Today is the first day of the third quarter. Fritz and Adrian are still doing great in public school. Their grade for the second quarter were excellent.
Adrian’s Grades Math A (96%; 98% for the semester) Science A (99%; 99% for the semester) English C (77%; 83% for the semester) Robotics A (100%; 95% for the semester) PE A (96%; 98% for the semester) Spanish B (84%; 87% for the semester) Texas History B (85%; 90% for the semester)
Fritz’s Grades Spanish I A (93%; 93% for the semester) Animation A (94%; 96% for the semester) Health A (100%; 98% for the semester) AP Human Geography B (88%; 86% for the semester) Biology B (89%; 92% for the semester) English I A (100%; 96% for the semester) Algebra I B (88%; 91% for the semester)
The kids went to bed easily on Christmas Eve so we got everything set out and headed to bed ourselves. Instead of wrapping the kids’ gifts (they each got an ornament, something to play with, a book, and clothes – except for Ani and Cameron who got a second thing to play with instead of clothes) I decided to just make one box for each of them. With ten kids that saved a ton of time!
Adrian knew about the kids’ scooters, but didn’t know we had also gotten two adult scooters for him and Fritz. The night before he had been a bit jealous about the little kid scooters. He was so surprised and excited when he discovered there were actually six scooters instead of four and one was for him.
The kids love books. Mayci opened hers (The Princess in Black) to look through it before pulling anything else out of her box. Adrian finished reading his entire book (The Odd 1s Out First Sequel) by the next day.
Mayci found a note from Santa in her box directing her to go to her room. She was so surprised to find Santa had been in there setting up her very own little vanity.
Fritz loves a good pun so he was quite happy with his shirt. It had a stick figure looking at a sign that reads BAD. Underneath the picture it says, “That is not a good sign.”
Noah was up at 4am on Christmas Eve for who knows what reason. We’d had this kitchen in a box waiting to be put together and reviewed since September. We hadn’t planned when we would give it to the kids, but I took the opportunity early Christmas Eve morning to put it together and so we ended up giving it to them on Christmas.
Once Noah figured out how to pull the paper off his box he was pretty excited to find some of his favorite blocks (the magnetic foam kind) inside.
The kids’ bio grandmother dropped off some presents for them on Christmas Eve. They opened them Christmas morning. Anthony was thrilled to find red shoes in his package. He absolutely loves those shoes.
The babies (really all the kids) really like Little Baby Bum. I don’t know what it is about Little Baby Bum specifically because other animated songs videos don’t capture the twins’ attention at all. Just Little Baby Bum. My parents gave them a Twinkle star that lights up and sings.
We often get clothes to dress the babies similarly but not identically. These little dinosaur outfits with knee patches are just too cute on them. The only difference in the outfits is the background color being yellow on one and blue on the other (we have a third one of these outfits, also in yellow, for Nicholas because he’s pretty much their slightly older triplet).
Nicholas is just such a happy go lucky independent little guy. When getting his picture taken he often wrinkles up his face and says, “CHEESE!” I just love that face. I’m going to be so sad when he stops making it.
Santa gave Elijah a car kit with a toy drill. I wasn’t sure if he’d like it or not, but it turned out to be a giant hit. He spent a long time putting it together (and taking it apart). My father was more than happy to help him with it.
Fritz has been having a bit of a rough time healthwise for months now. He was feeling pretty icky on Christmas so he curled up on the couch under his blanket to read a book my parents gave him.
Unfortunately Cameron and his girlfriend Tami couldn’t come over on Christmas because Tami was sick with what we assume is COVID (test isn’t back quite yet). We Zoomed with them to open our gifts. Anthony was especially happy to see Cameron on the screen. Anthony absolutely adores his biggest brother.
This is the first picture I took after the older four arrived at our house for the first time. We barely knew each other. We didn’t quite know what to do with so many kids. We didn’t even know how old they were!
This was way before we rearranged rooms to fit four more kids. This was even before Cameron moved into his apartment. We packed them into what was then Fritz and Adrian’s room those first few overnight visits.
The kids were living in a place without a yard so having space to play outside was so very exciting to all of them.
There was quite an adjustment after the toddlers were placed with us. Four kids two and under is intense.
Something else that’s intense is feeding all these kids. They eat a whole lot of food. Our monthly grocery budget for the 13 of us in the house is $2000.
Taking the kids to church (pre-pandemic; we home church currently) was quite an adventure. Just getting them dressed for church was a bit insane. Anthony and Nicholas were in nursery (the babies are still too young), Mayci was in Sunbeams, and Elijah was a CTR4.
For a church activity they wanted a picture of me with the kids. This proved rather difficult with four constantly moving little boys.
I got pajamas from Carters for the four littles plus Fritz and Adrian. They were quite adorable all wearing them (some have no been passed down to younger brothers).
All these boys love their father. This makes sense. He is a very awesome father.
The kids are like puppies. They are always piling up on top of each other and rolling around playing.
They also like to pile up on Jamie. There’s no toy better than your very own Daddy.
It’s funny. The babies now wear the onesie Nicholas is wearing and Nicholas wears the clothes Anthony is wearing in this picture. Elijah has outgrown the shorts and Mayci has outgrown the whole outfit. They have so incredibly much since we’ve had them.
Anthony and Nicholas needed family pictures for their classrooms at the beginning of the school year so we sat down before dinner one day and my mom snapped this one with my phone.
The littles love taking selfies with their big sister. Also, can we talk about Anthony’s smile? That child has the most beautiful smile.
We’ve gotten tie dye clothes from Vine for me, Mayci, and the twins. one day we decided to all wear them and that’s when we discovered that the base colors are all completely different!
We got little pumpkins for the four bigger little ones. They were so excited about them and immediately asked for me to take a picture of them holding their pumpkins.
Halloween was fun trick-or-treating around our little neighborhood with Anna, two skeletons, two Toy Story aliens, and a fried egg.
The first time we met Joel he had a big head on a tiny body and a pacifier labeled with his name (still not sure how the first foster family managed to only have two pacifiers, labeled with their names, and didn’t lose them).
I don’t think Fritz had ever held a baby before. From the time he held the first twin, he was in love with his new baby brothers.
Joel loved sink baths right from the start. He’d get in there and just totally relax.
Joel is pronounced Joe-el. Most non-English speaking people in the world pronounce it that way.
Oldests and youngests always have a special bond. That, apparently, applies in our family with both the oldest and youngest bio and the youngest adopted kid.
Joel cried a lot when we first got him. He was still getting through his withdrawals (which were thankfully never too bad for him).
Most of the time, though, Joel has always been a smiley, happy little guy. He started smiling about a month after we got him and has hardly quit since.
I love that Joel’s middle name – Aaron – is the brother to Noah’s middle name – Moses. Giving them those names was pretty creative.
My best friend came to visit over Christmas last year and she and Joel just totally bonded. So that’s why his second middle name is now Malachi. She always wanted to name a son Malachi so he’s named in honor of my best friend.
Like his brother, Joel got huge very quickly in our home. At the CPS Christmas party our caseworker showed them to her supervisor, who helped bring them to our home, and he was so surprised they were the same babies.
Often while Jamie was holding tiny Joel, the baby would be completely fascinated by what Jamie was looking at on his phone. You’d think it was a game or something brightly colored the way he was so into it. Nope. The news.
It’s always been easy to get pictures of Joel. He smiles on command and will usually stay still while you take the picture.
Even before he started eating table foods, we’d have Joel in a high chair at the table playing with toys. Sometimes he’d just fall asleep.
Around four months old Joel’s hair started growing. And growing and growing and growing.
The funny thing is the bald spot he had rubbed on the back of his head like most babies do stayed so much thinner than the rest of his hair.
Even after cutting his hair short recently (which made him look so big!), that formerly bald spot still has less hair than the rest of his head.
Joel has loved solid food since the moment he first tried it. He is one of the most unpicky children I have ever met.
He has the most beautiful eyes. They are the darkest of all of his siblings and are just so full of life.
Adrian and Joel both get to be the youngest, Adrian of Duk Family version 1 and Joel of Duk Family version 2.
One of Joel’s favorite people is Fritz. Fritz is amazing with the babies so that is not surprise.
The twins are fraternal, but without their hair as a clue, it’s actually not super easy to tell them apart if they aren’t right next to each other.
Like his brother, Joel was sick at his six month checkup. He minded the breathing treatments significantly less than Noah.
Starting at the time they began to eat solids and then continuing for several months, we let them play with bits of food during dinner on bath nights. They’d make huge messes. Joel absolutely loved food playtime.
He didn’t, however, like the getting clean after playing in the food part. It took him a long time after switching to the big tub from the sink for him to start liking baths.
I love Joel’s curls. Even with his hair cut short like it is now, he’s got the cutest little curls above his ears.
Joel has always been the winner in the sprouting teeth contest. He’s already got all the teeth he will get until his 2-year-old molars.
Like all of his siblings, Joel loves books. He pages through them and studies the pages spending much longer than I’d expect for a baby his age.
Once Joel started being able to army crawl, we’d always find him staring out the back door. He loves the outside.
At seven months he started crawling. He had been army crawling for quite a while by then. Getting places on his own was so exciting for him.
The first time – only time thanks to COVID – we took the littles to Taco Cabana, he thought it was the best thing ever to be able to sit up in a high chair where he could see everything that was going on.
Dinnertime before the babies started feeding themselves involved them sitting at the table in their high chairs and playing with toys while the rest of us ate (they were fed before we sat down at the table).
By eight months, Joel’s hair was hitting peak craziness. I’d brush it down every morning and within a half hour it was reaching great heights once again.
The circular thing Joel is holding is a mirror. He still loves looking at himself in the mirror.
He was never much of a thumb sucker, very much preferring his pacifier. But when those back teeth started trying to come in that thumb was often in there providing the pressure he needed when he bit down to help his gums feel better.
Sitting up on his own was the coolest thing to Joel. It was extra cool when he figured out how to go from laying down or crawling to sitting up.
Joel is super smart. He and Noah come up with plans and then totally carry them out. The things they come up with are pretty impressive.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby quite as happy as Joel. He is truly the perfect baby of a ten child family.
Joel thinks it is great fun to climb into the dishwasher. Bonus if he can pull out a few dishes before we get there to take him out.
By nine months old he knew just how to pose in cute ways. As soon as he sees our phones in the picture taking position he immediately makes sure he looks cute.
Eventually Joel’s hair got long enough to put up in a little spout ponytail while was seriously the cutest thing. That’s the only sad thing about his current short haircut.
Joel is constantly moving. He’s so busy and tests the limits of his little body all the time.
Banging doors is one of Joel’s favorite things to do. He has broken so many child locks.
Joel loves food. I don’t think there’s a single table food he has rejected. He really, really loves pizza.
He likes to eat his feet and thinks it is one of the funniest things ever.
Every time we put him in the big bathtub he just screamed and screamed, so even though he was pretty big compared to the sink at that point, we went back to sink baths for a while.
When we stopped putting the babies exclusively in onesies and started dressing them in shorts and t-shirts sometimes, they immediately seemed to become so much bigger.
When Joel was ten months old he started walking. That’s when things had to be moved just a little higher and out of his reach.
He has the fastest fingers in Texas. He can walk by something and grab it before we even see him move.
He will also reach up on top of counters and pull whatever his little hands can reach down.
If he thinks he’s done something cute, he’ll say, “Awwww!” just like we do. Which of course makes us say it back to him because, really, that’s just cute.
All of his big siblings got backpacks for school and Joel felt very left out so we got the twins little toddler backpacks. Joel was quite please with his tiny backpack.
This picture is a re-creation of a selfie Ani took with Joel right after he was placed with us. He took up a lot more of the screen at 14 months than he did at two.
Then there came the day when I heard suspicious noises coming from the dining room and upon investigation found Joel up on the table. Once he could climb, absolutely nothing was safe anymore.
One day I had to take Anthony to the ENT and left Ani in charge of the twins. Clearly they were all tired since when I got back all three were asleep on the couch.
Joel loves the giant bear as much as his brother does. It’s a comfy spot from which to watch Little Baby Bum.
This was the day, waiting for the doctor to get in the room, that Joel started saying “cheese” when he was getting his picture taken.
For Halloween Joel went as a fried egg. He sure was an adorable fried egg.
Ani often get fries from McDonald’s and Joel is always quite happy when she does. He’ll grab a whole handful and eat every bit of it.
He was so incredibly well behaved when I cut his hair for the first time a couple weeks ago. He sat nice and still for me.
Noah was so little the first time we saw him. He came from another foster home. They were already asking to adopt the twins so they decided to move them to a family that wanted to just foster.
It’s kind of funny now that us not planning to adopt is part of why we were chosen given that he is ours forever now.
He fills our entire sink now. It was bathtub to him just over a year ago when we got him.
Noah loved his bouncy chair. He took naps in it regularly his first few weeks in our home.
I had so much fun picking out clothes for the twins. We had a set of superhero onesies and a set of Harry Potter onesies.
Noah was a very serious little baby. It took so long for him to smile. Even as a tiny one he would sit and observe everything going on around him.
He has always liked to just sit and be held. He’s a real cuddlebug.
Noah has always been extra congested. He probably has allergies which definitely fits right in with our family.
He also snores which is just so cute coming from a baby. Of course when he doesn’t snore I get concerned about why he isn’t.
The first time the caseworker came to visit after placement she couldn’t believe they were the same boys. They had already grown so much.
One day we were at Wal-Mart and on a whim I bought this blanket toy. We named it Bear Bear and it became Noah’s favorite toy for the next few months.
Once the babies were four months old we started them on rice cereal. Noah was a big fan!
Cameron had a theory that holding a sleeping baby makes you fall asleep to. He tested this theory pretty much every day.
By five months Noah was smiling for us if we worked really hard for it. More often he was given us this look like we just amused him or something.
Adrian wasn’t sure what to think about these little ones at first. After a while he discovered he could play with them and Noah loved all the attention.
It was an adjustment going back to babies after eleven years. We had a lot to learn quick including cribs and formula and bottles.
Noah has always really studied things. Once I watched while he spent about thirty minutes testing putting things and then his own body parts through the doggy door. It was fascinating to watch him study it out and discover new things.
By six months, Noah was smiling all the time and hasn’t stopped yet. I just love his mischievous little smile.
When I took the boys for their six month checkup, they were both sick. Noah has always had a rough time with congestion and breathing. He did not like his breathing treatments, but he did like being able to breathe better afterwards.
Noah loves being outside. The first time we tried to put him in the grass, however, he lifted up his legs and started crying like we had totally betrayed him.
Noah has always loved baths. Once he figured out how to splash he wanted to stay in the bath forever.
Noah’s favorite TV show is Little Baby Bum which is animated nursery rhymes. He asks for it, but he calls it Cars because that’s what Nicholas always asks for on the TV.
We went to the zoo one day and he cracked me up with his silly faces and babbling. He was just in the best mood, probably because we were outside for so long.
Noah loves toys. He loves Magna-Tiles and blocks the most. He also really likes the toy kitchen.
Noah absolutely loves Fritz. He can often be found riding around on Noah’s shoulders.
At some point he decided this book tasted good and proceeded to chew on it. He never tried to eat any other book, though he did taste several. We’re still not sure what was so tasty about this one.
Noah learned how to army crawl when he was seven months old. And so nothing was safe and he didn’t stay on his big floor blanket anymore.
The first time Noah sat in a highchair at a restaurant, he was so thrilled. He just knew he was so big.
It’s funny to think we had to work so hard at first to get Noah to smile at us. He is still on the serious side, especially compared to his twin, but he smiles a whole lot now.
Because they were in foster care, the twins had to do ECI. They had special skills training and physical therapy. They didn’t need it, though. Despite all odds, they have been consistently ahead and so far have showed no deficits in spite of their rough start.
Noah’s favorite person in the world may very well be his new grandfather. He loves any attention from his Dada (my older kids call him Daddis and the little ones couldn’t quite say it and Dada has stuck).
When we got the bouncer, Noah was so incredibly confused by it. Eventually he got it figured out and would just laugh and laugh playing in it.
Noah’s hair took so long to begin to grow. Once it did, we discovered he has the most beautiful little curls that are as soft as a lamb’s wool.
Once Noah got used to sitting in grass he would sit and pull on the grass and try to eat it.
By the time he turned nine months old Noah was crawling. He was a little behind his twin so he was very pleased with himself that he could finally keep up with his brother.
Noah has always taken food very seriously. He eats almost everything we put in front of him. For a while he didn’t like to be fed with a spoon, but he’s back to not minding which is useful for messy foods like yogurt.
He does have his limits for what he’ll eat. Pureed chicken noodle soup was definitely not something he cared for. And eggs. Eggs have offended him from the first we tried to give it to him.
Magna-Tiles are not something I would expect a tiny one to enjoy playing with, but Noah always has. He has experimented with sticking them to various surfaces and stacked them to see if they need to be the same shape to work. He’s tried to build things with them but so far he is still too little.
Sometimes Noah’s face just looks like he knows so much more than everyone else. He probably does.
Often when Noah wakes from a nap, he’ll just lay there happy as can be. Sometimes he’ll babble to himself. Or times he just looks around.
By eleven months old, Noah could pull himself to a stand. He hadn’t gotten brave enough to let go or take any steps yet, though.
The twins think it is great fun to climb into the dishwasher. Noah was so proud of himself the first time I found him standing in it.
Like his older siblings, Noah loves books. Sometimes he’ll just sit and page through a board book and study the pictures.
Once Noah started growing, he didn’t stop until he had a nice, big, round belly. Now he’s not putting on much weight, but he’s getting much taller.
Noah started walking soon after he turned one year old. Once he could walk, we were really in for it with the twins (creatures of chaos).
The first time I put shoes on Noah he was so confused. He could barely take a single step without help. He couldn’t wait to get those shoes off his feet.
Noah has an incredible vocabulary. He started saying his first word at three months which is insane (good). We kept track of the number of words he can say for a while and quit at fifty. He’s added a bunch more since and has started combining them into short sentences now.
Noah can climb on the table now (his twin has been able to for a couple months). He thinks it is great fun to run around on it until we make him get down.
Noah really likes climbing into cabinets. He’s also good at breaking the baby locks on the cabinets so this presents a bit of a problem and has led to us clearing out a couple for him to play in.
The first time he ate a quesadilla it was like he had discovered a world of food he never knew existed. He loved it!
Noah is generally a really good sleeper. He often sleeps from 9pm to 5am, drinks a bottle, and then goes back to sleep until our alarm goes off at 6:20am.
His cabinet obsession leads to him doing some amusing things sometimes. Like sitting in a frying pan.
Noah sit in a squat while playing or watching Little Baby Bum for long periods of time. It is clearly a very comfortable position for him.
It’s kind of funny seeing Noah in clothes we bought for Nicholas when Nicholas was first placed with us. It seems crazy that the tiny little human could be this big already.
One day Ani tried to teach Noah his colors using his blocks. He was much more interested in playing with her water bottle than picking which block was yellow.
We got this giant bear years ago on clearance at Walgreen’s after Valentine’s Day. It sat in a closet until the babies found it. Noah really likes cuddling with it/on it, especially when he is sleepy.
He was an alien from Toy Story for Halloween. He matched Elijah, though Noah was a lot less thrilled with the costume than his older brother was.
Welcome to the Duk family, Noah Moses Christopher!
The first time we met Anthony, the first weekend we had them for an extended sibling visit/respite, he was so shy and quiet. I’m not sure he said even a single word to us that whole weekend.
Soon after he was placed with us on January 8th, he became very attached to Jamie. Having a daddy was pretty much the best thing in life for him.
He loves books. He loves to look at them on his own and he loves to be read to. We spent a lot of time the first few weeks reading to him. It really helped calm the storm raging inside him.
We we first got him he wasn’t a fan of baths. He much preferred to wash himself using baby wipes. Over time he started to enjoy them much more. This picture was taken seconds before he took that cup full of water and dumped it over the side of the tub all over my legs.
When we first got Anthony he was in nursery at church. He always wanted one of us to stay with him in there. Since we haven’t had in-person church since March, the next time they have primary he’ll already be a Sunbeam!
Anthony has trouble with speech. When we first got him this caused a lot of meltdowns. When try to tell someone you want something, after a while you get really angry that they don’t understand you.
He’s a good helper. He helps clean up toys with just a little direction. He loves to help in the kitchen. He is even helpful with his baby brothers.
He started preschool at a place near us a month or so after we got him. He has been in daycare since birth and loves the structure and learning. He even says one girl in his class is his “girlfriend” (he’s actually quite popular with several of the little ladies).
Over time we’ve gotten better at understanding him and his speech has gotten better. He’s on three allergy medicines to try to help since a lot of his issue is non-infected fluid stuffing up his head.
Understanding him better has really helped with the meltdowns. Sometimes we still don’t understand him (about 25% of the time at this point), but he can show us what he needs now without words when can’t figure out what he’s telling us so that helps a lot.
The first time his hearing was tested, he had moderate hearing loss (that’s when the third allergy medicine was added). He’s still at the bottom of normal, though.
At first, Anthony did not like me at all. He depended on me to feed, clothe, and diaper him (he was attached), but he was very angry that he had yet another female caregiver in his life (he was not bonded). After a couple months he decided I wasn’t horrible. It took another couple month for him to start really liking me and another couple months after that for him to actually begin bonding to me.
Because Anthony bonded with Jamie very quickly, a lot of the non-technical part of caregiving fell to him which was exhausting for Jamie because Anthony was understandably high needs at that point and Jamie was dealing with what the doctors believe was the after affects of undiagnosed COVID.
Sleep is a big issue for Anthony. He wakes often during the night. At first he would cry for 2-3 hours every night. Eventually he stopped crying when he woke up but he was just awake. He’s staying in his bed until at least 5 now 3-4 nights a week.
He had a sleep study a couple months ago and he has mild sleep apnea. The theory is he wakes up from that and is hungry and can’t fall back to sleep quickly (he has delayed sleep issues no matter when he goes to sleep). Even if we feed him in the middle of the night it still takes a while for him to go back to sleep.
Since his sleep apnea is almost definitely related to his giant tonsils and his speech issues are likely related at least in part to his swollen adenoids, he is having surgery next month to remove those so hopefully we’ve got a plan that will help his speech and sleep to improve.
Most of the time Anthony is truly a joy to have around. His smile just lights up the room. His belly laugh is super contagious, too.
He’s a big fan of sweet things. Ice cream, cake, donuts, you name it, he likes it. He was really picky when we first got him, but that is getting better over time as he is introduced to different foods and finding his actual likes and dislikes.
Anthony is less than a year younger than Mayci. Not only do they have practically the same face, they are very close. The first thing they did when Mayci was placed with us was hug for about 5 minutes. They had missed each other so much.
Anthony’s birthday is a palindrome which is almost as awesome as Elijah’s birthday being Ultimate Pi Day. He was born on 7/18/17.
In August, he moved up to Room 7 at preschool. He loves his class, though he’s sad he lost his favorite teacher last month. He’ll get to see her again next year, though. She’s now working as an assistant teacher in Mayci’s pre-k classroom!
He loves playing on the playground. Slides are his favorite thing. He is pretty happy that he gets to go out and play on the playground at school a couple times every day.
When Anthony gets frustrated he doesn’t exactly cry, but rather fuss hums in a very irritating way. When he first arrived he was almost constantly doing that. As the storms inside have calmed down, he hardly does it anymore.
For Halloween he was a skeleton. He loved dressing up both for the parade at his school and for trick-or-treating.
Anthony enjoys all aspects of school. He likes playing in the center and he also likes the seatwork. They don’t push at the preschool he goes to and if a kid wants to scribble instead of trace, that is okay. They are still very little. At first Anthony would just scribble, but he’s getting really good at tracing now.
A few weeks ago, he had to get his blood drawn in preparation for his surgery. He was so good about keeping his mask on and he was cooperative when they actually took his blood even though it hurt. He’s such a good, sweet kid.
A few signatures and we doubled our flock. We are now a family of 12! The photos that were taken Saturday turned out amazing (I seriously cannot say enough good things about Jacqueline Eldredge Photography.)
But we weren’t done. Introducing our new Duklings!