In a homeschooling house full of 7 kids & 3 guniea pigs....there is never a dull moment! A lot of people show genuine concern for us and want to know how we are doing, as the road we've left behind was not a pleasant one. So, here I am, to tell some of our stories...share some of our days...and open up a part of our world to you! Come join us on our journey so you won't miss the moments that take our breath away!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coming in January....

This comes as no surprise to most who know me ;) but...we have FINALLY announced the last addition to our flock!



This announcement came with some degree of hostility but being so far along before announcing such news, I can say I somewhat expected this kind of reaction out of some (and there were a few that I didn't expect certain reactions from).  There are a lot of emotions that surrounded this pregnancy and so many reasons I made the decision not to tell.  

Without speaking negatively about any particular people, I will say first and foremost that most of my pregnancies have not been greeted with the happiest of reactions to say the least!  Granted, there isn't one person in this world who doesn't love all of my children with all their heart, it's just that generally, an announcement such as this is followed with LOTS of negativity, unsolicited opinions, unwarranted advice, jealousy and way too many questions!!  It was a bit difficult not having my mom here to counter all the negativity although, I admit, I had mixed feelings about the expected arrival date of this little one because it's highly likely that he will make his arrival on or very near her First Angelversary.

After Dove was born, it was decided that we would not have any more as Falcon decided he never wished to go through "that" again ;) but as time went on, he changed his mind and the desire to add to our family grew.  We actively "tried" for a time period of 6-8 months (whose counting?).  By actively trying, I mean...I charted cycles,  I took ovulation tests, etc.  I knew when I was fertile, we "tried" and every month resulted in a failed attempt to add to our family.   I bought pregnancy tests in bulk ;) month after month after month, I'd start testing days before my period and continue until Aunt Flo came for her visit.  "Trying" was becoming a bit too much of a stress, all the charting, timing and months of "failure" start having a negative effect on everything.  So, we stopped.  We stopped watching the calender so closely, stopped worrying so much about temps, we didn't use a chart to schedule intimacy....though, I did still somewhat keep a chart, it just wasn't something I paid much attention to.  For the most part, my cycles were very predictable.  As I said, normally, days before Aunt Flo was due to show up, I'd start testing.  The month I conceived, these days passed without notice clear until I was almost a week late and even then, it was Falcon who noticed.  I hadn't even noticed because I felt like I was going to start.  I was cramping and just felt like I was going to start, so it just went completely unnoticed that I was even "late".   

Early on, our news was shared with those few who could share in our excitement beginning with the select few who were sent these pics right after I myself found out.  I actually couldn't believe my eyes.  


Honestly, I had to look back at my chart as I was truly puzzled "how" this even happened, the odds were low.  It was a mix of "too good to be true", "how did this happen" and maybe even "denial" because I surely didn't FEEL pregnant.  I always know, way before a positive test (I'm ungodly sick and bloated) so this just didn't seem possible.  I had to test again...and again and again and again.....and AGAIN, just to be sure.


Initially, we decided to wait to tell anyone because first and foremost, I was not having ANY symptoms...at all.  Since I'm prone to miscarriages, we opted to wait to spread the news too far.  I mean, after all...why put up with all the negativity, opinions and questions only to later have to tell people we lost this baby too.  No thanks! ;)

I went through a period of extreme nausea from about 8-10 weeks but this is the first pregnancy I didn't throw up or have to take multiple meds to ward off this sickness.  So, at 10 weeks we were still hesitant to make any official announcement.  Another factor, was that I was not sure how my dad would take the news and I really wanted to tell him in person.  Living such a hectic life a few hours away from him made this a bit more difficult than I had anticipated.  


At 15 weeks I could hear a heartbeat on our home doppler, this was pretty exciting and reassuring because I still had not felt any movement.  At week 17, at a routine check, no heartbeat could be found (3 dopplers and 2 people making the attempt with no success).  I too, had not been able to find a heartbeat that week (but having had a previous anterior placenta, I didn't feel to worried and chalked it off as that).  All of this caused grave concern for my midwives and they requested I go for an ultrasound to check for viability.  We had hoped to find out the gender at a 20 week scan.  From the moment of a positive test (after looking at my chart), I "knew" it was a boy!  Oddly enough...I was actually right (first time for everything) and sure enough he had an anterior placenta which is why I couldn't feel any movement and why finding  a heartbeat was such a challenge.  

I will never forget the look on the techs face when I told her not to be surprised or afraid to say something if there was no heartbeat because that was the reason we were there.  She handled the situation very well  and all was well.  Obviously, this came as a big relief.  I was a bit bummed that we didn't have that exciting experience of finding out his gender but as we've learned, things don't always go as planned ;)

I finally began feeling movement at around 21 weeks.  For the most part...still symptom free and sharing all the excitement with those who knew...it was "enough" for me.  At times, honestly, I even forgot I was pregnant.  Usually, when I "pop", I "POP"!  This held true this time, but it sure didn't happen prior to that positive test like it always has.  I don't remember when it happened but some time around end of July I guess.  My first belly pics were taken in early August.

Followed by this one, which I have no idea when it was taken


This time, I have chosen to not do any of the special things I did during Dove's pregnancy.  All the belly pictures, the "Journey" board, taking notes along the way, journaling, etc.  It was a big deal to me the last time, but this time, I don't want to focus on this being the "last" one.  It's like I don't want an "attachment" to this pregnancy because in my own weird way I don't want to grieve it when it's gone.  Instead I just want to focus on the miracle he is.  I soak up my enjoyment in his movements, learning his sleeping patterns, and just anticipating the day I get to hold him.  


I did make two prior attempts to tell my family.  First was Cardinal's birthday.  However, the day was filled with a lot of tension as I spent a lot of time working on her gift and this made my dad upset which resulted in a lot of bad moods, so just felt I wanted to wait for a better time to announce it.  Then later, in August, my dad came to our house.  Dove wore his "Big Brother" t-shirt but, my dad didn't notice and none of us said anything.  Another few months went by before we had another opportunity to see him again....but we FINALLY announced it to him this past weekend, then yesterday made it facebook official.  

I must say, I was shocked at my dad's reaction, shocked at the lack of comments from certain people and not so shocked at reactions to others.  I still feel we have made good choices along the way.  This has by far been the easiest, symptom free pregnancy.  I feel AMAZING and it's been so nice to just enjoy every moment of it with no negative tension.  

Our choices aren't for everyone! Many people share the joy with everyone from the moment they get the positive pregnancy test (there were people announcing June babies before we had announced our January one).  This time, that was not the choice for us and if given the opportunity, I would do it the same again because the lack of stress has proven to do me and our baby very well.

I don't expect everyone to support our decisions.  We don't ask for (or need) help.  The size of our family is our business.  

How I birth is my choice and my decision is supported in confidence by the only person who matters.  YES, we are homebirthing.  No, I'm not endangering myself, or my child.  I don't owe an explanation to anyone, nor do I need to defend our decision to anyone.  

I don't have a "due" date.  We have a general idea when we can expect him to come.  We know he will be here by mid-late January, but ultimately he is not bound to any time frame and I will not be pressured by being "overdue".  He will come when he is ready!  Honestly, I have to look it up if I want to know exactly how far I am in weeks because I don't even keep track.

No, we do not get food stamps or WIC.  No one is going without anything because he is on his way, nor will any of them once he gets here and in case you didn't know, homebirthing with a midwife is not only outrageously expensive, it is also not covered by insurance so stop asking if we can really afford him...thank you for your concern but YES, we can afford him.

No, he was not an accident.  He was very wanted and very sought after, he just came to us in his own time.  

YES, all of the kids are thrilled (well, I think the girls really wanted a sister)...but all in all, everyone is excited.

No, he does not have a name yet, but don't worry some day, he will.

and NO, we are not having any more children (my most despised question of them all)...but how this is your business, I will never know and it's actually a sore subject for me so I really wish people would not ask, especially after he is born when emotions will be high anyway ;) 

So see...it's been a nice 6 months without all these types of questions.  I'll spare the negativity and opinions but I'm sure you can imagine! 

Regardless...I'm sure my momma has been looking down on us since before we knew we were pregnant and there are days I can just "feel" her excitement.  There was nothing better for her than the joy of her grandchildren and I can't help but to think that she had a hand in all of this.  This January will be filled with a mix of emotions.  Until then, I embrace every day and I will continue to soak up our own happiness and the joy and support from all of those just as eager and excited about him as we are.  




  



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

School Fun with Pumpkins! Day 1

We LOVE this time of year and we are so excited to be set enough in our school schedule that we can allow some time for fun seasonal activities rather than rushing through the bare minimum!

As you know, we use (and love) Calvert.  Our first graders we on Lesson 14 today and for our Games & Activities lesson we had "Five Little Birds".  We decided to change it to "Five Little Pumpkins" instead!  We printed off mini books from DLTK's website.  You can print it here.  


Emu and Duckling enjoyed coloring the pages and reading their new book. 

As our "game" we printed a cute little rhyming activity.  You can print it here.  We glued the pumpkins on popcicle sticks and cut a slit in each fence post.  All the pumpkins sat nicely on the fence.  They enjoyed acting out the rhyme with their little puppets.  Each of them took a turn reading a line and they got to take out a pumpkin for the line they each read.  It was a great activity to work out some silliness before our math lesson! 




We are looking forward to lots of other fun with pumpkins in the upcoming weeks!  Check out these other awesome pumpkin activities that we look forward to doing! and don't miss all these awesome ideas for fall or these, whew, and we haven't even checked out pinterest yet!  Better get started!! What kinds of things are you planning on doing? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

WOW!

Where does the time go?

Life has a way of just slipping by.  There never seems to be enough time in the day.  I can't believe how much time can go by without blogging.  I always miss it and always vow to make more time to do it, I always have many topics sitting just waiting for me to have time to write about.  Things that people often ask about such as schooling, our schedule, organizing, different parenting topics, natural remedies....but, still...here I am looking back and see that my last post was in April!!!

So much has happened since the first of the year.  My mom passed away in February and my world has just spun out of control since then.  I spent some time in my own little funk just getting by day to day and letting so many things go and now that I'm trying to get things back in order I am paying the price for letting them go in the first place.  Things have gotten so far out of hand around here, it's been quite overwhelming trying to get back to life as we always knew it.  I started an in home day care (then lost all my kids after summer), the kids all became involved in different sports, school started....it's just all been such a whirlwind.  Now, here we are trying to find a way to settle into a new routine that works.  

Currently, I have no daycare kids.  School and sports are in full swing.  Our sports schedule keeps us going from 3:30-9:00 pm Monday-Thursday.  Gymnastics and Football games on Saturdays and Soccer games on Sundays.  It's been a crazy ride.  The biggest challenge with it all has been managing our school days.  We are so accustomed to working day and night, so having to be done by 3pm is NOT easy (and sometimes impossible).  Then there was dinner.  Dinner was often a fail, which ended up with us grabbing food on the way home after 8pm so that we weren't eating dinner at 10pm.  Sigh.....then by the time everyone was settled, bathed and in bed....it was 11.  Sometimes 12am.  Which wrecked havoc on the next day.  At some point, you have to admit to yourself that something isn't working.  I finally got to that point, after countless sleepless nights, an empty savings account among other things.  So, last week, things changed around here and I think we've finally got things "right".  

So...once again, hopefully, I'm back to blogging. 
;)


Friday, April 4, 2014

K5 Learning

I was excited to receive an invitation to review K5 Learning Program.  I can not wait to get started!

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Extreme Couponing

Well, it was only a matter of time....and I finally took the plunge.  Before I had kids, I was known as "the coupon queen".  Basically, if I didn't have a coupon for something, then I didn't buy it.  I didn't stock pile things, but I just simply saved on the things I bought.  As time went on, coupons became a thing of the past.  Fast forward to now...My kids are 15, 14, 11, 8, 7, 6 and 18 months old and let me tell you....my family can put away the food!  We live on a tight grocery budget....$200 a week to be exact.  It seems recently we've been going about $100 over our budget each week, so about $1200 a month.  That's a LOT of money ;) 

Weeks ago, I gave this extreme couponing a try.  I failed.  I spent about 4 hours battling coupons and being lost in store ads.  I don't think I used a single coupon but to be honest, I was so frustrated, I really don't remember.  

It all started one Friday night.  We were having a "Family Movie Night" complete with popcorn.  I mean, what's a movie night with no popcorn?! So, I did what any mom would do.  We went and bought popcorn.  3 boxes or movie theater butter ;) (which is a total treat because usually we pop our own popcorn, it's cheaper but this was a special night.  We spend $6 and some change on our popcorn that night.  The next day I was telling a friend about our night.  She said I should have used a coupon for that popcorn and then I could have gotten it for $0.49 a box. :/  WOW...that was an eye opener.

and so...it all began!

To date, I have saved $105.67 in mfg coupons.  Add that to the store specials that I match coupons up with my total savings so far has been $259.08.  It may not seem like a big deal....but, today is March 5 and I have been couponing since March 2 ;)  

At first it was overwhelming.  I give credit to a dear friend who pushed me to take the plunge and then walked me through the overwhelming process.  I was easily confused by learning how to figure out which coupons to use when.  I printed coupons from www.coupons.com but even that was a bit confusing because you have to change the zip codes to get certain coupons.   www.krogerkrazy.com is an amazing source of information!  Once I was walked thru the process of how to figure everything out, I was good to go. 

My first trip was not as successful as it should have been because we got home only to realize that we didn't give them half of the coupons but it was a learning experience nonetheless.  

Here's a look at some of the deals we have gotten.

We paid $8

FREE

We paid $24.26

We paid $2.29

We paid $24.18

These aren't all my trips, but a good example of some of the money we've saved.  We've gotten a lot of things for free (all of the candy bars, soups, protein bars and milk were free).  We've even gotten paid to purchase some things like the pizza rolls (we got 25 cents per box).


It's nice to have our pantry shelves overflowing, the fridge packed full and trying to figure out where we'll store some things as we are beginning to get stock piles of goodies!  Even our normal weekly groceries seem to be stretching further this week.

It is time consuming, but as you get the hang of it, it does go faster.  It is a lot of work, but with all things, hard work pays off.

So, let me be the one to encourage you the way that I have been encouraged...

DO IT!!!

Take the plunge!

You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This Week's Menu

People are asking for our weekly menu's again...so, I will begin posting it again.  Currently, our grocery budget is about $200-300 a week.  We are feeding a family of 9.  We buy a lot of things in bulk usually shopping about twice a month, however, recently, I have not had the leisure of shopping this way and have been shopping once a week so our normal $200 budget has increased up to $100 a week by not being able to buy in bulk.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to eat as healthy as we used to...this is one of those things I try to improve constantly.  I have joined in some couponing groups and hope to learn from these ladies who get so many products free or very cheap as our grocery budget includes toiletries and non food necessities and I've gotten some helpful advice from a few friends on saving money on different things as well.  We frequent Sam's Club and we've fallen into the easy trap of processed foods simply because they are cheap, quick and easy.  With all but one or two days taken up by sports, it's been very hard recently to have quick and easy healthy foods so I will be trying to change this in the upcoming weeks.  We do hope to have a nice size garden this summer and hope that will help with our grocery budget as well!. 

This week's menu/recipes can be found here. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

5th Grade Calvert has arrived

 Eagle's school year starts in January.  This is because I made him repeat the third grade...when he was in third grade.  With only two months to go to complete his third grade year, I just didn't feel he had learned or retained enough to progress at that time.  The beauty of homeschooling is, he has repeated a year...but so far, has never failed a grade.  I still do not regret my decision, as I feel it was by far one of the best homeschooling decisions I have ever made.  He has come so far since switching to Calvert!  We have worked very hard to try and recover from the half of the year we fell behind when repeating that third grade year and we've advanced a few months.  He has a complete 12 months to complete his curriculum but we do hope to finish "early" to get him more "caught up" to his peers.  

Nothing is more exciting than starting a new year and today Eagle's boxes arrived!  

We are seasoned Calvert users so unpacking and getting things organized is a very quick process for us!  Here's what was in his box.


Everybody has their own shelf to keep all of their curriculum.  This is our shelf.

This is Eagle's shelf

Basically, all of the worksheets and manuals are stored in a crate.  All of his textbooks and workbooks are to the right on the shelf.  All of his novels and other materials are kept up out of reach because of the little ones.

The older kids are able to do a lot of things independently so we are moving back to the workbox system.  Eagle will use his system independently and Macaw will be training for the second semester of this year so that next year she will be able to work more independently as well. This system always worked well for Eagle, but we have not always had the space to do it so we haven't used this system for a while. We got a nice rolling cart for Eagle's workstation.  All of his assignments will be loaded into his boxes.  Each box will contain the things he needs to complete each assignment.  Any work that needs to be completed with me will be marked with a * and he will know that is a teacher led assignment.  He will complete his independent work (I answer questions and help as needed when I am available).  Teacher led lessons will be taught at our scheduled times.  At the end of the day I will grade his work and fill his boxes for the next day.  Any work that needs to be corrected will be worked on the next day.  He is responsible for filing away any graded work and keeping his notebook neat and orderly.  

Here are his workboxes

I immediately set up his boxes and he quickly got to work! Here is his first day of boxes...

Math
Close up of Math box

Close up of Grammar Box

Close up of Spelling Box

 Close up of Science Box

 Close up of History Box
Close up of Reading Box

Close up of Art History Box

Hope this helps those who are always asking how we set things up.  Hopefully soon I can give a more detailed look at how our classroom is set up now since we have moved.