April Owlcrate Box

April’s theme for our Owlcrate box was Peek Behind the Curtain. As soon as I opened the box I could see the colors were gorgeous.

The book is Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor. Her letter explains where she got the ideas for what she wrote. It sounds like a super fun book!

The printing on the book with the lock and key theme is really pretty as are the endpapers. The book is signed by the author, too, of course. The reverse side of the dust jacket is truly lovely. What an amazing picture!

The box included all sorts of fun book-themed stuff. There was some ground coffee that’s chocolate eclair flavor (I hate the smell of coffee, but this smelled really good). Ani took that home with her. Then there was a wax seal kit I can’t wait to use.

Look at that beautiful design on the stamp and the gorgeous pink wax.

There was a microwave popcorn maker. Just add kernels and fold the flaps down and pop it in the microwave. Ani claimed that. The clock is so pretty as is the mouse pad. Ani took those home with her as well. I always get the luggage tag pin.

I put the luggage tag pin right on my backpack. Ani went home and made herself some popcorn and a cup of the coffee (and then immediately started shopping for more flavors because it was so good).

Triggers

You never know what is going to trigger a kid. Zeke went to Ani’s apartment and was watching a movie while she made dinner. We didn’t even think about how the content might affect him. It was Zootopia. It’s made for kids. It’s one of Ani’s favorite movies. But there are drugs and some of the characters go nuts. And that was a huge trigger for my little boy.

March Owlcrate

Last month Ani and I decided to go halfsies on an Owlcrate subscription. Our first box was so much fun!

The book last month was A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson. I haven’t read it yet but it sounds like it’s going to be so good. The Owlcrate dust jacket is gorgeous (and reversible).

The edges are sprayed red. With the mostly black dust jacket those red edges are just gorgeous. It’s signed by the author, too.

The inside of the dust jacket is absolutely beautiful. The colors are so nice and the pictures so pretty. The outside of the book is embossed to match the outside of the jacket.

Along with the book we got a whole bunch of fun stuff inspired by various books. The hardest part was decided who gets what!

We got an art card binder. That is sitting on the shelf with the book (and lots of other books) with the March art displayed inside.

This is a book sleeve. Ani very quickly claimed that. Is so pretty and perfect for toting around a book inside.

This is a set of really neat bookish quotes stickers. Ani took it home to share with her roommates. Stickers and the littles don’t mix well.

The way age-defying face mask goes with The Picture of Dorian Gray is so perfect. We gave this to my mom to try out.

I claimed the literary luggage pin. It now lives on my mini backpack. I love how it looks on there. The colors go nicely together.

The final thing in the box was an embroidery kit. Haley was thrilled to be given it. Our April Owlcrate should be here any time. I can’t wait to see what it contains!

Ani is 22!

We totally nailed her gift this year!

I picked out twelve random books that looked interesting at Half-Price Books and wrapped them. I put three hints on each one (blind date with a book style) and labeled when to open them one a month February 2022 through January 2023.

I covered a cardboard box with wrapping paper and labeled it Ani’s Books.

Then I loaded up the books. Perfect!

Book of the Month for Me!

Ani gave me a three month subscription to Book of the Month Club for Christmas. I get to pick each month from a selection of five books (or pick a past book if none of them strike my fancy, and add up to two additional books if I want, or skip a monthly shipment if I temporarily lost my mind… it’s really flexible like that). My first box arrived a couple weeks ago.

I had no idea Book of the Month has been around since 1926. That’s close to a hundred years! I chose Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson for my first book. It won’t actually be released for a couple more weeks, but I’ve got it already. It’s a debut novel. I love the whole solve a puzzle inheritance thing. (Obviously given how much I loved The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes).

I can’t wait to get started reading this one and getting to see and pick my selections each month. Pretty sure I’ll be doing an annual membership before these three months are up! (Check out Book of the Month. So far it’s pretty awesome!)

2021

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).

In February we put up a baby urinal in our bathroom and it’s been the best thing we could have done. There was more figuring out how to feed our small army (we’ve pretty much got it down now). We got a playground put up in our backyard. We ended up with COVID in the house and had to quarantine at the same time pretty much the entire state of Texas shut down due to a freak snowstorm and crazy cold (we got lucky and never lost power).

In March I started getting more creative with Mayci’s hair. All the adults in the house got vaccinated for COVID. Zeke turned six on Pi Day. The next day Noah had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids and have tubes put in his ears. We got brave and took all six kids to HEB for the first time.

In April I sprained my foot when I gracefully fell down the stairs of The Beast. We also discovered Zeke has hair like Fritz’s: It grows SO fast!

In May our six-year-old officially changed his name to Zeke. School got out and so Mayci finished pre-k, Zeke finished kindergarten, Adrian finished 7th grade, and Fritz finished 9th grade.

In June the kids were bored of their 11-week summer vacation within about 30 seconds so we started our summer schedule which continued the entire summer and worked great. We got Fritz’s end of course results (all three passed). We entered Birthday Season when Adrian turned 13 on Juneteenth. The end of the month the twins turned two.

In July we got Adrian’s STAAR test results (he did great especially because it was his first time taking that sort of test). On the 6th Nicholas turned 3. And then on the 11th Fritz turned 15. Adrian saved all year and enlisted the help of a few other people in order to give Fritz an Oculus Quest 2 for his birthday. On the 18th Anthony turned 4 ending our intense streak of five birthdays in less than three weeks. Fritz got all registered for the virtual school for 10th grade.

In August we finished birthday season on the 2nd when Mayci turned 5. Zeke and Mayci both took off in their reading (best decision ever to work on teaching them how to read over the summer). We found out who the three elementary schoolers’ teachers would be (they’ve all been the perfect teacher for each kid, especially Zeke’s). In the middle of the month it was time for four of the kids to be off to pre-k, kindergarten, 1st, and 8th grades (and Nicky moved to a new room at preschool). A week later Fritz started 10th grade. Just before the end of the month my beautiful mother turned three-quarters of a century old.

In September we started getting monthly boxes of Young Adult books from Literati for Adrian (love those books). Dance classes started up for Zeke and Mayci. I did the most complicated and beautiful hairstyle on Mayci that I’ve done so far (53 twists). The twins moved out of their cribs and into their big boy beds. We took four of the kids to the movies for the first time. Mayci went to dance camp at the high school and got to perform at halftime at a football game.

In October we pulled Nicholas out of preschool. We got the four littlest boys new church clothes. I did some fancy hair on both Mayci and Haley. We had some really cute costumed kids on Halloween.

In November Jamie and I went to see The Beach Boys again. Lola moved in with Cameron and Tami and it’s helped Nicky’s eczema so much (he’s allergic to dogs). We celebrated Jamie’s 46th birthday and one year since we adopted the kids by playing at a trampoline park. We got our family pictures taken. I started having more time to read again thanks to Haley playing with the twinplets six hours a week and the kids getting a little older and more independent.

In December Nicky suddenly started looking much older and bigger than his little brothers. Anthony’s dreams came true when we put a Christmas tree in our living room. My Daddy turned 77 on Christmas Eve.

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!

More pictures

A few more pictures from Saturday’s photo shoot with Jacqueline Eldredge Photography

All of Us
Another of all of us… and Fritz and Adrian are actually smiling!
Another picture of Cameron and Tami
Sisters
Mayci wanted her picture taken with Cameron last year. This year she requested Ani.
Just the two of us
A baker’s dozen
We always love how the all of us in a line pictures turn out.
Another picture of Zeke. He’s getting so big.
Another picture of Nicholas making a very Nicky face
Noah really wasn’t feeling the photo shoot again this year,
Joel was getting over a cold so he was only happy cuddled up with his daddy.
The momma and the papa… very soon post-op… Daddy had his kidney stones cleaned out one week and five weeks before this was taken and Mommie had a hip replacement three weeks before.
Twins on Shoulders
The ladies… Ani, Mommie, Mayci, Me, and Tami

My Kids

We got our pictures taken by Jacqueline Eldredge again this year and once again they turned out amazing. My kids…

Anastasia Sariah, age 21
Cameron James and Tami, both 20
Frederick David Harold, age 15
Adrian Lloyd, age 13
Ezekiel Franklin, age 6
Mayci Celia Kerry, age 5
Anthony Michael John, age 4
Nicholas James Alexander, age 3
Noah Moses Christopher, age 2
Joel Aaron Malachi, age 2

Halloween!

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!

Zeke the Red Power Ranger
Princess Anna, formerly known as Mayci
Anthony the Blue Power Ranger
Nicholas the Werewolf
Noah as Stitch #1
And Joel as Stitch #2
Adrian as Newt Scamander

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.

Blue Ranger, Yellow Ranger, Red Ranger
Two Little Stitches