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.
Welcome to the Duk family, Joel Aaron Malachi!