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!

Allergic to Dogs

A few months ago we got Nicky allergy tested and it turns out he is very allergic to dogs. So we began trying to find a home for Lola. No one wants a cranky ten-year-old chihuahua. A couple weeks ago Cameron decided to see if Lola and his dog could get along. She really has always been his dog anyway. We were all surprised when the two dogs quickly learned to at least tolerate each other.

In the time since Lola moved in with Cameron Nicky’s eczema has improved at least 90%. He had some nasty patches that developed once we pulled him out of daycare (so he was around Lola 24/7). Those have pretty much all resolved. We’ve always suspected his eczema is related to allergies since Zyrtec helps, but now we know for sure.

We had Fritz allergy tested at the same time Nicky was. He is not allergic to dogs, but he is allergic to most pollens and is very allergic to leaf mold. Lola would go out and roll in the leaves and what not and bring in the allergens for Fritz to breathe. Long Haul COVID for him has included an intense increase in how his body reacts to allergens. With Lola at Cameron’s, he, too, is breathing so much better, is not as tired, and is even talking a little clearer.

It’s weird not having Lola around after 8 years, but Cameron is so happy to have her. He just loves that little dog. So between his happiness having her live with him and Fritz and Nicholas being so much healthier now, it was definitely the right choice to have her move.


September 2019

The twins came with this double boppy. It was an absolute lifesaver for the first few months.

September 2019

Feeding bottles to two babies at once is pretty intense. A friend commented that we must have been relieved when they started holding their own bottles. The thing is… they still don’t usually hold their own bottles!

September 2019

I really had fun shopping for twin clothes on Amazon. We ended up picking very few identical outfits, but instead coordinating ones like these adorable ketchup and mustard onesies.

October 2019

We had to quickly learn about bottles and formula and cribs, things we never dealt with when our bio kids were babies.

October 2019

At the beginning they ate about every three hours around the clock. That added up to a whole lot of lost sleep.

November 2019

When the babies were four months old, Hank Smith, who has school age twins, tweeted that having twins means it’s 3am and he’s holding a baby, his wife is holding a baby, and all four of them are crying. He was not wrong.

November 2019

Having twins isn’t like just having the work one baby twice. It’s like you have the work of 47 babies. There are just so many babies.

November 2019

Infant carseats are another thing we didn’t really do with our bio kids. We went right for the convertible seats. With twins infant seats are a downright necessity.

November 2019

I think the Harry Potter onesies I got for the boys were my favorites of all their clothes. Got to introduce them to an amazing fandom early.

November 2019

They napped a lot on that twin boppy. It was always really funny when they would end up laying the same way. They are definitely twins!

November 2019

After naps one day I put Joel in Noah’s crib to take a picture of them as the Hulk and Spidey. They immediately linked arms.

December 2019

Sitting on Santa’s lap their first Christmas did not even phase them. I’m not sure it’ll be so easy this year. Stranger danger is strong with these two.

December 2019

The best and worst thing about tiny twins is being able to dress them in matching clothes and having to buy two of each of those outfits. I was surprised how long they were willing to leave on their Santa hats.

January 2020

We didn’t expect to have the twins as long as until Christmas and definitely not into the new year. By the end of 2019 we had said we would adopt them (plus their older siblings) and it looked like that was really where things were headed.

January 2020

These two born together boys are indeed friends forever. They recognized each other early on and I think they realize at this point that there is something special about having a same age sibling. They really have a special bond.

January 2020

One minute they are planning some scheme to carry out together. The next they are in a WWE knockdown, dragout fight.

January 2020

Jamie’s gotten good at carrying the twins at the same time. That is a lot of baby. At this point we’re talking 50 pounds of baby.

February 2020

Church with twins means you hear and see nothing, but instead are just hanging out with the twins in a place you don’t normally hang out with them.

February 2020

These expressions are pretty common ones for the boys. Joel is always getting into stuff and Noah is always looking at him like why did you do that.

February 2020

This might be the moment the twins became friends. They sat looking at each other for a really long time “talking” back and forth.

March 2020

When one twin is sad, the other twin will often try to comfort him. This includes when the source of sadness is their twin.

May 2020

They egg each other on about carrying out plans like trying to get through the doggy door (poor Lola… she has to bark at the door when she wants to go out now since the doggy door almost always has to remain locked right now).

June 2020

They enjoyed smashing up their cupcakes and making a general mess at their first birthday party.

September 2020

I don’t get nearly as many pictures of the twins together as I used to because they are just always on the go and don’t tend to both sit still at once anymore.

September 2020

One day the babies were being entirely too quiet in the kitchen. Upon investigation I discovered they had gotten a thing of oil out of the cabinet (a cabinet they had previously broken the child lock off of), opened it, poured some out on the floor, and were having a great time playing it in. The oil got moved up high that day.

October 2020

Sometimes the twins divide and conquer. In October, Joel learned how to open our front door and quickly learned how to see if it was locked (can’t get out) or not (can get out). One day, as I chased Joel down in our front yard, Noah stayed inside happily banging away on my laptop.

October 2020

Having twins is fun, exciting, difficult, trying, and never a dull moment. I never wanted twins, but it sure is a blast having them.

November 2020

Lola’s Turn

Every morning I get out the hair stuff and this blue cube and the kids take turns sitting on the cube and getting their hair done. A couple weeks ago Lola decided she wanted to have her turn as well, so now every morning I include her brush in the hair stuff I pull out of the cabinet and she gets her turn on the cube, too.


“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Luke 2:52

Starting, well, today, the Church’s program for kids 8-18 is totally changing. It doesn’t even remotely resemble how it was when I was that age. And that’s really cool.

The new program seems really open ended and involves coming up with personal goals to achieve. No more “this is what you must do.” It’s all designed to help kids improve themselves. What amazing training for success in life in general this program will be!

There are four areas based on the scripture above for kids to make goals in: Spiritual, Social, Physical, and Intellectual. So we’ve been talking a bit with the boys about setting goals in those areas. They’ve come up with a few ideas so far.

Intellectual: Figure out plan for continuing education (and possibly graduate from high school a semester early)
Not sure where this fits: Make twice as much as parents did at same age this year
Not sure where this fits either: Buy house?

Intellectual: Finish purple belt at Code Ninjas
Physical: Take Lola for a walk twice a week
Social: Start D&D sessions with friends (he already did one with two boys from church yesterday)
Spiritual: Read the Book of Mormon again

Intellectual: Learn how to shuffle cards
Physical: Go on a a walk twice a week with Fritz and Lola
Social: Play Yu-Gi-Oh with friends (one of the boys who came to play D&D also played Yu-Gi-Oh with Adrian while he was here)

Weight Loss App for Kids

Adrian has put on a lot of weight since he chose to go off Adderall in October. There were so many side effects that we didn’t realize were happening. He’s still incredibly picky. And then there’s the weight. He’s like he was as a baby with the most incredible and adorable fat rolls again. But, he’s getting close to obese and that really is a problem so something needs to be done just to help him make good food habits. That will help him throughout his life whether he loses one single pound or not.

When Fritz was a bit younger than Adrian is now, he had to take a course of steroids for pneumonia. He packed on weight due to those steroids. He never got as close to the obese line as Adrian is now, but we had some conversations about eating and moving more. He often ate out of boredom so he trained himself to ask whether he was bored or hungry. He tried some healthy snacks and discovered he really likes carrot sticks. We started taking PokeWalks together. It works. He’s firmly in the normal weight category now and has some healthy habits that will serve him well as he gets older.

Adrian’s a little more complicated. He would rather hide behind a chair than do the 7 Minute Workout with his brother. He’d rather sit and play video games than take Lola for a walk. He will only consent to eat a handful of foods. He admits he eats out of boredom, but sees no reason to change. And he really responds well to apps with positive reinforcement.

So we downloaded the Kurbo app to see how that would go for him. The answer? Terrible.

Kurbo sorts foods into three categories based on a stoplight. Green, Yellow, and Red. I disagree so strongly with the fact that most foods – particularly “kid” foods are put into the red category. Apple juice, 2% milk, and soda are all red foods. The problem is they are not at all equal. Apple juice and milk actually have nutritional benefits, while soda is a treat. Two foods Adrian is willing to eat are mac and cheese and rice and cheese. They are red. Each week the kid gets 24 red foods. And that’s it. Sure, they can say they are encouraging the kid to eat more green foods (fruits and veggies), but what I saw in Adrian was a very different result.

Within just a few hours of using the app, Adrian developed a crazy obsession with what color a food is. He refused to eat even one Taki when his sister offered it to him (he loves Takis) because it was a red and would use up one of his allotted reds for the week. Because he likes few fruits and vegetables at this point, he determined to just starve rather than eat because most of what he wanted to eat would use up a red. He ate an apple for breakfast, but refused the peanut butter that would’ve made it a very healthy meal. The reason? Peanut butter is red.

Needless to say he is not using the Kurbo app anymore.

But he still likes the idea of an app. So we got to thinking and are trying to figure out how to make an app just for him to help him learn to make good choices, move more, and learn about portion control (that is the one thing I like about Kurbo – it has an easy to understand chart for how to measure portions using your hand).

Obviously the value judgment of foods by color would not be included in his app. Food is food. It keeps us alive. Obviously some foods are healthier than others, but kids know red on a stoplight means stop. Saying a food is red communicates a meaning to the kid. It means don’t eat this. So my mom came up with sorting food based on the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Sun foods are fruits and vegetables. Those don’t get limited in any way. There’s no serving size to think about. Grab and apple or a banana and be one your way (no writing down every bite either). The sun makes fruits and vegetables grow so it makes sense that they’d be in that category.

Almost all foods fit in the moon category. The moon changes just like serving sizes change depending on the food. The moon reminds us to measure or portion out those foods. If he wants two servings of mac and cheese because he’s still hungry after one, that’s okay! Just as long as he eats one serving or portion at a time.

Then there is the stars, the only category that gets tracked because we only want to eat them occasionally. We don’t get stars on our papers all the time, but when we do it is special and we feel good. Foods in the star category are those foods we should only eat sparingly according to the food guide pyramid. If he wants butter on his popcorn, he can certainly use a star for it. If he wants to drink a root beer because we’re at a restaurant for dinner, that’s fine, too. Each week he would get 14 stars to use as he pleases.

To encourage him to move at least 10 minutes a day, he can earn an extra star each day. Pretty much that’s doing the 7 Minute Workout with Fritz and walking (which usually is running when the boys take her for a “walk”) Lola. It’s his choice to do this, but we strongly encourage it because even a little bit of exercise a day can make a big difference long term.

Hopefully we’ll figure out how to make this app for Adrian. The ultimate goal is really to help him form healthy habits related to food and exercise now. If he drops down into the normal weight category, that would be great, though it would also be great if he just stayed the same weight as he grows because my boys may start out on the shorter side, they do eventually sprout upward (that’s actually exactly what Fritz has done – he’s stayed the same weight give or take a few pounds ever since he started thinking about whether he was hungry or not and exercising more). He just will definitely not be working toward that goal with Kurbo.