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.

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.)

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.

Winterfest 2022

A couple weeks ago Mayci performed at the Winterfest at a hospital near us. We decided to take Zeke, Anthony, and Nicholas and also Ani and Haley along with us.

Adrian volunteered for the afternoon getting 3 1/2 of the 25 hours he needs this school year out of the way. Nicky’s favorite thing to do was the obstacle course Adrian was helping to run. He went through it so many times.

All four kids loved the ferris wheel. All but Nicholas went on it twice (he was too busy going through the obstacle course over and over).

We should’ve sent Anthony and Nicholas on the spinning ride together. I bet they would’ve had it going real good. Both Mayci and Zeke actively worked to slow down the speed of the spin Anthony and Nicky tried to get them to.

Nicholas declared the swings “too scary” but Anthony, Mayci, and Zeke, liked them. Anthony was very excited to ride them with a little girl who was in his class last year at school.

We don’t get much snow in Texas so they make some for the Winterfest every year. The kids all quite liked going down the snow slide and having a snowball fight in the snow pit.

Mayci was the only one who wanted to try the rock climbing wall. This is about how high she got. She’s definitely my kid. I once went rock climbing and that’s about how high I made it, too.

This slide was another one they all liked. We could hardly keep Nicholas off it. He slid down so many times. One time the line had cleared out and he literally ran up the stairway to get to the top (not an easy thing to do).

Seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus was the highlight of the day for all the kids Nicky got a little nervous once he was face to face with the big guy, but relaxed once he was in his big sister’s lap.

Family Pictures

We got our family pictures done a few weeks ago. This year I decided to just use bright colors for our shirts and though I worried a bit that they wouldn’t look right with the natural background, they turned out great. Jacqueline Eldredge always does an amazing job with our photos! (Pictures from 2020 and 2021, part 1 and 2021, part 2)

All of Us: (Back Row) Fritz, Cameron (Middle Row) Ani, Haley, Noah, Heather, Joel, Jamie, Nicholas, Elaine, Frank (Front Row) Mayci, Anthony, Zeke, Adrian

My parents, Frank and Elaine (76 and 77 years old)

Us, Jamie and Heather (44 and 46 years old)

Haley, age 23

Ani, age 22

Cameron, age 21

Fritz, age 16

Adrian, age 14

Zeke, age 7

Mayci, age 6

Anthony, age 5

Nicholas, age 4

Noah, age 3

Joel, age 3

Our traditional walking in a line picture! Ani, Zeke, Adrian, Nicholas, Jamie, Joel, Heather, Mayci, Cameron, Anthony, Haley, Noah, Fritz

October Owlcrate

Another great Owlcrate box! The book this month is dark academia which Ani is very excited about since it’s one of her favorite genres.

We got a luggage tag pin which of course I put on my purse along with all the other ones we’ve gotten. We got an ID card case that clips on (Haley claimed that). We got an eyeglass case that Ani took home. And we got a super thin wooden bookmark. I kept that one. I love the super thin wood pieces.

Also in the box was a lunchbox kit. Ani had just the other day said she needed a lunchbox so that was great timing. We got another of the classic books series, The Secret Garden this time. I love that book.

The book this month is The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew. The outside picture of the cover kind of freaks me out (I have a very low tolerance for creepiness/horror), but the inside intrigues me. The synopsis of the book sounds fabulous. I look forward to reading it!

More Hairstyles

This one is just a quick and simple double ponytail braided into three braids each with ballies at the ponytail bases and Gabby Bows on the ends of the braid.

Little kid (no hair added) box braids have become my specialty. I’m getting faster and faster at doing the braids. Mayci always asks for rainbow beads. She likes to be colorful (she regularly tells her oldest sister she doesn’t have nearly enough braids because of course Haley needs rainbow beads, too).

After reading a biography about the Williams sisters, Mayci wanted her hair done with ALLLLL the beads. I was worried that even though the white beads were extremely lightweight, doing them around her whole head would just be too heavy at her age. So we compromised and put in two thick double braids in the back. I was so worried the bands holding the beads in place would break at school (they didn’t).

This is another quick and easy style. One ponytail up on top and two in the back with each one split into two braids. Ballies and big yellow beads completed the look.

I absolutely love Mayci’s hair up in twists. It’s truly my favorite style to do tiny twists all over her head. Takes a long time, but totally worth it.

For Mayci’s recital I did box braids with some fancy beads (sadly the color on several of the beads wore off rather quickly so that was a disappointment). I was able to pull it up the way they wanted for the show and she was just totally cute.

Another box braid style, this time for Fourth of July with a little bit of red, white, and blue in the beads. I love how the same style can look so fresh with just a different bead color.

Another quick style inspired by someone on Instagram. Ponytail with colorful elastics, beads, ballies, and tons of braids… so much is going on with this colorful style. I even learned how to secure ballies to the end of her braids when I did this one. So cute!

The most amazing flowers

For Mother’s Day my bonus daughter gave me a bouquet of flowers. Usually I hate flowers. They just end up dying.

But these won’t die because they are made of paper! Not only are they made of paper, they are made of the pages from a book!

Looking at the bits you can read, they are made from pages of Alice in Wonderland. This is seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts ever!

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!

Mayci’s First Art Show

Mayci had a piece of art selected for our school district’s annual Young Masters art show for elementary schoolers last month.

Haley wasn’t feeling good but she got permission to be late to her college class so she could come see Mayci’s art like a good virtual big sister.

We waited in a long, long line to make a donation to “buy” Mayci’s art (only parents can buy the art) so she could get a certificate of sale. She was pretty thrilled with her certificate.