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.


At the dance showcase in May I was surprised to see the adult dance classes are not for young adults who have been dancing and want to keep on dancing. They are for adults who want to dance, with or without experience.

So in August I started taking jazz classes once a week with my mom and daughter. None of us had ever taken dance before. The ladies in the class, and the instructor (who always says have fun and don’t do more than you can), have made it fun.

I’ve had a rough fall. First I was rear-ended by stupid texting girl. This left me with a back/shoulder/neck injury. Then I got RSV followed by bronchitis followed by pneumonia. Through it all I kept going to class as much as I could.

Just under a month ago I coughed so hard I pulled my ligaments in my back (yay EDS) and then just when they were getting better I sneezed several times in a row and reinjured myself just days before the winter showcase. I was determined to dance anyway – I could make it through two minutes – so armed with several medications and a heating pad I did indeed get up on that stage and dance.

We danced to Celebration by Kool and the Gang and we wore these outlandish costumes (that, honestly, looked really good up on the stage under the lights). I am so proud of myself for pushing through (and once again I am healing well). Tey are planning a tea party theme for the spring show. I’m hoping that means our dances will be all related to Alice in Wonderland!

November Owlcrate

November’s Owlcrate box was another totally awesome one. We got lots of totally cool stuff. The bookish trinkets seem to get better every month!

We got another Lord of the Rings bowl. This one was from Gondor. Now we have three of those bowls up on the bookshelf.

We got a handwarmer. It’s the type with a metal bit inside it and when you click the metal bit it starts a reaction that solidifies the liquid in it and makes it hot. The heat lasts for hours and then you just boil it to make it return to liquid all ready for next time you need it. Ani took that home with her.

There was a sweet leaf soap dish. Ani and I use liquid soap so we gave it to my parents. They are very happy with their new soap dish and their soap is happy to be able to air dry between uses.

We got a wooden toothbrush and travel case to put it in and a new literary luggage tag pin. I kept both of those.

I’m very excited about the reading planner (I kept that as well). It’s so nice and I can’t wait to start using it (planning to beginning in January).

The book this month was The Luminaries by Susan Dennard. It sounds like it’ll be another good one. So far all the ones I’ve read have been.

The inside of the Owlcrate dust jackets are always so well done. The inside of this one was no exception. If you love books and bookish stuff, check out Owlcrate. You won’t regret it.

Helping With Thanksgiving Dinner

I’ve been sick for several weeks with a respiratory thing. After prepping some things for Thanksgiving Wednesday night I woke up quite a it worse on Thanksgiving. Luckily we had already arranged for Cameron to come help cook Thursday morning.

Zeke jumped in and helped for a while, too. He worked hard on the green bean casserole. He loves helping in the kitchen (he also loves flashing that peace sign in pictures which totally cracks me up).

One of the things Cameron helped make was the stuffing. Chopping the onions for it of course made his eyes tear so I told him putting your head in the freezer can help stop the tears so he did it. Opened up the freezer and stuck his head right in (as it turns out it didn’t help much).

The best part of the picture I took with Cameron’s head in the freezer, though, was my mom. She got quite the kick out of him doing that. The only thing better than having much needed help with cooking Thanksgiving dinner is having fun while you do it!

The Playroom Under the Stairs

About a year and a half ago we got the idea to open up the wall in our living room and convert the area under the stairs there into a little playroom for the kids.

It ended up so beautiful. The kids absolutely love it. It’s not very big, but it’s perfect for a few kids to watch TV or to sit and read or built with Perfect Blocks.

There’s a black light in there and a projector (the kids are utterly fascinated by their shows playing right on the wall). There are even colored LED lights around the ceiling perfect for a dance party.

One wall has a gorgeous mural of space my dad picked out for the kids because some of them are very into space right now. Zeke liked it so much he even hugged it when they first went in the room.

The most amazing part might be the floor. Jamie added pigments that match the mural to epoxy and then swirled it all over the floor so it is just gorgeous. Add to that some of the pigments glow in the dark and it just makes their little playroom under the stairs totally cool.

Veterans Day

My dad got to go to two Veterans Day ceremonies, one at each of the elementary schools the little kids go to.

The evening before Veterans Day Noah went up on the stage with him and my dad was given a medal. There was a performance by the school’s choir and refreshments. It was quite nice.

The morning of Veterans Day he went to the rest of the kids’ school and got to sit on stage with the rest of the veterans. The choir sang and then all almost thousand of the pre-k to 5th graders sang God Bless America. Afterwards the kids got to stay out of class for a few minutes and take pictures and hug their grandfather.

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