two nights of Christmas lights!

One of my favorite memories of Christmas two years ago was taking Jake to see the Christmas lights at the park by our library and I was so glad we *just* managed to squeeze in a trip this year! Last night after dinner with our neighbors we went to the Cove, a park on the lake, to walk the loop through the park. There were so many fun lights to see but we walked pretty quickly because it was much colder than I anticipated! Thankfully Reid was asleep in his carseat nice and warm, so we didn't have to worry about him.

Tonight, we had dinner with friends and then loaded five kids up to check out the library park! It was not quite as cold tonight so the kids spent some time running around in between the lights. Jake loves these little friends, especially their oldest son. He takes such good care of Jake and Jake will do anything he does! Its so sweet to watch.

And now we're back home and Jake is *finally* asleep now that the hot chocolate sugar high is outta his system. Christmas Eve dinner is prepped, packing to go see family has started and just like that, its Christmas Eve!


Jake's first soccer lessons!

^^first lesson! 

Jake was enrolled in soccer lessons at a nearby indoor soccer arena & ice rink for the past eight weeks or so, with a week or two off for holidays. It was a small class of kids four years old or under so each lesson was forty-five minutes long, enough time for them to practice little drills and play a "game" for the last ten to fifteen minutes. When we arrived for the first lesson--with shinguards on, soccer ball and water bottle in hand!--Jake was a little nervous but Deric, Reid and I were all there to cheer him on. He was still pretty apprehensive during the lesson but one of the coaches stayed with him and encouraged him to try the drills. It was good grounds for talking with Jake about how to handle being anxious. Before the second lesson, Jake told us he didn't want to go so we prayed with him and talked about how God will help him to enjoy soccer and to have fun, and later on he told us that praying made him feel better. For me that was such an incredible reminder that God, who is bigger than I can imagine, cares about all the details of our lives, like a little boy's worries over a soccer lesson. And with each lesson, Jake got a little more confident and willing to try the activities. He also made a little friend (and his mom and I sat and watched together!), so the boys would run off the field together to find us for water breaks.

It was heart-wrenchingly cute to watch Jake play soccer! He looked so grown up but at the same time so little, too little to even be playing an "organized" sport. And it was such a reflection of his personality: during the soccer games, he rarely touched the ball but he was completely happy to run back and forth with the other kids, grinning ear to ear and cheering when either team scored! I'm pretty sure he was struggling with the concept of stealing the ball, since in every other situation he's obviously discouraged from taking toys from other kids. ;)  It was so cute to see him having such a good time while so oblivious to the point of the game. The group of parents watching could not stop laughing over the kids' antics during their little scrimmages-- laying on the ground, picking up cones, joining the wrong team's huddle. So cute! Three year olds playing sports are where its at.

I took video every so often when Deric couldn't make it and merged them all together into one little video. Its hard to see Jake in each clip but most of the time you can identify him by his socks, black with lime green stripes. He's usually bee-bopping around the perimeter of the group. ;)

(The little conversation with his friend was hilarious! They both realized they had basketballs on their shirts underneath the soccer shirts. Notice how they're totally unaware of the game?! Haha!)

Jake plays soccer from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.

We're all so proud of Jake for sticking it out and trying something new!


a few of my favorites from December

Less than one week until Christmas! I'm simultaneously wishing Christmas could be tomorrow...and wishing the holiday season could last for three more months. I can't waste even a minute without playing Christmas music in the house because I only get four weeks to listen to it! (Ok, I do actually listen to it into January because I have to just slowly let it taper off; I can't go cold turkey. Its so peaceful!)

The weather alternates between a high of 50 degrees and a high in the 30s the next day but regardless, we spend the majority of our days inside. Its a little frustrating to me but with Reid still so little, I have to remind myself that we'll get outside more as he gets older. And really its not so bad with Christmas music playing in the background while we play with toys or do some of the Christmas crafts I've pinned. ;)

We had a fun morning making this angel! Jake painted the toilet paper tube by himself and drew the angel's face with just some direction from me about using different colors for hair, eyes and mouth. I cut out the wings for him and he covered them with glitter glue, then we worked together to hot glue the halo inside the tube. And while we worked, we *both* memorized Luke 2:11-- listen to the video! Nothing cuter to me than that little voice reciting Scripture.

Luke 2:11 from Ashley Skinner on Vimeo.

A quiet afternoon, just me and Reid, while Jake napped. The tree in the background of the living room makes every day better! 

I took the above two photos and then came out from behind the camera to say hi to Reid and...

He smiles with his eyes ;)

Snugglin' in for Christmas movies!

The happiest flying baby!

Jake was *ready* for Christmas shopping!

Breakfast with friends! It was a genius idea--all parents of young kids are up at a godawful hour, so why not be awake and exhausted together?!

We had our friends over Thursday morning to bake sugar cookies with us. I'm pretty sure this was actually the first time ever that I've baked sugar cookies--my preference will always and forever be chocolate chip, with a rare sighting of gingerbread cookies most Christmases, but when friends will be over in an hour and gingerbread dough needs at least three hours of chill time, sugar cookies are the way to go. 

He's inherited that loving gaze at cookie dough from me. ;)

Jake and his friend were pretty skilled at rolling out their dough and using cookie cutters! And they were total masters at frosting and sprinkles.

A blurry but perfect capture of those cheeks and that little chin that juts out every so often! Little brother is starting to sit himself up pretty well!

This last weekend Deric and I had TWO kid-free Christmas parties in a row, the first with our church staff and the second with friends. It was such a nice change of pace to get a little fancier than usual! 

During this week leading up to Christmas, the holiday fun continues: we've got plans for those gingerbread cookies, a date to the movies lined up, dinner with our neighbors and a few more Christmas crafts to try out with our Frank Sinatra Holidays station going in the background! Merry Christmas week! ;)


Thanksgiving 2016

This year's Thanksgiving was really different from every Thanksgiving we've celebrated over the last six years. Usually we'd either travel to see Deric's family or my family would come to us. This year though, we were traveling the week beforehand and we arrived home on Wednesday, so we didn't spend the actual day of Thanksgiving with either of our families. Instead, we spent the morning at a Turkey Bowl some friends coordinated in the field right behind our house. The men all played a game of flag football while the rest of the families watched, the kids played, and we ate plenty of brunch and hot chocolate on the sidelines. Plus it was one of the first days we'd had in months that was actually cold! The entire family napped most of the afternoon in between watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade that we had recorded while out at the game. Its just not Thanksgiving without at least a few minutes of the parade!

We joined our next door neighbors for dinner that night. Their tradition is to eat at Calhoun's, a local restaurant, so this was my first Thanksgiving dinner out! And it was delicious. ;) We are so thankful to have neighbors who are part of our church family and who have become the boys' in-town grandparents, as we call them. They take great care of our family and love the boys so much. It means a lot especially when our families both live so far away. It just felt right to eat Thanksgiving dinner with them since they're essentially family after being neighbors for four or so years!

After dinner we pulled out the Christmas 'pa-jammies' as Jake calls them and watched a Christmas movie! Definitely the beginning of a tradition right there.

Our weekend was blissfully low-key. After a week of traveling, we didn't want to do a single thing...except haul out Christmas decorations. ;) Deric was so kind to pull everything out of the garage, fluff the tree and string the lights! I love Christmas, but those are all my least favorite parts. He's a good man.

Rediscovering the Christmas train that used to belong to Deric's grandparents!

There's one random hook on the underside of the mantle and Jake took it upon himself to hang up all our stockings. ;)

Decorating his little tree! He likes to use the ornaments from Deric's childhood.

And meanwhile, Reid was content to chew on the camel from the nativity.

Jake was given this Mickey Mouse scene last year from Deric's parents.

The best nightlight! I'll turn on these lights even when the boys aren't in their room. :)

Its so peaceful to turn on the tree lights and play Christmas music while the boys and I play in the living room. Even when we're dealing with root canals (me), ear infections (both boys) and then pneumonia (Jake, today), the lights and music are a calming backdrop and more importantly, a reminder of the hope Jesus' birth brought us so long ago that I can still hold on to when life is a bit stressful.


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!