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!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Time flys!

It's so hard to believe that Dove is more than 6 weeks old already.  It's even more amazing how different each child is and that after having 6 children one can come along and offer you so many new challenges that you've never faced before. I haven't had time to blog at all.  In fact, in the last 6 weeks I haven't had time to do much at all.  I honestly don't know how we survived around here.  Dove was just so miserable all the time and the only thing that could comfort him was the breast so I spent most of my time sitting on the couch with our precious little man.  In just under 7 weeks he has gained 4lbs. His reflux and projectile vomiting were getting worse and he had developed such a severe arch.  His doctor diagnosed him with Sandifer's Syndrome.

It was almost awkward to hold him because he fought you and pushed his head back so far.  It seemed that he had something wrong with his neck, but it was explained to me that he was doing this due to the pain.  This was a coping mechanism for the pain that he was in and by arching his back in this way it simply made him feel better.  When the Pediatrician saw his severe arch, she changed his reflux meds to something stronger.

He sure has kept me busy but like a fine wine, he gets better with time.  Since we weren't seeing much improvement with only cutting dairy, I personally made the decision to go ahead and cut Gluten, Soy and Egg out of my diet as well.  In addition to this, Dove is on Prevacid and is going to the Chiropractor for treatment of his reflux.  With all these new changes came a new man!  He is finally making a turn around.  All of the sacrifices have been well worth it.  He will be going to the Chiropractor 2x a week now. It's so awesome to see him beginning to feel better!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dairy-Free For Me

It's amazing how busy one little dove can make you!  Wow, there just isn't enough time in my day!  We have been blessed with the most FUSSY baby in the universe...but we couldn't love our little fuss-bug any more!

It was discovered that Dove was allergic to dairy when he was two weeks old.  So, since I breastfeed, I immediately went on a dairy free diet.  Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I LOVE my dairy!  I went dairy free without a second thought.  It really wasn't too bad for the first two weeks, but it is starting to be a challenge because finding things to eat for breakfast and lunch have been difficult.  It will get easier once I familiarize myself with a wider variety of things I can eat and I learn how to do it frugally! 

Dove also suffers from reflux.  We have known this but at his 2 week check up, we opted to play the waiting game.  Wait...and see if it gets better with a few changes.  Keeping him upright as much as possible, not allowing the flock to stimulate him at least 20 minutes after he eats, etc.  His projectile vomiting has improved with the dairy free diet, but his spitting up has not.  He also suffers from apnea and this is getting more frequent.  Granted, his breathing alarm has only gone off a handful of has gone off 4 times in the past week, so...I decided enough was enough and we are medicating him for his reflux.  I'm hoping this is a short term necessity, as he will be going to a chiropractor and I will be eliminating soy and egg from my diet. 

Despite his challenges, he is gaining weight like crazy!  Within 2 weeks of being home, he gained more than 2lbs!  This is amazing, considering our last two kids have problems with growth!  Nice to know that one of the kids can grow at an above average rate!  I'm glad we caught his food allergy early and hoping we can get a grip on his reflux before it makes things worse.  I get so nervous because he has periodic breathing patterns and with his apnea episodes, I keep thinking about Duckling and her ALTE's, I hope he never suffers from an ALTE!!

We are on the hunt for a new baby carrier. I have always been a devoted Moby user, but it's not working for him.  Dove keeps his head tilted back and doesn't like anything covering his head at all.  Hopefully, we can find a different carrier that he can adapt to because I'm not able to get much done if I can't wear him!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A little White Dove....

We are thrilled to announce the newest little bird to our flock.  A little White Dove has arrived.  On August 21, 2012 our own little love Dove made his way earth side after 33 hours and 37 minutes of labor!

He's just as perfect and stubborn as can be!  Our little love is already 2 weeks old.  His birth story will be posted soon.

I have always been so blessed to bounce back immediately after delivery.  This time proved no different.  After a 4 day hospital stay, we were finally released.  We left the hospital at about 4:30.  I came home, fixed dinner, cleaned the kitchen, took Cardinal shopping, came home and did a few loads of laundry and got my kids ready for the next day.  The next morning I took Cardinal to school and ran a few errands and I haven't stopped since!!

Dove is by far the most sensitive little bird I've ever had yet!  This poor little man likes nothing other than gentle snuggles and momma's milk!  He is very easily over stimulated so he is proving quite a challenge to satisfy in our house.  He has lots of brothers and sisters who love him so much already, but he isn't quite ready for all the hustle and bustle that comes with a big family.  He doesn't like noise :/ eekk!!! Anyone who has spent 5 minutes in our house knows it's a very noisy place.  Oddly enough, even while he was in the womb, he didn't like noise.  He was always being startled by loud noises and he still proves to be no different.  He doesn't like being passed around too much, he doesn't like anyone in his face...he doesn't like being swaddled and he hates my moby wrap.  He hates the heat, his bouncy seat, his stroller and bumpy car rides and he hates being put down.  It sure doesn't take much to overstimulate him and just the slightest bit of over stimulation makes him puke. 

At his 1 week check up, he was having some issues.  Thanks to an over active let down, he had some struggles with nursing.  He coughed, gagged and choked down his milk and then he'd throw some back up and he'd cough, gag and choke on that too.  His eyes were very gunky and we were a bit concerned that his first night home, his breathing monitor went off.   With some tips to help him with my over abundance of milk we scheduled an appointment for a check up the following week.

Despite his chronic fussiness and an infected umbilicus, he is doing quite well. He is nursing like a champ, he has adjusted very well to his bountiful milk supply and he is gaining weight like it's nobody's business putting on 1/2 oz to 1 oz a day!

It still seems so surreal!  Already, I can't imagine our lives without him.  He has brought a new closeness between Falcon and I, he is such a symbol of our love and he's perfect in every way!  He has made our journey together so much more exciting....and so many times already, he has taken my breath away!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pregnancy update

I haven't been one to update on my pregnancy on here...our little one has his own blog and I blog about him there and with as busy as things are here, I just haven't had much time to blog at all.  Things have been VERY hectic just trying to get things settled and ready for the baby and getting things organized for school...oh, it's been quite overwhelming to say the least!

So, here we are nearing 39 weeks in my pregnancy.  I have truly felt amazing (pregnancy wise) with this pregnancy.  I have been "not so blessed" with not having my usual groin pain associated with SPD.  I had a feeling I'd be doomed at the end, since everything was going so well, something "had" to go wrong, cause that is just how my cookies always crumble! 

I went in for my 39 week OB checkup.  The midwife I saw was amazing...and honest! Long story short...they did an ultrasound to confirm suspicion that our little guy was breech and sure enough he was.  He has been quite content hanging out in his normal transverse position, but as he decided to go vertical, he went the wrong way!  Unfortunately, this group will NOT deliver a breech baby vaginally! 

I was given two choices. Choice one an ECV & induction.  Choice two going into labor on my own, but if he is not head down when I go in, i will automatically be given a c-section.

An external version (ECV) to attempt to turn him.  This procedure would result in either an emergency c-section or a successful turn at which point I would then be induced.  I had high hopes of a completely natural birth this time, as I have been induced every time and anyone who has ever been given pitocin, knows it sucks!  What I didn't know is all the reasons why pitocin labors are so much worse than natural labors...but Pitocin does not cross the blood-brain barrier; therefore, endorphins are not released in response to the increasingly strong and painful uterine contractions. Laboring women do not experience the benefits of endorphins as they try to manage their contractions. Additionally, without the help of endorphins, they are likely to require an epidural.  This article explains inductions and the use of pitocin quite well. 

Now, I have labored three times with pitocin with no pain medication and let me tell you, there is NO worse pain.  I have always had proper support of a doula and the pain was managable through her pain management techniques.  I didn't have any options for my last birth and I was able to manage with the skills I had learned...but I am terrified of going into yet another labor with no support (with or without an induction).  My body does not respond well to epidurals, so I don't see an epidural as an option. 

I also have a third option, as I happen to have a friend who is a homebirth midwife who has been so wonderful to answer my million questions and she is willing to help us with our birth.  I'm no stranger to the safety of hombirthing, as Duckling was a planned homebirth, but due to the circumstances (my husband was arrested near that time and his indictment was scheduled for raping one of my children) that surrounded the time of her birth, it was deemed safer for us to deliver in a hospital where there was proper security for us. It angers me, the number of people who feel that I "HAVE" to have my baby in a hospital because it is safer because that is so far from the truth!!!

I am very much struggling with the decision I am facing...and I am pressured by the time restraints I have to make my decision.  There are two doctors in the group that are able to do an ECV.  In order to get the one who has the best success rate, I have to do it next week.  If I forgo that opportunity, my risk of a c section goes way up because if the baby doesn't turn on his own, then unless I do a homebirth, i am facing a certain c-section.  Also, with my OB group, I will reach a cutoff at 42 weeks, at which time if I have not gone into labor on my own, I will only have the option of an induction or a homebirth.  Considering two of my kids have been induced just shy of 42 weeks, I feel my chances of meeting that cutoff are highly unlikely.  There is a "chance" that the baby will turn, though it is unlikely. While an old OB would confidently and comfortably deliver a breech baby for me (as, i have had two fairly large babies and he once told me he would have no concerns about my ability to deliver a breech baby)...I must admit, I would be nervous about delivering a breech baby past 42 weeks as then i am looking at the possibility of delivering a baby over 9lbs.

I have decided to visit a chiropractor who can perform the Webster Technique in hopes to encourage the baby to turn on his own.  This technique is successful 66-68% of the time, when done 2-3 times a week for a few weeks.  I felt confident before making the appointment, but I must say after speaking directly with the chiropractor who will be doing the procedure and with more thought, I'm just not feeling as reassured by this method this late in the game.  To add to this problem...the baby isn't just staying in his breech position, he moves several times a day.  I'm not convinced that getting him head down is going to keep him head down and I just don't know if this is something I want to gamble.

I have never been more torn about a decision!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Breast is best...Saving $$ on Baby - Tip #2

There is nothing better than doing what's best for your baby...but the deal is a little sweeter when it also saves you $$
I have proudly provided natures best for my children for more than a decade, yep...I have been a breastfeeding mother non-stop for the past 14 years!  Ever since the day I first became a mother!  I never had any intention of nursing my children as long as I have, but my first child easily roped me into child led weaning and well..the rest is history!

I have a wide range of experience with breastfeeding.  I have nursed through 7 pregnancies...I have had single nurslings, I have tandem nursed and I have triandem nursed.  I have had a minimal amount of problems and we have successfully worked through them all.  All of my children have been blessed with the gift of natural child led weaning.  My youngest to wean did so just after his first oldest to wean was around 4 1/2.  I am currently weeks away from delivering baby number 7 and I wonder everyday if his 4 1/2 year old sister will be fully weaned before he is born!  We've put up with a lot of disapproval with our philosophy of natural weaning and we catch the most grief from Falcon.  Most people are not even aware that Duckling is still quite fond of her "Tatas" and most people who catch word of it imagine a half grown child oddly attached to my breast all day.  I've given up on trying to explain myself and my child to others as our society just doesn't understand the concept.  Truth is, Duckling doesn't nurse every day, but yet maybe a few times a week or even less and when she does nurse, she only nurses for a minute or so...most often she comes in my bed for her morning snuggles and drifts back to sleep at the breast and later isn't even aware she already had her morning tata.  She very rarely asks for it outside of the start to her day.  

I didn't even know anything about child led weaning.  I had hoped that my first child, Cardinal, would nurse for a year, that was our goal.  When she was 5 months old, I got pregnant with Hawk.  My OB assured me that it was fine to continue nursing her during my pregnancy and he assumed she would wean on her own before I delivered my second baby.  Nope...she kept right on going and was still nursing when I delivered Hawk.  I tandem nursed both of them until Hawk, age 3 weaned right after I delivered Eagle.  So, I then tandem nursed Cardinal and Eagle until Cardinal weaned at around age 4 1/2.  Eagle continued to nurse through my next pregnancy and after Macaw was born they tandem nursed until Eagle weaned at age 3.  I very quickly got pregnant and Macaw nursed through that pregnancy and then tandem nursed with Emu.  They both were still nursing when I delivered Duckling...and so the world of triandem nursing begun for us.  It was very short lived, as Emu weaned within a few months of Duckling being born and then Macaw and Duckling tandem nursed until Macaw weaned at aroung age 4-4 1/2.  Duckling is so very close to being completely weaned and her new baby brother is due to arrive anytime now. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

How DO we DO IT????!!!

I can't tell you how many people say to me "I don't know how you do it"!
My answer is always..."I just do".
Truth is, I try to be frugal and make anything and everything I can.  If we need something, I search high and low to find it used before I ever think about walking into a retail store and I will search online for a deal before I even do that. 

I went shopping the other day and ran into a really great sale, everything was at least 50% off so I headed to the baby department.  I found some fleece sleeper bags...for $10.  WOW!!!  I don't mean the "wow, what a deal kinda wow"!  I mean the "holy cow I could get this at a resale shop for $3 wow".  As a matter of fact, I came home and found one with a $0.50 price tag from a garage sale.  Not that I have never seen the day when I did pay $20 for those things because not only have I paid that much but at the time I'm sure I picked up more than a few at at a time at that outrageous price but now anything more than $5 is just unfathomable to me!

We are comfortably raising a soon to be family of 9 on an income that is well below poverty level.  We still have nice things and our children don't go without.  I'm always happy to share different ways we are frugal and how we save money...or as others say "how we do it"!

With the upcoming birth of a new baby in our house...right now, I am concentrating on frugal tips and ways to save $ when it comes to baby.  Babies CAN be very expensive...but they don't HAVE to be!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saving $$ on Baby...Tip #1

4 1/2 years ago, I became a cloth diaper lover!  At the time, I had a newborn, 1 and 2 year old in diapers.  I had just become a single mom and I was spending about $50-75 a week on diapers and wipes.  It was a huge expense (about $400) but it was the best investment I ever made but it was the last time I spent money on diapers until all of them were potty trained.  I must admit, I didn't make the switch to cloth because I was concerned about the environment, I really needed to do it to cut costs but I became addicted to cloth diapering.

Friends call me crazy, but I have been so excited about building a new cloth diaper stash for our new little man.  At first I was very bummed about giving away my old stash, but I quickly got over that as I became even more addicted to those adorable cloth!  I even got Falcon addicted :)  Our stash is kept in a dresser.  So, what's all the hype and how much did all this cost this time around.

We ordered 10 nb Alva Pocket diapers (fits up to 12lbs), 10 one size Alva Pocket diapers (fits 12lbs to potty trained), 10 extra bamboo/microfiber inserts and a small wet bag for our diaper bag and we spent about $140.

We either got as a gift or used a gift certificate for 16 prefold diapers (like grandma used to use) and 6 Trend Lab pocket diapers. So our cost...

We purchased used...2 xs Bum Genius all in ones, 5 nb Lil' Joey's all in ones, 2 fleece covers and 1 knitted cover and 2 kissaluv fitteds.  We spent about

We also purchased 6 Gerber diaper covers, diaper pins, fleece fabric (which I was going to use as wipes originally and for $6.00 it made 42 wipes) and 10 receiving blankets (pd $3.10 and they made 114 wipes) and misc. spray bottles and containers for our wipe solution.  We spent approx.

So, our out of pocket expense for a lifetime of diapers and wipes...
$230 (about $100 more to = $330 if you count the gifted ones).  The resale of the diapers is very high, so we expect to recoup most of our cost for the diapers, if we are ever willing to let them go.

Here's what our stash looks like...

114 flannel wipes (these were distributed where needed throughout the house)

17 NB diapers

16 prefolds, 2 fitteds, 9 diaper covers and diaper pins/fastners

Flannel wipes and fleece diaper liners

Disposable diaper liners and sposies from our shower

10 Alva one size, 6 Trend Lab pockets and 10 Bamboo/Microfiber inserts

Spare Fleece Liners, burp cloths and onesies

Flannel wipes and spray bottle for diaper solution

We have purchased a few more diapers thru a co-op, but we only spent $20 more.  We have more than enough diapers for our little guy and we can't wait to use them! So...
$330 from birth till he is potty trained...that's one of the ways we "do it"!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The life we live...

It amazes me...after all we've been through in our lives that people would feel we live in the lap of luxury...that we get everything handed to us and that the way we live our lives isn't "fair" because they have to work so hard for what they have.

Four and a half years ago, we lived in a beautiful newly built house in an upper middle class neighborhood.  Since I've had children, I've never worked outside of the home.  Although, I worked hard for my family, I always have and I always will.  I guess, in a sense, I had everything handed to me, but yet, I was never faulted at all for the way I lived my life.  I fit in with the "norm".  We had the house with the white picket fence enclosing an expensive playset and every outdoor toy you could imagine.  Our house was tastefully decorated and we spared no expense when it came time to daunt our children's rooms with a "theme".  We had nice cars, we all wore nice name brand clothes and shoes.  We ate well, never craving anything we couldn't have.  Our groceries were mostly delivered and no one took care of us quite like our "Schawn guy" did.  I used expensive name brand cleaning products.  It was often hard to chose which family pass we would use or which venue we would seek for family entertainment.  We went on family vacations. We lived a very comfortable life financially and we wanted for nothing.  I guess I was stuck up in my own little way, downing people who lived below my means. day...all of that changed!  I realized that our picture perfect family and lifestyle was as far from perfect as you could possibly be.  Literally, in the blink of an eye we lost everything and our lives would never be the same!  My family went through things that no one should ever have to go through.  The fear of losing it all never entered my mind, as the only thing I thought about was everything except the materialistic things in my life! We went from being an upper middle class family to living well below poverty.

Today, I have a new "husband".  We live in a house in a lower class neighborhood easily refered to as "the ghetto" I work hard for my family, I always have and I always will.  I'm not sure where we "fit in" now, as we are far from the "norm" and we live well below many peoples' means.  We do have a fence, but it is just a rusted chainlink fence enclosing the few outdoor toys that our kids have.  Our house is not "decorated".  Our rooms have no "themes".  We don't even have curtains or blinds and the few window coverings we do have are old sheets or blankets.  Our furniture does not match and most of the "new" things we get are from someone elses garbage (no we don't dig through garbage, but things are offered to us before someone takes them to the curb).  I have a van that gets us where we need to go, we have decent clothes but not very many of them, we have name brand shoes but only one pair each.  We eat, but I do often have to say no to things we don't "need" at the grocery store and since our refrigerator can not cool properly in this heat of the summer I keep the bare minimum in it when it is this hot and keep drinks in a cooler so the kids have access to what they want/need without getting yelled at for holding the fridge door open.  I don't buy expensive name brand cleaning products, I clean with natural products and make our own laundry detergent.  We don't have passes to anywhere, but we look for free places to entertain our family.  We don't go on family vacations.  The boys in our house get their haircuts in our own kitchen and us girls are treated about once a year to ours.  I don't get my nails done or my eyebrows waxed as I used to.  We have provided our new son with what he needs by buying everything used or things that were given to us.  We will not buy him diapers or wipes, but we have invested in a new cloth diaper stash for him and I can't wait to use his cloth wipes and homeade bum solution.  We were blessed with a wonderful shower for him at which time we received a lot of clothes and a new pack and play for him.  We are able to pay our bills and provide our kids with what they need without asking anyone for help and to us this is financially comfortable.  On more than one occasion we have lost most items we store in our basement due to raw sewage backing up there and on those occasions we've had to shit, shower and shave outside of our home for anywhere from a day to a week.  All but one of our bikes have been stolen out of our yard, we keep our basketball hoop locked to our fence.  We live well below the poverty level, but yet we do not seek the "welfare" we would qualify for.  Instead, we receive the minimum of government assistance available to us.  My children are covered under state medical insurance, simply because their sperm donor (aka, the legal father of  Macaw, Emu and Duckling) can't exactly provide insurance for them from his prison cell...however, this does not mean we "have it made".  Often, we don't have a choice of doctors or specialists and getting medical treatment approved is not always an easy task.  Having numerous children with health issues, we are truly blessed with this coverage but it doesn't come easy and we don't always get the treatment we need, or we have to wait an extremly long time for it.  We have been appealing Emu's growth hormone therapy for more than 7 months now, Eagle's lung medication had to be fought for as well, and just getting Hawk's allergy medication is quite a task and yes, my daughter does get her braces paid for because they are now a medical necessity however, we did not get to chose our orthodontist and by the time she gets them it will have taken about a year to go through the process.  My children are ensured the best education they could possibly get.  We are stuck up in our own little way, downing people who live above our means and those who think they are better than us. 

No amount of money could buy the love and happiness that fills our home.  I want for nothing more than I have today!  My children are spoiled, they have most of what they want and they never go without anything that they need. They help those who are less fortunate and they are taught never to judge.  My children are not snobs, they care about people for who they are on the inside not how they look on the outside.  They have learned that certain people, even family members will look down on us and judge us for the way we live.  I hope that they see that the way we live and the house we live in makes us no less than any of "them" who think they are so much better than us.

If we still lived in this house, in this neighborhood...would THAT really make us better people?  Would that make us more deserving of respect?  Would people be more willing to accept that I make my own laundry detergent or use cloth diapers?  Would people assume I live more financially comfortable simply because it "looks" like I do?  Would it make it more acceptable for us to get the minimum assistance that we qualify for?  Would it make it "ok" for me to have another child?  Would it be more acceptable for a grandparent to buy my child a gift, or would that still be considered a handout?  Most any of that really anyones business? 

For the record, I do not get everything handed to me for free and I often live in conditions that most people could not fathom.  Falcon and I work hard for our family, just because we don't have the same income as everyone else doesn't mean we don't work hard for our family.  For 7 months I handwashed laundry for my family of 8.  Not one person who found out about it said they would do the same for their family...does that mean I am more willing to work harder for my family than you are for yours?  Should I look down on you because you aren't willing to do the same and work as hard for your family? 

We do not ask anyone for help.  I do not have everything my heart could desire and I often go without things I need.  We do not try and keep up with anyone's "means" so that we are judged to be better people.  We live to satisfy no one other than ourselves.  Our happiness does not come from the amount of money we have and it can surely not be seen by the looks of the outside of our house and I don't see your family dancing in the rain.

As I look back at what brought us to this point in our lives and compare the life we had to the life we live, I am so very thankful for the broken road that led us here...this is right where we are "suppossed" to be. 

It amazes me...after all we've been through in our lives that people would feel we live in the lap of luxury...that we get everything handed to us and that the way we live our lives isn't "fair" because they have to work so hard for what they have.  If you want your children to be abused, so that you don't have to pay for their medical expenses or you want to live a life like ours and still strive to teach your kids that there are alway families that are less fortunate than you are...go right ahead and you will see that is isn't as cracked up as it appears to be.  Our lives are not easy, but my kids will be better people for it!

One thing is for sure...the way we got here, wasn't fair...but I still wouldn't trade my life for the world.  Most people could not walk a day in my shoes but I truly do love the life that I live!

The point is...I wasn't trash or looked down upon when I lived in "that" house with "that" lifestyle.  Becoming poor did not change who I am, in made me better. It just angers me that I left all that behind to do what was best for my kids and now I am judged for it and people look down on me and my family.  Instead of people seeing what amazing sacrifices I've made to keep my kids safe and judging me as the mother I am, they feel my kids are being cheated or not cared and we are judged simply because of the way we live now.  If you are one of "those" who judge me...ask yourself how you would judge me if I had kept my kids in that house and kept the lifestyle we lived then.  If I would have forced one or more of my children to endure horrific abuse so that we could sustain the lifestyle my children "apparently" deserve...what kind of mother would you think I am now, if that was the choice I would have made! .    

THINK...before you judge!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Family Command Center

My finishing touch to my "nesting" phase was creating a Family Command Center!  I have spent about the last 4 months "nesting"!  Our entire house has been rearranged, organized and decluttered!  During the "construction phase" this house was a complete disaster and that is the biggest understatement of the year!  You can not imagine what a mess this place is when I decide to organize, but the final outcome is always worth it!

When we moved here things were never really "organized".  Most people wouldn't believe that I am actually a very organized person by nature, however, by the looks of my house you usually would never know it.  I would organize a few things, but with 6 kids things never seem to stay organized around here and with 6 kids it's been impossible to organize one room, let alone the entire house.  Many times, friends have called upon me to organize a playroom or kids room but I've never had the time to organize my entire house and to get my own things just the way I want them.  Another thing about me is if something isn't working for me, I am very quick to change sometimes it's hard to keep up around here and usually my organization falls apart and our house is once again in utter chaos!  With a new baby on the way and my nesting instinct taking over, it was fairly simple to get the ambition I needed to completly change the way things are around here!  It was a very long and trying process, but after 4 LONG months of very hard work...I finally reached my goal!  I will post about our transformation...but first, the finishing touch to all the organization around here....

Our Family Command Center!

I couldn't have an organized house if our household wasn't going to be organized!  There are many reasons that led me to the idea of having a Family Communication Center.  With organizing the classroom, I lost my desk so we needed a centralized place to house things like our incoming/outgoing mail, important papers, things we often need (tape, scissors, pens, pencils, etc).  Also, with Hawk and Cardinal starting school, we needed a place to keep permission slips, lunch money, sports forms, etc.  Another thing that was a challenge around here is keeping up with the calendar!  I depend greatly on my PDA, but it isn't always where I thought I left it.  Appointments are hard to make without my calendar and I as our schedule got more hectic, we began missing appoinments because I would jot them down on a piece of paper and they would never make it to my calendar.  Another thing was that as the kids are getting older and wanting to do things with friends or getting involved more with extra curricular activities it was just so hard to keep everything straight!  Something had to make all of this easier!  I did a search for a Family Communication Center and found that many fellow bloggers had some sort of Communication Center or Command Center into place in their home.  Each one a bit different to fit the person's individual needs.  I went to work deciding what I needed our Center to include and here was my initial list!
  •  A monthly calendar
  • A place for important memo's/notes
  • A daily schedule (so that all family member's knew what to expect on any given day)
  • A household binder
  • A bill organizer
  • A place to organize things for each family member
  • A place for incoming/outgoing mail
  • A place for things that need to be filed, shredded, etc.
  • A place for receipts, coupons, etc
  • Our weekly menu
  • Recipes
Here is our (nearly) completed Command Center which is located in our kitchen were it is easily accessible to everyone!

I say "nearly" completed because I have some work to do to complete our Household Binder and our Individual Folders and i also need to label my Bill Organizer.  As you can see, we have a whiteboard Monthly Calendar.  This way, I will easily have my calendar at hand and everyone in the family can see what we have going on at a quick glance.  There is a small space for notes and a to do list on the calendar, but we have a small individual whiteboard next to the calendar to write important notes.  The yellow and white striped schedule is our "Daily Schedule".  Each night, I will update this for the following day.  Again, this way everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them (my kids thrive on routine and schedules)!  The lovely basket houses the important pieces of the rest of our command center!  Here's a quick glance of what's inside!

Starting in front there are multiple notepads and sticky notes.  There are two packs of "Thank You" notes, a current need as baby gifts are starting to arrive.  There is a "To Do" notepad and a "Shopping List" notepad.  Tucked on the left side is a stack of envelopes and a supply box (containing essentials such as pens, pencils, scissors, tape, stamps...basically, all the stuff you use most everyday, but can never find when you need it).  there is a working flashlight in the front right corner ;)  Next are file folders labeled...
Daily - This is where anything I need for the next day will go, this is a one stop pick up and go place.  If I have things to mail, things to return, shopping lists, directions, etc...everything I need (stamped mail, receipts, lists, directions, etc.) will be in this folder and I will just have to pick up the folder and go! 
New Mail - All incoming mail will be put in this folder and I will sort it nightly.  No more mail piling up on our catch all place on the dresser, no more lost bills, checks, important papers, things that should have been filed, etc.
To Mom- Anything that needs to go to me goes in this folder.  If the kids come home with permission slips that need to be signed, or if they need to be taken somewhere, etc.  This is a communication gap fixer!!! ;) no more, I told you I needed you to take me to the library, or I told you I needed you to sign that form!!!
To Be Filed - Self explanitory!  Anything that needs to be filed goes in here.  Once a week, I will file them.
Shred - Self explanitory!  Anything that needs to be shredded will go in this file.  Once a week, one of the kids will have the chore of shredding the contents of this folder.
Receipts - Yep, you guessed it...all receipts go in here!  No more lost receipts! :)  It seems simple enough to file them but how many receipts do you lose!  How hard can it be to sit them in a folder on the kitchen counter :/  hopefully, this will be an easy and convienent place to store them ;)

Behind all of our file folders are 3-pronged school folders.  Each family member has their own folder.  Each family member's folder has pocket sleeves to serve their needs.  Hawk and Cardinal have an envelope that serves as their "daily" folder so if they need lunch money, permission slips, etc...those things will go into their envelope so they can grab it and go in the morning.  Their pockets will include a pocket sleeve for chores, allowance (to be discussed), permission forms, etc.  Some kids will have a medical pocket and the baby will have a feeding/diapering schedule...etc.  We will take a closer look after these are completed ;)

Next is our Household Binder...will blog about it at at a later date once it is done.  It will contain our coupons, Monthly/weekly/daily calendars, weekly menu, etc.

Next is our recipe binder.

Lastly, is our bill organizer.  An accordian style folder to keep track of our paid bills :)

Now...let me tell you, not everyone is happy about our new command center and there is a lot of pessimism about it.  Now, I will say that I don't always stick to new systems long...but, it's been a very LONG time since I've been so, I'm very optimistic that this Command Center will be a blessing.  Now, had this been in place this morning...Cardinal would not have thought she forgot her permission slip for her summer gym class and Falcon would not have forgotten that he was suppossed to wear dressy attire to work today ;)

I'll keep you posted on how this works (or doesn't work) for us!

Our visit with Edward

We discovered Duckling had a hearing loss during her newborn screening at the hospital.
Finding out

Over the next few months she underwent multiple tests and her MRI showed unilateral LVAS and bilateral Mastoid Disease.  Basically, she had a moderate hearing loss and she would eventually lose her hearing in her right ear and the safety of her hearing in her left ear would be questionable.  At 5 months old she received her first hearing aid. 
5 months old, just after getting first hearing aid.  Yes, the date on this photo is wrong!

She wore this until she was 3 years old, at which time it was confirmed that her moderate hearing loss in her right ear had progressed to a profound loss (as we had suspected a year prior).  In September 2011, she was fitted with a Ponto, a bone conduction hearing aid.  Her Ponto has made a world of difference for her. 

At 4 years old she has come such a long way in her speech and language development though she does have concernable delays in her receptive language she is advanced in her expressive  language!  She is undergoing a second evaluation to see if she has an Auditory Processing Disorder as well.  She is otherwise a normal active 4 year old!

We were so blessed to have the opportunity to have "Edward" come and visit Duckling.  Edward is a Traveling Awareness Bear and he helps spread awareness for Duckling's disorder LVAS/EVAS! 

Edward arrived on June 4, 2012.  When he arrived he was greeted with the biggest hug one could give a teddy bear!  Duckling was so excited. 

We spent the first day getting to know Edward and reading about his journey so far.  He has already met some amazing families! 

On June 6, Duckling and Emu went to the hospital for follow up speech evaluations.  Edward was a big help!  Since we drive so far to get to the hospital, we spent the rest of the day at the Children's Museum.  Edward had a lot of fun!

The rest of the we didn't do anything spectacular, but Edward went wherever Duckling went.  Unfortunately, we didn't take our camera because we were just running errands and such.  We did make Edward a hearing aid clip to ensure that he will not lose his hearing aids while he is on his journey.  Duckling had so much fun picking out something she thought Edward would like.

Edward's visit was a bit longer than planned, as luck would have it, I became very sick.  What started out as a sore throat landed me in the ER a few days later with Bronchitis and an Asthma attack.  Still, more than a week later, I am STILL sick...but at least able to do a few send Edward to the next patiently awaiting family! Edward was so nice to fix me some Chicken Noodle Soup and help Duckling take care of me and I'm thankful that Duckling and Edward became such good playmates!

I hope Edward enjoyed his visit as much as we enjoyed having him.  If you know a child who suffers from any disease or disorder, there may be a Traveling Awareness Bear for them to host as well!  Be sure to check out the WEBSITE!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


...a very good excuse for my absence from the blogging world! 

We are expecting a new little bird around here!  In the midst of all the other exciting things that we have had going on in our lives we are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new little one in our house.  It was quite a surprise, but a pleasant one at that! We found out just before Christmas, but things with my pregnancy didn't seem quite right, as I was actually feeling too good to have a viable pregnancy.  After my first trip to the doctor, it was strongly suspected that I was having twins and the first ultrasound had a questionable vanishing unsure what was going on, we opted to wait until we had solid answers on what this pregnancy was going to bring.  Many tests later...we decided to use Valentine's Day to tell the news.  Later we planned on having a gender reveal party, however, that plan was ruined by a very stubborn baby who hid behind an anterior placenta and a very anxious grandma who couldn't wait to hear if we were having a boy or a girl...or twins.  We had an emergency ultrasound to check on our little one after numerous nurses were unable to find a heartbeat at our 12 week check up...and found out the gender of our baby and yes, there was only one.
We made this gender reveal video

I started off this pregnancy feeling extremely well, but that was quickly followed by the normal misery of all day sickness.  With six kiddos to take care of and so many things happening in our life, I couldn't afford to be "sick" so, I graciously accepted the anti-nausea meds and for the most part, they did their job well and yes, they made me very tired (gotta take the good with the bad right?).  I also had problems with severe itching...odd, but true.  I itched everywhere...and I do mean EVERYWHERE!!!!  I scratched till I bled...EVERYWHERE.  This issue took me to the doctor on numerous occasions.  Never could my doctor find a medical reason for this major infection, no nothing...just itching.  I suffered with this (suffered seems like such an understatement) for 3 months!  Finally, my doctor prescribed medication for me and I have been fine ever since.  I fely very cheated because of my anterior placenta I couldn't feel movement from our little man until about week 20. 

Starting in my second trimester, I felt like a new person.  I normally love being pregnant (until month 7, when my little ones always drop and my SPD kicks in)...and finally, I had a taste of what loving being pregnant felt like.  This feeling was very short lived and lasted about 2 weeks before our little one decided to make my sciatic nerve his new resting place.  Luckily this problem comes and goes but it is quite excruciating when he's pressing on it.  I had one gall bladder attack but have been fine since that one miserable occurance.  I have always had problems with varicose veins when pregnant and this time is no different.  I do wear my compression stockings more this pregnancy to try and help with the swelling in my legs. 

Now, at the beginning of my third trimester, I can honestly say...all things considered....I feel pretty good.  I am constantly naseaus but, I no longer rely on my anti-nausea meds to get me through the day.  My sciatic nerve is killing me and my SPD has kicked in much earlier than usual this time.  Still...I try so hard not to complain.  I have been nesting for months and am in the final stages of having our entire house reorganized.  All the things we have for the baby are set up.  To some, it seems normal to prepare for him so early...for other's they question why we are setting things up so early.  Well, there are two reasons for is anything we put in our damp basement gets ruined by mold/mildew...and two, I am at the point where just walking and stepping over things is difficult and honestly in another few weeks I am not going to be getting around easily at all.  Falcon's family is having a baby shower for us at the end of the month and our house will be done by then so that after the things from the shower are put away, there will be nothing else for us to do...except finish buying things we want/need.  It is really important to me to have some time to enjoy this summer with my kids...even if it means I'm sitting around a pool not moving all day.  Our lives are going to completely change this fall.  We will have a new baby and two of my kids will be going off to private schools not to mention the two of them will be teenagers who don't have much desire to spend any time with the family ;)  so, I just want to enjoy this "last" summer doing things together and I don't want to be too busy getting the house ready for all the new things we have in store for us.

I always have people asking about organizing things, so I will be posting pictures of all of our reorganization very soon! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Choose Virtues Review!

I have been "out of commission" for quite some time here in the blogging world, but for that, I do have a reasonable explanation (coming soon)...but long awaited We Choose Virtues review!!!   This review comes VERY late and for that I do sincerely appologize!  I am currently unable to post any pictures, but rest assured I will return to add them when I am able.

I came across We Choose Virtues in what seemed to be an endless search for a virtues program.  It seems my children have a difficult time learning these important lessons in life, so I wanted a program to help teach them these important life skills.  I was very impressed with what We Choose Virtues had to offer.  The program seemed to offer so much and one thing I especially liked was that it could be used for a wide range of ages...a definate plus in our house!  I also liked the variety of the materials that the kit included.  It appeared to be a very well rounded program that would keep my children excited and engaged in learning the virtues. 

In January we were given the wonderful opportunity to review part of the We Choose Virtues Program.  We were sent some great materials to review.  The kids were so excited for our packages to arrive.  We received a very colorful 100 Days of Virtues Chart and butterfly stickers along with a set of 12 Faith Based Parenting Cards

I was a bit confused when I received our materials about exactly how to use the program, so the Teacher's Handbook would have been a beneficial addition to the materials I received, to further explain ideas on how to use the materials I had at hand.  While the Parenting Cards did have helpful tips and teachable moments...I just wasn't sure what the best way to teach the virtues would be.  Do we do one virtue a week, a different virtue each day, how often do they get a sticker...each time they get caught practicing a virtue on their own or after we do the lesson?  The description states that the lessons could be taught in 10 minutes a day and that they can...but, I think my kids would have gotten more of a benefit of the program if they had a bit more than a a few minutes of going through the "teachable moments" on the backs of each card explaining what the virtue is.  We had no added activities or games in which to "practice",  "learn" and master the virtues.  My kids are multi-sensory learners mostly because I am a multi-sensory teacher ;)  They need to see it, hear it, feel it.....or they aren't going to excel in learning it.  I think that is why I was so drawn to all that the program offered, the flashcards, the games, the coloring pages, the posters and the chart/stickers!   

I decided to break the program down and focus on one virtue each week.  The first day we would discuss the virtue, read The Kids of VirtueVille and go over the teachable moments.  This took about 10-20 minutes.  Each remaining day we would discuss the virtue we were working on.  I decided to give the kids a sticker each time they were "caught" using a virtue.    

The cards were colorful, with enticing characters that caught the attention and interest of my younger kids.  I really liked the "What to say after I'm sorry" section on each card.  My younger kids enjoyed the Kids of VirtuVille stories, but they were a bit juvenile for my older three kids...though, the older kids could add valuable discussion to the Why is that questions so it was a great way for them all to join in the lesson.  My older kids were quite uninterested and it was hard to get them to focus on the teachable moments activities without making my younger kids lose interest.  So, this proved a very challenging program to teach to children of widely varying ages.

I personally found the system that we were using very difficult for our family.  It seemed that I was constantly punishing my kids for not using the virtue correctly and very rarely getting the opportunity to reward them for using the vitrue correctly but it was useful in finding which virtues we need to work on the most.  Often we were able to revisit a past virtue to try and reinforce it even more than the week we had worked on it, such as when our Guinea Pig had a litter of pups (we were able to revisit the virtue of being Gentle) or when Emu broke his arm and my mom broke her hip we were able to revisit the virtue of being Kind. I then felt like maybe I wasn't teaching the virtues correctly (by taking one a week)...however, to learn one a day seemed quite overwhelming.  I just seemed to enter a whirlwind of confusion about how I should really be teaching them. 

The use of our poster was short-lived because of the way we were teaching the virtues, it kind of became a forgotten treasure.  The older kids were again, a bit too big for this feature and the younger kids just didn't "get" enough from the 10-20 minute lesson to remember to use their virtues throughout the day.  I tried my best to remember to encourage the virutue throughout the day, but again, it seemed they were always being caught NOT doing the virtue than they were caught in the act of being good. 

All in all, I think if I had more to incorporate into the program it will prove more successfull for us.  I do see the potential of the program and would recommend it only if used as the full kit rather than just a bit or piece of the curriculum that you have to figure out how to use on your own.  I do wish that I would have had more time to come up with my own games and activities to incorportate throughout the day and that I could have made it more interesting for my older kids. 

I plan to reintroduce this program to my kids in the fall as I think at that time it will work out better for the younger kids I will have at home through the day and I am very excited about what I feel this program can do for my family.  Next year, Cardinal and Hawk will be attending private schools and I think that with some time to better prepare to use the program, it will serve us better.  What will I do differently?  Well, for starters...I hope to get the teacher's guide.  I work better having things laid out for me as in our busy household, I do not have the time to do a lot of planning myself.  I would also like to get the coloring book and utilize the freebies that are available.  I would like to find games, activities to go with each virtue whether it be through the flashcards the program offers or things I can come across on my own...again...time is an issue :(  and as a reward or motivator I think individual charts would be better for our family rather than one chart for everyone, though I do intend to incorporate the group chart as well. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to review the products that were sent to us and I do feel that this is a wonderful program.  I've done a lot of research and this program is the best fit for our family, but I just need to make it a bit more multi-sensory to better meet the needs of our family.  I had hoped that my older kids could help teach these virtues to my younger kids and sadly enough, I feel it would be better to have my younger kids learn and work on the concept and have them be the ones to "teach" the older kids.  The younger kids are more apt to say something along the lines of "please stop annoying me" as oppossed to my older kids being more apt to say "shut up you brat".  My older kids really should have learned these virtues earlier as now I have the challenge of myself being more in a position to say to them "that's not nice or that's rude" as opposed to getting the opportunity to say something like "that was really thoughtful of you".  So backwards as it may sound...I think instilling these lessons in my younger kids without the older two around would be more successful in our house!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whew...what a week!

What a difference a week makes!

Oddly enough, Emu was a new man after his fall down the stairs.  He practically did cartwheels into his peditricians office that Monday morning.  Needless to say, he checked out fine and she was ok with him waiting until Thursday to get in with the surgeon.  On Thursday May 11, we went to get his cast.  Normally they will only immobilize an elbow for a maximum of 3 weeks because the elbow gets really stiff and anytime after that you loose too much use of it.  Well, poor Emu had already spent a week in a temporary cast before even getting his cast.  The good news is it looks like he will not be needing surgery!  His break actually isn't too bad and his bone is expected to heal fine.  He will be in his new cast for 3 weeks (taking his total immobilized time up to 4 weeks).  The bad news is he does have an unusual amount of swelling and fluid in his elbow joint.  This too "should" repair itself, however, because of the severity of it, it will take a bit longer to heal than the bone is going to take.  He will have to remain immobilized until all of the fluid is gone.  They expect that this will take another few weeks.  The plan is to get his cast removed in 3 weeks, then do x-rays to see where we stand.  They expect that he will then have to go back into another temporary cast for a while.  They expect that he will regain use of his elbow quickly even though he will be immobilized for so long.  He has not complained about any itching under his cast and he doesn't seem annoyed with it, but he is still suffering some discomfort and pain.  It doesn't help that he falls so much :/

We had gret plans for Mother's Day.  I was so excited to get to spend the day with my family and some clos friends.  Our plans took a dramatic change though, when my mother fell and had to have emergency surgery!  After much stress and many the end of the day, I was counting my blessings!

On Wednesday, Duckling went for a second opinion as we were certain that her speech evaluation at our local hospital was not accurate.  She scored more advanced than a normal hearing child and for a hearing impaired child who has always had one delay or another, it didn't seem right that she would be above her normal hearing peers.  Her second opinion proved that she was indeed more advanced in language development than we could have ever dreamed her to be.  This does up our concern that Emu's original evaluation was also correct...which puts him completely at the other end of the spectrum.  We are awaiting his second evaluation.
I will add pictures of Emu getting his cast later...right now I can't find the cord for my camera to transfer pictures!  I'm so behind in my blogging and hope to get caught up soon!

Check back soon for my review of We Chose Virtues, my mother's injury and some other exciting news!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Boys will be boys!

Wow!  Has it really been nearly two months since I've blogged here!  My how time flies!  Well, in my defense, I have been quite busy and a bit "under the weather"!  But...I'm feeling better now and things are calming down a bit....well...maybe "calming" down is not a good term to use around here.

As you know, in our house there is NEVER a dull moment and this past weekend has proven no different!  On Friday, Emu found himself in a very unfortunate position.  In his dream to become an all star basketball player, he made an attempt (with the help of a few siblings and a friend) to "slam dunk" a ball.  This stunt went very bad and he ended up with a souvineer. 

I personally didn't see the "fall" but I knew I had a very hurt little boy on my hands.  The problem with Emu is that he becomes non-verbal when something is wrong or, it took about 30 minutes of examining him from head to toe to figure out what was hurting.  I finally narrowed it down to his right arm...and then I saw "it"! 

His bone was protruding out enough that you could see it was broken or maybe dislocated.  He didn't have a scratch on him, which didn't make sense and we weren't getting the "true" story of what happened but were just told by a few "bystanders" that he ran and fell and got the wind knocked out of him.  The pain he was experiencing was excruciating and after 45 minutes from his fall, I was off to take him to the ER.

The parking lot was full, but still, we were taken care of very promptly.  When you sign in to the ER you are immediately given a quick evaluation by a Registered Nurse.  Usually, you then sit in the waiting room (while more urgent patients are seen ahead of you). Then you are taken to triage and returned to the waiting room yet again before finally being taken to a room.  This time was much different.  We signed in and after his quick once over we were immediately taken to triage.  Instead of returning to the waiting room, we were taken back to a room.  Within 5-10 minutes we were taken for X-ray.  As they were looking over the pictures before dismissing us from the room, I overheard them talking about a splint and then they decided they needed more pictures.  Then, we were returned to our room.  Within just a few minutes, a nurse came in and said that she heard we were back from x-ray and that they needed to get ice on his arm.  So, she propped his arm and gave him ice.

Soon, the doctor came in.  Before telling us the news, she really pushed for an answer as to what happened.  I was unable to truly say what happened and Emu wasn't saying a word to anyone.  We were repeatedly questioned by countless people and I began to feel uncomfortable with what they must have been thinking.  When the doctor told Emu they had to know what happened, I begged Emu to tell the truth and that no one was going to get in trouble but that we really needed to know how he got hurt.  FINALLY, he looked at Hawk (who had been acting very suspicious) and said "Hawk knows, he can tell you".  Hawk finally fessed up to what really happened.  He tilted the Portable Basketball Hoop down so that Emu could "slam dunk" the ball.  Emu grabbed ahold of the rim just as all the kids who were out there jumped on the base.  All of the weight on the base caused the hoop to return to an upright position...with Emu holding on to the trim.  He fell off and the rest is history.

The doctor informed us that his arm was indeed broken.  She said that they had done things backward and already had an orthopedic surgeon look at his x-rays.  The surgeon wanted him put in a splint and to be seen in the office on Monday.  The doctor was very brief about his injury but spoke for what seemed like an eternity about Emu being developmentally and language delayed.  It was what seemed more like some weird counceling session about my child whom was not "normal".  I just smiled and nodded hoping she would soon be done with her lecturing and giving of her opinion but I must say it was quite annoying.  He got his splint and a prescription for Motrin and we headed home.

On Saturday, Emu was quite uncomfortable and was suffering a great deal of pain.  We were pretty faithful about putting ice on to control the pain and swelling.   20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.  We even took a cooler and his icing supplies to Hawks soccer game.  I later spoke with the ER nurse about his immense pain and she said it was ok to give him Tylenol with codeine that he had from a prior prescription.  Yet, an hour and a half later, he was still experiencing a great deal of pain.  Coming from a kid who was evaluated at a year old to see if he had a pain disorder where he feels no pain, it was quite concerning that his pain was not relieved by such a narcotic.  I spoke with the nurse at our insurance company and she advised that he needed to return to the ER if we couldn't be told otherwise by the ER nurse.  Upon speaking with the ER nurse a second time, she said he did indeed need to go back immediately.  She said that they would be waiting for us.

As promised, they were expecting us and they were quite ready.  They had called in an Orthopedic Surgeon to look at him.  Right away, they determined that the splint that he has was a terrible splint and that was causing most of his problems.  I was concerned that they were possibly missing an injury so he was evaluated for a fractured shoulder.  All seemed well, but yet, they could not understand his intense pain.  The surgeon decided that he could still not be put in a full cast, but ordered a half cast to be put on him.  So, he was half casted and we were instructed to call the office Monday morning.

Sunday, he woke up miserable in pain.  After a dose of pain med, ice and elevation, he began feeling better.  Later that day, he was complaining once again.  He could also not keep his balance and fell numerous times.  Being right handed, he instinctively always caught himself with his right arm...OUCH!!!  That night, he was hurting a fair amount.  I went downstairs to get his pain medicine and a few minutes later I heard a "thump...thump thump.....bump bump bump thump"  I looked over and there was Emu head first with his arms stretched out in front of him at the bottom of the stairs.  Of course he was in a great deal of pain.  I gave him his medicine and propped and iced his arm.  A few hours later he woke up in pain.  I propped his arm and he fell fast asleep in my arms where he slept the rest of the night.  

Monday morning, I called to get him an appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon.  They insisted they couldn't get him in until Thursday.  So, I called the Pediatrician and got him and appointment there.  They wanted him to come right away, so, I woke him up and off we went.  Once he was up I quickly noticed that he seemed to be more himself.  By the time we got to the Pediatrician's office he had resumed to his normal activity level.  Of course I would not have been concerned had I given myself the opportunity to observe him before wisking him off to the dr. and of course she had no concerns.  She actually complimented me on the fact that she's surprised that we don't have more injuries like this in our house and how lucky we were that this was our first injury of this kind, lol!

So, at least he is happy and in a controllable amount of pain.  We anxiously await for his appointment on Thursday to get more x-rays and to get his full cast.  It really stinks that he has lost his summer.  He was getting ready to do swimming lessons and he was going to play baseball this summer.  But...boys will be boys...I guess there's always next year! case your wondering....No, Hawk did not get in trouble for lying and no he did not get in trouble for doing something I constantly yell at him for doing.  I promised Emu if he told the doctor the truth that no one would get in trouble, so I couldn't go back on my word (though trust me, it killed me) and anyways, I knew how guilty and horrible Hawk feels and really I think that is plenty punishment.  When we are at fault for something we feel a great amount of guilt and we punish ourselves.  I think Hawk learned a lesson...and I hope the other kids learned a lesson as well.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Eagle's new curriculum arrived!!!

In an effort to always do what is truly best for my children, I have made the decision to make a curriculum change this late in the year.  While I have always loved the k12 curriculum, it was just no longer working for Eagle.  He struggled with it last year and we kept trucking along...this year has been really hard for him.  He has either been too bored by a subject, not challenged enough or too rushed to learn a concept.  The curriculum which we have always used is very fast paced and I just don't see him retaining enough of the material to make me happy.  I thought about struggling through the rest of this year, then making a switch next year, but in all fairness I felt that by doing that, he would almost be losing this year. 

As you may know, I have become an extreme Calvert lover, since using Calvert for the first time with Macaw this year.  I have seen such an amazing difference with this curriculum and we have had so much fun with it!  I've watched Macaw succeed in a way I know would not have been possible with the other curriculum we have always used.  Immediately, I wanted to use this curriculum for Eagle, but at the time it was not a feasable option for us.

Finally faced with the opportunity to get the Calvert I so badly wanted, I've decided to make the switch!  This decision did not take much thought, but I did make the decision with some level of hesitance.  Calvert would not allow him to start at the second semester as we originally thought and getting the paperwork and school records in order proved as quite a challenge!  I also later learned that Calvert is very heavy with writing composition (something that Eagle is not very strong in, although this is one of the things I felt he was lacking in our current curriculum).  I was warned that starting in 4th grade (next year for him), all students in Calvert have to take a 4th grade placement test and many students start 4th grade at the 3rd grade Calvert level.  Even students who just completed Calvert 3 have to repeat that year in the curriculum if they do not pass the 4th grade placement test.  This doesn't cause them to be "held back" a year, as they still progress by grade.  That was the decision maker for me!  I felt that if he was going to be starting next year with Calvert 3 anyways, then it would definately be more beneficial for him to start with Calvert 3 now while he is still in 3rd grade.  My hope is that this will enable him the skills that he needs to progress to Calvert 4 next year.  Even though he is starting this late in the year, with careful planning and lots of hard work, he could still progress right on schedule!  He does have an entire year to complete the Curriculum, though we plan to be finished by the end of August and even if we don't progress as planned, he will still advance to 4th grade when we do complete it (even if by some chance he doesn't pass the 4th grade placement test for Calvert). 

We were so excited when his materials arrived and just by browsing over all his new things I am so confident that I've made the right choice!  I can't wait to get started! 
Our materials finally arrive!

All organized and ready to go!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Path I've Laid....

It is a true blessing to have the ability, patience, compassion, dedication, and the willingness to make the many sacrifices it takes to be successful in homeschooling!  Any homeschooler knows the negativity and social stigma we all deal with by schooling our children at home, but it is extremely unfortunate that my children have had to endure such horrific treatments from members of their own family!  It has often been told to them by certain people that they wish they would go to "real school" and that I was doing nothing but harming them by keeping them at home both socially and academically.  I take great offense in anyone trying to convince my children into thinking that I do nothing other than what is truly best for them.  I have always done what is best for my children, as no matter what, THEY have ALWAYS come first!  I will forever be thankful...and I will always wish and hope as well!

Well, our hard work has paid off!  The private school that we were hoping Cardinal would get accepted to made the decision to accept her within minutes of receiving her portfolio.  They were very impressed with her academic background and her state test scores and we received her acceptance letter the very next day.  In order to get into this school you have to have an outstanding academic record, acceptable state test scores and students must prove that they have the ability to thrive as a student at the school.  The price of this school does not come cheap!  The tuition is $9,830 per year.  We are very fortunate that she qualifies for a $5,000 scholarship to put towards her yearly tuition. 

My children are very blessed to have the opportunity to have an education tailored specifically for them and to have the one on one attention that they each get being schooled at home.  In mid 2007 we went through some very traumatic times...Hawk suffered his head injury, my mother began fighting for her life after her near fatal heart attack and at the time Cardinal was harboring the most horrific secret any child should ever have to bear.  In January of 2008 our lives took a drastic turn...we were forced to leave our home and move into a rape and abuse shelter during which time I delivered my 6th baby and attended the indictment of my husband.  Shortly after we moved in with my parents and suffered through 10 months of court appearances, meetings, counseling, etc.  During these two years, I had the amazing ability to ensure that my children did not suffer academically!  While in the shelter, we left and returned home to attend school everyday for 3 weeks.  We would never of had to leave our home, had we not been forced out by the other person who owned the home and by being forced out our only option was to go into the shelter in order to obtain affordable housing.  Had my children not been homeschooled during that time, they would have had to be withdrawn from their current school and enrolled in the school district in which we were residing..then once we moved out of the shelter we would have had to withdrawal and re-enroll in yet another school.  No child would have been as successful for those two traumatic years as my children were.  No matter what we were going through or how difficult it was, we had the flexibility and the ability to cater to what needed to be done.  They did not "lose" a single year in their education during those two years and not one person could ever convince me that same success would have been possible if they were not homeschooled.

I have prepared them for "the real word" with a world class curriculum and I've always supplemented that curriculum with things that my children have had a direct interest in (all while having their future goals in sight). 

Cardinal was so proud of her accomplishment, she made a phone call to tell someone of her acceptance to the school she so badly hoped she would get into.  As always, this person was asking detailed questions about our personal financial business (things that should absolutely not be discussed outside of our home).  This person asked how we would pay for her tuition.  Cardinal answered the question the best she could (not having a full understanding of the situation herself, as this is not her concern and should not be discussed with a child anyways...I hate that people outside of our immediate family put me in a position to have to explain inappropriate financial business to my children should NEVER have to worry about MY finances).  This persons reply to Cardinal's explanation was "It's a good thing because otherwise you would be "screwed" and not ever be able to go to school"! 

Wow...I mean just WOW!!!!

I am a mother that goes beyond the ends of the earth for my children!!!! 
I know that,
anyone who sees me parent my children knows that, people in our homeschooling community know that, anyone who has heard about me knows that....ANYONE who as ever met me "KNOWS THAT" and
my children know that!

My children are "who" they are because of "me".  They would NOT be where they are if it was not for me!  I take full credit for where my children are today and I am very proud of my accomplishments and what I have been able to do with them.  I am so proud of the path that I have laid for them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good things are happening!

I have been somewhat of a stranger to the blogging world lately...but I have some good excuses!  Good things are happening around here and we have so much to be excited about!  The past few months have left me overwhelmed with joy and anticipation and sometimes stress and worry and the past few weeks have been extremely stressfull...but things are finally coming together and I am finally able to take a sigh of relief...well, almost!

You see...Cardinal is going into 9th grade next year.  She has a goal of being a Veterinarian and I have tried so hard to really focus on that and to get her involved into certain programs to help enable her to reach her dreams.  I still have hopes of finding a Vet that will allow her to shadow them for a day and we will be volunteering at a local animal training facility.  We have started our breeding program and guinea pig rescue (though we are limited due to our living arrangements).  We still haven't heard from our 4-H branch but have hopes of getting her involved there as well but all-in-all we are still building an attractive resume for her.  I've always done what I feel is best for my children, especially when it comes to their education.  I am a firm believer in homeschooling, however, I have recently become aware of the fact, that my children are eligible for scholarships to attend private schools in our state.  It just so happens that we live within a few miles of a high school with the reputation of being compared to that of an "ivy league" school.  Cardinal has been begging for the past 2 years to go to a brick and mortar school.  We live in a very bad public school district and there was no way I was sending my kids to school there.  This new information made me rethink all of this.  It didn't take much thinking as far as Cardinal is concerned, as I feel that it is important to try and get Cardinal into a brick and mortar to finish out her high school career.  I want her to to work to her full potential and I just am not feeling that I am getting her to reach that at home any longer.  I often threaten her that I will not hesitate to send her to public school if she does not do what is expected of her at home.  I think she saw that as in invitation and her ticket to brick and mortar.  So, here we are.  We had a list of four schools that we were going to apply to, but come to find out all but one of them charge $100-150 for an application fee.  This is not an affordable option for us but as luck would have it, the one school we wanted to get her into was the only one that didn't charge a fee.  Although, it is probably also the hardest one to get into and come to find out the deadline to enroll was Dec. 1, 2011 and the high school entrance exam was given in November.  I called and spoke with the admissions department and with all this against us, they are still willing to look at her portfolio but things have to be done very quickly!  Today, I was able to assemble the best portfolio I can and looks pretty darn good!  I don't have everything they wanted, but I think I have "enough".  Tomorrow morning we will be off to deliver the best we've got!

With all of this, I decided to give Hawk the option of going to brick and mortar or staying home despite the fact that he excels at home and I am very satisfied with his continued progress  being at home...but in all reality, in another two years, I will be trying to get him into a high school as well, so why not give him the opportunity to adjust to a different setting beforehand.  He wants to go to brick and mortar as well.  We do have to pay a $100 enrollment fee for him, but I think he will get in the school we want for him. 

With these changes, I began to re-evaluate the curriculum I am using for Eagle.  I tried to switch him to the Calvert curriculum at the beginning of the year, but it was not an option.  The curriculum we are using for him is just no longer working for him as well, so I have decided to go ahead and switch him this year rather than feeling like I am failing him with our current curriculum choice.  He's doing ok with the curriculum we are using, but I just feel he is capable of doing better.  Our curriculum is very advanced and very fast paced and I just feel that it is a little too much for him.  I don't feel that he is retaining what I would like him to retain.  I feel that he is being rushed through a curriculum that he needs to be able to take at a slower pace and I feel like Calvert has so much more to offer him.

Macaw will continue with Calvert as she is doing much better than I could have hoped for.  Emu is beginning the Calvert K now as he is going to be quite a challenging student so I feel he needs a head start!  Duckling will be working alongside of Emu learning her letters and working on her preschool workboxes!

So, I can enjoy the rest of this school year with busy working children eager for what next year school year has to offer and striving to be their best!  I hope that we can really enjoy the last 4 months of this school year and that Cardinal and Hawk can look back with pride and know that I've done what has been best for them through all of these years and I hope they can look back at some fond memories of being homeschooled.  I feel that I have done an amazing job at preparing them for where they are headed.