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!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

With so many things to be Thankful for, I too WISH and HOPE!

During the month of November, I reflected daily on the many things that I was thankful for each day from November 1 until Thanksgiving!  While I could never list them all, each night, I listed the first thing that came to my mind.

I am a very blessed woman!  I have so much to be thankful for...but I also have a wish (well, lots of them actually) and I hope for many things....

I wish that my younger three children will always love me the same as they do now.  That they will never be taught that I am less of a mother or less deserving of them because I can't afford things I used to be able to.  I wish that they will always know that the amount of money I have to spend on them is no indication of the amount of love that I have for them.  I wish that they will never fall under influences of people who do not like me.  I wish that I will not be faulted for paying the price I paid to protect them.  I wish that no one will ever tell them that they wished they lived with someone else because it would be "better" because they think having a better house and more money makes for a better life.  I wish that no one will tell them that where they live is so terrible.  I wish that no one will ever try to manipulate them.  I wish that no one will ever tell them how terrible it must be to have younger siblings.   I wish that no one will ever try to turn them against me or my other children. 
I wish....
That my older kids would not have fallen victim to all of those things.
I hope...
I hope that my older three children know that I will always love them the same as I do now.  I hope that they know that I am not less of a mother and that I still deserve them even though I can't afford things I used to be able to.  I hope that they will always know that the amount of money I have to spend on them is not an indication of the amount of love I have for them.  I hope that they stand up to the people that do not like me.  I hope that they are proud of the price WE paid for me to protect them.  I hope that they never wish they lived with someone else because they think a a better house and more money means a better life for them.  I hope that they know the difference between the "house" that we used to have and the "home" that we live in now.  I hope that they will not be manipulated by others.  I hope that always realize how lucky they are to have their younger siblings.  I hope that they will always love me for who I am and not hate me because they were convinced that I am someone different.

I am a very blessed woman! 
I am proud of who I am.
I am a wonderful mother, I know it and anyone who knows me knows it.

The place I call home, the amount of money I have...those things do not make me a worse mother. 
I was strong enough to PROTECT my children, 
"THAT" makes me a "BETTER" mother! 

I just HOPE that someday my kids will know THAT!

"Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are, whether it's greedy or loving." ~Dan Millman


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just a Bump in the Road :)

Duckling entered into an unfair world of uncertainty, in more ways than one!

Since the day she was born, she has overcome every challenge that has been laid before her and those who know her know how MANY obstacles she has had thrown her way.  Just when she overcomes something, a new detour is put in her path and the bigger she gets, it seems the bigger her challenges get. 

At a quick glance and to those who do not know her, you would never know that she is any different from any other little girl.  Even to some who do know her, they are too blind to see the difference.  She looks and acts just like everyone else, although, she seems much younger than her actual age and most everyone forgets that she is as old as she is and often, I've had friends or family members say to me "Are you sure she is deaf"? simply because she is capable of reacting to sound.  It's extremely difficult for people to understand her hearing loss.  She is deaf in one ear and currently has normal hearing in her other ear...they think that means she has normal hearing.  

She has had many other health issues unrelated to her syndrome and she has been in and out of different therapies since she was born.  She is currently followed by 9 different types of specialists, so needless to say, she keeps us very busy! 

She was fitted with a traditional hearing aid when she was 5 months old.  A little more than a year ago, she began refusing to wear it and in addition to that, her general safety had become a growing concern (she was unable to hear us warn her that she was getting too close to the street and it was difficult for her to be fully aware of our whereabouts when we are out in public).  A few months ago she underwent further evaluations.  Her hearing test confirmed that she no longer had any usable hearing on her aided side, so there was no way to "make" that ear hear.  She also underwent an updated speech and language evaluation and it was determined that she was severly delayed in her language.  At 41 months she was testing at a 19-24 month level. This severe of a delay is not typical for children with a unilateral hearing loss or for children who suffer from her syndrome.  Recently, she was fitted with a bone anchored hearing aid.  The hope was that she would be more aware of her surroundings, her safety would not be as big of a concern and that with extensive therapy, her language would improve.  Initially, she did wonderful with the bone anchored hearing aid.  We noticed a remarkable improvement immediately.  Her hearing was tested and she tested in a "normal" range.  This was a very short lived experience and it seems that we have taken a step backwards once again.  She has a great deal of difficulty when we are in a public place.  We are becoming more in tune to her behaviors and others people who spend a lot of time with her are beginning to notice things as well. 

Yesterday, she was evaluated by an Auditory Therapist and a lot of things came to light!  After 2 1/2 hours of testing and being fed valuable information, so many things began to make sense.  A lot of the things we went over were nothing more than review as we have dealt with these things for almost 4 years now, but there was so much new information as well.  We know that she "can" hear with her Ponto system, however, it has been discovered that there are issues with her Auditory Processing.  Her biggest challenge is that she is unable to hear adequately in a noisy environment and this often compromises her safety, both at home and away.  She is already losing independence and is lacking confidence and the ability to handle outings in our normal daily life.  No hearing aid will ever "fix" this problem.  We are exploring the possiblility of obtaining an FM System, but since we are not sure if she would be able to process the information she hears, this may not be the answer, so a service dog may possibly be in her future! 
It is always difficult to hear what we already know!  I watch my daughter everyday and I have always known that she lives in her own little world...but when a specialist tells you "she lives in her own world" really hurts!  In the process of normal developement, children hear what is going on in the world around them.  As parents, we speak differently when we direct conversation to our little ones as compared to when we are speaking to someone else.  Children take in everything they hear.  Duckling does not have that same advantage.  Duckling only hears some of what is directed towards her and what she does hear isn't properly processed.  We are now learning that some things we may have thought were behavioral are actually problems with her ability to process what she hears.

 We have to keep moving forward and learn all that we can along the way. It will be quite some time before we will know if she actually has an auditory processing disorder.  For now, what we do know is that her brain is unable to block our unimportant noise so that she is able to hear what she needs to, she is unable to correctly process all of what is being said to her, she is unable to recall information and she is already having problems with subject/object reversal, etc. and the odds are against her because statistically, she is 10 times more likely to fail a grade in school than a child with normal hearing and over one-third or up to 40% of children with UHL fail one or more grades.  Luckily, as homeschoolers, we will be able to cater to her every need.  We will continue to be aggressive with doing all we can do for her and to ensure that she will develop to the best of our ability! 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eagle's lesson on Igneous Rocks

We are finally back in the swing of things around here!!  Which means that we are finally able to add supplemental activities to our lessons.  This is one of the reasons we homeschool!  As a homeschooler, there is nothing better than being able to provide my kids with a style of learning that works for them!  Not only am I able to cater to their individual needs but I can also incorporate more than one child into a lesson as well, offering a younger child a head start and an older child a fun review!  My kids learn best with the Multisensory Technique .  I have always taught with this hands on learning approach well before any of my kids started Pre-K, it has always been a teaching style that came naturally to me.  Anytime we can fit a trip to the zoo, a museum, etc. into a lesson, it is an added bonus but we can often be found supplementing with hands on activities at home!

Friends (both in the blogging world and local homeschooling friends) are often asking what kinds of things we have been doing.  I promised to make more of an effort to post some of the fun things we've added to a lesson, this way when someone is looking for ideas, they can easily find a few here!

This week, Eagle has been working on his "Rock Hound" unit in Science.  He has learned about the different layers of the Earth and he has explored many different rocks in his rock kit.  Today, he learned about Igneous Rocks and how they are formed from volcanoes.  We found some great recipes to go along with this lesson!  First, we made a model volcano.  This was quite simple as we lined a cookie sheet with wax paper, then we took a piece of foil and crumbled it up and sat a toilet paper tube in the middle of it.  Then we took a small piece of wax paper and put it on top of the toilet paper tube.  We took a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave.  We discussed how rocks melt in the Earth's Mantle and this melted rock is called Magma.  When the chocolate chips were melted, we added 1 tsp. of vegetable oil and mixed it well.  Eagle then poured the "Magma" onto the top of our volcano.  Then, the "Lava" poured down the sides of the volcanoes.  We discussed what would happen as the Magma cooled and formed into Igneous Rock.  We sat our project aside to work on our next project.   

We began working on our next edible assignment... 

Igneous Rocks1 can evaporated milk (6 oz.)
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1-1/4 c. mini-marshmallows
1-1/2c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Grease an 8" or 9" pan. Combine evaporated milk with sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring for 5-9 minutes. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently. Pour into prepared pan. Let cool. (refrigerate) 1 pan (8") makes 30 (1") squares.

We found this recipe, along with links for lapbooks and other useful information here.

As we waited for this assignment to cool, we made a salt dough volcano.  Eagle allowed his younger siblings to assist him in making his model.  They were quite eager to flatten the dough for him.  When he added the baking soda and vinegar, we didn't intially get the result we had hoped for, but regardless...they were able to see the volcano erupt a few times. 

We then returned to our first project, which we ended up putting in the freezer to make the hardening process go faster.  They enjoyed eating the Igneous Rock that was formed and they thought it was really cool how it peeled right off of the wax paper.

We are still waiting for our other Igneous Rock recipe to completely, sometimes Lava takes a while to make Igneous Rock...but it will definately make for a nice snack later!

Tomorrow, he will be learning about Sedimentary Rocks and Fossils.  So, we have another exciting day to look forward to.  Friday, we will be going Fossil Hunting, something that my kids have always wanted to do!

***I did take a few pictures of our fun today, but unfortunately, my card reader is broken.  We are heading out soon to work on Christmas Wish Lists, so maybe we'lll pick one up!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time to REFOCUS!!!

We've spent the last month around here trying to get back into routine, catching up on school work and doing some "fall cleaning".  Our family is always so busy, each of us doing our own thing and it seems we don't have a lot of time to spend with each other.  This tells me that it's time to refocus big TIME!!!  My kids are growing up way too fast and I don't want to miss a moment with them!  Our weeks are so busy with school and our homeschooling group.  Last month, we started having "Family Days" with a few friends.  Once a month or so, we get our families together for a family outing.  It's nice to have time to do these things with our friends!

Now, that things are getting back in order and as we reestablish our routine and get back to our strict schedule, we will be finding more time to enjoy our own family!  As a large homeschooling family, following and sticking to a strict routine and schedule is the only way that we can sucessfully function!  We've had a lot of fun the past few months and surprisingly, not only have we stayed caught up on our school work, but we have also been able to start and organize a small life skills group with a few local homeschooling friends.

 I have had a few requests from some of my blogging friends for me to do a post on how we manage our days and how we do our workbox system.  I am currently updating our workbox system and will be working on that post very soon!  We have lots of exciting things to look forward to in our studies and I will do my best to share what we are learning!  Thank You for following us on our journey! 

~Mother Goose

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Meal Plan

With such a hectic end of summer and beginning of fall, I have been in such a slump!  Even our school year was off to a rough start!  I didn't even have time to blog, lol.  I am happy to say that we are FINALLY settling back into a good routine around here. 

I just about have the house back in tip top shape, we are getting back into a better school day schedule and I have come up with a quicker and easier way to do our meal planning.  This month, I tried something new :)  I went through all of our old weekly menu's, recipes, etc.  and I typed and printed a list of all the things we eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner).  I cut each item out seperately into little strips and folded them all in half.  They were all seperated into categories of breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One category at a time we put them in a bucket and shook them up.  Since we alternate hot and cold breakfast days, we filled in our "cereal" days (Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday) first on the breakfast portion of our menu.  We also filled in every Friday dinner with "Fabulous Friday" because each Friday we will do something special (whether it be pizza delivery, take out, eat in, etc.) followed by family game night or a living room campout or an all night movie marathon.  Every Saturday breakfast is a "your choice" day and dinner was filled in with "Something New" as once a week, we try something we haven't tried before.  After all of our prefilled areas were filled in, the kids took turns picking an item and each time they picked one, it was added to the next available spot on the menu.  This was a great way to plan our menu!  Granted, we need to add in all of our sides now...but it was so much faster and there was no fuss! is our menu for November!

November 1
B - cereal
L - Spaghetti
D - Fish n Chips, Mac & Cheese

November 2
B - Sausage Sandwhiches
L - Grilled Cheese
D - Grilled Chicken Sandwhiches, Cajun Potato Fries, Fruit

November 3
B - Cereal
L - Hot Dogs
D - Sausage, Eggs, Hashbrowns, Pancakes & Bacon

November 4
B - Bacon & Eggs
L - Salami Rolls & Turkey, Fruit
D - Fab Friday - Pizza Night

November 5
B - Cereal
L - Mac & Cheese, Hot Dogs
D - Something New - Ratatouille

November 6
B - Your Choice
L - Skyline
D - Chicken Enchiladas, Corn w/ red peppers

November 7
B - Bagels
L - Cold Cut Sandwhiches, Fruit
D - Pork Chop Apple Bake, Baked Beans, Baked Potatoes

November 8
B - Cereal
L - Chicken Patty Sandwhiches, corn
D - Sloppy Joes, Fries, Applesauce

November 9
B - Toaster Strudels
L - Grilled Cheese, Fruit
D - Chicken n Dumplings, corn, mac & cheese

November 10
B - Cereal
L - Hot Dogs & Chips
D - Braised Beef and Garlic White Beans

November 11
B - Waffles
L - Ramen Noodles
D - Fab Friday

November 12
B - Cereal
L - Salad, Soup
D - Something New

November 13
B - Your Choice
L - PB&J, Fruit
D - Chicken Strips, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

November 14
B - French Toast
L - Chicken Nuggets & fries
D - Turkey Chili, tortilla chips

November 15
B - Cereal
L - Skyline Chili
D - Country Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes & gravy, green beans

November 16
B - Sausage & eggs
L - Stuffed Baked Potatoes
D - Spicy Chicken Stir-fry

November 17
B - Cereal
L - Mac & Cheese
D - Skyline Chili, Chili Cheese Fries, Garlic Bread

November 18
B - Pancakes
L - Bologna, cheese & crackers, Fruit
D - Fabulous Friday

November 19
B - Cereal
L - Pizza Rolls
D - Something New

November 20
B - Your Choice
L - Chicken Wings, misc. appetizers (gotta love football)
D - Brats & Potatoes

November 21
B - Muffins
L - Corn Dogs
D - Beef Stroganoff, dinner rolls

November 22
B - Cereal
L - PB&J, fruit
D - Tacos

November 23
B - Breakfast Burritos
L - Ramen Noodles
D - BBQ Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, Spinach

November 24
B - Cereal

November 25
B - Homeade Donuts
L - Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Salad
D - Fabulous Friday

November 26
B - Cereal
L - Pizza Rolls
D - Something New

November 27
B - Your Choice
L - Salad
D - Rotini & italian sausage, broccoli, garlic bread

November 28
B - Omelets
L - Tacos
D - Ham, mac & cheese, green beans

November 29
B - Cereal
L - Grilled Cheese
D - Pepper Steak

November 30
B - Pancakes
L - Sloppy Joes
D - Chicken Divan

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge!

We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning." ~ Albert Barnes

I've joined a few friends in a challenge!  Starting on November 1, each day until Thanksgiving, we are sharing things we are thankful for. 

Everyone needs to often stop and think of their blessings.  Even during the worst of times, I have always tried to teach my children that there are still things in which we should be thankful for.  At times, it is difficult to notice even the smallest things which we are thankful for.  November is a nice time to reflect on all the things that often go unnoticed by even our own hearts.  Join me this month and reflect for a few minutes each day, remind yourself and share with others what you are thankful for :)

Day 24 ~  Today, I am so very THANKFUL for my very brave and courageous daughter who was strong enough for the truth to be known! I am thankful for the judicial system that I feared would fail me and my children. Three years ago today, my husband had just begun serving his life sentence paying for the horrific crimes he committed against at least one of my children. I am thankful for the jury who served and had to endure such a difficult trial. Every day that monster spends in that prison is a day I will be thankful for!

Day 23 ~ Today, I am thankful for the ability to stock our kitchen with such wonderful food! It is quite an expense to feed a family of our size and we are so blessed with the capability to do so! I'm also thankful for not having to take all of my children to the store when I shop for all of that food!

Day 22 ~ Today, I am thankful for my home.  It's not the nicest place to those who look and quickly judge!  But, those who are too blind to see the love and happiness that fills our home are really missing what this place called "home" is really made of.  It's not about the surroundings or the outer's what comes from within that makes our house our home!  Those who judge and look down on me for not having a nicer place to live, must forget about what brought us here in the first place.  I couldn't be more thankful that I left that wonderful "house" with the white picket fence to make this place my "home".  Yes...I am very thankful for my home!

Day 21 ~ Today, I am thankful for my wonderful homeschooling friends and Falcon who is currently winding down my rambunctious trio then tucking them into bed tonight since I am quite under the weather. I am also thankful for our Fabulous Family Friday's and even though I don't feel good, I can't wait to chill and watch movies with my family.

Day 20 ~ Today, I am thankful for my determination to not give up and that I finally got a Dentist on call that had a bit of compasion for my son. I'm thankful for the prescription pain meds that will hopefully ease his pain.
Day 19 ~ Today, I am thankful for my wonderful boyfriend who has taken care of me and has done a lot of things to help me because I have not been feeling well the past few days.

Day 18 ~ Today, I am thankful for my precious Bubs! Not that I am not thankful for ALL of my children, but they do all have something different that they offer and lessons that they teach you! Bubba simply amazes me with his happiness! Even when he is feeling uneasy and he knows you are nervous too, he can bring you to a smile with his sillyness!

Day 17 ~ Today, I am thankful for my children (and my angel babies too)!  I am blessed beyond words!

Day 16 ~ Today, I am thankful for our pets who add so much joy to our lives.

Day 15 ~ Today, I am thankful for those who fight or have fought for our freedom!

Day 14 ~ Today, I am thankful for my families willingness to try new things :)

Day 13 ~ Today, I am thankful for my son's ability to make me see past the many challenges that come with raising an Autistic child. I'm also thankful for my friends and family who are understanding and supportive during the daily struggles that we often face.

Day 12 ~ Today, I am thankful for the capability, patience and freedom to be able to stay at home and school my children.  I am so blessed to be able to provide them an environment in which they can thrive and learn!  The sky is the limit and the world is their classroom!  I am also very thankful for the flexibility that comes with homeschooling, since we spend many days in the hospital!

Day 11 ~ Today, I am thankful for our health care coverage!! In the last week, Emu has had a prescription for pain meds and antibiotics, he went to his pediatrician for a pre-op physical, he had surgery, went to his ear specialist for a check up, got a referal for a speech evaluation (due to his speech impediment and permanant hearing loss) and has had a daily injection of growth hormone.  Macaw got her first pair of glasses.  Eagle went to his pediatrician for knee & leg pain and his lung condition has been managed by his use of many daily medications.  Hawk went to his eye specialist and needed a new pair of glasses (just 6 months after getting his first pair).  Cardinal has been pain free because of her special inserts in her shoes that align her ankles and thanks to her glasses, she can see where she is walking and Duckling has been able to hear because of her Ponto and she too has glasses!  Imagine what a year looks like for us!   

Each day, I will add to this post as I countdown to Thanksgiving!
Cardinal has joined in on the countdown :)
Join Us!
What are YOU thankful for?