Introducing… Joel Aaron Malachi!

September 2019

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).

September 2019

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.

September 2019

Joel loved sink baths right from the start. He’d get in there and just totally relax.

September 2019

Joel is pronounced Joe-el. Most non-English speaking people in the world pronounce it that way.

September 2019

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.

September 2019

Joel cried a lot when we first got him. He was still getting through his withdrawals (which were thankfully never too bad for him).

September 28, 2019 – 3 Months Old

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.

October 2019

I love that Joel’s middle name – Aaron – is the brother to Noah’s middle name – Moses. Giving them those names was pretty creative.

October 2019

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.

October 2019

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.

October 2019

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.

October 28, 2019 – 4 Months Old

It’s always been easy to get pictures of Joel. He smiles on command and will usually stay still while you take the picture.

October 2019

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.

October 2019

Around four months old Joel’s hair started growing. And growing and growing and growing.

November 2019

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.

November 28, 2019 – 5 Months Old

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.

December 2019

Joel has loved solid food since the moment he first tried it. He is one of the most unpicky children I have ever met.

December 2019

He has the most beautiful eyes. They are the darkest of all of his siblings and are just so full of life.

December 2019

Adrian and Joel both get to be the youngest, Adrian of Duk Family version 1 and Joel of Duk Family version 2.

December 2019

One of Joel’s favorite people is Fritz. Fritz is amazing with the babies so that is not surprise.

December 28, 2019 – 6 Months Old

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.

December 2019

Like his brother, Joel was sick at his six month checkup. He minded the breathing treatments significantly less than Noah.

January 2020

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.

January 2020

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.

January 28, 2020 – 7 Months Old

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.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

Once Joel started being able to army crawl, we’d always find him staring out the back door. He loves the outside.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

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).

February 28, 2020 – 8 Months Old

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.

March 2020

The circular thing Joel is holding is a mirror. He still loves looking at himself in the mirror.

March 2020

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.

March 2020

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.

March 2020

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.

March 28, 2020 – 9 Months Old

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.

April 2020

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.

April 2020

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.

April 2020

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.

April 28, 2020 – Ten Months Old

Joel is constantly moving. He’s so busy and tests the limits of his little body all the time.

May 2020

Banging doors is one of Joel’s favorite things to do. He has broken so many child locks.

May 2020

Joel loves food. I don’t think there’s a single table food he has rejected. He really, really loves pizza.

May 2020

He likes to eat his feet and thinks it is one of the funniest things ever.

May 2020

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.

May 28, 2020 – 11 Months Old

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.

June 2020

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.

June 2020

He has the fastest fingers in Texas. He can walk by something and grab it before we even see him move.

June 28, 2020 – 1 Year Old

He will also reach up on top of counters and pull whatever his little hands can reach down.

July 2020

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.

August 2020

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.

September 2020

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.

September 2020

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.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

Joel loves the giant bear as much as his brother does. It’s a comfy spot from which to watch Little Baby Bum.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

For Halloween Joel went as a fried egg. He sure was an adorable fried egg.

November 2020

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.

November 2020

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.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Joel Aaron Malachi!

Grocery Shopping

I usually order groceries for pick-up or to have them delivered, but recently the quality has not been that good at either store I order from and the substitutions have been downright dumb (note: onion salt is not an appropriate substitution for onion powder; an appropriate substitution would be one of the other brands of onion powder).

So my mom and I went grocery shopping last week and I was reminded of why I usually just order it. My cart was overflowing and hers was very full. Thirteen people equals a LOT of food needed (this is groceries for just one week).


14 Course Meal

The youth in our ward were given a quarantine challenge to help keep them busy this spring/summer. One of the things on there was an n course meal where n is the number of people in your family. We added in Cameron and ended up with 14 courses. We had our meal yesterday afternoon. It was both fun and delicious!

(carrots and dip by Adrian, cheese cubes by A, Grapes by E, New England Clam Chowder by Baby B)

(bread and butter by Fritz, applesauce by Baby A, sherbet by N, salad by Jamie)

(buffalo cream cheese celery by my dad, lemon friend chicken and broccoli by my mom and mac and cheese by Adrian, brie and crackers by Ani)

(crepes and nutella by Cameron, Milky Ways by me, and sparkling cider by M)


Bread and a Pineapple

In our church we are assigned people to minister to us one-on-one. Our ministering brother texted the other night and said he was at Walmart and did we need anything. In fact, we did. There was no gluten free bread at HEB when I went there Friday and we were down to our last loaf at home.


A little while later he dropped off FOUR loaves of bread and a pineapple. He often gives us a pineapple because he knows we like it and it is safe for everyone in the house. No more worrying about going back to the grocery store searching for bread!

I volunteered as tribute

Friday I went grocery shopping. It had to be done. We needed fresh stuff (and formula and baby wipes) and pick-up or delivery from grocery stores was not available for at least a week. So off I went to HEB.


There was a line. It was properly socially distanced. They were only letting a few people into the store at a time. They were also wiping down the carts outside and the shelves inside.


It was rather nerve-wracking doing our shopping. Hopefully pick-up or delivery will be available again soon. I prefer picking up my groceries anyway and have been doing it every week for at least a couple years now. I felt like I should tell people this was not hoarding, but rather one week for eleven people. We eat a lot.

Hungry Babies

The twins love to eat. That is very much evident in the fact they are both over 20 pounds at 8 months old. Baby A prefers mixed baby foods while Baby B’s favorites are individual fruits and vegetables.

Baby A absolutely loves fish (tilapia). He got so excited when we offered it to him. Baby B loves to eat his big brothers’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He’s got four teeth and he’s going to use them apparently.

Some days these guys eat three four ounce jars of baby food each plus four or five six ounce bottles of formula. If they eat this much as babies, I’m concerned for when they are teens (especially since A can put away four scrambled eggs at a time already at 2 1/2… I’m going to have a lot of teen boys all at once).

Picky Eating

Adrian is a picky eater. We even have a series of YouTube videos all about him trying things and (almost always) hating them. He was picky before he went on Adderall, but he was picker when he went off. It’s been over a year since he stopped taking it, but the number of foods he’d eat was getting smaller and smaller. So we decided to do something about it.


We went with an idea usually used for toddlers. We got him a tray with six spaces in it. Every dinner, we fill up those spaces with a variety of foods. At this point we’re only putting in things he likes. If there is something on the table that he’ll eat, that goes in one of the spaces. As time goes on, we will gradually add things he doesn’t currently like in the hopes that over time he will begin to accept more foods and flavors (so far it appears to be working).

NOT Back to School Day 2018

Monday was the first day of school for the local districts so, as usual, we had a fun final day off.

We started off with pineapple-kiwi-blueberry smoothie bowls for breakfast. The kids were less than impressed. I thought they were amazing.

Jamie and the boys played some Dungeons & Dragons before Cameron had to leave us for the Monday lunch meeting he goes to every week for work.

Jamie, the little guys, and I headed out to the Tower of the Americas.

We squished some pennies.

And tried to find our house using one of the pay viewer thingies up on the observation deck.

The view of San Antonio from the observation deck is pretty awesome. We live in a very beautiful city.


We watched three short 4D movies. It’s funny how getting sprayed with water from an ocean feels different from getting sprayed with water from a mammoth sneeze even though it’s really all the same water.

Adrian got a color change cup, Fritz got a long tube of pucker powder, and Jamie got a cattle brand from the gift shop.

We went to an Asian buffet for lunch. Adrian ate his favorite food (rice and cheese) and Fritz ate approximately his weight in rolls and sushi.

We went to a really amazing comic book store. Fritz spent lots of time studying the D&D books. Both boys got starter Pokemon card decks and Adrian got a Teen Titans Go! comic book set.

We finished off the day by going to Bubble Waffle Bar. Ani came with us (Cameron was at work). There’s not much there we can eat there, but what we ate was still really cool. The Dole Whip was pretty normal, but the cotton candy wrapped chocolate, coconut, and mint chocolate chip ice cream was unique and really good.

Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)

Ireland, Part Five

We returned the CPAP machine Jamie had been loaned. They didn’t charge us anything!

Jamie and I walked down to the river next to where Jamie’s mum lives.

We picked (and ate) lots of delicious wild blackberries.

We did Kinder Surprises.

We went a long way and ended up in Tipperary.

We went to Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers and learned about the history of their farm and how they make their blue cheeses. We also ate a ton of blue cheese.

We went to the Rock of Cashel. It’s an amazing, huge medieval religious fortress.

The pictures don’t do the place justice. It is truly awe-inspiring.

When we came down from the Rock of Cashel, there was a group of young buskers playing traditional music (on the way up a young man was playing a fiddle).

We went to Kilmallock, a medieval town that still has several stone structures and part of the wall. Their Catholic church is gorgeous.

We went all over the Abbey. We were even able to climb some very old stairs up to the second floor.

The old Church of Ireland building is now a burial ground.

So that was Monday and Tuesday.