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!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Vaccine Journey (part 1)...

Dare I write about such a controversial topic?  Ahhh....yes, I MUST.  I have felt very drawn to write about this topic for such a long time and this past week it has been screaming at me!!  I have commented about this topic more times than I can count recently on different group pages on Facebook and people have even tried to have me banned simply for stating facts (they didn't like their opinions challenged) but this has been such a popular question lately... 

"Should I vaccinate (my 2 month old)?"

I responded to those posts with FACTS.  I didn't give my opinion, nor did I tell MY story, but for those who are genuinely is our story.

Now, I've been a mother for 15 years.  I never asked this question, well, not for a long time anyway!  This was a no brainer, right?  I mean, this is what our society does.  We vaccinate our children.  We vaccinate against all these horrible and life threatening diseases and who wouldn't want to protect their child against these horrific preventable diseases?  I mean, have you seen the pictures of kids with polio?  Have you seen the pictures of kids dying with whooping cough?  Measles, Mumps, Rubella...oh my!!   Who questions THAT?  Who would NOT protect their child from that!!!  Now, I do remember when it came to the chicken pox vaccine our pediatrician admittedly didn't know much about it, it had only been available for a few years at the time.  I remember her saying, it "may" need a booster or it "may not", we just don't know yet, she told me.  Hmm...this was the very first time I questioned a vaccine.  Wow, you want me to inject my kid with something but your telling me you (as a medical society) don't know much about it yet?   I opted not to get until they knew more about it and there were no questions asked about my decision.  We continued with all the other vaccines, right on schedule!   Our pediatrician said these vaccines were necessary and she informed me of the benefits...I always agreed.  Sure, it always made sense and there was no question about whether I should or shouldn't vaccinate my kids.  To be honest, I think I was so naive that I don't think I realized there were people that didn't vaccinate.  This continued on as I continued to have more children. Years down the road, a friend who had a child the same age as one of my children (by this time, I had just had my fourth child) mentioned that she didn't get the hep B vaccine for her girls because research showed that it causes infertility in girls.  CRAP!  Really??? Oh my, I had my girls vaccinated with it! What have I done?  I had NO clue!  Really?  My pediatrician didn't tell me that!!!  She went on to say that really, there was no reason to vaccinate against Hep B anyway, since it's only transmitted through sex and sharing needles with an infected partner.  Ohh...well, uh, yea...I never thought of it that way but, yeah, that makes sense Hmm.. why didn't anyone remind me of this fact, gah...wish I would have thought about it that way.  but wait, really infertile? do I need to worry about my girls, ugh, what have I done?  I admit, I have never done the research about any link between the Hep B vaccine and infertility in girls.  Now, this person was no anti-vax freak or anything...she just didn't have her girls vaxed with this one vaccine.  Her children are all vaccinated against everything else, except chicken pox, she went to a chicken pox party for that....CRAZY I tell you, who in their right mind would purposefully infect their kids with chicken pox.  Anyways...

Still, I went on to fully confidently vaccinate all of my children, including now Emu and Duckling.  Now....when it came to that Hep B shot, I opted out of that ONE.  I mean, I have no idea if it "can" cause infertility and that didn't sway my decision, but lets be honest, I don't envision my children having sex or sharing least until they are old enough to make the decision themselves if they will be at risk of this disease and if they want to get vaccinated against it, they can make that choice, right after I give them a talkin to for putting themselves in that risk category ;)

Most may know, but Duckling, my precious baby girl was born deaf.  She had her fair share of problems, that's for sure...but despite all of this she was a healthy, chunky baby at 4 months.

and, like I always had for everyone else, she got those 4 month shots although she was a bit late getting them. Not long (days) after getting her 4 month shots, things drastically changed with her health.  She went from a chunky, healthy baby girl to projectile vomiting, losing weight, she began suffering from numerous ALTE's .  Let me tell you, there is NOTHING more fearful than thinking you've just watched or found your child dead.  I wasn't the only one to witness these accounts and they didn't only happen at night!  You'd be holding her, sleeping...then all of a sudden, she'd stop breathing.  You'd she breathing?? Give her a gentle shake...she's not breathing!  She'd go limp & lifeless.  OMG...she's not breathing.  You'd stimulate her, not as gentle.  Your heart skips a beat, inside your screaming, OMG, she is NOT breathing....then.....a big breath.  Oh MY GOD, what the hell was THAT!  We co-slept.  There were times I would just instinctively wake up to "check" her.  We all do it, you know you do.  You wake up and just make sure they are breathing.  I'd usually just give her a little nudge, you know and just make sure she startled.  Once, I nudged...nothing.  I nudged a bit harder...nothing.  I put my hand on her chest.  It's not moving.  I give her a gentle shake.  Nothing.  I shake her a bit harder...nothing.  Lifeless and limp.  completely unresponsive.  OMG, she's dead.  I roll her over...not sure why.  I scream's like a dream, a bad horrible dream.  and then finally, she takes that famous deep breath and then she's fine.  Another time...she's in my parents bed.  I hear my dad (a former EMT/Firefighter).  She's not breathing.  She's purple.  OMG, is she dead?  I run into the room...this isn't happening AGAIN!!  Ahhh...the famous BREATH!!! one could find anything "wrong" with her, we must be crazy because she always checks out fine.  After this third episode I had  a snuza baby monitor.   over nighted to us and yes, these frequent episodes continued for a few more nights (not every night)  but the alarm did go off and they were not as severe.  She was more easily stimulated.  After the initial "surge" of these episodes those first few weeks, they faded...sometime soon before her first birthday they became a thing of the past (although, now at age 5 she still doesn't sleep thru the night and it makes me wonder if apnea wakes her up).  Never once did I, nor a doctor associate these episodes with her vaccines she had gotten a few days before they started to occur.  She went on to continue to lose weight and was just a "sickly" baby girl.  She diagnosed with severe food allergies so I still never connected her new found problems to her getting those 4 month vaccines.  I mean, she was so deathly allergic to eggs (thank you blood test)  that a bite of one would kill her and this explains everything right (even though she was only 4-5 months old at the time and she had never eaten egg that would have triggered these things to happen, seriously, this NEVER occured to me at this time...what was I stupid??)  We had to carry epinephrine (and not a epi pen, she was far too small for one of those).  I never had to eliminate anything in my diet even though I was breastfeeding (all the more reason I should have never bought that this egg allergy is what triggered all of the ALTE's she was having), but just had to make sure and egg never got to her mouth.  I never got her next set of vaccines.   I never got any of the other kids next dose of vaccines either because at the same time Eagle was in the midst of his Autism diagnosis and  the pediatrician highly suggested, it was time to start Autism diagnosis on Emu as well.  I know, I know...he was only 2, but trust me the signs were there and we already had Eagle's unofficial diagnosis, which put him at more of a risk of having Autism as well (and let's be honest here...sometimes you don't need a test, kwim?)  It was just better to get his diagnosis as well.  All this was happening in the wake of Jenny McCarthy and her beliefs with the link between Autism and Vaccines.  I began to question that maybe my boys had Autism from the vaccines.  But, until I felt better about the whole Autism thing, I was not getting another vaccine because this has me a bit freaked out. 

Now it's 2009, I still have not vaccinated another child.
In the past year Duckling has undergone extensive physical, occupational and speech (for feeding problems) therapies.  She stopped growing and she was so small she had to have her high chair specially adapted so that she would fit in it.  She did not roll over or sit up until she was 10 months old.  She celebrated her first birthday weighing in at 14lbs 11oz and 25 in long.  She was still wearing 0-3 mo clothes with room to grow.

Sleep Study at 10 months

1st Bday with a pair of 6 month pants that came up to her underarms

She underwent extensive testing for the first two years of her life at two different hospitals with two different sets of specialists and yet despite her size, no one could find anything wrong with her.  At this point, I'm  still not questioning those vaccines to be the cause of Duckling's problems, no one is.  I believe it was around this time that Emu's stunted growth was also discovered so we just had a lot going on. be continued

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our School week September 2-6

Gah!!!  The three day weekend leading up to this week, really threw us through a loop!  Monday, we didn't have school. 

Tuesday, Eagle began preparing for his test.  So absolutely nothing exciting for him this week!

Macaw started the week with having lots of fun with the story "Stone Soup". We read a few different versions of this story.  She completed a book summary project, a lapbook and made real stone soup!

We got the template for her book summary here
The lapbook templates came from here

Emu and Duckling anxiously awaited the FedEx guy to bring their special delivery and just around noon he finally arrived.  They were so excited to unpack their boxes!

With all the excitement going on, Dove would not stay off of the school desks, so we thought it would be a great time to bring up his didn't end up very well, lol
 He's just a bit too young to figure out the we are now on a desperate hunt for a school desk that will allow him to stay somewhat safe because obviously this one got put back up.

Being the Calvert lovers that we are, we know just how to organize everything and knew just how to get started, so we jumped right into our day!

It wasn't long into our lessons when Dove started throwing up, such a great time for a tummy bug to show, we had a bit of a delay in our day.  Later, we managed to move on to the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.  It just so happened that we had an audio read along of this story which came in handy because I was able to tend to our sick little one while they continued with their lesson.  We also made some puppets for them to retell the story.

 We got the templates here 
Macaw remembered doing these a few years ago! I can't believe how small the kids looked when I posted about Macaw's day that day.

Our day was cut a bit short with Dove being sick. He was quite under the weather!  Hoping he doesn't spread this to everyone in the house!

We had a lot of fun this week! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Our School Week August 26-30

As promised, I will make more of an effort to post more about what goes on in our school week along with posting links that help us with our lessons, as this is one thing that takes a lot of time and if I can save someone from having to do the research to find something to go along with their lesson, then it has served it's purpose.  

This was our first "official" week of school, by official, I mean the time when we had to start logging our school time.  We had a really exciting week. We were able to add in a few supplemental activities and even made it to our new local library (and what an amazing place it is). 

At this point we were still waiting for our Calvert curriculum to come for Emu and Duckling who are both starting Kindergarten this year.  We opted to hold Emu back a year because he was not quite ready last year and we gave Duckling a head start because of her hearing impairment, she is likely to fail.  I don't want to feel like I am setting her up for failure, however, we want her to be aligned with other kids her age and don't want her to later be a grade behind where she "should" be.  With any luck she will excel, but I like to be prepared. 

On to our week.  Our first week consisted of mostly art projects for Emu and Duckling.  Eagle  studied the civil war, Martin Luther King Jr., and is finishing up the last few lessons before his next test.    I found some pics of Martin Luther King Jr. for the kids to color along with a nice book report page for Eagle. 

All of the kids got involved in a few of Macaw's other lessons.  Macaw learned about our national anthem and how the song came to be.  The kids all worked together and drew a life size flag just like the one that stood through the battle she learned about.  We also took some time to learn about bike safety and the food pyramid and eating healthy! As both of those topics fit in with her lessons. 

Our first week went so amazing!  We not only completed our daily lessons, but we did many supplemental activities and projects and we even had time to explore our new library! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The School Bell Rings!

School is once again in session!
We did not intend to take a summer break, as we rarely do...but this year we had a lot of catching up to do and really couldn't afford to take a break over the summer.  In life, things don't always go as planned, right?  Well, of course, we didn't school over the summer.  With the move, we just couldn't and nothing happened in the time frame we expected it to, so one week turned into one month and one month turned get the picture.  

So, we moved and since we took majority of the summer off, we decided to take the time to set things up right.  We FINALLY, for the first time since December of 2007, have a dedicated classroom.  Not a we gave the dining room up for some school desks kind of classroom.  I mean we have a full fledged classroom.  The kind we used to lock ourselves into during school hours, the kind that we THRIVE in!!  We just finished up our first week of school and let me tell you, while there were a few bumps in the road (aka issues with Dove) but we had an amazing week!  Eagle thrives on routine and schedule.  He functions so much better when things are neat, organized, routine and when he knows what is expected from him.  The past few years have really been a struggle for him.  I made him start third grade over near the end of his third grade year and he has struggled to catch up ever since.  That is a decision I still stand behind as I have seen him grow through all of this, yes he has struggled but he has benefited from it so much it was definitely the best schooling decision I have ever made and I think he "knows" it.  I feel that he knows he has grown and is better because of it.  He started back to school a few weeks ago.  We eased into a schedule, not working everyday and more so worked on routine rather than schedule because he doesn't take too well to sudden changes and it worked well for him.  By our first "official" full day of school he knew what was expected of him and he has done fabulous.  He has worked so very hard these past three weeks and while he is not as far as we had hoped he would be at this point, he as come very far and at the pace he is going..he will finish only a month later than we originally planned.  

I wake up at 5-5:30 and start my day.  This gives me a few hours to do a bit of cleaning, laundry and making sure things are ready for our day.  Our school day starts promptly at 8:00am.  Some days, Eagle starts at 7:00am.  Each night, I prepare the work for the day ahead.  Next week, I'm going to pull work for the week to try and make preparing at night a little less time consuming.  It's important to have the days work out and ready for them before they start their day because otherwise, they will run off and play and then it's too hard to get them to refocus.  They eat breakfast and may have a few minutes to play before school starts, but they know that they are expected to start school by 8 and they don't challenge that because they know that is what is expected of them.  Macaw, Emu and Duckling stay busy with free time activities (activity bags, puzzles, etc) or busy work, or anything they can work independently on while I do instructional lessons with Eagle.  Macaw and Emu are still waiting on their curriculum to arrive (it will be here Wednesday), but I have had a few things to start them with.  Once I'm done with instructional lessons with Eagle, he works on independent lessons and projects while I do instructional lessons with Macaw.  All this week, we have been finished with our school day by 12:30-1:00.  We have completed all the lessons and optional work and have also done some supplemental activities as well.  It's such a great feeling to have the time and dediation to do these extra things again.  I really like to make sure they are truly "getting" the material and at times it felt like we just flew by the seat of our pants doing the minimum to get by because I didn't get to do the extra hands on supplemental activities the way we used to.

New Beginnings

Wow!  I honestly can not believe how fast the time goes.  We have had a lot of changes going on in our lives.  It is a time for new beginnings and it feels great!  We have such a bright future ahead of us and we are settled and reorganized.  It has been such a long time since our life has had any sort of organization and it feels good to be getting back to some of our old ways.  

We relocated in July.  It took a while for us to come to the decision to move because we moved quite a way from where we were.  Not across country or anything, but to me it felt like it and I did leave my friends and my family to start a new life.  It was hard to leave everything I knew and trusted after we spent the last few years building it.  We are in a much safer place, though I will never feel safe from "Jailbird's" family...but overall, we are in a much better from gunshots, gangs, thugs and the "ghetto" we came accustomed to.  Our old area wasn't horrible, but those who were not used to it saw it as the worst.  Some of my friends wouldn't go there, some wouldn't go after dark.  If they would have stopped to realize I wouldn't truly raise my kids in a neighborhood where they weren't "safe" maybe they wouldn't have been so fearful, it's not like we were on the west side of town ;) Anyways, we have a much bigger house in an amazing neighborhood within such an exciting community.  Our lives once again have order and purpose and we are much happier.  

Dove has turned a YEAR old already!!!  The kids have started  back to school. life is still as chaotic as ever, but we are settling into a new schedule and I am excited to finally have time to blog and to know that I can give myself this time, the way I used to.  I have so many posts in the works (our new classroom, our school weeks, our new organizational systems, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, allergies....) yes, I will be a very busy blogger.  One thing I will strive so much harder to blog about is our school weeks.  I still have a love of Calvert and will soon have four students using it! 


Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'm Back....

""I used Grammarly ( to grammar check this post, because aint nobody got time for grammar!!

I do not really know what to say, but WOW!  I can not believe what a difference one small child can make!  I have been blown away. I thought I had experienced having high need children before...but Dove has taught me that I have not had a clue what it is like to have a high needs child.  

Summer is here! 
We have so many exciting things to see and do.  The biggest thing is that we are moving!  It's been such a stressful search and process but we hope to be moving in a few weeks...Bank of America has had other plans and we keep hitting repeated delays and they obviously don't care when/if we EVER close on this house. (Do yourself a favor and NEVER use Bank of America for your mortgage needs (just sayin').  I'm honestly at the point where I am ready to cut our losses and stay here for another year...but that's another post ;)

We have taken a much needed break from schooling but we are getting ready to pick back up again, even in the midst of the craziness we are currently live in.  Eagle is the only one who will really be working before we move so we hope to get a lot done.  We had hoped to have more planned educational activities this summer but our move has taken up all of our time.  I've been packing since early May and most of our house has been packed up as we expected to move in June, this adds to the frustration to the fact that we still have NO idea when we will move. 

It's hard to say what the past 6 months have entailed for us...let's just has been CRAZY!!!!  Most days I sit and wonder if I have been blessed or cursed with Dove and his demands.  He has been a high need baby from day 1.  He was always a fussy baby babywearing made him tolerable!  He literally always wanted to be held...until about 9 months when he would finally sit and entertain himself for a while, but still at 10 1/2 months old, he pretty much wants to be held all the time.  Sometimes I sit and feel so blessed that I have this time to just sit and hold him as I know these days are numbered before he will be off and paying me no attention, but at the same time it is very stressful sitting with him for hours at a time. 

I'm hoping to be back full force into the blogging world.  I have quite a few posts in the works!

Monday, January 28, 2013

3 month recap!

I can't believe it has been so long since I've updated.  It's amazing how busy I am.  I never have enough time in my day.  Between doctor/specialist appointments, homeschooling, having a new baby, etc.  I honestly never have a moment to spare.  

Finally, I am getting back on track.  We are back on schedule and have found our way in our new routine, so hopefully I will be back blogging on a more regular basis.  I am going to make more of an effort this year to post more about our school happenings & projects.We are back in our groove and ready to share what we are learning each day.  

You may be wondering what has been happening for the past 3 months.  Well, our little Dove just turned 5 months old.  I can't believe it!!  Time has gone so fast.  He is a much happier baby nowadays.  He has taught me that I only thought I knew what patience was before he was born!  I have also learned that he really did not need half of the things we bought for him.  He rarely used his bouncy seat, he got too big for his bumbo seat before he could even use it and he hated his swing.  I have gotten lots of use out of my Ring Sling, Moby and my Babyhawk carriers.  He has taken babywearing to a whole new level and having a variety of carriers to choose from has been a true blessing.  He is just now starting to enjoy any sort of playtime. He does enjoy his playmat, exersaucer and his walker but the past few days I have found myself wearing him much more than I've had to the past few months.  I don't mind...I know these days are limited and I honestly do try and savor each moment with him.  He has recently discovered his feet and he LOVES his toes!  He is sitting unassisted and can even sit up on his own.  He's such a BIG boy!!! This is all so new to kids don't grow and the last two have been developmentally delayed so having a baby who does things on time or ahead of schedule and having one that grows is so different for me.  By the time he was 4 months old, he was wearing 12 month clothes.  Now, at just 5 months I am buying 18 month clothes for him.  He is weighing in at 17 lbs and is 26 1/2 in long.  He recognizes his name and the sign for "milk".  I could not be more in love with him! 

Cardinal and Hawk are doing amazing in their private schools this year.  This comes as no surprise ;) I prepared them well.  It's funny to hear people's reactions to how they are doing in school. It's almost like people expected them to do poorly because they were home schooled or there are those that think they are doing so well because they are not home schooled this year, like they suddenly became geniuses who were not educated before attending a brick and mortar school...I mean at least a little credit that I taught them for the past 8 & 9 years would be nice, after all...I did prepare them well.

The biggest happening over the last few months has been the discovery of multiple blood disorders in 5 of our 7 children.  Upon a further understanding of our family history our pediatrician decided to do some genetic testing on all of my and my sister's children.  They underwent extensive blood work and EKG's.  It's all so confusing because some of them have multiple blood disorders one of them being so rare that only 1.6 in a million people have the disorder, only 1200 (yes, 1200) people in the world have been diagnosed with the disorder and 5 of my children have it!  CRAZY!!!  It's a very scary thing, but we have found a wonderful network of people who are teaching us so very much along the way.  We are so blessed because as of yet, none of them are showing symptoms of this particular disorder (Plasminogen Deficiency).  Dove tested positive for having this and another disorder, but he is not being given an official diagnosis as of yet because of his age.  This is very concerning because he is the ONLY one of them who is showing any signs of this disorder.  It's very frustrating!  Eagle and Emu are both being very closely monitored because their levels were dangerously low and it is likely that they will have other problems caused by their deficiency.  Hawk & Eagle both only have this one disorder, PD.  Emu & Duckling have PD and another blood disorder (the hematologist is a bit confused because their disorders may somehow contradict each other and their will be a bigger concern for Duckling when she hits childbearing age).  Dove tested positive for having PD and a completely different disorder than all his siblings.  He will be retested after he turns a year old and then will be given his official diagnosis if he still is found to have the disorders.  The only signs that any of them show of having any disorder is that they bruise easy and it takes them a while to heal.  They are all due to have further testing and we are in the very early stages of trying to figure this all out.

We've just gotten over bouts of sickness around here.  It started a few days after Thanksgiving.  Coughs, colds, sore throats.  Duckling was first and had a diagnosis of Bronchitis.  Next was Hawk with strep throat.  The following week Duckling, Macaw and Eagle were tested for both the flu and strep throat but all tests were negative.  All this time from Thanksgiving till Christmas Dove had what seemed like a little cold.  He was just a bit congested off and on and he had a bit of a cough.  Nothing that warranted a Dr. visit.  As we were getting ready to head to my parents the day before Christmas Eve, Dove started wheezing.  The ER diagnosed him with RSV based on symptoms (they didn't test him).  They gave him an inhaler and sent him home.  He got better, then worse and even later that week we were in the Pediatrician's office.  He was tested and diagnosed with both RSV and Rhinovirus and he was diagnosed with Bronciolitis, Pink Eye and a Double Ear Infection.  All in all...he was a complete MESS...a miserable mess!  No one can imagine the grief of having a baby with RSV unless you've lived it.  You do NOT know a sick baby unless you've had one like this!  We were very fortunate to be able to keep him out of the hospital but it was not easy.  Constant suctioning, nebulizer treatments every 4 hours, steam rooms, elevation....let me tell you it was exhausting!!  8 weeks, he was sick for 8 long miserable weeks.  7 kids and I've never had one so sick in my life.  I hope that we never go through anything like that again.  They tell us that he is likely to have asthma and follow in Eagle's footsteps, that makes me sad to think I will have another kid who has to live with a lung condition like that, but at least I have all of the experience and can better care for Dove and Eagle is such a great big brother and can easily recognize when Dove is having trouble breathing. 

We were so very blessed to have yet another unexpected Christmas with my mother.  It's quite so bittersweet as she truly nears the end of her earthside journey.  Nothing can prepare my children or me for what we have in store for us when we lose my mother.  Nothing has been more difficult for me than this journey with her. 

So, yes...It's been a very long 3 months and we have stayed very busy!  It's nice to have things calming down a bit!