After watching the adults carefully for months, Joel has started trying to serve up dinner. We had chicken and waffles the other day and he stood in my mother’s chair and ripped the waffles into pieces and filled up the kids plates.
A while back we went to a Spurs game. We were way up in the nosebleeds. It was a bit uncomfortable climbing all the stairs to get there, but our view of the game was actually really excellent.
We took Adrian through Anthony. They got buy one get one free tickets for good attendance at school. Jamie and I plus my parents went as well.
The Spurs lost, but it was still really fun!
My parents gave Zeke a science kit for his birthday last month. It’s for kids older than him, but my dad had a plan.
He said he’d do the experiments with Zeke. I think it was mostly because he wanted to do them himself and grandfather-grandson bonding time was the perfect excuse.
The kit stays in my parents’ room and only comes out when they are going to do an experiment. They have a lot of fun together doing them. Best birthday gift ever!
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!
We do a lot of laundry in our house. Towels every other week, clothes every other day, Beddy’s once a month, and then my parents do their laundry and Fritz does his Adrian’s. So during February we decided to mark down every time we did a load of laundry. Turns out we do more loads that I expected. 28 days in February equaled 35 loads of laundry!
Sunday morning we woke up to towel animals all over the Beach Pool area. Mommie and I had such a fun time checking them all out.
We had a lovely little Relief Society discussion in the games side of the library. It was a very nice discussion using the Conference talk we would’ve been discussing had we been at church.
Then we went and watched a young man from Alaska carve a 300 pound block of ice into a swan. Absolutely amazing.
Even though it was overcast and the water was a bit choppy, our view at lunch was still just as stunning as always.
I made sure to get one last root beer float in Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing like vanilla ice cream and root beer.
After dinner Sunday night the waiters and waitresses sang us a good-bye song and then we all danced the Macarena and Funky Chicken together. The first two nights dinner was iffy for me. They had a bit of trouble getting the whole gluten free thing figured out in the dining room for some reason. Other people were very unimpressed by the food and by the third night a lot of people were just eating at the buffet instead. They missed out, though, because the third and fourth night dinner was incredible. My waiter started calling me “My Heather” and the food was delicious (including Mommie’s ox tongue and frog legs… appetizers can be a bit adventurous aboard the Carnival Breeze).
We woke up nearly back to Galveston. Mommie and I went out on the very cold and windy deck and watched the sun come up. I even got to video chat with my little ones before they headed to school.
We had to be out of our staterooms by 8:30am. By then some people were already debarking since we docked a little bit early. By 10 our group was called and we were headed down to have our sign & sail cards scanned one last time, go through passport control and customs, and then out into the world once again.
Of course it was still a four-hour ride home and pretty much all the ladies in our group stopped to pee and get some food at Buc-ee’s in Katy. We all looked a little overwhelmed at all the colors and choices and having to pay for what we picked up again. The whole long weekend was a truly magical experience. One I wouldn’t mind repeating some time!
A friend got this great idea to celebrate her 40th birthday on a 4 day/3 night cruise from Galveston to Cozumel. She invited any ladies who wanted to come to join her. She thought maybe a few women would come. It ended up forty women went! My mom and I were two of them.
Mommie and I got on an airplane and flew to Houston last Wednesday night. We successfully used Uber to get us to our hotel and then again in the morning to get us back to the airport. From there we were taken on a bus to Galveston. After going through the check-in process, we were on the Carnival Breeze about 11:30am!
We had lunch (gluten free options were clearly marked on the buffet and pretty much everywhere else on the ship could handle gluten free, too) and wandered around the ship until we could head to our stateroom (at 1:30pm).
We checked out the World’s Smallest Library. It used to be a bar and then they put in self-service wine dispensers, but even those are out of service now.
The Library Bar isn’t a well-used room which made it a great place to go sit and read. It was quiet and comfortable.
At 3:30pm Thursday it was time to push off and start our trip south to Mexico. The pool water was so incredibly cold (it was in the 30s in Galveston that day after all), but some people still insisted on swimming.
Friday morning dawned clear and bright and quite a bit warmer. Shorts and t-shirts were comfortable. There was a constant breeze out on the decks, but it wasn’t cold anymore.
We did a little onboard shopping. Mommie got a pair of turtle earrings and I got a duck lanyard. I couldn’t resist.
It occurred to me with the soft serve ice cream machine and a can of root beer I could have unlimited root beer floats. I had a few over the course of our cruise.
Friday we got the first towel animal in our stateroom. This one was a dog. The next day we got an elephant and on the final full day of our cruise we got a frog.
Pretty much no matter where we went on the boat the view was amazing. I thought it would be weird to only see water, but it turned out to be very nice, as was the constant rocking of the ship.
Saturday morning we woke up just a few miles out from the port at Cozumel Mexico. It was in the high 70s and humid. By noon it was over 90 and just lovely.
After scanning our sign & sail cards so they knew who was off the ship, we were headed down to the pier where we spent the morning and early afternoon shopping and looking around.
We watched some turtles swimming around for a while. Their home was right in the middle of the shops in a shaded area with a small manmade pool.
We ran into a couple guys dressed up as Aztec Warriors and had fun taking pictures with them. They were hilarious.
We had hoped to be able to see the Mayan ruins but they were closed so we had to satisfy ourselves with the tiny model fountain version.
They have a fish thingy for putting empty plastic bottles in. I’m pretty sure if those were everywhere people would be much more likely to recycle. It was fun putting things in there!
I was nervous about eating in port so we went back to the ship around 1:30pm. More than half of the choices on the buffet were gluten free! I had the best lunch and even a piece of red velvet cake that didn’t taste at all gluten free. It was so good.
We decided to put on our bathing suits and go in the hot tub. We had to laugh, though, because our water shoes matched. We bought them a year and a half apart and picked the same ones!
After soaking in the hot tub for a while (a much warmer experience than the following afternoon when the sun was behind clouds and we were much closer to Texas), we laid on the deck and watched another cruise ship pull away.
That evening we did my favorite thing of the whole cruise. We were rocking pretty good so we went out on deck five and watched the waves. Even in the dark we could see the white caps. We laid in deck chairs reading for a couple hours just listening to the waves crashing. It was so nice and relaxing.
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!
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 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 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!