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, 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!