Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Recovery

First, I have great news!  Alexandra has been moved to the MFFM list - MFFM stands for My Family Found Me!  And not only that, but her grant is now at over $18,000!  I have contacted via email her family, but I can't share any details yet, but once they are available I'll let you know all about it!

Gemma's family is working hard to get her home!  They've raised over $700 towards her adoption, and they've completed their home study and submitted their dossier to Gemma's country!  You can follow their adoption journey through their blog Carry Your Light!

Secondly, Kimberley was placed on the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree Project and has already received $39 through that program!  Please consider donated towards Kimberley's adoption fund through this fun Christmas project!  And can you please share her page with your friends and family and ask them to share too so her forever family can find her and bring her home!

I know, I know...I fell off the blogging bandwagon.  But it's actually good news!  I was spending lots of time on the computer while I was recovering from my knee injury.  But once I was able to be up and about my computer time became very limited. So here's HUGE update of some of the things happening around here!

Jonathan moved up to a big bike this fall - pretty radical for us, but he loves it.  I told him that motorcycles run in my family!

The third week of August I started doing a DVD workout called T-Tapp.  I discovered this through Charlotte Siems Blog - I figured if another mom of 12 can lose all her excess weight and regain her health, then I could too!  So I saved up my money and ordered the MORE Workout DVD.  On that DVD Teresa Tapp shares how to walk and do stairs to minimize strain on the knees and within 2 weeks I was able tobwalk and go up and down stairs without pain in my knee!  This gave me a new lease on life!

By the beginning of September we were in the thick of canning and learning to care for chickens gain, plus taking on many projects around the house to reclaim areas that had gone a little wild during my year of little to no housework limitations.  We decided to delay the start of school until we were mostly done canning and we had worked out new chores and finished most of the bigger projects, one of which was getting all the computers networked.  This, however, proved to be impossible for some unknown reason.  But one day while talking with Daryl over the phone about this problem, the kids took a vote and determined that everyone would prefer doing their schoolwork in books rather than on computers, so we went with that.  I headed up to the attic to see what was usable from previous years/students, and brought down what I found.  I then made a list of what subjects for each student that we did not have material for and made an appointment with my friend, Cheryl, who owns Homeschool recyclers in Lynden!  I was able to find everything I needed to fill out each child's curriculum in math, language, history/geography, Bible and science!  Most of the materials are Alpha/Omega Lifepacs, but there's also some Abeka and Bob Jones for the high school history.  I was able to fill our all our curriculum for less than it costs for purchase new curriculum for one student!

I even got to play a little volleyball when we met another volleyball crazy family for a day of volleyball - met them halfway in Mt Lake Terrace! 

Late in September we had a spontaneous picnic in the park!  The younger children got to play on the playground for hours while the older kids and adults played lots of disc golf and I even got to play a full roung of disc golf and I also got to play a little tennis!  I am so thankful that I am regaining my health and that I can be active again!  It's so easy to take your health for granted until you no longer have it!

Disc golf is a sport that my older boys found, and now Daryl does a few rounds at least a couple of times a week with Jeremy and Jason and sometimes with Jonathan!  Daryl has taken me twice as part of our date nights and I really enjoy it too.  On several Sundays after church Daryl has taken some of the kids too.   The great thing is it'a free to play, you just have to have the discs!

Jason is the best player in our family, with Daryl and Jeremy vying for second.  I'm not sure where Jonathan is in the mix, but I know the rest of us can not compete with the 4 men in our family!  They even got to participate in a tournament recently and Jason won some kind of award, I believe it was for second place!

We started school the first week of October with 2 in high school, 1 in middle school, and 3 in elementary and Esther is doing some therapy/preschool work.  This year is the first year in a long time that I am not teaching anyone to read, but I am working with Elizabeth and Dayton to improve their reading abilities.

We are pretty relaxed about school time.  The children can do their school work from anywhere in the house, as long as they can focus on their work and they can get to me easily if they have questions.  Our usual school time finds me in the living room with a few of the younger children very close to me and the other kids on the couches or in the dining room or play room.  

Last year we discovered that Rachel needed reading glasses, and that has really helped her with her reading!  This year Rebekah, Rachel, Reuben and Daniel are all Bible Quizzing as well, and I'm coaching their team!  They did excellent at the first match in October - Reuben even quizzed out with a bonus!  That means that he answered 5 questions correctly with no errors in one match!

Esther loves to do school work - we look at books together and work on her vocabulary, as well as purposeful toys such as shape matching and stringing beads.  Carese also likes to hang out with the kids as they work on their school work too!

 I do not hold to strict grades, but try to select materials that will challenge each child where they are at, and also selecting the secondary subjects according to their likes/what I want them to learn (for example, I might choose a lower or higher grade level in Bible because I want them to learn church history verses old testament studies).  So far the kids are all pleased with their subjects and doing well.

Another recent development in my efforts to be frugal was putting clothes lines  up in the garage.  This could save us quite a bit of money over the next year as propane has gotten so expensive.  We have really cut down on our usage of propane, and due to that our propane bill has not gone up even once since we moved into our new house, while the cost of propane has nearly doubled.  But I really want to see that bill go down, and the dryers are probably one of the biggest consumers of the propane.  I won't hang towels, but I'm hanging the younger children's laundry out there!

We received the shipment of our meat birds in late September, and they lived in our garage for 4 weeks.  Daryl built an ingenious mobile chicken coop (known as a chicken tractor) and since then they have been out in our yard, moving every few days.

We recently found a stash of eggs that the
Americana's were laying in the tall grass!
We ordered 25, and there were 26 alive when I picked up the chicks from the post office.  We lost one at around 2 weeks as it got stuck between the waterer/feeders.  Everything was going great until this past weekend, when we lost one chick (or parts of it anyway) to some preditor, and the next night another one was damaged and it died too.  We have now fortified the walls so the raccon/skunk/possum/whatever-it-is can't reach in to grab the chicks anymore and we have not had any further incidents, thankfully!

 So right now we have 19 full grown layers, 4 teenage layers and 23 meat birds.  The meat birds will be butchered just after Thanksgiving.

One major thing that has slowed me down since I last blogged is that Esther got really sick.  She developed croup, an ear infection and tonsillitis.  It was so bad that one night she could hardly breath, I even videotaped her breathing to show to the doctor, and that proved very valuable as it proved that she has sleep apnea (which I have been suspecting for about 6 months now), and we could skip doing a sleep study and go right to seeing an ENT.  I took her in and the medications they put her on really helped, but we had some long nights.  We ended up having her on a monitor to make sure she was getting enough oxygen while sleeping and she was doing fine in that regard, but we found her heart rate was very erratic and extremely slow for a couple of nights. 

Esther turned 4 years old in September!
So we made appointment at Children's to see both the ENT and the cardiologist.  It was determined that she needs to have her tonsils and adenoids removed to help her breath better while sleeping, and she came home with an ECG attached to her for a 24 reading on her heart rate.  We haven't heard back about that yet, but I hope to hear the results within the week now.  She is scheduled for her surgery on January 7 as an inpatient surgery as children with Down Syndrome tend to have more trouble recovering from this surgery than most children do.

Carese is doing great - she weighs over 15 pounds now and is wearing 3 - 6 months clothes.  She is now 7 1/2 months, sits all by herself, and will spin when on her tummy.  She also rolls from tummy to back, and has been seen up on the hands a knees a few times.  I am not in a hurry to see her crawl or walk, so I'm just fine with her progress!  She continues to be the most adorable baby ever - I call her "eye candy"!  She is starting to participate in conversations with us - we coo, she coos...and she tried to imitate our sounds too!  Just today she is graduating to her big crib, as she was peaking at me over the top of her bassinet this morning!  

Last Sunday we were all invited to lunch after church...this doesn't happen very often you know, as many people are intimidated at inviting such a large family over for a meal. But this was extra special as our host was Jeremy!  He has purchase a home on nearly 3 acres and he invited us all over to show us his new place!  We enjoyed pizza, bread sticks and pop, plus Jason provided pumpkin pie and whipped cream!  We were so pleased to see what Jeremy had purchased, and he was so blessed by all the wonderful things that the older couple who had owned the home before had left behind...everything from games and hangers to a tractor and a full woodworking shop...he had no idea about any of that until after he took possession!  Amazing!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful fall and looking forward to the holiday season like we are!  Here's a few more photos of my kids being kids:

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