Christmas 2020

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.

Becoming a Family

December 2010

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!

January 2020

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.

January 2020

The kids were living in a place without a yard so having space to play outside was so very exciting to all of them.

January 2020

There was quite an adjustment after the toddlers were placed with us. Four kids two and under is intense.

January 2020

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.

January 2020

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.

February 2020

For a church activity they wanted a picture of me with the kids. This proved rather difficult with four constantly moving little boys.

March 2020

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).

April 2020

All these boys love their father. This makes sense. He is a very awesome father.

April 2020

The kids are like puppies. They are always piling up on top of each other and rolling around playing.

May 2020

They also like to pile up on Jamie. There’s no toy better than your very own Daddy.

May 2020

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.

August 2020

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.

September 2020

The littles love taking selfies with their big sister. Also, can we talk about Anthony’s smile? That child has the most beautiful smile.

October 2020

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!

October 2020

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.

October 2020

Halloween was fun trick-or-treating around our little neighborhood with Anna, two skeletons, two Toy Story aliens, and a fried egg.

Introducing… Noah Moses Christopher!

September 2019

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.

September 2019

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.

September 2019

He fills our entire sink now. It was bathtub to him just over a year ago when we got him.

September 2019

Noah loved his bouncy chair. He took naps in it regularly his first few weeks in our home.

September 2019

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.

September 28, 2019 – 3 Months Old

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.

October 2019

He has always liked to just sit and be held. He’s a real cuddlebug.

October 2019

Noah has always been extra congested. He probably has allergies which definitely fits right in with our family.

October 2019

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.

October 2019

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.

October 28, 2019 – 4 Months Old

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.

October 2020

Once the babies were four months old we started them on rice cereal. Noah was a big fan!

November 2019

Cameron had a theory that holding a sleeping baby makes you fall asleep to. He tested this theory pretty much every day.

November 28, 2019 – 5 Months Old

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.

December 2019

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.

December 2019

It was an adjustment going back to babies after eleven years. We had a lot to learn quick including cribs and formula and bottles.

December 2019

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.

December 28, 2019 – 6 Months Old

By six months, Noah was smiling all the time and hasn’t stopped yet. I just love his mischievous little smile.

December 2019

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.

January 2020

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.

January 2020

Noah has always loved baths. Once he figured out how to splash he wanted to stay in the bath forever.

January 28, 2019 – 7 Months Old

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.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

Noah loves toys. He loves Magna-Tiles and blocks the most. He also really likes the toy kitchen.

February 2020

Noah absolutely loves Fritz. He can often be found riding around on Noah’s shoulders.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

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.

February 2020

The first time Noah sat in a highchair at a restaurant, he was so thrilled. He just knew he was so big.

February 28, 2020 – 8 Months Old

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.

March 2020

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.

March 2020

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).

March 2020

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.

March 2020

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.

March 2020

Once Noah got used to sitting in grass he would sit and pull on the grass and try to eat it.

March 28, 2020 – 9 Months Old

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.

April 2020

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.

April 2020

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.

April 2020

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.

April 28, 2020 – 10 Months Old

Sometimes Noah’s face just looks like he knows so much more than everyone else. He probably does.

May 2020

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.

May 28, 2020 – 11 Months Old

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.

June 2020

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.

June 28, 2020 – 1 Year Old!

Like his older siblings, Noah loves books. Sometimes he’ll just sit and page through a board book and study the pictures.

July 2020

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.

July 2020

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).

July 2020

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.

July 2020

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.

August 2020

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.

August 2020

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.

August 2020

The first time he ate a quesadilla it was like he had discovered a world of food he never knew existed. He loved it!

September 2020

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.

October 2020

His cabinet obsession leads to him doing some amusing things sometimes. Like sitting in a frying pan.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

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.

October 2020

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.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Noah Moses Christopher!

Introducing… Nicholas James Alexander!

December 2019

Nicholas is the only one of the The Six that I wasn’t sure if I could successfully parent. This is because he has eczema and every time we saw him he was so red and swollen and blotchy and I had no idea how to take care of skin like that.

December 2019

The first time we had him over for the weekend he was only 17 months old. We weren’t actually sure how old he was. He cuddled right up to me which in hindsight is not a good thing since I was more or less a complete stranger to him.

January 2020

When I look at pictures of Nicholas from the first few months we had him, I have to wonder how much pain that sweet little boy was in because of his eczema. It took a bit to get it right, but it’s easy to take care of his skin. I needn’t have worried.

January 2020

Nicholas loves cars. He loves Cars (the movies), too. When we first were placed with him, he called them kies. When he’s really tired even now he’ll call them kies. Same with wahwee (water).

January 2020

Nicholas did not like baths when he first arrived. I think they hurt his skin. I started adding epsom salts (and some toys) to his bathwater and suddenly he began to love baths and would play and splash for a long time. We don’t need to add epsom salts anymore since his skin has healed so much over the last few months.

February 2020

Nicholas is a pretty chill kid. He does hit when he gets frustrated by a sibling (usually Anthony and almost never the babies), but usually he’s just a sweetheart.

February 2020

It’s hard to get a good picture of Nicholas. He’s pretty much always in motion so so many of the pictures we take are blurry.

February 2020

Ever since he moved in with us, we’ve called Nicholas Nicky. His bio family calls him Nico, but he just seemed like a Nicky to us. He has no trouble with any of the names he’s called and answers to all three (as well as Nick-o-Nick or just Nick).

February 2020

He’s a really good eater, but he has a bad habit of tossing his food on the floor before getting more food and eating it. Not sure why he does that. Kids are weird. He often goes around the table after dinner sample everyone else’s leftovers.

February 2020

Nicholas shares a middle name with Cameron and Jamie. That makes two of our new kids who share a middle name with an older brother.

March 2020

Nicholas can sit and play on his own for so long. He’s got a crazy long attention span.

March 2020

He loves one-on-one attention. Pre-COVID we’d often take one kid out with us. Nicholas got to be the one to go vote in the primaries this year. He was so good waiting in line and charmed everyone. And then they gave him a sticker so it was pretty much a perfect adventure.

March 2020

I worked hard to get Nicholas to like olives. At first he thought they were gross, but since I like them he wanted to keep eating them and eventually he decided he likes them a lot. My dad likes pickled anything so sometimes the two of them have a feast together.

March 2020

He talks so much. He’s been speaking in sentences since soon after we got him in January. Some of the things he says make me laugh so much.

March 2020

For a while I kept saying how he talked so much and everyone else was like he really doesn’t. It turns out he was mostly just speaking to me. Now he talks to everyone.

April 2020

Nicholas loves his biggest sister. When he actually stops moving for a little bit he likes to climb into her lap and cuddle. Bonus points if she’s willing to take selfies with him.

April 2020

When you have little kids, silence is not golden. Silence is scary. One day the toddlers were quiet for a few minutes and we found them fully clothes in the tub with half a roll of toilet paper and the water running. Silly boys.

April 2020

Nicholas has grown so much since we got him. He’s gone up a shoe size. The babies now wear the clothes he arrived in.

May 2020

He’s super interested in using the potty. He’ll usually go when we ask if he wants to. Sometimes he takes off his own diaper and demands to go sit on the potty.

May 2020

Ever since we got Nicholas’ skin under control and stopped his eczema flares for the most part, I’ve just been amazed at how beautiful his skin is. We worked hard to get it here.

May 2020

When the toddlers arrived, they were very attached to their blankies. Over the months they’ve needed them less and less and now they mostly just stay in their beds.

June 2020

It is not unusual to find Nicholas sitting and looking at a book. He will page through them one page at a time and spend a long time inspecting the pictures on each page.

June 2020

Nicholas likes bubble baths now. We have to be careful since any soap at all left on his skin will leave him prickly and itchy, but it just shows how far he has come since any water made him scream.

June 2020

His favorite toy on the playground at preschool is this ride on toy. He drives it around and around and is just so happy.

June 2020

As part of his love of cars, Nicholas has claimed our minivan as his own. He’s pretty convinced it belongs to just him. He also often hugs our giant van good-bye when we drop him off at school.

July 2020

Nicholas turned 2 the beginning of July. He’s just such a happy child. Life really is good for this guy.

July 2020

We gave him a little police car for his birthday. Of course he was thrilled because it’s a car. We haven’t even had to put the batteries in yet. He just likes pushing it around.

July 2020

He thinks it is great fun, as most kids do, to steal people’s glasses and wear them.

July 2020

Books and cars. The two true loves of this guy. It certainly makes him an easy kid to buy presents for!

August 2020

In August he moved up to Room 5 in preschool. He has easily gotten used to working in centers and even doing a little seatwork, tracing and making art projects.

September 2020

When the COVID lockdowns happened, Anthony stopped going to preschool for a while and Nicholas’ body reacted by increasing his eczema flares (his are very related to consuming too much gluten and also stress). I think he had just gotten very used to being the big man on campus in charge of the babies and didn’t like his position to be disrupted.

September 2020

I love it when the kids lay in their beds and “read.” Sometimes Nicholas will fall asleep looking through a book.

October 2020

After several months with us Nicholas’ hair was getting pretty long. He sat so nicely watching Cars while I put lots of braids in his hair. He was so adorable and it lasted several days. A couple weeks ago we cut his hair all one length, but I’m thinking we’ll let it grow out now that it’s all even because he is so cute with the braids.

October 2020

His two favorite books! He just loves that little blue truck. One book we gave one of the twins for their birthday and the other my parents gave Nicholas for his birthday. Nicholas has claimed them both.

October 2020

For Halloween, Nicholas was a skeleton just like his big brother. He refused to wear it for the parade at his school, but tolerated it for trick-or-treating. He thought it was pretty neat that he and Anthony matched.

November 2020

This picture is Nicholas in a nutshell. Getting his hair cut, something many kids do not enjoy, but Nicholas, with his happy-go-lucky personality and zest for life, thought it was the best thing ever.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Nicholas James Alexander!

This is Us

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.)

ALL of us including my parents
Just the Twelve of Us
Here we are!
The Chaos of Us
Where we started
Aren’t my parents cute?
Then Came The Two Of Us
We’re cute, too
Then there was Ani
Dukling 1, age 20 years 9 months
And then Mr. Photogenic Cameron
Duking 2, age 19 years 1 month
And then Fritz
Dukling 3, age 14 years 4 months
We thought we were done when we added Adrian
Dukling 4, age 12 years 3 months

But we weren’t done. Introducing our new Duklings!

Elijah David Ezekiel
Dukling 5, age 5 years 8 months
Mayci Celia Kerry
Dukling 6, age 4 years 3 months
She’s such a little beauty
She loves her biggest brother
Anthony Michael John
Dukling 7, age 3 years 4 months
Nicholas James Alexander
Dukling 8, age 2 years 4 months
Noah Moses Christopher
Dukling 9, age 1 year 4 months
Joel Aaron Malachi
Dukling 10, age 1 year 4 months

Family Photos

Remember how I said I absolutely cannot match? This became a bit of an issue preparing for our family photos. We found clothes for some of us, but others needed shirts bought for them so my parents sat on either side of me one evening while we took this giant pile of clothes and tried to match them with pictures of clothes on the screen.

The shirt I picked for Cameron and the outfit I picked for one of the twins was perfect. The clothes for E and A weren’t nearly as perfect when they arrived and N’s seemed way too bright, much brighter than it had been on the screen, but I think everything looks really nice once all twelve are put together. I can’t wait to see how the pictures turned out.

(And a big you’re awesome to Jacqueline Eldredge Photography. Taking on our giant group with so many littles takes a lot of courage and talent!)

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).

groceries

14 Course Meal

14course1
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)

 

Home Church

For over a month now we’ve had church at home. All of our churches worldwide are shut down until further notice. I’m really not sure when we’ll go back to regular meetings. Sometimes I wonder if it won’t be until there’s a vaccine or reliable treatment.

Anyway, I rather like having church at home. We have our little Sacrament service. My father and Jamie bless the bread and water and Fritz and Adrian pass it. We sing the First Article of Faith song a lot. We’ll go on to the second one once the toddlers know the first one. We take turns giving a little talk/spiritual message. Now our ward has Sunday School via Zoom twice a month as well. And then we have our Come, Follow Me lesson that we’ve been doing weekly for over a year.

It’s really interesting, though, that we’ve pretty much been training for this home church thing. We were already totally used to doing Come, Follow Me at home as a family. Now we just have a little more church at home, but we already had a good groove going. There’s no need to actually go into a church building to maintain religious studies.

But I suspect our first week back meeting all together will be pretty noisy as we greet old friends and get caught up post-social distancing.

The best calling in the church

It seems that every calling I have is, to me, the best. Right now I am a Sunday School teacher. I team teach with my mom so that makes it extra fun. I love our class members (we have two Sunday School classes in our ward and people are free to go to whichever they want). I love how the lessons go including when they go in a way I didn’t expected they would. Come, Follow Me is the most fabulous program ever. I just really love being a Sunday School teacher.