mean eyes

Johonna may ribbit when she's mad, but you can usually infer as much by looking at her eyebrowse. I make a cameo in this home video. And really, it's about time. It's my blog, afterall.



I love to compare my kids.  Not like I'm comparing them competitively, I just like to see what they looked like doing similar things.  Here's Baylor conquering the Stephens stairs at 8 months, and Jo at 10 months.


Toddler Problems

Johonna has it rough.  Here's a list of her major grievances:
1. Baylor- he is in her way up to 10% of the time. 
2. Clothing. She has to get dressed approximately one time per week, when our nanny Rosemarie takes her to the library.  Some weeks it is just too much and so Jo stays in her footsy pajamas.  Sometimes she can be talked into getting dressed if it means she can wear a flower girl dress or something so poofy that it interferes with her car seat fit.
3. The fact that she is going to Disneyland in airplane.  When the issue comes up she vehemently insists that we are in fact riding a HELLYCOPTOR to Disneyland.
4. When her poppa forgets to leave her a treat in her special cupboard at Poppa & Grammy's house (where she goes while we work).  No treats in the cupboard is the toddler equivalent of starting your day with a speeding ticket and no coffee.
5. Water watching.  When Baylor and I are in the pool at swim class, it is Johonna's duty to be a water-watcher.  That means she gets to guard the pool and make sure no one but the kids in the class go into the water.  Normal siblings find this to be a special honor.  Johonna cannot be bothered.
6.  Ponytails.  They are the bane of her existence.  1 ponytail=7-8 minutes of tears.
7.  Going to sleep.  It's not her favorite.
8.  Waking up. It's not her favorite.
9.  When the bubbles go away in her bath- she has no patience for such things.
10. Skimping on cream cheese.  She prefers gobs of cream cheese on her cream cheese carrier (what luke calls bagels/toast/english muffins).  She carefully scrapes all the cream cheese off with her finger and only then, if she is still hungry, will she eat the carbohydrate. 

Because of all this strife, Johonna has developed a unique way of communicating her feelings.  Luke was first to break the code, but it is simple and consistent:

When she is mad, she RIBBITS like a frog.

When she is happy, she CHIRPS like a bird.

Here's a RIBBIT I caught on film:

Pork Products

I came to pick up the kids one night last week and my dad said to me, "MITCH! WE FOUND BAYLOR'S NEW FAVORITE FOOD!"  It was hot dogs. My dad fed my 8 month old TWO hot dogs.  To his credit, they were diced into a sort of hot dog hash so as not to get lodged in my precious son's airway.  My son was happy as a clam and smelled of hot dogs for the remainder of the day.  I discovered (not surprisingly) that the smell of uncooked hot dogs reminds me of my brother, who used to eat raw hot dogs like corn on the cob.  I think he outgrew that, but on any given day the odds are 50/50 that Jack is carrying some sort of cured meat in his pockets.  Usually pepperoni sticks.  Sometimes jerky. 

brought to you courtesy of ball park franks


Years Gone By

I have some of the greatest stuff on my phone/camera, but I'm too lazy to deal with it right now. So instead, a look back at this week in history. And by history, I mean the history that has occurred since I got my digital camera in 2007.

2007: Sarah & I on a trip to Colorado. It was SO much fun. We toured everything you could tour in Denver (Celestial Seasonings, Coors Brewery, a goat farm). And we rented a convertible- which made very little sense in Denver, but it was fun.

2008: Though I personally recognized Jesus as my Lord & Savior in 1994, I didn't work up the courage to be baptized until this week in 2008. I asked my father in law to baptize me- he is the strongest man of faith I know. I cannot recall this event without also remembering how I snorted into the mic while tearfully explaining how much I love Jesus. I'm sure it was a joyful noise to God, but I think it scared the young and elderly in our congregation. Dick bestowed the ultimate kindness by pulling me away from the mic after the first snort & shoving me under water.
2008 part B: In addition to being baptized this week 4 years ago, I crafted a gorgeous loaf of cotswald cheese. This was at the height of my passion for cheese making. I wish this story had a happier ending, but I'm pretty sure the loaf you look upon ended in a mess of blue mold- and not the edible kind.

2009: Oh here I am in my maternity crop top! No wait- that is not a crop top. We were trying to take a picture to capture the deep symbolism between the 3 babies pictured & the one in utero- 4 middlebrooks clan babies born within 8 months of each other. I was 36 weeks pregnant w/Jo here with Xander, Harrison, and Savannah

2010: Here we are with our darling one year old at cousin Bri & Ken's wedding in Seattle. Look at how tiny and sweet Jo was!? She wasn't quite walking alone yet- but close.

2011: An Easter/Julia's bday celebration at Bart & Linda's- Jo was in rare form, beating a pinata for candy & then snatching icing off all cupcakes within reach. This must be an act of defiance subconsciously inspired by my aunt linda. I swear NO ONE has ever snuck as much frosting in such a blatant fashion as my cousin Casey. And he was so darn sweet as a kid that he could never be blamed for it.


I will provide translation assistance

In this video we cover a few things you may need an interpreter (me) to understand.
1. What is Easter about? "Veggie tales and Jesus."
2. How do you spell ZOO? "O-O-Z"
3. What does your ear do? "Goes to your BRAAAAAIN. And don't touch on it." (We learned about brains at OMSI)


R is for Mose-Marie

Our beloved nanny is named Rosemarie. Jo says it "Mose-Marie". She tells us R is for Mose-Marie....and the way she says tooterooter makes me melt.



I thought I'd publicly declare my love for my siblings on my blog- one by one. I'm starting from the youngest & working my way up. That puts Alexee at #1!
I have known her since she was two days old, and she has been a source of immense joy and entertainment to us. As a little kid she was seriously the funniest kid EVER. If you laughed, she would laugh at your laugh. Which would make you laugh harder. Which made HER laugh harder. Luke talked so much about her to the lady who worked at the gas station he frequented that he finally brought her in so she could meet her. Lex did not disappoint- a gigglefest ensued.

Now that Lexee is more of a grown up than a kid, there are even more wonderful things about her becoming clear. Her little heart is full of love for her friends and family, she is SO nurturing to my kids and a wonderful role model, she is (BY FAR) the most organized Middlebrooks -- really, when Sara (second most organized Middlebrooks) was out of town recently, Lex was in charge of the schedules for her dad, sisters, and dog. I was actually with her when she made multiple calls to her dad and sisters to remind them of their upcoming scheduled activities/responsibilities. I won't name names, but the "dad" involved wouldn't have fed the dog if not for one well timed call from Boss Lexee.

As I'm typing this, Luke looked over my shoulder and said I should mention Lex's fashion sense. She has a great sense of style (not to mention the most beautiful long, curly hair!) and a smile that lights up the room. I love this girl & I'm proud to be her big sis. Lastly, she is very thoughtful and does a lot of little crafts/projects for people to let them know she loves them. Lexee is a blessing to us!


This is a gem for several reasons
1. It features my Granny, who is now in heaven but missed dearly on earth.
2. Ash & cousins Trisha & Megan are in it
3. Jack. Lots of things about Jack- he is wearing his veritable uniform from 1991: his neon outfit from Aunt Terri plus LA Gear shoes plus a nicely matching neon cap that I promise you (I don't know how I remember this) came from a happy meal at Wendy's. Also he's pretending to fake smile.
4. My hammer pants. I was in 4th or 5th grade, and this was one of my hippest outfits. For me (and this is still true), when you find a good combo of clothes you stick with it and just keep repeating. In third grade it was a belted tie-dyed dress with layered tights, spandex bicycle shorts (I'm serious- it was so I could climb the monkey bars at lunch), pee-wee herman socks & keds. I wore exactly that outfit at LEAST one time per week throughout third grade. Between 3rd and 5th grade I underwent a style reformation which resulted in the pictured white t-shirt, fabric elastic headband, home made MC Hammer pants (thanks mom) and LA Gear shoes. Clearly I was a fashion maven even in elementary school.


Baylor+cat door=photo op

Jo's been obsessed with firefighting and doctoring. I ordered her a pink stethescope. I did not order her a firehose. Here she is doctoring her brother.

Luke sends me photo updates in the morning, which makes my whole day. Here's Jo enjoying some bagel & cream cheese + ipad while dad works out.

I think Jo looks like Ashley when Ash was little sometimes....