Friday, December 25, 2009

the loot

santa called us christmas eve. no, really. caller id showed up "unknown". no number. no state identification. no nothing. the monkeys were on their best behavior. he insisted their presents were already loaded and on the sleigh. and that jakob was for sure getting the bike he wanted and riley didn't have to worry, it was a pink dollhouse for her. he claimed that max would get something perfect and zoe's gift was going to remain a secret until morning, but that she would love it. i was a little surprised how open santa was about the gifts, having not spoken to him personally, i kept thinking, "wow. i hope he knows what he's talking about." i, for one, didn't want to have to explain things in the morning if it wasn't exactly what santa promised. but christmas morning was pure excitement. that santa claus sure did deliver.

zoe: 1. polly pocket mall 2. "peace" build-a-bear 3. mint green camera (she got that early. we've established this.)

from santa: her very own room!! how santa managed this one, we may never know.

favorites in stocking: taylor swift cd, books, zuh zuh pet

jakob: 1. lego pirate ship 2. star wars skiff 3. real life cash register (i wish you could have seen his face)

from santa: brand spanking new bike

favorites in stocking: clone trooper outfit for build-a-bear, r2-d2 watch, scooby-doo dvds.

riley: 1. super fancy princess dress 2. parachute (just like the ones from elementary school. giant circle of fabric, everyone holds on to the handles and shakes it. runs around it. bounces beanbags on it. it was a huge hit.) 3. for the life of me, i cannot remember riley's third present. i'll have to come back to this.

from santa: pink dollhouse with a green roof. (she was very specific.)
favorites in stocking: stuffed white kitty cat, books, ariel costume for build-a-bear
*pictures will come.

max: 1. geo-trax airplane 2. shake and go race track 3. big orange tractor trailer that carries a big orange race car.

from santa: metal grocery cart

favorties from stocking: cars, trucks, motorcycle mailman, build-a-bear stroller

the phone call with santa ended, and jakob immediately claimed he knew who it was. it was "an old man with white hair. but he doesn't live at the north pole. i think it's called idaho." i debated that it couldn't have been grandpa howard or it would have shown up on the phone. and started.....snowing! in texas!! on christmas eve!!! i picked up the nearest kid and swung them around and heard myself say something like, "it's a christmas miracle!" i guess i was pretty excited. and that was just enough to seal the deal for the sloop children. santa claus is real.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

max's obsession

every morning, in a tiny sleepy voice, max asks to watch "lightneen uhteen". so i plop him on the couch with his blankie and a warm sippy, and he's happy for about 20 minutes while i make beds or shower or sit by him spaced out (depending on what kind of night i had). he is starting to quote lines from it and apparently dreams about it. sometimes when he wakes up from his nap, he'll say "mom, mom. lightneen uhteen is faaasss." or "mom, mom. mater funny." then laugh and laugh at a joke only he knows. he loves repetition. he wants me to repeat the same story over and over. once on our way home from rockwall, we saw a police car with its lights on, parked behind a truck on the side of the road. max asked, "mom, mom. what happen?" "that truck was probably speeding, so the policeman pulled him over." and seriously about 20 more times "what happen?" since my one line answer was not enough, i elaborated. "remember when lightning mcqueen was looking for mack and the cop car turned on his siren and started chasing him and lightning said 'serpentine! serpentine!' and he broke the road and got tangled in the telephone wires? that truck did that." "ooohhhh!! i like dat. mom, mom. what happen?"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

all i want for christmas is my two front teeth

jakob lost his top teeth within hours of each other. the bottom 2 (on either side of his fancy new middle bottom teeth) fell out in a blur of days either before or after the top. the tooth fairy was in a frenzy every other night searching for ones. and, sadly, forgot once or twice. oops. i kept remembering when i lost my front teeth. i was so bummed. i couldn't eat corn on the cob (and i love corn on the cob) until those buck teeth replaced themselves. it felt like forever. when i told jakob that tid bit of information, he was very reassuring. "don't worry mom. i don't even like corn. as a matter of fact, i don't like most vegetables other than carrots. and i can just eat those on these side chompers right here." that's great.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


when thanksgiving rolls around, i can't help but start in with the questions. "what does your family do for christmas?" "what were your traditions as a child?" "what are some of your favorite memories of the holidays?" you see, i really want to make this magical for mine. i want solid traditions that we do every year. after pooling traditions from my childhood and his childhood and interrogating family and friends, and a few that popped into our sugarplum heads, these are the keepers thus far:

  • secret elf. first of december we draw names. everyday of the month we do small acts of service for that person and make a serious attempt to direct extra hugs and smiles and well wishes their way. buy a present for them to be opened christmas eve, hopefully encouraging serious brotherly love. (or brother/sisterly love. zoe drew jakob this year. they are either best friends...or not even close. zoe asked if she could trade. john paul said, "nope. that's going to be the best thing for you.")

  • after we decorate the tree we have a giant family slumber party in the living room and smile with excitement until dreams of random things dance in our heads. (we eventually kick the daddy out. he snores, you know.)

  • gingerbread houses. my fam did this every year. we each got to decorate a house and then choose who we gave it to. i have to admit that i have been known to buy a pre-made kit at the grocery store, but it's not the same. the house doesn't smell like gingerbread and the candy isn't as stale. i love stale candy canes. seriously. (there's no telling how old our gingerbread house decor was.)

  • typically, every friday we have family movie night. it's the one night a week we get to watch tv while we eat! (exciting, i know.) it rotates who chooses the movie, the meal and the treat. but this year we are also doing christmas movie night. starting the kids last day of school we will watch a different christmas movie every night until christmas. i have to decide if we will get to eat dinner in front of the television, at least the treat will make it's way in front of the grinch and george bailey and the charming muppets in a christmas carol. (i hope someone will actually sit through it this year.)

  • we are eagerly adopting the "three wisemen gifts" this year. we are giving each child 3 presents from us. santa will hopefully come through and bring an amazing one, we'll expect lovely and thoughtful gifts from grandparents (they always deliver), and we'll cram their stockings to full capacity. but we are really hoping to focus on the birth of our savior. and shying away from mounds of toys will help us do that. they always end up adoring 3 or 4 presents anyway. the rest is just filler. very expensive filler.

we rely heavily on the tried and true stand-bys. blaring christmas music and dancing around the house. baking cookies and dipping anything and everything in chocolate. we read the classic christmas books and the new. and we're working on our very own living nativity. (we enough kids, geez.) john paul makes his own delish hot chocolate that the kiddies and i top it off with soft and fluffy homemade marshmellows. we love going for drives and looking at the christmas lights. and finding a family to help have a merrier christmas. i'm so excited for my house full of monkeys to rip open their presents. and grin at my husband when they keep screaming with delight "oh me oh my!!! this is what i've always wanted!!" i guess riley's the only one that really does that. jakob does get all excited and yelling, but it's usually more like, "YEEEESSSSSS!!!!! YEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!" zoe has never had much of a reaction. if she is absolutely in love with a gift, she kind of quietly says, "oh. wow." we'll have to see how the little man is. it doesn't matter. i'm excited. excited that for 2 weeks school won't interrupt our days. excited that i have some things hidden away that i know they'll love. excited that they're excited.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

thanksgiving and why i didn't take any pictures...again

we braved the cold and the 16 hr drive to make the trek to north carolina to get our nana and grandad fix. (and don't forget about the aunts and uncles.) we basked in (nearly) a week of love and affection. and when we got home, i eagerly checked the camera card to see what lovely little pics i had to prove that we had a beautiful thanksgiving, only to find these little ditties:
that would be max on the lawnmower (the engine blew up shortly after this. they have no evidence). riley at the aMAZing children's museum. looks like she's making herself a box. some random dog from the neighborhood. and zoe's neck. when i saw these, i thought, "what the what?! why do i always leave thanksgiving photo-less?" and this is what i came up with.
  1. i wasn't at my own house. so i couldn't always remember where i had left my camera.
  2. thanksgiving is mostly an indoor show. and we all know that i shy away from indoor photos. (not the best lighting. boo.)
  3. thanksgiving, when we travel, feels like an honest to goodness vacation. very little is expected of me, so in return i expect little of myself. my main concerns are laughing hysterically, playing with my babies and making sure they don't chop off a finger in pap's workshop, or bug anyone too much. easy peasy.

so if i had been thinking about it, i WOULD have gotten pictures of riley spooning with abby, the dog, and using her for a pillow. and i for sure would have gotten a million of max snug-mugging nana's neck. and i wish i would have gotten some of everyone together. or ANYone together, for that matter. i found these gems on zoe's camera. nana and grandad had an early christmas for the monkeys so they could see their cute little faces when they opened their loot. and these are some pretty cute faces.

i'll do better next year. (i hope.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009


our zoe lane was nancy drew this year. (don't let the cheer leading pose fool you.) the only thing we bought for halloween was the skirt, that we got on clearance for a measly 5 bucks. everything else we had. yes, even the insanely crazy socks.

every single one of my babies has worn this green monster costume for halloween. max wouldn't wear it trick or treating, so i had to snap some quick clicks of the camera while he was trying it on. i realize now that i shouldn't have attempted that at nap time. it was itchy and a bit snug. he was equally upset when the hood was on or off. and the vampire teeth sucker that was meant to distract him just made him sticky, so his mean mom wouldn't let him near her camera. and that just ticked him right off.

riley grace was several different princesses for our many different halloween functions. the cinderella costume proved to be the least itchy, allowing me to get these very hurried pictures of her. sweet little girlie.

jakob was anakin skywalker again this year. he was in the middle of conquering "lego battles" on nintendo ds and couldn't be bothered with photos. he suggested i post a link to the pictures of him last year. i found that to be very inventive of him. so you can see jakob HERE.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


zoe did the cheerleading clinic again this year. john paul and i decided this would be a good time to divide and conquer, since she would be cheering right around bedtime. i went to one of her practices, so john paul got to go the night of the game. he loaded up zoe and jakob and the freshly charged video camera, and off they went. when he got home, he claimed he didn't record any of the cheers or dance because the video camera was dead. bummer. but he assured me that (just like last year) she was the cutest one out there. but still, i was disappointed i didn't get to see it. but sometimes, on sunday afternoons, we watch home movies. and when i put the most recent disc in, i discovered about 15 minutes of people's feet...on what appeared to be a high school football game. just sayin'.

Friday, October 30, 2009

almost famous

look who was on the front page of the paper!! the children's museum had a "mother/son pirate adventure" and jakob and i tore it up. yes, i am wearing a skull and crossbones bandana on my head. yes, i have a pirate printed tee shirt on. and yes, those are giant hoop earrings i am wearing. (i haven't worn earrings for about 12 years. i gave them to zoe. she's been begging for giant hoops. there you go.) not exactly the picture i would choose to have plastered on the front page, but this is a small town. it's not like any more than 9,000 people saw it...and now all of you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

her party

4 days after jakob turned 7, birdie turned 4. we let her be in charge of every aspect of her party. she's 4, now. she's pretty responsible. so riley chose the decorations:

  • purple streamers
    pink and purple balloons
  • purple tablecloth, purple plates, purple cups
  • purple flowers

she chose her cake and helped decorate it:

  • barbie cake with a purple dress.
  • purple flowers on the bottom.
  • sugar "happy birthday" letters

she chose the agenda:

  • decorate bags (to hold pinata candy).
  • run around and laugh and scream
  • whack the pinata (a pink and purple unicorn we got for $2 at goodwill).
  • get upset that your sparkly little unicorn friend has been hung in a tree and beaten with sticks and is now on the ground being torn apart.
  • make candy necklaces and bracelets.
  • giggle giggle giggle.
  • open presents. riley's friends (or their mommies) must know her really well. she got a disney princess cd player, fancy dress up shoes, make up, and tons of jewelry.
  • dress up.
  • put brand new make up on anyone who will sit still.
  • dance to princess music.
  • eat purple barbie cake.
  • scream with delight when we see that even the inside of the cake is purple.
  • stick sugar letters on cheeks.
  • beg to do it all again tomorrow.

jakob is 7

when we became a family of 6, we adopted the idea to only throw birthday parties on even years. (when they are turning 2, 4, 6, 8...who do we appreciate?) and on the odd years, they can invite one friend to do something fun. this year jakob turned 7, and that boy knew exactly what he wanted to do. he wanted to go bowling with his best friend in the world, bryan. they were in the same kindergarten class last year, and upon discovering they were both die hard star wars fans, they were virtually inseperable. we are so in love with our little jakob gray. and here are 7 of our favorite things about the boy.
  1. when he wakes up in the morning, he is excited and ready to go.
  2. he is sincerely concerned about all living things (and cartoon characters, cg beings, and stuffed animals), hoping they are not hungry, or cold, or lonely.
  3. he is a great hugger.
  4. he's happy eating the exact same thing for lunch every day of his little life.
  5. his teacher insists that he is a perfect student. not caring as much about grades or being "the smartest" (although he is very smart) as he does about being obedient and kind and helpful.
  6. he adores his family.
  7. if you give that boy a job, he will go to the ends of the earth to accomplish it.

happy birthday, jakob!! i'm so happy you are in our family. you make us so happy.


last sunday, we were having a seemingly quiet afternoon, when john paul walked out of the bathroom and said, "there is a huge pile of curly blond hair on the floor in there!" what?! that's impossible! we confiscated all scissors! (after bird gave herself layers and sweeping bangs last year, it became clear that she could not be trusted.) but i had forgotten i was letting the big kids do a craft in jakob's room. we made sure the door was closed. i don't know why that put me at ease. after all, she does have operable thumbs. so sometime between jape snoring on the couch and me playing tractors with max, riley went into jakob's room, snuck the scissors into the bathroom and cut a good 9 inches off of her hair. she came clean that she wanted short hair like one of her best buddies, caitlyn. i informed her that beau's mommy is the only person that has permission to cut her hair. she agreed. we made an appointment. and riley got an adorable new do. jape absolutely loves it, saying over and over how cute it is. and although i love it, too, i miss the curls. i miss the little girl with the curls. she looks way too grown up. and it is blatantly staring me in the face that my little girl isn't all that little anymore.


zoe has been asking for a digital camera for over 2 years. so this christmas, we finally came through. i've been talking to zoe about cameras for months. what kind she wants, how much we were willing/able to spend, it's capabilities. eventually it came down to one camera and one camera only. she chose this camera based solely on it's color. i tried to sway her multiple times. there were better cameras, at comparable prices with better options. but that girl would not budge. not in a stubborn sort of way. more like a "no thank you. this is exactly what i want." i considered getting the one i wanted for her. the better camera. but then i imagined her sweet little face opening her present on christmas morning and seeing a hint of disappointment. and i couldn't do it. so this is the camera that i bought and stashed in the closet, prepared to wrap in 2 months. but then my precious little canon got sick, and i had this brilliant idea. what if we give zoe her present early so that way we can at least have some sort of documentation that we all still exist. so if you see pictures on this little blog, it is thanks to the little mint green block that zoe absolutely adores. "maybe i'll be a fashion photographer! smile."

Monday, October 26, 2009

sad but true

my sweet little camera is sick. specifically, her auto focus is being difficult. and her manual focus is lazy. and until a bag of money falls from the sky, so that i can take her the doctor, there will be little to no pics on this here blog. sorry about that, because it really is my favorite part of all this "blogging" business. the pictures. so i'll be watching the sky, and hopefully i can get back into my groove.

Friday, September 11, 2009

i'm sure you've already seen these

but when i watched the crowd of thousands dance to "the black eyed peas" on oprah, i got that same giddy, teary-eyed, hyperventilating feeling i get everytime i watch these. i just can't help myself.

Monday, August 31, 2009

maxwell's dictionary

max isn't much of a talker. he doesn't really need to be. he will repeat anything and everything (so watch yourself) but the words he chooses to say with no prompting melt my heart.
swing \whin\n. 1. please push me in the pink swing 2. the blue swing will do if someone is already in the pink swing
jump \dum\vb 1. i want to bounce on the trampoline 2. i'm going to jump in the pool whether you're watching or not
no \'no\adv 1. if i say "no" high and sweet, i really mean "yes". 2. if i say "no" low and grumpy, then i mean "no"
what \'wat\adv in response to any question you ask me (we haven't completely figured this one out. he says it all the time. but i'm pretty sure he thinks it means "yes")
ball \'ba\ n. 1. i want that ball 2. i want you to catch the ball 3. i want you to throw that ball at me and if it happens to hit me, i'll laugh and laugh
jakob \day'kuh\n. 1. boy to play with 2. small male person i'm always excited to see 3. someone who can remove me from my crib.
riley \wa'wee\n. 1. best friend 2. someone i love to see/play with/snuggle/accuse of stealing my blankie\bang'din\n.
zoe \zuh'\ n. 1. yea! you're home! 2. please share your snack with me 3. girl bigger than "wawee" who can put me on the trampoline and get me out of the swing 4. girl who occasionally locks me out of her room
hot \ha'\ adj. 1. the trampoline/cement is hot on my feet 2. i'm concerned the food you are trying to feed me is hot 3. i don't want the food you are trying to feed me, so i'll stall
stuck \'tuh\vb 1. come quick! i'm stuck 2. come quick! something i want is stuck 3. come quick! i want you to open this jar/door/toothpaste that i'm probably not supposed to have
max has recently started putting 2 words together. that one \da'win\, daddy's home \daddy oh\, stop it \dop eh\ and want bite \un bye\. they just might be the cutest sentences known to man.

school days

the first week of school went off without a hitch. jakob started 1st grade with mrs. sturch (who we all immediately fell in love with) and was an old pro. "it's just like kindergarten!!" he knew where to meet before school started, what to do in the lunch line and how to sit on the curb while he was waiting for us to pick him up. everyday, mrs. sturch says something like, "i just love him! i want to keep him forever! i wish i had a million more jakobs!" i said to jakob, "wow. mrs. sturch really likes you." he very confidently told me, "yeah. because i'm the best kid in school." zoe was the tiniest bit apprehensive to start this year. she was in a brand new school, so the idea of not being familiar with where to go and what to do made her nervous. plus, none of her best little girly friends were in her class so she was feeling a bit secluded, (and she reminded us that she wouldn't see jakob in the halls...or collin or cameron or jayden or opheina.) but after the second or third day she was right as rain, once again feeling comfortable and happy, and although she doesn't talk about mrs. feduccia much, it's always nice things. so we are looking forward to another beautiful year. (although jakob is already asking if he can skip...pretty please... just this once.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

divide and conquer

there are millions of reasons why i love my little family. the fact that it's easily divisible by 2 is one of my favorites. taking on 2 kids is easy and completely do-able. and no matter how we divide our wee ones, it's even. boys vs. girls. in school kids vs. at home kids. big kids vs. little kids (don't let riley hear you call her little.) good kids vs. bad kids. kidding. i'm KIDding! 2, for us, is pretty simple. but we are trying to spend one on one time with them, too. and we have found that just taking one kid out of the mix (it doesn't matter which one) makes it infinitely easier. but amidst our quest of division, we realized we were never mommy+daddy+child. it was always mommy+children and daddy+children. so we have remedied that. it will be rare, but it will be. we have decided that we will take trips with each child, individually, when they are 8, 12, and 16. hopefully bonding us as parents and child. we decided to make the 8 year old trip a day trip. and let them choose what we do. all day. this summer when we were visiting jp's family in nc, we left the 3 youngest with nana and grandad and took our eldest for a "day in the life of zoe". jp was hinting towards a water park, i kept hoping for a play, but zoe made the final decision. she chose to go to the mall and get her ears pierced, go to build-a-bear and to eat at the nearest restaurant. (i think it was a friday's, or bennigan's or something exactly like it.) we had so much fun. she was thrilled that she got to get dessert (chocolate covered strawberries) and felt so grown up with tiny blue earrings. john paul and i were ecstatic that we could have a conversation with our sweet girl and not be interupted. that we got to hear everything she had to say. and that we had a chance to remember to just look at her. and smile at her. and let her be loved. it was a huge success. she is already planning what she wants to do for her 12 year old trip, and making suggestions for jakob on what he could do next year for his first trip. maybe he will be more easily swayed toward the play. but, i highly doubt that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

tweetsie railroad