DATA

Fritz and Adrian will be going to DATA, a magnet school, next year. They got to go meet with the counselor a few weeks ago and pick out their classes.

Adrian will be doing the computer science pathway. He’ll be taking honors English I combined with AP Human Geography, honors Geometry, honors Physics I, honors Spanish II, and honors Computer Science I. He’ll also be going to iCSI, a two period a day cybersecurity magnet. He’ll need to take PE and maybe art in summer school at some point to be able to fit everything in.

Fritz will be doing the video game design pathway. He’s taking AP English III, honors Algebra II, honors Physics I, AP US History, video game design, 3D modeling and animation, and honors Computer Science I. This means the boys have the potential to be in two classes together. Also, Fritz’s video game design teacher is Mr. Fritz which is kind of awesome.

Some days are just crazier than others

And yesterday was one of those days!

At 7:20 Jamie and Fritz left for the testing location for Fritz’s English II End of Course exam (insert rant about how stupid standardized tests are and how annoyed I am that they spent the last two months preparing for this stupid high stakes must pass in order to graduate from high school test).

At 8:30 Jamie took Nicholas and Joel upstairs when Noah’s ECI therapist got here. Noah has a tendency to let the other two boys do everything for him so we need to keep them separated during those visits. Noah did amazing this time. He spent the entire 45 minutes happily playing with playdough and parroted some words and even said a few things spontaneously.

At 9:45 Adrian texted asking if he took his Ritalin (answer: no, his father forgot to put it out for him). He said he really needed it (something about shooting the ceiling… no idea) so I headed to his school to give it to him and then immediately went to the elementary school to pick up Anthony.

At 10:15 Fritz let us know he was done with his end of course. This meant he needed to be picked up but I had The Beast at the elementary school and Jamie couldn’t leave the twinplets. So he texted Cameron (who happens to live near the testing location) and he was so kind as to drop everything and pick Fritz up and even got him Sonic on the way home.

Meanwhile, I picked Anthony up at 10:20 and we sat in The Beast in the school parking lot and did his med check with his psychiatrist right there in the van. We’re adding a fast acting ADHD medication dose after lunch for him. Medication is making SUCH a difference for him and hopefully that’ll take care of the afternoon impulsiveness and behavior issues. Mornings have been excellent and learning is finally happening.

Of course adding the after lunch dose means paperwork and so when I took Anthony back into school at 11, I went to the clinic (my second school nurse’s office of the day since that’s where medication must be given even when administered by the parent) and got the form for the psychiatrist to fill out. While I was in there Mayci saw me through the window so she popped in to ask if I could take her Fiesta Parade float home with me (of course) and as I left Zeke was lining up with his class outside the cafeteria so I ended up seeing all three of my elementary schoolers this morning.

I got home and by 11:15 I had filled out and scanned the medication administration form and emailed it to the psychiatrist to sign. Right after I sent that, they emailed me the thing to sign that tells about possible side effects of the medicine so I got that signed and emailed back (she doesn’t send any new medications to the pharmacy until that’s been signed).

Side Note: Tiny Scanner is the best app… I got it to turn papers we filled out into pdfs way back when we were applying to be foster parents and I still use it quite regularly.

So all of that happened before noon after which we had a bit of a break from all the crazy, though it was a busy evening, too. Right after school Zeke had his weekly ballet/tap class. After dinner, we got the kids ready for bed and everybody except Fritz got in The Beast to take Adrian to his 8th grade dance. Fritz had seminary at church at the same time, but he always walks so that was no different for him.

Two Boys on Trek

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.

Four Weeks of Groceries

With twelve people in this house we go through a LOT of food. We kept track of what we bought for four weeks starting the middle of January. Want to know how much we spent between SamsClub and HEB? $1575.39 (yes, I am scared of how much food we’ll need in five or ten years).

First I made menus for four weeks. I hate menu planning, but it’s a necessity. My parents cook dinner twice a week. I don’t plan breakfasts. I use emeals, a few cookbooks, and some recipes I’ve collected over the years. I make my plan in Artful Agenda which I also use for my to do’s and our schedule.

Anthony went with us to SamsClub for our monthly giant shopping trip. That’s a lot of meat in that cart there (and we needed to get a little more from HEB).

When we got home from Sams, I processed the meat into meal portions to make it easy to deal with during the month.

That all went into the freezer. We have two full size refrigerator/freezers. We’ve toyed with getting a standalone freezer as well. Once I finished with the meat we went to HEB to get the rest of what we needed for the month.

We use OurGroceries for our shopping list. After getting everything at SamsClub and HEB, that left us with much, much shorter lists for the remaining three weeks of the month.

That was our smallest shopping trip of the remaining three. The third week was quite a bit bigger. I always try to keep at least one unopened extra of everything non-perishable in the cabinet. When we open an extra item we write it in OurGroceries so we can replace it. It happened a bunch of things were needed that third week.

The fourth week we need quite a bit fewer things than we did the third week. We took all the kids to HEB that day which is always quite the adventure.

So that’s all the food we bought over that four weeks. We also got some stuff from Amazon Subscribe & Save. I forgot to go over our subscriptions before the deadline so it was much higher than usual ($198.42). We’ll use everything, but it means we won’t need several of the things for a while. That’s where we get stuff like toilet paper, Fritz’s contact solution, and Clorox wipes. Adding in the Subscribe & Save stuff, we spent a total of $1773.81 on groceries over the course of that four weeks!

Fritz’s First Semester Grades

Fritz’s virtual school does grades a little differently. He gets progress reports and then final grades for the whole semester rather than two quarters averaged. He finished his first semester of tenth grade just over a week ago and did absolutely amazing.

Chemistry B (83%)
English II A (90%)
Geometry A (90%)
PE A (98%)
Principles of Business, Marketing, and Finance A (95%)
Spanish 2 A (90%)
World History A (95%)

GPA: 4.57

My Precious

None of the kids were on Jamie for once so I took my chance and leaned up against him to read for a while.

Anthony especially thought we were “pweshish” and demanded that Fritz take our picture. All was going fine until…

Jamie said “My precious” in a perfectly Gollum voice. That set me off laughing while Fritz kept hitting the button to take pictures repeatedly.

Fritz grew mushrooms!

Fritz has been watching YouTube videos on growing mushrooms for a while now so my parents gave him a kit to grow his own for Christmas.

He’s quite proud of the growth his little (er… big… they grew so fast!) oyster mushrooms. Who knew fungiculture could be so fun?

24 hours later…

About 18 hours after that…

And then about 10 hours later… HARVEST TIME!

He grew some very tasty mushrooms. They were crisp and tender in all the right ways and fried up in butter with some salt… absolutely amazing! He said growing his own mushrooms was everything he dreamed it would be and he can’t wait to do it again.

December Reads

I read 13 books in December. I started out with Secret is in the Bones by Heather Sunseri. Definitely a five star book. It’s part of the Payne’s Creek Thriller series. Every time I read a book by her I lose sleep because I can’t put my Kindle down. Next I read Dr. Andrews by Andrea Kate Pearson. Another five star book. The author asked me to read it for a specific purpose. I knew the plot because I had dragon edited it. I very much enjoyed the final product. Then I finished The Pearl of Great Price. That completes my trip through the four standard works I started back in 2019.

My next book was Frederica by Georgette Heyer. That was a three star book. I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t our book club book in December. Then I read The Curse of the Holy Pail by Sue Ann Jaffarian. I gave it four stars. It was silly and fun and a great mind vacation. Next I read a way overdue ARC (the book came out in 2018), Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi. That was another four star book. I laughed a lot. It was a very interesting look into a young life with the added stress of always having the potential to be deported hanging over her. Then I finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth to the big boys for their bedtime story. I gave it two stars. I’ve read it before of course but I had forgotten just how utterly annoying Tris was in that book.

My next book was 100 Cupboards by ND Wilson. I rated it three stars. I was actually quite disappointed I didn’t love it since so many of my friends raved over it. Then I read The Bobbsey Twins on a Houseboat by Laura Lee Hope. I gave it four stars. It was my favorite Bobbsey Twins book when I was a kid. I swear even though I was reading on the Kindle I could smell that old book smell since the last time I read a Bobbsey Twins book it was one of my mom’s old ones. My next book was Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. That was a two star book. I seriously do not understand the popularity of books about old people looking back on their depressing lives.

My next book made up for that one, though. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie was a 5 star book. I love her writing and, bonus, she liked my tweet linking to my review so that was an extra geek thrill right there. Then I read The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson. I gave it five stars. The anecdotes about the Herdman kids were extra funny since I’ve got so many very active kids myself. I finished up my December reading with another five star book, Gossamer by Lois Lowry. That was such a sweet, gentle, fanciful story.

All together I read 93 books in 2021. That equaled a total of 29,716 pages. My favorite book of the entire year was A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson. I had to put my Kindle down a few times to settle my racing heart. When they say it’s a book of suspense they mean it. My least favorite book of the year was Foster and Adoptive Parenting by Kenneth A. Camp. It was just so bad and absolutely laughable that this guy was presenting himself as an expert after fostering just one child starting from infancy and adopting him a few months later. The child was only 5 when he wrote the book. Add to that the guy had quite a Savior complex and it was just a terrible book.

My reading goal for 2022 is 100 books. I’ve read one so far so just 99 to go!

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!