New Belts!

Board Breaks

On Wednesday Elijah and Mayci tested for their next belts in taekwondo.

Ara (Turtle) Belts!

Their old belts are full of lots of work. Their new belts are full of potential.

Mayci, Cameron, Elijah

It’s pretty awesome when your instructor is also your biggest brother.

Happy, fierce, and adorable

Introducing… Elijah David Ezekiel!

December 2019

Elijah is the sweetest 5-year-old ever. He’s so loving and caring. He was born on Ultimate Pi Day which seems so perfect for a member of our family.

January 2020

The first time he spent the weekend during a pre-placement visit, he did not want to come. He didn’t know us and had barely seen us when we dropped off and picked up the twins for visitation.

January 2020

Before COVID hit, he came to stay four weekends. He eventually got used to us and our house. He started getting comfortable. And then COVID hit.

February 2020

Because of COVID we no longer were able to have him come spend pre-placement weekends with us so we started visiting via Skype. Elijah does not like to visit via Skype.

May 2020

Finally, on May 15th, he arrived at our house permanently and was officially placed on the 18th. The children were reunited and our family was all together.

June 2020

When he arrived, he had a hurricane going on inside his little body. Meltdowns had been a near daily occurrence for a long time for him. He was an angry little boy.

June 2020

Slowly, he relaxed. Slowly, he started to trust us. From the start he and I just clicked. He’s a words of affirmation like I am so showing him love the way he understands it just came naturally.

July 2020

Soon his meltdowns pretty much disappeared (he still had a couple related to CPS visits, but that’s because he was afraid they’d remove him from our home and so totally understandable). He settled into life as our fifth little Dukling.

July 2020

When he arrived at our house, he had long, beautiful hair that he would use to hide behind when he was feeling anxious. After a month or so he always wanted his hair in a ponytail with his face showing. And then he asked to get his hair cut.

July 2020

I was so surprised when he picked a short style. I was thinking maybe he’d go for shoulder length since he was used to it long. But no, he wanted it short. As adorable as he was with long hair, he’s super adorable with short, too!

August 2020

He started kindergarten, virtually, in August. He’s working so hard learning his letters and numbers. He has a few educational struggles related to his early years, but he’s catching up so fast.

August 2020

Elijah is so much fun. He is enjoying learning taekwondo. He loves to organize his very large car collection (especially the cars from Cars). He enjoys drawing and coloring, both things he is quite talented at.

October 2020

He has grown so much since we got him. In May size 4T was loose on him. Just 6 months later and I’m thinking it won’t be long until he moves up to size 6!

October 2020

His favorite color is red. He looks amazing in jewel tones. He’s just a seriously happy kid now. The hurricane has been calmed.

October 2020

For Halloween he was an alien from Toy Story. He got so excited when I found that costume in a pile given to us by a friend because there was also one that fit the babies so his little brother could match him. He still asks if we can go trick-or-treating again “tomorrow.”

November 2020

Because of COVID, we’ve been having church at home. Even though we could go to the building for Sacrament Meeting now, we’ve decided to keep doing it at home for now. A couple weeks ago it was Elijah’s turn to give the talk in Sacrament Meeting. He told us all about who Jesus is.

November 2020

He and Fritz share a first middle name (Fritz was given the name David after my brother) which is pretty cool. Ezekiel is because my dad had a hard time remember his name is Elijah and it just fit. We almost picked T’Challa, though.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Elijah David Ezekiel!

Cameron’s New Suit

Because he’s very tall and thin, Cameron has found it’s impossible to find an off-the-rack suit that fits him properly. So, with the Black Belt Gala coming up and him needing to dress super nicely since he’s a chief instructor now, he went shopping at Men’s Wearhouse on Black Friday. He got two suits and had them altered to fit him. He’s pretty happy with them!

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International Homeschool Spirit Week 2018!

Last week was the annual International Homeschool Spirit Week and we actually remembered to participate!

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Monday was pajama day. While many homeschooling families stay in pajamas every day, we don’t so it was different and fun for us.
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Tuesday was out and about day. We went with Cameron to taekwondo when he had to work in the morning and all three did some schoolwork while waiting for student to get there. Then Cameron treated his younger brothers to Sonic milkshakes.
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After lunch and the boys had finished their schoolwork, we went to the park. We took our bird along and she seemed to enjoy it though we didn’t stay very long because it was back in the 90s and the mosquitoes were really bad out there.
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At the park, I took what might be the most adorable picture of Rae yet.
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Wednesday was crazy hair day. Cameron gelled up his younger brothers’ hair.
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Thursday was fandom day. The little boys and I decided to all dress in Pokemon shirts.
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Friday was giving back day. My mom made cute little bunnies and the boys named them.
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Then we went around the area and hid them in plain sight for kids to find.
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A Pretty Good Schedule

We struggled all of last year getting a good schedule for school. Cameron had seminary 6-6:50 am. When he got home, he’d go back to bed and wake up at some point to do all together work with his brothers. It never really worked.

This year, however, is so much better! This year, he has seminary 7:15-8:05 am. So much better. He walks to the church and back so he’s usually home by 8:15 or 8:20. While he’s at seminary I make breakfast and get the boys up for the day if necessary (they usually get up on their own before 8).

When Cameron gets home we eat breakfast while watching CNN10. Then we get to work on our all together work. During most weeks, normal 5 day weeks, we do history on Monday, geography on Tuesday, science on Wednesday, and the arts on Thursday. That makes Friday a short day. A bit of a reward for working so hard during the week.

All together work takes about 2 1/2-3 hours. The little guys have some together work Cameron doesn’t (religion and holidays). Once all of the all together work is done, they move on to their on their own work. Once they finish that, they are done for the day. So far, they’ve been finishing anywhere from 12-3:15 depending on the kid and the day.

Tuesdays and Thursdays Cameron teaches taekwondo 11-11:45. I don’t think he’ll be teaching in the mornings much longer, though, since school has started up again so most of the kids no longer attend that class so that part of our schedule may go away (or Cameron may take class himself). Sometimes the little guys take class, too. Since I have to take Cameron, Fritz works on his on his own work while I’m gone whether we’re done with all together work or not (Adrian still needs me for his on his own work so he gets a break while I am gone). Wednesdays Cameron goes to instructor training 10-12. I drop him off and pick him up, but in the middle, I work with the boys on their on their own work. All three of those days, we have lunch when we get home and then go back to work after lunch. Monday and Friday we have lunch about noon and then get back to work until they are done if necessary.

It’s nice having a good schedule for school. Even though it’s a little crazy with the three days of taekwondo stuff, it still is so much better than last year (which also included taekwondo class for all of us since for part of the year Fritz and I hadn’t gotten our black belts yet).

NOT Back to School Day 2017

Somehow we’ve already reached the end of the summer and it’s time to go back to school. But, as is our tradition, today while kids all around us went to their first day of school, we played.

We started off with crepes, Nutella, and turkey bacon for breakfast.
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The went to Main Event and played some games. Space Invaders has gotten quite the modern update!
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We played some air hockey and skee ball. Those games can be pretty intense in our family.
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Giant Connect 4 turned out to be way more fun than you might think. And also pretty intense.
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Cameron picked up a pool cue and started doing the jahng bong form right in the middle of Main Event. (Note: Cameron hates this picture because his stance is awful because he was just playing around.)
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Fritz and Adrian attempted the gravity ropes. Several months ago, my brother came to visit and we went to Main Event. Adrian tried the gravity ropes, but he got too scared and came back down. This time he was determined to make it across. Fritz got too scared this time, but Adrian made it!
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(Video of Adrian being brave.)

We played a game of laser tag before we picked our prizes and headed out.
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We had pizza at Luciano’s for dinner. They have some of the most amazing pizza and their gluten free crusts are really good.
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We ended the day with shaved ice from Bahama Bucks. Fritz said he must be making a whole lot of dopamine because he was feeling so happy.
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Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)

My Kids are Pretty Cool

Ani went to ATA Worlds in Arkansas last weekend. She got to watch our (former) instructor test for his 5th degree black belt and watch some amazing competition. Being there gave her the itch to get back to training.
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Cameron is just plain amazing at taekwondo. Last Saturday there was a Daddy and Me board break class and Cameron did a spin heel speed break on a wooden board.

Fritz just finished his third summer swim season. He is not the fastest swimmer, but he loves being in the pool. This year he shaved over 8 seconds from his freestyle, over 13 seconds from his backstroke, and added breaststroke.
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Adrian is on the slow path to black belt. He moves up a belt color about once a year. After 3 1/2 years of being a low rank, he tested on Monday for his purple belt and will finally join the high rank group. This means he gets to spar and use a weapon in each hand, both things that he’s really excited about.
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I Made a Thing

We have a new instructor at taekwondo. It’s been a little traumatic losing the only instructor we’ve ever had because he’s just amazing and seen four of us to first degree black belt and one to second degree black belt. He was instrumental in changing our lives. He moved to a school 5 miles away so we could have followed him there, but we decided to give the new guy a chance and I’m glad we did.

Our new instructor is amazing with Adrian. The kid is rather difficult and we know this. But, somehow, things that used to turn into a battle of wills just don’t anymore. We’ve discovered that things Adrian has been taught, he has not learned. I don’t know if it’s from not paying attention or just not wanting to be there so ignoring the instructions. Whatever it is, he has actually been telling our new instructor he doesn’t know how to do things and asking for help. Our instructor then shows him and Adrian can do them. He also ignores certain behavior from Adrian that our previous instructor would engage in a battle of wills over. The interesting thing about that is Adrian will see that our new instructor is obviously and purposefully ignoring whatever Adrian is doing and the kid stops and does what he is supposed to do.

Anyway, our new instructor is very talented and seems to really enjoy working with kids. But he’s so awkward when he’s not doing taekwondo. It’s funny because he’ll retreat to the corner in between classes like he’s trying to hide, but then when class starts or you talk to him about taekwondo he’s animated and not awkward at all. That reminded me of James Roday who played Shawn on Psych. He was so gregarious as Shawn, but any time they had a panel or interview or whatever he was pretty quiet and if they were sitting on a couch, he would always pick up a pillow and hug and rub it through the interview. So I jokingly said I needed to make our instructor a pillow. My friend kind of egged me on a little bit and that led to me making a thing. We’ll give it to him tonight at beginner belt graduation (Adrian’s finally, after 3 1/2 years, made it to the high ranks!).

Ani had physical therapy yesterday morning so on the way home we went to Michaels and got fabric, a pillow form, and a pineapple applique.
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I printed two copies of the Victory logo and cut it up to use as a pattern.
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Then I started sewing. My mom does applique stuff all the time. I think I have once before ever. I was pretty happy with how the Victory logo came out.
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I made an envelope pillow case to fit the pillow form. I googled for instructions because I literally had no idea how to do it.
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I sewed the Victory logo onto the center of the front of the pillowcase.
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I sewed the pineapple applique onto the back of the pillowcase as a nod to Psych and the whole reason I even thought of making him a pillow. I stuffed in the pillow form and it was almost perfect.
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I added a few more stitches to fix the corners better and I am very happy with it. I just may have to make one for us to keep!
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Cameron’s a Second Degree!

Cameron tested for his second degree black belt in taekwondo on Saturday.
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On Monday he received his new belt at the Black Belt Candlelight Ceremony.
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They sat and thought about the journey that has gotten them this far on the path to black belt and beyond.
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Then they punched toward their candle flame to put it out (Cameron’s the second in the row).

They each got to come up and receive their new belt from their instructor.2nddegree4

He was most excited to get his new belt because it means that after a year and a half he finally gets to start learning a new form.2nddegree5

The amount of time and effort behind a new belt is huge.2nddegree6

His old belt was pretty much gray now from so much use.2nddegree7

Because of some changes in chief instructors, Mr. Meza is no longer at the location where we go, but he has been our instructor for the last 3 1/2 years (and he’s still close by so we’ll still see him a lot).2nddegree8