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!

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.