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. ;)


downtown for the day

Last Saturday morning, I woke up with the urge to go explore somewhere different than our usual stomping grounds. The weather was warm (too warm for October, but it is what it is!) and we didn't have any plans so I threw out the idea of visiting Fort Kid, a big playground in downtown Knoxville. Deric agreed and an hour later we were all finally in the car. (I swear, going anywhere with kids is such a production!)

We knew that UT had a home game that afternoon so the city would be much busier but we weren't too worried about it since the playground wouldn't be high on the list for most tailgaters. ;) But it turns out, the parking lot was! There was no parking available in the vicinity of the playground so we changed plans and headed to Market Square to check out the farmers' market.

There was orange EVERYWHERE downtown, and not just pumpkins and fall leaves! UT fans are serious.

I'm so glad Jake loves Reid as much as he does! I can only hope the love continues when Reid gets big enough to steal toys...

I don't know how often we tell Jake to back up a little but he just can't keep his hands (and face) off the baby!

Good thing Reid loves him, too.

We played with these rafting toys for the longest time! The little water display was so fun and Jake was intrigued with how the toys could right themselves after flipping over in the water.

Stealing a sip of Dad's sweet tea after lunch. His face cracks me up! That's a southern boy right there.

As the weather slowly cools off, we're looking forward to spending more time out in the city and the mountains as a family! Knoxville is a fun place to live.


exploring Nashville!

We've lived in Knoxville for five years (plus four more, if you count college years!) and I'd never been to Nashville in all that time-- or Chattanooga either, until this summer! But now that we've visited both cities, we're excited to continue exploring more towns around us as well as going back to both Chattanooga and Nashville again, since you can only fit so much into one weekend.

We have friends living in Nashville who have been out to Knoxville quite a few times and stayed with us as they hike in the mountains or play tourist downtown, and we finally found a weekend to go see them. Because Deric has Fridays off and works Sundays, we drove out on a Friday morning and arrived just in time to get burgers for lunch at The Pharmacy. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood just outside of downtown, it was completely packed at lunch! We didn't wait long though and got a perfect spot in their outdoor seating, which was so charming. It felt like enjoying a meal in a friend's backyard under the trees.

Reid's onesie says "I get my good looks from my daddy". And he does!

Both boys fell asleep in no time when we got back into the car after lunch, so we drove around the city to "sightsee" a little and let them nap. Usually I hate to be in traffic but with kids asleep and no real agenda, it was great timing for Deric and I to relax and just talk.

When the boys woke up, we stopped at Jeni's, an ice cream store recommended by our friend. At first glance I thought it'd be a little too fancy for my vanilla-loving self, but we shared four different flavors and each flavor was incredible! I can't remember the full names of each flavor, but we had vanilla, brambleberry crisp, peanut butter and chocolate. The flavors were so rich that sharing those scoops was plenty for the three of us.

After getting ice cream we headed out of the city a bit to our friends' house after they got off work. Jake had fun playing with their little girl (and all her toys) before we all crashed pretty hard for the night. The next morning we were up and in the city fairly early for breakfast at Puckett's, a favorite spot of our friends. It did not disappoint! I thought of it as a more hip, unique Cracker Barrel-- very country, TONS of food, but less farm equipment on the walls. ;) We walked off breakfast at the Nashville Farmer's Market where we had the best mint lemonade I've tasted! They also had the most creative bike racks...

We really only caught a glimpse of Nashville in our short time there--we didn't even have time for the Opryland Hotel--so we'll have to go again sometime soon! Its always fun to explore new places and visit friends at the same time!


Reid @ 4 months

Rolls over within seconds of being laid down. Its actually kind of killing us because he rolls over so fast and then gets stuck on his stomach. And he can roll over while swaddled in his crib, so he has yet to sleep the entire night in his room. Usually a few hours after we lay him down, we'll hear him on the monitor because he's escaped his swaddle and is trying to roll. So he ends up back in our room for the rest of the night, which we really don't mind.

Gums his fists, his feet, his blankets, our fingers...anything and everything with his reach. We're waiting for teeth to show themselves virtually any second. He's taken a liking to the Sophie giraffe teether which Jake never really cared for.

Smiles the biggest smiles for us anytime we catch his attention!

Loves to watch Jake and will bend himself all around to catch a glimpse of his big brother.

Does really well if I take him into his room, close the curtains and rock him to sleep about an hour after he's eaten. His little eyes will droop usually within a minute or two, but if I don't catch him in that window, he gets overtired easily and has to be convinced to fall asleep with a combination of rocking, swaying and shushing.

 Losing his hair slowly but surely! Its got a tiny hint of red in the sunlight. His blue eyes are still bright blue though and are commented on frequently by people!

Answers to Reid, Reidles, Reidle-deedles, Deedos, baby bur-Reid-o, and Toot-toots (that's Jake's favorite, thanks to the movie Zootopia).


Disney Day Two

I've got a whole batch of photos from our day at Hollywood Studios and Epcot! After visiting Magic Kingdom the day before, it was noticeably calmer at both of these parks which was nice. We started the day at Hollywood Studios which has more shows and really no rides, which translates into plenty of time spent in the air conditioning.

To kick off the day we watched a Disney Junior show. Jake loved seeing Jake and the Neverland Pirates, the girls got to see Sophia the First, and everyone was happy to see Mickey and all his friends. All three kids were majorly into the show. Every so often they would rain down something like bubbles on the kids and during the Pirates portion, gold circle confetti (or "gold doubloons") came floating down. Jake spent the rest of the show crawling around and gathering all the confetti to bring back to us. It was hilarious and thankfully he didn't request that we carry the confetti around for the rest of the day, he just wanted to give some to his grandparents (who were in the back of the theater with a napping Reid). So sweet!

The only character Jake wanted to meet was Pluto! He was a little hesitant at first but Jake got up the nerve to hug him. As we attempted a family photo Jake tried to walk away from Pluto which explains his little grimace and Pluto's subtle hug. ;)

Deric snapped these pictures while Jake (and Reid, you can barely see him asleep in my arms!) and I waited to meet Pluto. And I love them so much I want them blown up and plastered around the house.

These stormtroopers marched around the park throughout the morning and it was hilarious to watch people's attempts to get pictures with them because the stormtroopers wouldn't stop and pose. So when Deric jumped next to this one, the stormtrooper kept marching and said "Calm down, citizen!"

This time we did stay together for all the attractions! 

We rode Toy Story Mania together and it may have been my favorite ride, only because I actually beat Deric's score. ;) As you went through the ride you had to shoot at arcade-style games and compete against the person sitting with you. Deric and Jake teamed up and I beat them by like 10 points! (Which is actually a little pathetic because the 3 year old did most of the shooting...but a victory nonetheless!)

After Hollywood Studios we jetted over to Epcot for the remainder of the evening. First up was a Finding Nemo ride and "Turtle Talk with Crush", an interactive show with one of the characters. It was really witty! I think the adults in the audience may have enjoyed it more than the kids. At one point in the show, the turtle (AKA a guy somewhere behind stage controlling the turtle on screen) asked the kids if they had any questions for him. A little girl asked how the turtle can breathe underwater. The turtle begins to say "Oh, I can swim for 10-15 minutes under water before I..." and then he suddenly jetted up to the surface of the water and off screen. The turtle comes back and says "Oh my gosh, I am SO glad you reminded me!" The joke probably doesn't translate well on here, but the adults in the audience were dying. It was really well done.

While waiting for the show to begin, we checked out the fish in the aquarium! 

After we finished seeing Nemo and his friends we got caught in a rainstorm that felt so good! Just enough rain to cool us off...and completely soak our stroller that was parked outside. We laid our rain jackets on the seats so the boys weren't too wet and kept on going. It was perfect timing to let Jake play in some fountains since he was already wet. I think this may have been the highlight for him--he played for a solid twenty minutes or so before we finally tore him away to head home. 

Once again we left earlier than the rest of the family who were staying for a late dinner with some princesses. Since Jake really has no idea who the princesses are, we capped off the night with a "late-night" (by three-year-old standards) swim back at the hotel before crashing early. Two days at the parks was plenty for us, we don't have the endurance that some families do!

It was so fun to experience Jake's first rollercoaster and to see him interact with the characters he knows, but just getting to play all day as a family was probably the best part for us!