A Sidewalk

When we first got Zeke whenever we went for a walk he called it a “sidewalk.” He doesn’t say that anymore and hasn’t for quite some time, but now Joel has started requesting going for a sidewalk sometimes. He’s quite a fun sidewalk companion. He spends the whole time holding my hand and not running ahead and singing his little heart out.

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!

Joel’s Christmas Present

Joel’s Christmas present was seriously the coolest one I’ve ever put together. He’s been begging to go to school lately. His siblings have so much fun at school after all. So I put together preschool in a box for him.

I made eight tot books from 1+1+1=1. I made a tot book once when Fritz was a toddler and it was really fun. One of the tot books I made was monster fun. My favorite activity in this one is velcroing shapes onto the monsters head like a hat.

I made tot books about World World, dinosaurs, farms, and ponds. Each one has activities like comparing sizes, coloring, the alphabet, spelling his name, and so much more.

I also made lapbooks based on the books The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

I made a Spell My Name file folder activity for him. The letters in his name velcro onto squares for him to practice spelling his name.

I put the tot books and three Mother Could packets in a scrapbook paper bin. I added The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? board books. I also added a set of alphabet puzzles, beeswax crayons, some make a face sticker sheets, and a Doughriffic build a snowman set.

Then I bought some rice from Ani and put it in a bin with lots of fun things added for him to play with it. There are ball scoops, an ice cream scoop, silicone cupcake liners, tweezers, a little cup, plastic coins, and multicolored gems.

The rice is so pretty!

To finish out his present, I got a really cool toddler painting set and eight dotters. He absolutely loves everything and is having so much fun with it.

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.

Texas State Aquarium

While on vacation we went to the Texas State Aquarium. We rented two double strollers. That was one of the smartest things we’ve ever done.

We also checked out a sensory kit for Noah. By the end of the first exhibit he was completely overwhelmed. The headphones instantly calmed him down and made the rest of the visit quite pleasant for him.

All the kids really liked the dolphins. Though when we asked them what their favorite parts were Zeke said walking next to me, Mayci said riding on the escalator, and Anthony said riding in the elevator.

So, basically, we spent over $250 for the kids to like normal, everyday things the most. At least Noah liked the fish. He kept waving to them and saying “Hi, fish!”

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.