived in Charlotte ahead of Drew's family so we found a nature preserve that was perfect for throwing acorns into the lake and exploring some trails. 

Once at the house, we were able to catch up with everyone and celebrate the baby with Drew's family and their college friends. I forget how teensy new baby things are (the hats with ears get me every time!). It's hard to believe the next time we see Sarah and Drew, they'll be proud new parents! I hate to rush through a gorgeous fall but I'm ready for December 1 to arrive!


17 months

Still stops to pick up every stick outside
Always pushes me to get in between my legs and the kitchen cabinets when I'm cooking
Says and identifies horses in books
Loves to bring us shoes from the mudroom (even the baseball-dirt-covered shoes, so this is a great habit)
Usually puts just one Croc on, on the wrong foot, and limps around the house
Shakes his head "no" when I tell him "no"
Recently taught himself to spin in circles on command
Starting to get a more...defined...palate.
Says "Mom" when referring to me or Deric (ha HA!...except not, 'cause its usually at 6am.)
Hyperventilates from excitement when the bathtub's filling up
Still throws his pacifier across the room as soon as he's awake from naps
Doesn't differentiate yet between "hug" and "kiss", so we get kisses for both, complete with "mwah!"