Sensory Rice

Ani is getting ready to open a little online shop selling dyed rice sensory kits. The rice comes out so pretty. A few weeks ago she had Anthony over and he got to play in some rice she had made.

Just touching the rice relaxed him so much. The color was beautiful and scooping and pouring made him very happy.

The wooden containers are a set I got for her to keep at her house with the rice she made for her little siblings. They were definitely a hit with Anthony.

He made a bit of a mess but that was okay because the rice is very easy to clean up. He played with the rice for quite a while.

Once he was done playing with the rice, he went right to bed and went to sleep quickly. That is not a common occurrence for Anthony. (Ani’s cat Azula liked the rice, too.)

Storytime at the Library

Ani took Joel to his very first storytime at the library a few weeks ago while I was sick. He had such a great time and wanted to go back right away.

He really loved the movement and songs and getting to be around other kids (he really latched onto a set of twins like he just knew they were like him).

He got to play with the dress-up box (funny… the boys all gravitated to the dress-up stuff and the girls went for the building blocks).

He spent some time looking at books. He also singlehandedly caused a falling down epidemic. He likes to run and then fall (on purpose). Of course the other toddlers thought that looked like lots of fun and so joined him in his antics.

After storytime Ani took him over to the books part of the library and he got to play with some toys and his favorite thing…

The computer. He had a ball playing an alphabet game on the library’s computer. If it’s electronic Joel wants to play with it. He’s been back to storytime a few times since and it’s always so much fun!

Zoo Lights

We got the kids (plus Haley and Ani) annual passes to the zoo this year (my parents got passes too). They were on a great sale making them totally worth it.

We figure Haley, Ani, and my parents can take a kid or two at a time so it won’t always be all of us going together (which can be kind of crazy). I suspect Joel will be making a lot of zoo trips between now and when school lets out.

The last time we went to the zoo was while the kids were still in foster care after their good-bye visit with their bio mom. They were just 19 months to 5 years old then!

We used our new passes to the zoo on New Year’s Eve for the Zoo Lights celebration (no jackets even after dark… gotta love winter in Texas). Six kids in the dark in a place we’ve only been a couple times before is super nuts even with four adults and one marginally helpful teen.

They ran around, they danced, they climbed on the lions. They had so much fun. Even when it’s hard to take all of them places and we’re constantly counting to six just to be sure they are all where we expect them to be, it’s totally worth it to see happy their faces and making memories with them.

Swimming in the Gulf on the First Day of Winter

Four years ago we went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico on the first day of winter. Adrian wanted to repeat that this year with his little siblings.

And so we did. I didn’t think the kids would actually get in the water (it was 52* on Solstice this year) so I didn’t pack bathing suits for them, just shorts.

I was wrong. They went in the water and played for thirty minutes. They all ended up soaking wet and covered in sand. They had the best time ever.

Afterwards we went back to our AirBnB so everyone could get a shower. I can’t imagine they were very comfortable for that thirty minute drive.

Texas sand is kind of a fine powder and it sticks to absolutely everything. We definitely need to vacuum out our rental beast because otherwise it will be forever sandy.

There were a few other people on the beach, mostly riding up and down the beach in gulf carts. Swimming in the Gulf in December isn’t the most common activity.

One guy gave the kids a little boogie board that was slightly broken but my kids didn’t care. That led to a lot more falling in the water and getting even wetter and sandier.

There was one old guy living on the beach in an Airstream attached to a pickup truck. He was very nice and enjoyed watching the kids playing and having fun.

When we tried to leave we discovered we were a little bit stuck in the sand (you park on the beach). So the guy in the Airstream towed us out ending our adventure with a little extra adventure.

December Owlcrate

Honestly every month Owlcrate seems to get even better. The books and dust jackets are just amazing and the stuff included in the box are such high quality and useful things. I just love Owlcrate.

This month we got this hanging thing with three pouches to put stuff in. I kept that because I really like anything I can put other things in.

These paper these bookmarks were made of just felt really nice. Ani took them home because I have about a bazillion bookmarks already.

Of course I kept the luggage tag pin. I love my luggage tag pin collection. I also kept the metal straws because Ani and Haley already have bazillion metal straws. They are heart shaped which makes them extra fun.

Ani took home these salt and pepper shakers. They are getting a lot of use. Salt and pepper shakers are one of those things you don’t realize just how much you need them until you haven’t had them and get them.

This crescent moon shaped tea bag holder and tea bag for putting in loose tea is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Haley claimed that. She drinks a lot of tea so it’s perfect for her.

The book this month is The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford. As always it sounds really good. Check out the cover of the book. How gorgeous is that?

The inside of the dust jacket is absolutely gorgeous, too. (You’d think Nicky is looking at the dust jacket, but he’s actually looking at Haley who is by far his favorite sibling.)

Marble Falls Walkway of Lights

Every year we drive up to Marble Falls to go through the Walkway of Lights. The lights are so beautiful. It’s mostly the same every year but it’s still worth going.

We accidentally made going there a tradition when we went to Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet and stopped in Marble Falls on the way home six years ago.

We’ve taken the twins to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls four times now. The rest of The Six have gone three times.

This year included complete sensory overload for one kid and an autistic meltdown for another. The lights really are very bright.

As usual we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for Blizzards. Everyone loves those. Maybe we’ll be able to take a leisurely stroll through the lights again when the twins are about 12. But in the meantime we’ll keep going every year because the kids love that trip every year.

Celebration

At the dance showcase in May I was surprised to see the adult dance classes are not for young adults who have been dancing and want to keep on dancing. They are for adults who want to dance, with or without experience.

So in August I started taking jazz classes once a week with my mom and daughter. None of us had ever taken dance before. The ladies in the class, and the instructor (who always says have fun and don’t do more than you can), have made it fun.

I’ve had a rough fall. First I was rear-ended by stupid texting girl. This left me with a back/shoulder/neck injury. Then I got RSV followed by bronchitis followed by pneumonia. Through it all I kept going to class as much as I could.

Just under a month ago I coughed so hard I pulled my ligaments in my back (yay EDS) and then just when they were getting better I sneezed several times in a row and reinjured myself just days before the winter showcase. I was determined to dance anyway – I could make it through two minutes – so armed with several medications and a heating pad I did indeed get up on that stage and dance.

We danced to Celebration by Kool and the Gang and we wore these outlandish costumes (that, honestly, looked really good up on the stage under the lights). I am so proud of myself for pushing through (and once again I am healing well). Tey are planning a tea party theme for the spring show. I’m hoping that means our dances will be all related to Alice in Wonderland!

This Week’s Lunches and Snacks

Mayci spent Sunday night with her big sisters so they packed her lunch for Monday. We ran out of time Wednesday night to pack everyone’s lunch for Thursday so Zeke, Mayci, and Anthony bought lunch (Zeke had actually asked to be able to buy lunch Thursday so he was very happy with being told to get a tray). Nicholas asked us to please pack him a lunch since he much prefers packed lunch to buying lunch.