23 months

Pretty much every single one of my monthly Jake updates has started with "I can't believe he's already (1, 6, 12, 14.25, etc) months old" so I'll have to come up with a new opening line.

Or just a cute picture.

Everyone knows about the "terrible two's" but unfortunately, the terrible-ness has been appearing a tad bit early around here and I don't prefer that. Jake is still his usual happy and very sweet self but with an edge of anger if I don't walk/drive/turn "ISH WAY!" (this way) 1.5 million times per day, and all of the sudden he can no longer wait literally 90 seconds for oatmeal to cook in the microwave. But serious impatience and incessant demands aside, I love his curiosity and surprisingly don't mind hearing "What dis?" over and over again. He still loves to be chased and every time I ask for a high five, he sprints into his room and into one of two hiding spots: the corner of the room by the edge of his dresser, or behind one of the curtains. At any given point during the day, he'll either hide or cover his face and say "Where Jake?".

We taught Jake to close his eyes which hilariously (to us at least) results in a squinty grimace that I have yet to capture on camera because that child still yells "No!" every time I attempt a picture, even though I've tried a positive cause-and-effect of letting him see the picture immediately after...which now that I think about it, will only result in a vain child who starts taking selfies at age 3. Maybe that's not a good plan.

He's still incredibly helpful to the point of frustration on both of our parts. I took this video as we walked out of the library while Jake tried so hard to carry the heavy bag of books. So glad he's humble enough to accept help.

Leaving the Library from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.

Gah, this kid of mine!


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.