Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Organizing, Scheduling, and Managing Your Family

Spring is here!! Soon many schools will be out for summer vacation. Now since I Home School I really don't see too many changes within our daily routines, but many of you will see a dramatic change. How will you stay organized? TwitterMoms and IconApps have teamed up to ask you what your tips to organizing, scheduling, and managing your family are?

Here are just a few tips to help you organize, schedule, and manage your family year round:

1. Bins/Little Baskets: Whether you have 1 child, no children, or a houseful small bins or baskets can help contain every ones items. I have 5 mini baskets on my counter (purchased at a dollar store) each is a different color and each has a name tag attached. Through out the day, we place things in the baskets. School work, notes about appts, even the hair things my daughter takes out of her hair during the day will go into her basket. At the end of each day we go through the baskets and place things where they need to be, write any appts. on the calendar, write any notes on the white board, and empty the baskets.

2. Laundry Baskets: I make sure that every family member has their very own laundry basket. I also have gone through and made a set day to do the laundry. For instance today is Monday, Mondays are the day I wash my daughter's clothing and bedding. Having separate laundry baskets has made things a lot more easier on me. As the clothing, towels, and bedding are coming out of the dryer I can fold and place right into the basket.

3. Freezer Meals: This has been a major time saver for me. I don't pick one day to cook and freeze my meals, I just make up double or triple batches when I cook. We eat one batch and I place the rest into the freezer. This has not only saved me time, it has also saved us money. That is the Hubbyman's favorite thing about freezing meals.

4. Calendar: Having a calendar I feel is important. My children like to know what each week holds, they do not really like surprises, or having to rush out of the house last minute because Mommy forgot something. Each of my kids (well the 2 oldest) has a calendar in their room and then we have the family calendar that hangs in the dining room.

5. Sports and the like: If your children participate in sports every season, one of the main things is too keep up with each activity and each child. One rule I use is that no 2 activities will be on the same day or the same time frame. So if my son has cub scouts on Tuesdays around 6pm, then when looking for an activity for my daughter we can not choose one that meets during that same time or day of the week(if the activity does meet on Tuesdays, there has to be at least a 30 minute period between the 2). This keeps things organized and allows you as the parent to be about of each of your children's activities. You will never have to choose one or the other and you will never have to miss a special time with your child.

6. Meals on activity days: Do you tend to eat out or choose fast food on days where you have a lot going on? I know I used to, but now I make sure I am ready with quick and easy recipes or making sure I have items ready in the freezer (see above under freezer meals) This has changed our busy days so we are still able to sit down together and eat a nice meal. This takes planning, but if you peek at the above mentioned calendar you will see which days will be considered busy days and can plan accordingly.

7. Housework: When everyone seems to have something going on, the house can take the backseat or rather get pushed to the backseat. I chose not to let this happen. On our white board I have written up daily chores for each of us, myself included. This has been great. When one of the kids is doing some school work, the other can look at their list, checking off what they get done. If one of the kids comes up to me and says the dreaded "Mom, I am bored" I direct them to the white board. LOL

8. Exercise/outside time: To me every child needs a little fresh air daily. I know sometimes the weather does not cooperate, but when it does, this can be such a fun time. Each of my 2 oldest has a couple chores that have to be done daily and are outside, on the nice days they will run out and do the outside chores first. LOL I also make sure towards the end of the day we all go outside and play. This is the time period after dinner and before bath time. The baby is not quite sure about this outside stuff yet, but the 3 others will grab the bikes, scooters, sidewalk chalk, and just have a ball.

9. Bedtime routines: As important as sleep really is for everyone, for children it is essential. I have 2 that sleep and 2 that because of special circumstances do not sleep at night. This doesn't stop me from having a routine though. We do this routine all year long. Starting at dinner (which starts our routine) after dinner we play outside if the weather is being nice that day, otherwise we play the Wii, board games, or do a puzzle. After outside and game time comes bath time. Bath time includes getting PJs on, brushing teeth, and reading a book. A Bed time routine is whatever you make it to be. even if you are just starting a routine, once a routine is done enough times it can turn into a great habit.

10. Morning Routines: Mornings can sometimes be a little interesting around my house. We do have a routine but to some it may not look like it. Each of the kids has a different routine (remember me saying I have 2 that sleep and 2 that don't) Some of the items that are written down are waking up, making bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast, picking up from breakfast, and being ready for the day.

In all honesty, Daily routines, being organized (but not too organized), having lists written out, and all the other little things that I do each and every day have helped to make my house run smoothly. I hope you can take some of my tips and find use for them.

This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Target GiftCard, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/IconApps).

Monday, April 12, 2010

EFMP Do you know what it is?

If you know what those letters stand for than most likely you have an affiliation within the Military community.

Here is some more information about what exactly EFMP stands for, what steps are needed to enroll in EFMP, and some great resources.

What is an exceptional family member?

An exceptional family member is defined as an authorized family member residing with the sponsor (Military member) who may require special medical or educational services based on a diagnosed physical, intellectual, or emotional handicap.

Who would be an authorized family member?

An authorized family member may be a spouse, child, stepchild, adopted child, foster child, or a dependent parent. Disabilities may range from mild to severe.

What special needs would qualify for EFMP enrollment?

Special needs include any special medical, mental health, developmental, or educational requirement, wheelchair accessibility, adaptive equipment, or assistive technology devices and services.

How the program works

The EFMP ensures continuity in your exceptional family member's care and education as your family moves from place to place. The program combines the efforts of the personnel and medical commands, the family support center, and the educational system.

The term Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, actually refers to two functions in the military services: The personnel function Identifies family members with special medical needs, documents the services they require, and considers those needs when making personnel assignments. Involves the personnel and medical commands and the DoD educational system overseas. Is standard across all of the services. The family support function Assists the service member with coordinating military services and community services for exceptional family members. Involves family support center staff. Differs from service to service. (EFMP is available as a family support function in the Army and Marine Corps only.) Most U.S. military installations are located in areas where services can be provided and coordinated locally, but medical standards and the availability of facilities are not the same everywhere. For that reason,when you are assigned to a duty station outside the U.S. (or in certain remote locations in the U.S.), all family members will be screened for medical conditions prior to approval for accompanied travel. If your accompanying exceptional family members are enrolled in the EFMP, their needs will be considered early in the assignment process to ensure that medical and educational services are available. If their needs are only identified during the mandatory screening process, often the assignment will be delayed while their needs are coordinated with the gaining location.

Getting enrolled

It's important to start the enrollment process as soon as your family member is identified as eligible for the EFMP. Don't wait to enroll until you have orders. If the qualifying condition is discovered during screening for overseas orders, your family's travel could be delayed while arrangements are made to coordinate the availability of medical and educational services.

Here are the steps for enrollment:

The exceptional family member is identified. You may already know you have a special needs family member. Or the condition may be diagnosed during a routine visit at your medical treatment facility. The enrollment forms are filed. Your point of contact for obtaining and filing the forms is at the medical treatment facility. (Be sure to keep copies of the forms that are filed.)

Navy -- contact the EFMP Coordinator
Marine Corps -- contact the EFMP Coordinator
Army -- contact the Special Needs Advisor
Air Force -- contact the Special Needs Coordinator (SNC) and Family Member Relocation Clearance Coordinator (FMRCC)

At a minimum, you will need two forms:
DD Form 2792, Exceptional Family Member Medical Summary (for medical issues only)
DD Form 2792-1, Exceptional Family Member Special Education/Early Intervention Summary (for educational issues)
Other branch-specific forms may be required, depending on your branch of service. Medical personnel review the enrollment forms. If the family member is determined to be eligible for EFMP, the forms are sent to the detailer or personnel division. Personnel division codes the member's personnel file for special attention. The personnel division uses the EFMP enrollment data to pinpoint assignments to locations with appropriate resources that address the special needs. The Marine Corps and Navy designate a category based on the individual's needs and reflecting limitations to an assignment.

Family support

Your installation's Family Support Center (FSC) has someone on staff to provide support to families with exceptional family members. They are called EFMP Managers in the Army and EFMP Coordinators in the Marine Corps. Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers have a Liaison to the EFMP who assists with family support services. The Air Force does not have Special Needs Coordinators at the FSCs; they are located at the installation medical group.

Family support services for EFMP enrollees may include:

Exploring child care and youth activities options in installation child and youth programs. Assistance with accessing services in the community, such as protection and advocacy groups and state and national parent training centers. Coordination of care. For example, family center staff may serve on the special needs resource team for the Individualized Family Service Plan(IFSP) or the Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Assistance with finding points of contact, including TRICARE Region and TRICARE Service Center, as well as local school district special education offices. Assessing the family's housing and community support needs prior to transfer.

Education

If you live overseas (and your family traveled overseas at government expense) or on an installation in the U.S. on which there is a DoD school, your child is eligible to receive educational services from the DoD. Early intervention services are provided by the military medical departments' Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS). These services include evaluations or assessments and service coordination for eligible children and their families. Also included is the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), a written document that includes goals and outcomes for the child and family. EDIS provides the services that are identified on the IFSP. Special education is provided for children ages 3 to 21 who have been found to have a disability using DoD criteria. Each child's Special Education is based on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) -- a written statement of individualized goals and objectives developed to meet the unique educational needs of the child. The IEP is written by a multidisciplinary team which includes the parents.

Transferring

Whether you're transferring within the U.S. or overseas, moving your family to a new community is a big undertaking. It's important to begin gathering information about your new location as soon as you receive change-of-station orders. Researching the availability of services for your exceptional family member may seem like an insurmountable task. But a good deal of information is available through your Family Support Center or installation medical group's EFMP coordinator and online sources.

Here are some ways to ease your transfer with an exceptional family member:

If you are in the Army or Marine Corps, contact the EFMP coordinator at your current installation as soon as you have change-of-station orders. Let them know when you are leaving and the installation to which you will be moving. The EFMP coordinator can then contact the EFMP coordinator at the next installation. If you want to make the contact yourself, you'll find a list of EFMP coordinators at military installations on the Military HOMEFRONT site at www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/efm . If you need accessible housing and wish to live on base, contact the housing office at your next duty station directly or ask the EFMP coordinator to make the contact for you. Depending on your family's requirements and the availability of housing, you may qualify for priority in housing assignment.
Marine Corps -- Enrollment as a Category 4 in the Marine Corps ensures priority housing on Navy/Marine Corps installations. Marine Corps Category 4 families going to other services' installations are handled on a case-by-case basis. The Marine Corps complies with other services' policies regarding priority housing for exceptional family members.
Navy -- Family members in Categories 4 or 5 qualify a sponsor for consideration for priority housing. This determination is up to the individual housing offices. The EFMP will provide the housing offices with oral or written verification of Category 4 or 5 if the member requests that this be done.
Air Force -- Identification as an exceptional family member does not entitle the sponsor to priority housing. Critical care needs determine priority housing. A letter is submitted to the Medical Group commander who makes the decision.

Keep copies of your enrollee's educational records in a convenient location and make sure they go with you when you move. If you have a child in special education, it's especially important to keep her most recent IEP and most recent evaluation. Keep your enrollment information current. Enrollees must be re-evaluated every three years or sooner, if there is a change in status.

Resources

There are many resources available to help service members who have family members with special needs:

Military HOMEFRONT

www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/

At the Special Needs/EFMP module on this Web site, you can link to your service's EFMP program, sign up for an electronic bulletin board for families in the EFMP, and contact the EFMP coordinator at your next assignment. This site includes two helpful tools for planning a move. Search Military INSTALLATIONS for information about programs and services for over 250 military installations and communities.
Create a customized plan and calendar using Plan My Move.

STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents)

www.stompproject.org

1-800-5-PARENTSTOMP is a resource center for military parents of children with special needs that provides information on disability and special education laws, rights, regulations, and responsibilities as they apply to military families.

TRICARE

www.tricare.osd.mil/OCMO/download/SCOR.doc

Provides a down loadable version of the Special Needs Organizational Record (SCOR) system, which can be used as a guide in organizing and keeping track of your child's records, appointments, and other important information.

B.E.S.T. (Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool)

best.ssa.gov/

Provides an online Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (B.E.S.T.) that helps you understand your eligibility for benefits from programs administered by the Social Security Administration.

National Council on the Aging

www.benefitscheckup.org

The National Council on the Aging provides this online service to screen for federal, state, and some local private and public benefits for older adults (ages 55 and over).

Your installation's support services Depending on your service branch, your Fleet and Family Support Center, Marine Corps Community Services, Airman and Family Readiness Center, or Army Community Service Center can help you find resources for special needs.

Military One Source This free 24-hour service, provided by the Department of Defense, is available to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve members and their families. Consultants provide information and make referrals on a wide range of issues. You can reach the program by telephone at 1-800-342-9647 or through the Web site at www.militaryonesource.com .

This article was written with the help of Dr. Rebecca Posante, Policy Analyst, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy. Information received by me from the Ft. Bliss WTB Warrior and Family Support Group.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stirring Up Wishes, plus a giveaway with Betty Crocker!



Do you ever make a wish, maybe you look up to the night sky, see a shooting star and quickly say a simple wish. What if you were quite sick and you had a simple wish, almost like a something to do just one last time type of wish? If you knew of a simple way to make this wish happen for someone, would you do it?

Betty Crocker has joined the Make-A-Wish Foundation to bring you the Stirring Up Wishes Program

Now you have a way to help a child with a life threatening medical condition have a wish come true, bringing to them a little hope, some extra strength, and some joy to their lives.

There are 2 very simple ways to make this happen.
One way is to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation online while saving on wonderful Betty Crocker products through the Give $5, Get $5 promotion. Just visit StirringUpWishes.com from now through April 15th to donate $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and get $5 worth of downloadable Betty Crocker coupons.

The second way is to simply purchase your favorite Betty Crocker products this spring. For every specially marked package purchased, Betty Crocker will donate 10 cents to the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000 and a maximum donation of $500,000.

I know I bring Betty Crocker into my family for many of the celebrations throughout the year and Stirring Up Wishes celebrates those very special moments when some amazingly strong children and their families have a wish. Betty Crocker has made a three-year, $250,000 annual commitment to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This could be doubled for the year 2010 with your help.




I was sent a Betty Crocker Stirring Up Wishes prize pack that included a package of the Betty Crocker Brownie Mix, a package of the Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie mix, and a Betty Crocker spoon. In addition, a $25 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation was made on my behalf.



Now for the giveaway!!
Not only could you win the same prize pack that I did, but an additional $25 donation will be made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation on behalf of the winner of this giveaway. Simply Amazing!

Mandatory entry:

Head over to the Betty Crocker Stirring Up Wishes website and have a look around. Come back and leave a comment on what your favorite story is from the site or which wish from the site you would like to grant and why.

This must be done before any of the extra entries.

Extra Entries:

Become a follower of my blog or let me know if you are already a follower.

Follow me on Twitter leave your twitter ID in the comment.

Share this post on your blog and leave the link in your comment.

Write up a tweet sharing this post, please leave the link to the tweet in your comment. This can be done once daily.

Share with me your favorite recipe that uses Betty Crocker products.

As always please leave your email address in your first entry so I have a way to contact you if you are chosen as the winner.

Winner will be chosen on April 23rd at midnight my time. Winner will be chosen by Random.org.

I was given the product, information, prize packs, and donations from Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark No other compensation was offered or received. All opinions are my own and I know not everyone will agree.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Much On My Mind

I am so sorry I have been def. lacking with my blog this week. I have so much on my mind and just need to take one thing at a time.

Right now the main thing is that my baby turns 1 tomorrow. Where the heck did this last year go? He is the funniest of the 4 kidlets. We call him Mr. Smiley because he could be hungry and have a nice full yucky diaper and he still has a smile on his face. He loves attention, yet sometimes plays shy. He loves to watch the older kids and will clap his little hands and laugh at them. He has the cutest voice and I love hearing him say muma and dada over and over.

Tomorrow is also our first appt. with the pediatric surgeon. Baby boy has a lump in his cheek that has gotten bigger and bigger and his ped said regardless of what it is, it needs to be removed. What a way to spend some of your first birthday?

Let's see what else?

My oldest will see a psychiatrist next month, hopefully we can figure out a few things with him. For now I will be making up some basic signs with numbered list of things like Each step when taking a shower, what to do before leaving the bathroom, and each step to picking up his room.

My 7 year old daughter who was diagnosed with severe ADHD and was put on meds is metabolizing the meds too quickly so they are not lasting as long as we need them to. We had to switch her from a natural med to help her sleep to an actual sleeping med and now that is also not working as it should. So right now she doesn't fall asleep until maybe 1AM, sometimes later.

Now the 2 year old is getting ready to switch from ECI to the school district. So far he has had his play based evaluation done and I go next week to meet with the psychiatrist. After my meeting with them, we will then make an appt. for D to be seen.

So that is the gist of it. I think a lot of my break from my blog has been because of nerves for tomorrow's appt. I do have so much to share and some giveaways to get posted for you all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Awwww a little Goat!!

I have always been a fan of goats, don't ask me why, but there is just something about them. If you are like me and do not have an area to keep a goat the there is nothing better than a cute mini goat.


So head over to A Day in The Life of Da Bean and enter for your chance to win your very own cute little Mini Goat!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Winners!! Business Casual Contest!!

On March 21st I posted up THIS which was a post with a question about Business Casual with in the post. Like I said I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so I was quite clueless when it came to business casual.

I took every one's advice and ended up buying Black pants, a Black Blazer, a button up shirt (Dark Pink), and Black flats. I can not thank you all enough for all the advice.

Now I am sure you all want to know what the prize is for winning.




I have copies of this wonderful novel written by Kristin Hannah. Firefly Lane is a story about friendship and is very well written.

On to the Winners:

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said: Black dress pants with a light-weight sweater/shirt always looks nice. If you think it will be cool, add a cute blazer.

If you're going to be on your feet, go with some nice flats or a low heel. It's important to take care of those feet. :)

Cake Mom said: Khakis are a great way to go. They go with most tops and they can be as comfortable as jeans. Plus, you can wear flats with khakis which is always positive in my book!

LB said: Dressy pants - either nicely tailored khakis or about any black or dark brown pants.

As for shirts, I'd say some sort of blouse. Not a knit type shirt but maybe something more like a button up blouse or one with buttons at the top.

Frugal Vicki said: Business casual I usually end up wearing those loose black pants (not booty pants, but not slacks either.Dress pants I guess?)and a cute shirt. For women I think business would be more of a matching shirt/pants suit kinda thing. Business casual for men is usually a button down shirt with no tie and slacks if that helps at all.

Pricilla said: Now I am an old goat and an old goat from NJ...
to me business casual would be a pair of slacks (not jeans, sorry) with loafers or other less than dress shoe. On top I would wear a button down blouse with a sweater or jacket.

I told you - I'm an old goat...

Good luck!

MaryAnne said: What a fun giveaway idea! For business casual, I would wear a cute button-down shirt or a light sweater with black/brown tailored pants or khakis. I'd go for brown or black shoes, anything from flats to a 2" heel (depending on the overall look of the outfit).

For an outfit with a skirt, I would either wear a knee-length A-line skirt with cute button-down shirt. Same rule for shoes - Flats up to a 2" heel.

If you're stuck on colors, I would go for softer, muted colors. And black is always safe - you can even wear all black.

Hope you have fun! =)

susan said: no jeans! no cleavage! slacks, skirt that sits at or below the knee in length, nothing that looks too much like a t-shirt and not too fitted. and no sneakers!

Tracy DeLuca said: Slacks are better than a skirt unless the skirt is knee length. I suggest black or khaki slacks. A sweater or button up shirt or a nice pullover top. Try for muted colors or black. Nothing too bright. Flats are great.

You could also wear a cute little dress with sandals but nothing too short or with too much skin showing.

That is Right!! All 8 of you are winners!!

I took something from each of the comments so you are all winners. If you see this before you get an email from me please contact me with your mailing address at justanarmywife09(at)gmail(dot)com

Thank You all for your advice and comments!!