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.

Marble Falls Walkway of Lights

Every year we drive up to Marble Falls to go through the Walkway of Lights. The lights are so beautiful. It’s mostly the same every year but it’s still worth going.

We accidentally made going there a tradition when we went to Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet and stopped in Marble Falls on the way home six years ago.

We’ve taken the twins to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls four times now. The rest of The Six have gone three times.

This year included complete sensory overload for one kid and an autistic meltdown for another. The lights really are very bright.

As usual we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for Blizzards. Everyone loves those. Maybe we’ll be able to take a leisurely stroll through the lights again when the twins are about 12. But in the meantime we’ll keep going every year because the kids love that trip every year.

Daniel Tiger Songs

I really didn’t think at this point in my life that I’d be singing Daniel Songs quite so much. Or at all. But some of them are quite useful raising this bunch of little kids.

Grownups Come Back – Some of our kids remember when they’ve had grownups in their lives who didn’t come back. But we always come back and they know we will, but sometimes it’s hard to remember when we’re leaving. This song always reassures them.

You Can Take a Turn, and Then I’ll Get it Back – We often have problems with kids not wanting to share or being upset that another kid has something they of course were just about to play with. It’s very hard to wait for a sibling to get bored of a toy and even harder to hand over a toy when you are absolutely sure they will keep it forever. They’ll sing this song to each other, probably to remind them that it’s only temporary, but it always instantly reminds them to share.

When You Feel So Mad That You Want to Roar, Take a Deep Breath and Count to Four – A couple of our kids get so mad they want to roar quite often. Singing this song reminds them to take a moment for regulation and then calm down while counting. It’s quite amazing how well it can work.

The Best Parenting Hack Ever

We don’t give our littles electronics very often. Last summer the three older ones got about thirty minutes a day. We’ll do similar this summer. This means getting to use a tablet is a BIG DEAL for them.

So we got the idea to get a Fire just for doctor and dentist appointments. That’s the only time they get to use it. This means they are now excited to go to the doctor AND they are nicely occupied while waiting.

Seriously the best parenting idea we’ve ever had! (Though it doesn’t work for Noah – he’s just not really interested – and Anthony tried to convince us he was sick, and when that didn’t work injured, in order for us to take him to the doctor.)

December Reads

I read 13 books in December. I started out with Secret is in the Bones by Heather Sunseri. Definitely a five star book. It’s part of the Payne’s Creek Thriller series. Every time I read a book by her I lose sleep because I can’t put my Kindle down. Next I read Dr. Andrews by Andrea Kate Pearson. Another five star book. The author asked me to read it for a specific purpose. I knew the plot because I had dragon edited it. I very much enjoyed the final product. Then I finished The Pearl of Great Price. That completes my trip through the four standard works I started back in 2019.

My next book was Frederica by Georgette Heyer. That was a three star book. I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t our book club book in December. Then I read The Curse of the Holy Pail by Sue Ann Jaffarian. I gave it four stars. It was silly and fun and a great mind vacation. Next I read a way overdue ARC (the book came out in 2018), Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi. That was another four star book. I laughed a lot. It was a very interesting look into a young life with the added stress of always having the potential to be deported hanging over her. Then I finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth to the big boys for their bedtime story. I gave it two stars. I’ve read it before of course but I had forgotten just how utterly annoying Tris was in that book.

My next book was 100 Cupboards by ND Wilson. I rated it three stars. I was actually quite disappointed I didn’t love it since so many of my friends raved over it. Then I read The Bobbsey Twins on a Houseboat by Laura Lee Hope. I gave it four stars. It was my favorite Bobbsey Twins book when I was a kid. I swear even though I was reading on the Kindle I could smell that old book smell since the last time I read a Bobbsey Twins book it was one of my mom’s old ones. My next book was Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. That was a two star book. I seriously do not understand the popularity of books about old people looking back on their depressing lives.

My next book made up for that one, though. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie was a 5 star book. I love her writing and, bonus, she liked my tweet linking to my review so that was an extra geek thrill right there. Then I read The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson. I gave it five stars. The anecdotes about the Herdman kids were extra funny since I’ve got so many very active kids myself. I finished up my December reading with another five star book, Gossamer by Lois Lowry. That was such a sweet, gentle, fanciful story.

All together I read 93 books in 2021. That equaled a total of 29,716 pages. My favorite book of the entire year was A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson. I had to put my Kindle down a few times to settle my racing heart. When they say it’s a book of suspense they mean it. My least favorite book of the year was Foster and Adoptive Parenting by Kenneth A. Camp. It was just so bad and absolutely laughable that this guy was presenting himself as an expert after fostering just one child starting from infancy and adopting him a few months later. The child was only 5 when he wrote the book. Add to that the guy had quite a Savior complex and it was just a terrible book.

My reading goal for 2022 is 100 books. I’ve read one so far so just 99 to go!

46 and One Year

Forty-six years ago Friday the most important guy in my life was born. One year ago Friday we doubled our flock when we adopted the most amazing six kids in the world.

To celebrate, we went to a trampoline park and jumped for an hour (in between interviews with the news and meeting with some people from the adoptions unit of DFPS – a year later we are still very weird). Then we came home and had cake and pizza (in that order). It was a good day.