Best Brothers

Fritz is an amazing big brother to his seven younger brothers and sister. But he’s got an extra special bond with Noah. This has been apparent since very early on.

When Fritz and Noah have been apart during the day, they both are thrilled when they get back together. Noah comes over and hugs Fritz’s leg looking up at his big brother with those heart eyes of his.

Noah’s favorite place is in Fritz’s arms. It’s going to be hard on both of them next school year since Fritz will be gone to school ten hours a day instead of being home doing virtual school like he has the last two years.

Fritz’s Last Day of Tenth Grade

Fritz finished tenth grade on Monday. He finished the year really well. He did amazing in chemistry and Spanish II (all done his foreign language requirement!). His favorite class this year (and the one he says he learned the most in) was world history.

He says it was hot standing in the corner getting his picture taken. It’s ninety degrees after all.

Chemistry A (92%)
English II B (85%)
Geometry B (86%)
Personal Finance A (97%)
Principles of Business, Marketing, and Finance B (84%)
Spanish 2 A (94%)
World History A (95%)

GPA: 4.14

Now on to his junior year for the first time in person since second grade! He’s pretty excited about how challenging DATA is and all the computer classes he gets to take.

Fritz’s First Semester Grades

Fritz’s virtual school does grades a little differently. He gets progress reports and then final grades for the whole semester rather than two quarters averaged. He finished his first semester of tenth grade just over a week ago and did absolutely amazing.

Chemistry B (83%)
English II A (90%)
Geometry A (90%)
PE A (98%)
Principles of Business, Marketing, and Finance A (95%)
Spanish 2 A (90%)
World History A (95%)

GPA: 4.57


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!

Fritz’s Grades for the First Quarter of 10th Grade

Tenth grade has been really hard for Fritz. The virtual school is MUCH harder than our very competitive highly ranked local high school. The first couple weeks Fritz put about as much effort as he needed to last year, but we soon learned that simply wasn’t enough. Since then he’s been working super hard and trying his best and it shows in his grades.

Chemisty B (86%)
English II A (93%)
Geometry B (88%)
PE A (99%)
Principles of Business, Marketing, and Finance A (96%)
Spanish 2 A (91%)
World History A (96%)

GPA: 4.29

First Day of School

Five of my kids were off to school this morning. There was a little hiccup when Anthony refused to get in the van because he thought bringing his nap mat meant he was going to the preschool (they have naptime in pre-k), but we got him in the car and once he realized we were dropping him off at the big school all was well. Nicholas thought it was entirely too early to be arriving at preschool (he’s not wrong). The twins are enjoying being the only little ones home and having their Fritz all to themselves (the virtual school he’s attending doesn’t start until next week).

8th Grade

1st Grade



Last Year of Preschool

Two More Enrolled

We enrolled Fritz and Adrian in public school this week. We decided to fully take advantage of the pandemic academically. Our school district is beginning the year with 100% remote learning and then once they can begin face to face learning parents will still get the option to keep their kids on remote.

So our plan is to keep those two on the remote option. I would not be surprised if remote continues to be an option for the entire school year (they are planning to continue to offer it as long as the state allows them to). Then starting next school year, we’ll switch both of them in the virtual school. In Texas, they have to be enrolled in public school for one year before being eligible for the virtual school.

The boys are a bit nervous about it, but since they can do school from home most or all of the school year and then the virtual is from home, too, they are okay with it. Adrian was concerned about all the coloring he remembers hating when he was in public school before. I assured him 7th graders do a whole lot less coloring than kindergartners. Fritz will be in 9th grade so I figure that’s the best point to put him in public school if we are going to at all since that is the beginning of high school.

Not having to spend tons of time creating a curriculum will be nice and with raising a million kids now it’s such a relief not to have to. I’ll still be spending about the same amount of time helping them with school and keeping Adrian on task, but that’s no big deal. I’m used to it.

Sometimes things change

We put the kids in public school last fall with the intention of giving three of them the option to do the virtual school next year. We figured that’s what Cameron and Fritz would choose and Ani would stay in public school. Of course we only made it half a year for the little guys in public school (and, technically, Fritz could still do the virtual school next year, but I don’t think it would be a good fit for him). Ani and Cameron both loved public school. It was an agonizing decision for Cameron, but, ultimately, he decided to switch to the virtual school next year.

We’ve been going round and round about where Ani will go to school next year. The creative writing part of school is fine (though seriously annoying to us as parents because the instructor is a bit of a flake and it involves a lot of after school activities). The rest of the school, well, it’s better than the district in Maryland where we used to live. But compared to most of the rest of the high schools in our district here, and particularly when compared to the high school we’re zoned for, it’s a pretty bad school. We wanted her to go to the zoned high school. She was pretty strongly against going there.

While Ani loved going to public school, there were things she wasn’t thrilled about. She feels like she has learned absolutely nothing (aside from the creative writing classes) this year. Of course she has learned things, but I think it’s more about the waste of time. She could’ve learned the same amount on her own in much less time (this is actually one of the reasons Cameron decided on the virtual school). She is also an extreme introvert. She can handle crowds of people only to a certain point (honestly, I am shocked she didn’t punch anyone all year). By Thursday every week, she was in rough shape, completely physically and emotionally spent. The school day here is very long. High schoolers go for 7 hours and 20 minutes of school and then she had to be bussed to and from school. That made it about 9 1/2 hours from the time we left our house in the morning to drop her off to the time we got home in the evening after picking her up. Plus add to that an hour in the mornings for seminary, time to eat dinner, taekwondo two nights a week, young women activities once a week, and time to do homework and she literally was left with no time to relax. She’s been so much happier and, really, her truly amazing self, since school let out. Last week she went to a writing camp for 7 hours a day. She loved it. But when we got home Friday she completely crashed, exhausted, and slept from about 4:30 (getting up for dinner) until 3pm Saturday. It just reminded us too much of how she was all through the school year.

So what to do for school. Like I said, we wanted her to go to the local high school. She’d still have almost 7 1/2 hours of school per day, but no bus ride. She’d still have a lot of wasted time and not learning a whole lot, but that’s just how public school is. We offered her the option of doing the virtual school like Cameron.

Then I felt like I should offer her the option of a method of traditional homeschooling: Unschooling. This is crazy. I like to check boxes. I like the feel of traditional school at home. We don’t always use textbooks, but we have specific subjects and specific things to do in those subjects on specific days. Unschooling is just not my style. But, nevertheless, no matter how much I fought it, that was the answer. Offer her the chance to unschool. And, you know, when you are praying and that’s the answer you get, sometimes you have to do as you are directed.

I told her unschooling was an option. Her eyes lit up a little bit. We talked about what it would look like for her. Unschooling takes a lot of forms for different people. For some it is the complete and total eschewing of anything that even remotely looks like school. For some it is providing a super learning-rich environment and letting the kids learn as they live. For some, and this is really common among high schooler unschoolers, it is providing everything they need to learn what they want/need to learn (and this includes textbooks) and letting the kid take control of their education. This is the form Ani’s unschooling would take. We talked about the things she wants to learn and how she would do it. We talked about other things she wants to do – non-academic things – and how she could accomplish these things when not constrained by her insane school schedule.

And then we let her mull it all over for a really long time. Occasionally we’d discuss things a little bit. Eventually it became clear she was leaning toward the unschooling idea. Yesterday she told us she had made her final decision. She’s coming home again. Unschooling it is.

Frankly, this scares me. I really, really, really like to check boxes! Honestly, though, if I think about it, when I was a homeschooling high schooler my parents educated me pretty much the way we envision Ani’s education going. We just didn’t know unschooling was a thing. I would complete an entire year of a subject in a month or two. And then I’d move on to the next subject. My parents provided me with everything I needed and then let me decide when and what to do. Some things I never really did at high school age, but I covered them in college or since I became an adult.

So now on to the next adventure. Four kids home again. Two traditionally homeschooling. One doing the virtual school (we’ll see how long jumping through those hoops lasts). And one unschooling. She has some amazing plans. Those will have to wait for another blog post, though. This one is already entirely too long!