Like their older brother five years ago, Fritz and Adrian spent part of Spring Break on that great Mormon LARPing adventure known as Trek. Their experience was very different from Cameron’s, though, mainly because of the weather.
It was 16 degrees when they woke up Friday morning, colder when you factor in the windchill, and they all came home with windburn this time rather than sunburn. We’re talking icicles hanging off water dispensers midday. In Texas. Texan kids aren’t built for that kind of weather.
The boys made very cute pioneers. They walked 13 miles and shot BB guns and bows and arrows. They ate well. It really would have been pretty pleasant if not for that crazy weather. Fritz says his fingers and toes only went numb for short periods a few times. Adrian woke up unable to feel his hands and feet at all and discovered condensation had made his gloves and socks wet. One of his Trek Siblings helped him get those off and go through the rather painful process of warming up.
Fritz says if he knew then what he knows now he would not have gone. Adrian says he still would have. Kind of funny really since Fritz loves the cold and Adrian most definitely does not. But I guess there is Texas cold and then there’s the cold they experienced on Trek.
They were both happy to get and be able to take hot showers and sleep in soft, warm beds. Noah was the happiest, though. He missed Fritz so much and pretty much wouldn’t let go of his big brother for a couple hours after he got home.
This has been a busy year for us. I simultaneously can’t figure out how the time has gone by so fast and how we fit so much into just twelve months. Tomorrow will be 2022 and the start of twelve more months of adventures.
In January Fritz and Adrian got their first semester report cards for 7th and 9th grades and both did amazing for their first time in public school since kindergarten and second grade. We also continued trying to figure out just how much food to make to feed our small army (spoiler alert: it’s always too much or too little).
And now here we are on New Year’s Eve looking forward to what 2022 will bring us. We know a few things like Trek for the big boys, Fritz being ordained to the office of Priest, Birthday Season ending with us having 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 14 and 16-year-olds, Ani turning 22 in February, Zeke turning 7 in March, me turning 44 in April, Cameron turning 21 in October, and Jamie turning 47 in November the same day we hit two years since the kids were adopted, and having kids starting pre-k, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 9th, and 11th grades in August. Whatever else 2022 has in store for us, I know it will be awesome!
The kids had lots of fun this Halloween weekend. The celebrations started Friday with Trunk or Treat at the kids’ elementary school. Saturday we planned to go to Trunk or Treat at church, but various of us weren’t feeling too good after getting flu shots so only Adrian went to that. And then on the real day the kids went to Ani’s apartment and she and her friends took them around the complex trick or treating. So much candy!
Ani has always been the queen of putting together last minute homemade costumes, but Adrian is apparently even better. He found this random blue sport coat and got the idea to be New Scamander. He put on his church clothes, a tan jacket, and the sport coat and carried my Niffler. Totally nailed it.
I made a simple rule for myself that ensures I always read my scriptures, every single day. I am not allowed to read any books until I have read a chapter/section in the scriptures. Since I quite enjoy reading books, this works great for me and I haven’t missed a day of reading in months. (I also have Read Scriptures as one of my daily to do’s and I really like crossing things off my list so that helps as well.)
I don’t usually let Mayci wear her hair down even though she regularly asks me to. She’s not yet five and plays hard and is just as likely to be sitting on the couch on her bottom as on her head. So generally I insist that she have her hair in protective styles like braids or twists to prevent tangling or breakage. Sunday before last I finally agreed to let her wear her hair down for church. She was so excited. And super cute. The funny thing is while hair like this is generally referred to as a Wash N Go, it’s anything but wash and go.
After her bath, where her hair was washed twice and conditioned once and then thoroughly rinsed out, Saturday evening, we worked her leave-in conditioner through her hair and detangled it. She wore her bonnet to bed as usual. Then in the morning I sprayed her hair with water until it was nice and damp. Then I added a lot of cream and worked it through her hair and detangled again (thanks to the bonnet there’s not much detangling to do in the mornings). Then I put some jojoba oil on her scalp and pulled it down the strands. I added some more jojoba oil to the ends of her hair since when left down those ends really like to get dried out.
I gave her hair a final brush with our magic purple brush. It leaves her hair in the prettiest little ringlets when it’s used in a certain way. To finish up her Wash N Go, I put a giant pink bow in her hair on the side. She is such a girly girl with a love of pink and bows so with a pink bow in her hair and wearing a lacy pink dress she’s really just living her best life.
As far as hairstyles go, it’s a pretty quick one, just about 15 minutes total. But that’s 15 minutes for a hairstyle that is only going to last looking this nice about 4 hours on such a little girl and adds some time to styling the next day since there’s more detangling to do than usual after wearing it like this. But she loves it so on occasion it’s totally worth letting her wear her hair down.
On Saturday morning four adorable teenage girls from church came over for a couple hours as part of Girls Camp. They said I could have them do any service I chose so I picked the best thing I could. I asked them to play with the kids while I went upstairs and read.
They took the kids outside for about an hour and then spent the next hour singing songs and playing The Floor is Lava with them. The kids had a great time and I think the girls did, too. The kids all ate huge lunches and Noah and Joel took long naps after they left.
About three hours later Anthony asked me if he could go outside and play with a bunch of girls. I guess he had a lot of fun with them!
Jamie was in nursery with a melting down Nicholas and Noah for a while on Sunday while I was teaching Sunday School holding a falling asleep Joel. Someone asked him if Nicholas and Noah were twins and he said no, but Noah IS a twin. These guys are definitely twinplets.
Speaking in Conference, President Nelson was talking about the pandemic and how things have been and lessons learned and said some would probably like to skip from April 2019 to now avoiding the whole thing altogether. Adrian said he would, but then I reminded him that means he wouldn’t have six little siblings and he said in that case he definitely wouldn’t want to skip.
Adopting six kids in the middle of a pandemic has definitely been odd. Until things shut down we were having Elijah and Mayci over every other weekend. For a couple months we only ever saw them on Skype. Several planned visits to see their bio grandma and aunts and uncles have been cancelled due to exposure. We didn’t take them out in public all together for about an entire year.
I agree with Adrian. No way would I skip. Can you imagine what we would’ve missed out on if 2020 never happened?
The first time we met Anthony, the first weekend we had them for an extended sibling visit/respite, he was so shy and quiet. I’m not sure he said even a single word to us that whole weekend.
Soon after he was placed with us on January 8th, he became very attached to Jamie. Having a daddy was pretty much the best thing in life for him.
He loves books. He loves to look at them on his own and he loves to be read to. We spent a lot of time the first few weeks reading to him. It really helped calm the storm raging inside him.
We we first got him he wasn’t a fan of baths. He much preferred to wash himself using baby wipes. Over time he started to enjoy them much more. This picture was taken seconds before he took that cup full of water and dumped it over the side of the tub all over my legs.
When we first got Anthony he was in nursery at church. He always wanted one of us to stay with him in there. Since we haven’t had in-person church since March, the next time they have primary he’ll already be a Sunbeam!
Anthony has trouble with speech. When we first got him this caused a lot of meltdowns. When try to tell someone you want something, after a while you get really angry that they don’t understand you.
He’s a good helper. He helps clean up toys with just a little direction. He loves to help in the kitchen. He is even helpful with his baby brothers.
He started preschool at a place near us a month or so after we got him. He has been in daycare since birth and loves the structure and learning. He even says one girl in his class is his “girlfriend” (he’s actually quite popular with several of the little ladies).
Over time we’ve gotten better at understanding him and his speech has gotten better. He’s on three allergy medicines to try to help since a lot of his issue is non-infected fluid stuffing up his head.
Understanding him better has really helped with the meltdowns. Sometimes we still don’t understand him (about 25% of the time at this point), but he can show us what he needs now without words when can’t figure out what he’s telling us so that helps a lot.
The first time his hearing was tested, he had moderate hearing loss (that’s when the third allergy medicine was added). He’s still at the bottom of normal, though.
At first, Anthony did not like me at all. He depended on me to feed, clothe, and diaper him (he was attached), but he was very angry that he had yet another female caregiver in his life (he was not bonded). After a couple months he decided I wasn’t horrible. It took another couple month for him to start really liking me and another couple months after that for him to actually begin bonding to me.
Because Anthony bonded with Jamie very quickly, a lot of the non-technical part of caregiving fell to him which was exhausting for Jamie because Anthony was understandably high needs at that point and Jamie was dealing with what the doctors believe was the after affects of undiagnosed COVID.
Sleep is a big issue for Anthony. He wakes often during the night. At first he would cry for 2-3 hours every night. Eventually he stopped crying when he woke up but he was just awake. He’s staying in his bed until at least 5 now 3-4 nights a week.
He had a sleep study a couple months ago and he has mild sleep apnea. The theory is he wakes up from that and is hungry and can’t fall back to sleep quickly (he has delayed sleep issues no matter when he goes to sleep). Even if we feed him in the middle of the night it still takes a while for him to go back to sleep.
Since his sleep apnea is almost definitely related to his giant tonsils and his speech issues are likely related at least in part to his swollen adenoids, he is having surgery next month to remove those so hopefully we’ve got a plan that will help his speech and sleep to improve.
Most of the time Anthony is truly a joy to have around. His smile just lights up the room. His belly laugh is super contagious, too.
He’s a big fan of sweet things. Ice cream, cake, donuts, you name it, he likes it. He was really picky when we first got him, but that is getting better over time as he is introduced to different foods and finding his actual likes and dislikes.
Anthony is less than a year younger than Mayci. Not only do they have practically the same face, they are very close. The first thing they did when Mayci was placed with us was hug for about 5 minutes. They had missed each other so much.
Anthony’s birthday is a palindrome which is almost as awesome as Elijah’s birthday being Ultimate Pi Day. He was born on 7/18/17.
In August, he moved up to Room 7 at preschool. He loves his class, though he’s sad he lost his favorite teacher last month. He’ll get to see her again next year, though. She’s now working as an assistant teacher in Mayci’s pre-k classroom!
He loves playing on the playground. Slides are his favorite thing. He is pretty happy that he gets to go out and play on the playground at school a couple times every day.
When Anthony gets frustrated he doesn’t exactly cry, but rather fuss hums in a very irritating way. When he first arrived he was almost constantly doing that. As the storms inside have calmed down, he hardly does it anymore.
For Halloween he was a skeleton. He loved dressing up both for the parade at his school and for trick-or-treating.
Anthony enjoys all aspects of school. He likes playing in the center and he also likes the seatwork. They don’t push at the preschool he goes to and if a kid wants to scribble instead of trace, that is okay. They are still very little. At first Anthony would just scribble, but he’s getting really good at tracing now.
A few weeks ago, he had to get his blood drawn in preparation for his surgery. He was so good about keeping his mask on and he was cooperative when they actually took his blood even though it hurt. He’s such a good, sweet kid.