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!

Monday, January 30, 2012

We Choose Virtues

A while back, I had contacted We Choose Virtues with an interest in doing a review for them.  I was searching for a character program to use with my kiddos and I found great interest in the We Choose Virtues curriculum.

They were gracious enough to send me a few things to try!  Yesterday, I received a set of Parenting Cards and a 100 days of Virtue Chart and Butterfly stickers (and also some mini-posters to give away to my homeschooling friends)!

I have also received a free download for a Family Character Assessment and Kids Memory Verses, Bible Heros and Truths!  I believe these are both available on the product page of their website!

While I try my best to instill these traits into my children, I felt like I needed a little help.  After looking over my parenting cards and virtue chart, I think these things are just what I needed to help me along!  I can't wait to get started! Ahh...the question is...where oh where do we begin!

Thanks so much We Choose Virtues for helping our family with virtues!
Check back in April for our review on the products we received!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lake City Handwringer from Kleen-Rite Corp.

As you all know, I have been doing my laundry by hand (and somewhat loving it) for about a month now.  After about a week of doing my laundry by hand, I began researching handwringers.  I was so lucky to find the Lake City Handwringer for a great price at Kleen-rite Corp.

This handwringer promised to remove 90% of the water!  All I could think about was the $ we were going to save.  Everyone told me I was nuts for willingly handwashing clothes for my flock of 8, but all I could think about was how much cleaner our clothes were going to be & how much money we'd save on both water (since we'd use much less than the 40 gallons our washer was using) and electric (since the clothes would have 90% of the water removed, they would take much less energy to dry).  I am always willing to make sacrifices and work harder for my family, so that we can better use our money on other things.

Eagerly, we ordered our handwringer about a week ago.  It arrived very quickly (even though I had no idea 3 days would seem so long).  We couldn't wait to use it!  Our towels had piled up, since they are so hard to hand wring, I didn't wash them while we were awaiting our wringer.  I figured I would crank them out very quickly once our wringer came.

The time finally came to wring our towels!  We washed and rinsed then it was time to put them through the wringer.  What an exciting moment it was!

Unfortunately, I must say...we feltvery let down and we were so disappointed.  Each time we put the towel through, we tighted the tension a bit more.  After 4 or 5 times through, we could still hand wring water out of the towels.  Now...I don't have have strong hands, but I got lots of water out of those towels.

Falcon took very much convincing to get this handwringer in the first place.  He was so worried that we would spend all that money on something I wouldn't use.  I swore I'd use it and it wouldn't become a dust collector like he feared.

:/ YIKES!  I've tried using this a few more times....and still get the same results.  I surely must have something wrong with it.  So, I instant messaged the company Kleen-rite Corp.  Jessica, my customer service representative was very attentive.  However, she was unable to help me with my problem and I was advised that a manager would call us back that day.

I've heard absolutely nothing from the company!

So, now I'm stuck with an expensive piece of junk dealing with a company that has terrible customer service.  I'm still wringing my clothes by hand and now hating it more than ever.  We spend nearly $130 on this wringer, so now buying a washing machine is not an affordable option for us right now.  My back is killing me, my hands are dried out and cracked, my nails are so weak they are breaking down to the quick...but I must keep washing on!

My frugal tip for the not buy a Lake City Handwringer and do not purchase anything from

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Year, new approval process...

Emu has undergone growth hormone therapy since June.
Within 25 days of therapy, he grew almost 2 inches.  It was amazing to finally see my little man growing. 

His growth did slow down, but he did keep growing...therapy proved successfull!

But, with the new year came a new approval process for our insurance.  With a new approval process...came a DENIAL for therapy!

At a cost of nearly $2,000 per week for therapy, we were so lucky to get it for the six months that we did.  We have about one more week left, then he will be done!

As I look back at what a difficult decision this therapy was, I see that I made the right decision.  I'm heartbroke that he can not continue therapy, but I am greatful that he gained a few inches in height that he wouldn't have otherwise gotten.

I brace myself and try to imagine how I will prepare him for the disappointment he is now set up for.  He loved making new marks on his growth chart.  There will be no more giggling and "flapping his wings" from excitement because he has, we can only hope that we will eventually move up the chart.

Friday, January 6, 2012

4 years ago today was the first day of the rest of our lives...

I don't remember much from the night before, except that night, he was acting very odd.  He was going through all of his hard drives and he had one in particular that stood out to me because he layed it on the kitchen counter.  Then, he tried finding an excuse to leave the house.  Offering to go to the store to get a few things.  I was fearful of what his intentions were, as it seemed he "knew" that she had told.  I pursuaded him to stay hom and I remember lying in bed with him that night.  I was still throwing up.  I couldn't stand having to be in that bed with him.  I kept my back turned  and hugged the very edge of the bed.  

The next morning (January 6), I woke early to go to the store, just as I did every Sunday.  Except, this time...I quietly woke my children.  Usually, I left them there with him and I went to the store alone.  This time, I went into their rooms, gave them a gentle shake immediately followed by a quiet "shhh".  I got them all dressed and got all of them bundled up in their coats, hats and gloves.  I gathered them all by the front door and told them to stay there.  We lived in a basic two story so from the top of the steps I could look down at them standing there by the front door.  As I got to the top of the steps, I turned around and looked down at them as I stood outside my bedroom door where my husband was sleeping.  They all smiled and waved at me.  They were standing there all safe and warm...all 5 of them (ages 9, 8, 5, 2 & 1).  Suddenly, it hit me.  THIS is my chance!  This is my chance to keep them safe.  I have to do something and I have to do it now!  

I went into my room, asked him if he wanted anything from the store and told him goodbye the same as I always did.  Before I even had my key in the door to lock it behind me, I was on the phone!

The police met me in the parking lot at the grocery store.
It was cold and rainy.
We went to the police station, where I filled out a report.
I remember telling the female officer "he's going to be calling me any minute because I've been gone for quite a while, what do I tell him"?  She looked at me and smiled and said "honey, he's already here"!

From there, things get a little foggy!  I was escorted back to the house to get a few things for my children.  By then, my house had been ransacked by the police executing their search warrant.  I remember saying that he was going to kill me.  Then, I was questioned why I said that and they pressed charges against him for a threat he made to me some time before.

I had to take my children to the Children's Hospital so that each of them could be examined and questioned.  My parents, my sister and her husband all met me down there.

The police were not able to keep my husband, he was questioned and released.  I was advised not to go back to my house and to be sure I had somewhere safe to stay...preferably in a shelter outside of the area.  They put me in contact with a safe house about an hour away, but I decided that may be too traumatic for my children who had no idea what the heck was going on.  They were scared and confused enough all, we stayed with a family member and the police in the area were informed of our situation so they heavily patrolled the house.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

4 years ago, she told...Our "Story" begins to unfold...

Many "anniversaries" come and go without people being aware that it's an anniversary of anything at all because the day is not significant to them in any way.
Today is one of "those" days.

I've never told our story on here, so starting today...this part of our story will begin to unfold.

4 years ago today...
My daughter came to me...
Well, she emailed me...
She emailed me saying there was something she needed to tell me when "he" (my husband) was not around.

I can still feel my heart stop like it did when I read that.  I can still feel my heart sink to my feet when I read that.  I can still feel my world stop like it did that day.   I can still feel the goose bumps rise on my skin.  I can still hear the complete silence that surrounded me that day.  I can still feel the numbness that took over my body.  I can feel it the same way I did this day 4 years ago.

You see, there was an "oddness" in the air.  That feeling that "something" wasn't right.  I never could put my finger on it, but one thing was for sure...the tension in that house was building.  There was almost that feeling of being "uncomfortable" in my own home, but yet, I didn't have any apparent reason to feel this way.  At the same time...I couldn't have been happier.  I had a wonderful husband (most of the time), 5 beautiful children and one due to arrive in just seven short weeks.  I had an amazing new home (complete with the picket fence) in a fresh new neighborhood where neighbors weren't "neighbors" - they were "family".  As homeschoolers the children and I were often able to travel with my husband so my children had the opportunity to see and learn about many great things.  My first three children were from a previous marriage, but yet to them my husband was their "dad".  I couldn't have asked for a better "dad" for them...he was perfect in every way (so it seemed).  When he would come home from work, they would run to him with open arms so glad to see him.  They knew what would come next...they would be showered with some gift whether it was something material or just his presence.  Maybe they would wrestle, go to the park or play outside or we would go on a family bike ride, have family game night or make that favorite family recipe together. We were a very close knit family, never doing our own independent activities but always doing something as a family.  

But then, I got that email.
In no way shape or form did that email say what my daughter needed to talk to me about...but somehow, i "knew"...or at least I knew what my worst fear was.

I called her into the classroom.
She saw my email up on my screen and she tried to get away, saying she didn't need to talk to me anymore.  I wouldn't let her get away without telling me what it was she needed to tell me.  I made her sit down and I told her she was not getting up until she told me.  We sat and I pushed and pryed for quite a while...trying to get through to her to just tell me!  As a mother, you "know" when something is wrong with your child.  I didn't like what my instinct was telling me as I looked into her eyes.  I had finally gotten out of her that he did something to hurt her, but she wouldn't say what.  Finally, I asked if she could draw it instead...and so she did.  She drew a picture and then she asked me questions about it.  She would draw something and ask "do you know what this is"? I would say no (even when it was apparent).  She would tell me what it was.  The more she drew, the more numb I got....the more my heart sank out of my chest.  I wanted to cry, but I needed to look strong.  

I hugged her and told her I was so sorry that he did that to her.  I told her that he would NEVER touch her again.  I was honest with her...I told her that I was scared and that I didn't know what to do, but I assured her that I would figure it out very quickly but that she was not to tell anyone else until I  figured things out.  

Not long after that, my husband came home from work.  It was a Friday.  I don't think it took very long for him to figure out that something was "wrong".  I know I was acting different, but I tried so hard not to.  We had spagetti for dinner that night.  I remember something happening at dinner but I don't remember exactly what. I remember one of my children getting very upset and me standing up for them.  The tension was very high.  That night, Cardinal and I scrubbed down the kitchen table.  I was simply trying to keep busy as my mind was spinning out of control.  I couldn't look at him, I didn't want him to touch me or my children.  By this time, I was physically sick from pure disgust at just the thought of him.  Everytime I looked at him or he tried to touch me, I threw up.  He kept asking what was wrong and I just said that I was sick and I didn't feel well.  I took all of the kids upstairs with me and I then cleaned the master bathroom and gave my kids a bath.  It's almost like I wanted to wash them clean of him.  I wouldn't let them out of my sight.  

So, while I relive many painful memories from this day.  I couldn't be more thankful for this day.  This is a day that changed our lives forever and a day that I'm glad I never had to live without!   

So, as I relive this day...this anniversary.  There is only one other person who suffers the way I do.  One other person who really knows what today is.  One other person who relives the way she felt this day 4 years ago.

I hope she is as proud of herself as I am of her (although, I don't think that is possible).  I hope that she someday realizes how courageous and brave she was.  I hope that she can look back and see this day for the positive change for the future that it was.  I hope that she can be grateful for the choices I made in the days following her disclosure.  I hope that she can trust me again some day, the way that she trusted me then. 

Four years ago, she told.
Four years ago,
she became
my HERO!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How many outfits does 1 child really need?

Ok, so you know that I'm always trying to improve things around here.  Always trying to find a more efficient or effective way of doing things.

With such a large family, one of my biggest weaknesses is the dreaded laundry.  It piles up...and I mean PILES up until I have to do it.  Which isn't very often, considering my younger kids all have about 30-60 outfits each....not to mention the 40 or so pairs of pajamas they all have.  Now, my older kids don't have nearly as many clothes...but just multiply those numbers times 3 and you'd be overwhelmed on laundry day...right!?

When my washer went out and caused such a fuss with the flood and all, I realized that this lovely machine...this modern day convience had put me in quite a position.  I had so many clothes piled on the basement floor and they all got wet!  It caused quite a problem as I continued washing the clothes my basement kept flooding and numerous items got washed down into the main drain and then it got stopped up and then we were without plumbing.  Geesh, what a mess!

So, anyways...long story short (you can read the long version here ) I fell in love with handwashing.  The main reason I fell in love with it, was quite simply...our clothes were cleaner!  Secondly, they were put away immediately because I wasn't waiting for mounds of clothes to get finished before putting them away.  Also, I saw just how much water drained out of my washer and WOW, it was like seeing $ go right down the drain (well, onto my floor actually).  So...we will not be getting a new washer here!

I did cheat before beginning this adventure.  I went to the laundry mat and did a few loads of laundry.  In my defense, I came home and did a huge load of towels and some whites but one other thing has to change before I begin this new journey...we have to downsize the amount of clothes we have in this house!  There was a day when my kids could wear a different outfit each day and sometimes they didn't wear the same outfit twice in a season.  Now, they don't all have that many clothes anymore but my smaller ones have all of these hand me downs from the older ones, so Macaw and Duckling easily have about 60 outfits each and 30-40 pairs of pj's. 

In my downsizing project I was originally going to just keep 7 outfits and 7 pairs of pj's for each of my little ones.  I re-thought that decision and changed it to 14 outfits and 11 pairs of pj's.  This way if they wear a different outfit everyday (which rarely happens around here) they will only wear the same outfit twice each month (and 8-10 times for the season) and they have a different pair of pj's for each night and a few extra (just in case).  This to me seems like a bit much as it is still more than they really "need" but, even if I don't do my laundry daily as planned the mound of clothes won't be as overwhelming and laundry will be much more managable around here.

Now, if you ask Falcon, he'll say all they need is 2.  One to wash and one to wear.  With his theory we'd really only need one outfit because the only time we are found out of our pj's is if we are going somewhere important.  I had a friend say that my 14 outfits didn't seem like near enough.  So, it leaves me many outfits does 1 child REALLY "need"?????

I won't change my mind, as I'm keeping 14 and 11 regardless.  A few outfits and pj's will be taken to leave at grandma's and the rest will be given away to someone more in need.  My older kids clothes will not be downsized near as much, as they are old enough to manage their clothes a bit better than the little ones.  They don't change their clothes 50 times a day!

I'm curious though...what is your opinion!  How many outfits do your children have?

Flooded basement leads to love of hand washing clothes!

Recently, my washer started leaking.  I'm not sure if "leaking" is the right word!  Actually, it drained out on my basement floor.  All 40-50 gallons!  My basement flooded!  You can't even imagine the size of Mt. Laundry down there.  Who wouldn't love a laundry room in the basement, out of site...out of mind.  Right!?  I swear, a week without doing laundry around here and my kids could be rock climbing right in the basement on Mt. Laundry!  So, back to my flooded basement...let's just say, I had lots of wet clothes.  So, even though I knew my basement was flooding, I couldn't leave all of those we clothes on the floor.  I kept on washing and we stood by with the wet n' dry vac to suck up all the water we could as it drained out.  This didn't seem like the best idea, but it was really my only option and after all, the water would go down into the main drain, so it was only a temporary mess and most of my laundry was piled upstairs in the hallway and bathroom, so the wet pile wasn't never ending or anything.

So, I washed and we sucked up water (about 30 gallons per load)...and I washed and we sucked up 30 more gallons....etc.  This went on for about 3 or 4 loads.  I could not believe how much water went into washing just one load of clothes!  Falcon took apart my washer to try and figure out this "leak".  Unable to finish the project (it was about 10pm) we called it a night.  The next morning I went down to find the water had returned.  Hmm...weird.  We had sucked up most all of the water the night before.  But, there were still a few piles of wet things that could wait, so I figured that the wet piles were just keeping the floor wet.  That night, Falcon put the wet stuff into plastic tubs and we sucked up the water again.  The next morning...the floor was flooding again.  Geesh...really!???  So...I suck up the mysterious water again.  Later, after I did the dishes, I went down to check the basement floor only to find it flooded AGAIN!  Ahhhh Haaaa!!!!  The main drain!!!!  So, I monitored for the rest of the day and finally figured out that it was indeed the main drain. 

Unfortunately, we aren't new to this rodeo, as this has happened here before.  About 1 1/2 years ago, the main drain was backed up and we went a week with no plumbing.  Our running water is fine, but nothing can be drained.  So, having gone through this before I made a few alterations to our house.  Plastic bins went into all of the sinks (this way we could still use the water, but the waste had to be dumped outside).  This way, we could still brush our teeth and wash up at the bathroom sink and we could still cook and do dishes in the kitchen.  We also bought a camping potty (eww, gross) but the last time, every time someone had to go to the bathroom I had to trek all 6 kids off to a local restraunt or gas station and well, there is no way I'm doing that in December and besides it was miserable even in July.  

Now, after a few days our drain was fixed.  As it ended up, when our washer flooded the basement, the water washed things down into the main drain (ziplock bags, lint, etc).  In the meantime, I had decided to handwash our clothes.  My laundry was so piled up and I was really in need of doing laundry, so now without a washer for lord knows how long...I really had no choice but to hand wash a few needed items.

Oddly, the kids and I found hand washing the clothes to be quite fun.  What a sense of accomplishment it was!  When I was washing one of Macaw's sleepers, I noticed a spaghetti stain on the sleeve.  I scrubbed it right out.  Now, in the washer this would have been a permanant stain because I do not use stain remover, I just throw and go!  I am not going to scrub something by hand only to throw it in the washer and have it washed again.  Due to this habit, my kids have very stained clothes!  This time though, I was able to catch a stain and watch it disappear!  As I washed the clothes the water got very dirty.  When I rinsed the clothes, the water was clean.  I was amazed that my little hand washing idea was actually getting our clothes so clean.  Our dryer works fine, so we still had the luxury of using that...but wringing the clothes before putting them into the dryer was quite a chore!  When the clothes came out of the dryer they smelled so fresh and clean!  When Hawk saw them, he said "Wow, they look alot cleaner washing them that way"!  Huh...a 12 year old noticing that our clothes are actually cleaner!  Ok, so I saw how much cleaner they got and I could smell how clean they were AND my 12 year old son says they look cleaner too and guess what...they were all immediately put away!  SOLD!!!  At that moment, I was completely sold on the idea of hand washing.  I began to dream of washtubs and wringers!

My friends call me CRAZY.  Why in the world would a woman with 6 kids want to hand wash the family's clothes!  Call me out of my mind, but I have fallen in love with it!  No new washing machine will come here...but I will be ordering my hand wringer this week.  Cleaner clothes and saving on my water and electric bill...could it get any better?

I've done a lot of research and I don't doubt my decision at all.  I've been hand washing for about 5 days now and even without a wringer I'm doing a pretty good job!  Call me crazy...but I'm convinced my new system will be very successful and I'm so excited!  I am downsizing the amount of clothes we have around here, I'll talk about that in my next post :)  and I did go to the laundrymat today so that I'm not overwhelmed with that Mt. Laundry.  I've got a handwashed load of towels in the dryer and whites are hanging to dry.  Things will go much more efficiently once I get my new hand wringer

Happy New Year!

I intended to blog about our wonderful Christmas before the new year, but gosh...things were so crazy here! 

 We had a very blessed Christmas, as we had yet another Christmas with my mother.  We decided to spend the night at my parents house, as this was more than likely my mother's last Christmas and not only did we want it to be special for her, but we wanted precious memories to hold on to ourselves.  I know, we've been saying it's her last Christmas for the past few years, but her condition is deteriorating very fast these days and there isn't much else that doctors can do for her anymore. 

I will never forget her excitement, as she was the first to race (best that she could) down the stairs.  She was like one of the kids, unable to wait to see what Santa brought.  She added so much joy to my morning and she enjoyed watching the kids open their presents.  She was amazed at how my kids were so excited about the smallest little things and she said she was so proud of them for not needing big fancy items to thrill them.  My kids are great like that...happy for what they have and it makes me very proud too.

Christmas was bittersweet, as it just seemed that she was certain this was her last Christmas too and she even mentioned it a few times.  I'm glad that we got to make the most of it, we got lots of pictures and many precious memories.

So, here we are welcoming 2012! 
This is kind of bittersweet as well!  I have so many hopes and dreams for the new year and look forward to new beginnings and all the amazing things 2012 promises, but I also fear what the new year will bring as well and it's going to be a tough year as we face my mother's failing health.