Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

This week has been a doozy.

Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:

“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is  a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”

Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid.  His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.

I felt anxiety for several days because of this.  I thought that maybe they were better off in school.

Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…

  1. It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
  2. I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
  3. Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
  4. Giving myself grace is so important.
  5. I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
  6. Anxiety comes and goes.  It’s like waves.
  7. Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
  8. It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
  9. I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety.  If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something.  Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again.  It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember.  I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).

Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school.  It works so much better out here at camp.

I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision.  It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too.  The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.

Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year.  They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying.  They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!).  Haha.  I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that.  I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well).  This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are!  They just needed to be home to remember what it was like.  They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside.  Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year.  We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).

We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life.  The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home.  Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.

Life is hard, but it is good.  I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense.  I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.

The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)!  It was super fun!  This will be a regular activity!  When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys.  When they aren’t, we just swim :-).  Their favorite thing is the floating dock.  They get on, jump off, on, off.

This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard.  They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch.  They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!

I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time.  So that helps my anxiety considerably!  I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well.  I slept the whole night last night!

I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober.  In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did.  I drank typically starting at noon into the evening.  Maybe not every day, but most days.  I wasn’t living life!  I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me.  Now I can think clearly and experience things.

Life is good!  Praise God!

Healthy Habits, Self Love, and Self Care

This is kind of a hard post to write because it means me finding my voice and maybe going against something that I’ve been told over and over again.  I’ve also learned to take the good from something and to be okay if I don’t agree with every part.

The body positive community is a tough one.  On one hand, they helped me to learn to hate my body less, learn to eat more balanced (and stop dieting), learn to not feel guilty if I don’t eat perfectly, helped me to understand that fat phobia is a real thing and I’m in the process of overcoming that, helped me to see others in a different light, helped me to learn to eat when hungry and stop when full (intuitive eating), and much more!   On the other hand, they are very feminist (which I have mixed feelings about), very anti-weight loss (which I have mixed feelings about because what if weight loss is the outcome of intuitive eating and joyful movement?), and I feel that they don’t seem to think that health is all that important.

I have been feeling guilty for wanting to eat healthy, for wanting to exercise (and have goals in this area), and for disagreeing with the community in any way, shape, or form.

Today I have been talking with the ladies in the Healthy Habits, Happy Moms group that I’m in, and they have helped me to feel empowered to do what I want for myself, my body, and my mental/physical/emotional health.  Dieting doesn’t work.  Habit change and intuitive eating does work.  And if I don’t lose weight due to being healthy, that’s okay too.  Healthy habits are my goal.  I have decided that it’s okay if I want to start running again (despite being told that I shouldn’t).  I want to become strong again.  I want to be able to run a 5k again.  I want to be able to hike long-distance again.  I want to be able to feel good and not need a nap every day.  I want to be able to backpack long-distance again.  I want to continue to have a balanced view of food and feel okay with eating Cheetos, but also feel good about eating veggies.  I don’t want to feel guilty for either.  I want health to be my goal but to not feel guilty for wanting to lose weight in the back of my mind.  I can’t help it and it doesn’t make me a bad person.

For my self care, I am going back to focusing on healthy habits.  The two that I’m going to work on are: Doing Couch to 5k and reducing sugar in my coffee.  I will continue eating balanced, taking vitamins/meds/supplements, and working on self love.  The behaviors of exercise and balanced eating are what make me feel good, so that’s what I want.  I also want to feel strong.  When I was running before I felt so proud of myself and accomplished.  I was able to handle so much physically.  I ended up backpacking 23 miles in one day at one time (that wasn’t planned and I hurt for days afterwards, but I did it!).  When we backpack, we typically hike 13-14 miles on average in a day.  I want to be able to do that again!  Right now, if I walk up a hill I feel terrible.  I am so out of shape.  I will probably also start doing strength training again eventually, but I’ll get there… don’t want to overwhelm myself.  Three days of walking/running is sufficient for now!  Self care is my goal, but if weight loss is the outcome, that doesn’t make me anti-body positive.

I want to also eventually try to increase my water intake and decrease my soda intake… but that’ll come.  One habit at a time!  Studies show that the more habits you try to change the least successful you are at actually making those changes.

The biggest thing that I am learning lately is that I need to stop caring so much what people say or think.  I need to do what I need to do for myself.  The same thing happened with my desire to homeschool.  It all comes down to what’s best for me and what’s best for our family!

Robert completely agrees with me on all of this, and I’m so happy to have his support!

School Room, Rules, Reward System, Chore Charts and Commission

So a few months ago when I started thinking about wanting to homeschool the boys again I started watching this YouTuber called Homeschool on the Hill.  I had searched for videos on the spelling that I will be doing with Karis and it brought me to her.  I have watched so many of her videos, and I have learned so much!  One of the videos that I took so much from was about her rules and rewards system.  I literally copied her rules completely.  They are just so thorough and cover everything.

I am doing pretty much the same reward system but I already had everything to do that so it just makes sense.

I bought these sticker charts about a year ago and for a while we used them for chores, but I have gone to a commission system for that (more about that to come).

I will be using the sticker charts for the reward system now.  I’m going with her system of 3 strikes and you’re out.  They will get a sticker if they get less than 3 checks by their name on the board (the hope is ZERO checks, but let’s be real, that’s not likely to happen).


If they want to, after 5 stickers they can get something from the treasure box (little pieces of candy from Easter, ha!).  I may add some toys and things to it to earn if they would like as well.

If they want to save up, they can get a coupon for 10 stickers.

I have some coupons that I got from a friend (they are Christmas coupons, but oh well).

Our rewards include:

  • Delayed bedtime
  • Cook something yummy (their choice)
  • Bubble bath with candles and lots of bubbles
  • Go to the library today
  • You choose dinner
  • Brand new pencil
  • Movie rental (we use Amazon Prime)
  • Sleep in
  • Delayed start to school one hour
  • Reading day! Curl up with a good book
  • Your birthday off
  • No handwriting this week
  • Get out of one assignment
  • Science experiment of choice
  • Out to lunch
  • Get out of one chore
  • 100 on spelling test
  • Unlimited electronic time (after school)
  • Trip to movies (all 3 kids with a full chart)

I realize that not everyone agrees with a reward system, but I have seen it work really well in the classroom so I’m going to give it a shot!  There will be some things that they will just flat out lose privileges for such as tantrums, hurting someone, talking back, bad attitude toward me, lying, being sneaky, etc.  The consequences will be losing electronic privileges, losing the opportunity to play with friends, getting things taken away, etc.  We don’t really spank anymore because we never really found it to work.  Losing privileges and rewards are the biggest motivators to make good choices.  I’m hopeful that this time will go more smoothly.

Now onto chores…

We have a fantastic system in place that has been working consistently for quite a while.  The kids have a chore chart and they get 25 cents per check.  This is a Dave Ramsey thing… he calls it commission.  They won’t do every chore every day… it’ll be as needed.  Then they get paid like someone does when they work.  They then have to save some and can spend some.  On the weekends we clean the whole house as a family.  We call this our “weekend chores.”  It works really well!

And our school room…

It’s very tiny.  We don’t even have room for everyone to have their own workspace.  Luckily Karis likes to do her work in the living room (on the couch and floor!), so I have a space for each boy.  Honestly, we will probably do a lot of their work at the kitchen table anyway.  It’s just good for them to have some space to sit and do some of their independent work (they don’t have a ton, but they have some).

Here it is!

Now, For Curriculum We Will Use…

…MOST things I already have!  I ordered a few things today (some used).  And I’m borrowing several things from my neighbor!  I am set until we have to buy a few things for next spring!

For the Boys:

Spelling/Phonics (All About Spelling)

I bought these from a friend here at camp.  I will still need to buy a second set of cards for level 2 and level 3, but we’re good for now until they get through level 1 (I have a set of cards in one of those boxes).  I also need to buy a small magnetic marker board to use the tiles on.

The boys have been doing Saxon Phonics at school so they have a good foundation.  I’m just going to build on that!

These are the letter tiles.

Math (Math U See)

We’re borrowing the DVD’s and instruction book from my neighbor.

For Levi (2nd grade level is Beta)

For Ethan (3rd grade level is Gamma)

For Karis:

Spelling

We’re going to try Spelling Workout.  If it doesn’t “workout” (haha), we will probably switch to IEW’s Phonic Zoo.  It’s just a lot more expensive so we’re going to stick with what’s cheaper for now.  Her spelling is not so great.  I’m hoping this helps!

Math (Math U See Epsilon)

We have everything that we need for this.  Instruction manual, tests, student book, DVD, and manipulatives.

For All Three:

Reading/Literature

This has been the area that I have struggled with deciding on.  I was thinking about going with All About Reading for the boys again, but I have SO many resources to teach comprehension skills and strategies along with fluency so I feel it would be pointless.  Over the years I have purchased SO many things on Teachers Pay Teachers, so I thought I’d share what I have.

Reading Response Sentence Stems and Starters

Reading Comprehension Worksheets and Activities

Independent Reading Resource Pack

Reading Response Menus

Graphic Organizers Set

Independent Novel Study for Any Book

Literary Elements Resource Binder

Informational Text Question Cards

Reading Response Question Cards

The Book Umbrella Novel Studies

Task Cards (I have Making Connections, Theme, Compare and Contrast, Inferencing, Main Idea, Author’s Purpose, and more!)

I also downloaded a ton of things from This Reading Mama.  These things were all free.

The boys will read some of these books plus books that they choose from the library.

I will use these picture books as “mentor texts” to teach the comprehension skills and strategies.

Karis will be reading these books along with library books.

We will also be using some Brave Writer Literature Units.

For Karis, we will do Boomerang Single Issues for some of the novels that we have.

For the boys, we will do some Arrow Single Issues for some of the novels that we have.

These are just a few pictures of what I already have printed out.  I have a ton of resources all ready to use!

They will do some reading response in a journal and some on these graphic organizers.

And I will use FCRR for fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary activities.  These are all free.

I will take everything a week at a time, and I’m thankful that I have so much to change it up!

Writing

Karis and Ethan will be doing IEW Student Writing Intensive A–  I got this for $57 + $10 for the student PDF.  This would have cost $124 (including shipping) from the website.  I also own the DVDs for the parent to watch.  I have only watched 2 so far, but I hope to finish them this summer.

Levi will be doing IEW Bible Heroes Themed Writing.  I was thinking I would do the Student Writing Intensive for all three kiddos, but when I got the student book I felt that it would be a little too hard for Levi, so I bought something that is on his level.

Grammar

Karis and Ethan will be doing IEW Fix It Grammar, The Nose Tree.  Karis is already about half way through it.  She will move on to the next one probably in December/January.  I will take it very slow with Ethan as it’s a lot of new stuff.

Levi will have some grammar covered in his writing.  He is a bit too young for Fix It.  I will start that with him in third grade.

Science (Apologia Astronomy)

I had this for this past year but I wasn’t consistent with it.  We’re going to use it in the fall.  The hope is to get it finished to start Chemistry and Physics the next semester!  We’ll see what happens!  If we do a lesson a week we will get it done by December/January.

History

We’re borrowing this from my neighbor.

I bought these to go with it.  The encyclopedia has internet links to go with it.

Karis will be reading these novels, one a month, to go with it.

Geography

We will use this encyclopedia, do the internet links, and memorize states, countries, etc.

Morning Time

I haven’t been super consistent with this in the past, but I’m going to try again :-).  I have so many great resources that I want to use!  I will probably shoot for doing this 2-3 times a week.  I will do this on a loop schedule.

Bible

I’ve had this a long time, and this is another thing I’m going to try again.  I will shoot for doing it a couple days a week.

Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears)

For Levi

For Ethan

For Karis

I think this is everything :-).  It seems like a lot, but many things we will not do everyday (especially the morning time!).

Next up: Planning my reward system, rules, organizing our school room, organizing my homeschooling binder for all 3 kids, and organizing the kids’ binders!

Can you tell I’m excited?!

Big Changes: Final Decision

As I’ve written here, the past few months have been a roller coaster with my mental health, emotional health, and just life in general.

Homeschooling has been the main thing on my mind.

When going through the month (well, over) of extreme anxiety because of meds, I couldn’t function let alone assume that I could do okay with homeschooling so Robert was very anti-homeschooling.  He wasn’t so sure that the anxiety was caused by meds or just my normal mental illness.  He wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a “flare” of my mental illness.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  We realized after coming off of Geodon that it was the med that was causing my severe anxiety.  I was immediately better with-in a day or two.  It was clear that it WAS the med and not a “flare.”  He was starting to consider that maybe homeschooling was an option again, but he wasn’t completely on board yet.

Last Wednesday I was working on a pros/cons list and it brought me anxiety, then I wrote in a homeschooling group that I wanted to homeschool and I gave a detailed background.  Most people in the group thought that I shouldn’t; in fact, some went as far as to basically say that I was selfish for wanting to and that I shouldn’t because I’m an alcoholic.  This sent me into a tailspin and I considered that maybe they were right.

Because I was anxious again, Robert said that I should just move on.  So I did my best to do that.  I wrote a few posts about how I had come to terms with just keeping the boys in school.

Though I said I had moved on and was trying really hard to find the good in keeping them in school, I still just couldn’t let the homeschooling thing go.  It was a desperation with-in that I really felt that we needed to be a homeschooling family for good.  I can’t even explain why.  It just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Fast forward a few days.  Robert and I spent Mother’s Day as a family.  We went up to the highest point on our camp (the Windmill), swam in the windmill tank, and flew a kite.  For some reason the desire to have my people home for good was just so strong.  I enjoyed every single bit of being together as a family.  I just knew that we were supposed to homeschool.

That night I made my desire very clear to Robert and told him exactly how I felt.  I shared that no matter how hard I was trying to let go of it, it wouldn’t go away.

I was so surprised to hear him tell me that I can homeschool!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was worried that he didn’t really want it so I didn’t take that and run with it.  We had a dinner here at camp that night (our summer staff got here that day), and he was exhausted so he fell asleep early and we couldn’t really talk.  That night I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking so much about what he had said (along with another issue), and I was excited but nervous that he didn’t really mean it.  I didn’t want to be the wife that pushed him into something that he didn’t agree to.  So I didn’t assume anything.  Monday morning we had several hours to talk.  He told me his concerns with homeschooling, but also told me why he thought it would be good for our family.  His concerns are that I won’t take good care of myself and that it will send me into a tailspin in which I have to go back to the hospital.  But.  He explained that he felt it would be good for our family because it would allow us so much more flexibility which is so important here at camp.  He agreed that them doing school for 3-4 hours was so much better than them being gone for 10 hours each day, then coming home to do homework.  He loves the idea of us not having to get up at 5:00-5:30 every day and the kids can stay up later, which allows us to do more here at camp.  He loves the idea that we can go places during the school year, which is much easier to do because summer here is so crazy.

So.  He was finally on board, but with some conditions.

He wants me to put self care first.  He wants part of that self care to be me exercising multiple days a week, outside, because it makes a huge difference for my mental health.  He has seen it help so much time and time again.  I will run/walk some days, and some days I will hike.

I need to still be able to go to AA and counseling as part of my self care.  The kids will go with me to town and sometimes they will hang out with my mom and sometimes they will go with me to AA.  The ladies there have told me that the kids are always welcome!  We will make a day of it.  We will go to ChickFilA for lunch, go to the park, the library, etc.

He wants me to use my resources to have mental health breaks, including sending them to my moms if I need.  She offered the day that I told her we would be homeschooling again.

He wants me to not obsess about curriculum.  So I told him that I already have most of what I need, and I have a few things already picked out.  I am currently saving up to buy everything at once.

He also wants me to take the kids on field trips.  He feels that that is one of the benefits of homeschooling and that they can see things that they wouldn’t normally get to see and be a part of.

The day that we decided to do this, I met with my counselor.  I told her what we decided and then talked about how for some reason I’m nervous even though I’m super excited.  We determined that the main reason I’m nervous is because I didn’t want to share about it because I have changed my mind so many times (which, I didn’t ever really change my mind… I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could have it).  Also, I know that so many people have strong opinions about why I shouldn’t homeschool and that has been driving my anxiety.  We talked about why I value others’ opinions so much.  We determined that it’s because of the years of bullying that I endured as a child.  I have the strong desire to please others, to do what they think, and it causes me anxiety when someone disagrees with me (and I assume that maybe they are right).  I did some EMDR about this.

We processed through the fact that even though I have had some inconsistencies in my life, I have some things that have been steady as well.  I have a great marriage to Robert and we have been married for 13 1/2 years.  I am a good mama and work through things to make sure my kids don’t feel too many affects of my illnesses.  I have consistent routines for the kids.  I got a college degree.  When I was in college, I was a pharmacy tech for 6 years.  We have lived at Camp for 2 years now and this is where we will be from now on (unless God calls us elsewhere, but I don’t see that happening).  We were in our past house for 3 years.  There are some routines and habits that have been in place for years despite the other inconsistencies in my life.  And now that I’m not drinking and have good meds, other things should become more stable.  But.  Life is life and inconsistency can be part of normal life.  It is ever changing.  My kids will grow up being able to handle change.

We talked a lot about how others’ opinions aren’t important and that Robert and I need to make decisions that are best for our family.

So, that’s what we did.

I have been so excited that it has been hard to contain myself.

He wanted me to wait to tell the boys till their last day of school next Thursday but I accidentally let Karis know (I didn’t tell her… she guessed it by the fact that I walked in with some curriculum that I bought from a friend).  I didn’t want her to accidentally tell the boys.  So I’m telling them after school today!!  I’m so excited!

This summer is going to be a busy one!  June 6th we have friends coming here for a week.  Then the next week, Karis and Ethan are going to camp and Levi and I are going to my parents’.  The last week of June, Robert and I are going backpacking in New Mexico (Gila Wilderness) while the kids are at my parents’.  I will be working some in the camp store here.  We will be going to Six Flags Fiesta Texas with my parents at some point.  The last week of July we will be going to Glorieta’s Family Camp.  So we only have a few weeks that we’re not going anywhere.

The days that we will be home, Karis will do her math (because I’m trying to get her through this level since we started behind), they will all read 30-45 minutes and do a reading log, and we will do some science activities here and there.  But actual school won’t start till the first week of August.  I will write a post next about the curriculum that I will be using with the boys.

After I pick the boys up today, I will tell them, then we will celebrate by going swimming in the river here!  Can’t wait!

Grocery Geek, May 7th

I took pictures of our groceries a week ago and forgot to post about them!  So here I am!

I decided to buy groceries for 2 weeks.  My budget for 2 weeks is $250.  I spent $185.  I’m pretty proud of myself!  I was hoping to spend less because I’m trying to save up to buy science for Karis for next year (she is so excited about doing Chemistry and Physics but the lab kit is expensive!!).

  • Sea salt and cracked pepper crackers (which turned out to not be so good)
  • Small packages of Whales
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Simply salted popcorn
  • Lime and salt popcorn
  • HEB cheddar crackers
  • 2 bags of whole cane sugar (for my homemade yogurt)

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Cottage cheese

  • 2.2lbs of Ruta Maya coffee (it’s the BEST)
  • 2, 12oz bags of decaf coffee

  • 2 packages sliced cheese (muenster and provolone)
  • 2 packages hummus snack packs
  • 1 bag string cheese
  • 2 packages block cheese
  • 2 summer sausages
  • 2lbs butter
  • 1 package salami
  • 2 packages HEB deli meat
  • Coke Zero

  • HEB brand individual packages of chips
  • 2 loaves whole wheat bread
  • 1 package whole wheat hot dog buns
  • 4 broccoli crowns
  • Green leaf and red leaf lettuce

  • Bananas
  • Celery
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Jalapeños
  • Zucchini
  • Avocados
  • Baby carrots
  • Yellow onions
  • Glade candles

  • 2 gallons whole milk
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Frozen chicken breast
  • Whole chicken

It has been a week since I bought groceries and we still have lots of food.  We will be good for another week at least.  It helps that we also eat in the dining hall here at camp.

I realize that I was going to have a “no spend month” but it hasn’t worked out completely.  But.  I haven’t spent money other than gas and groceries.  Since I’m using cash I can’t buy things online.  So far I have saved $160 (maybe more) just by not buying things online.  I have been known to buy lots of little things that add up quickly.

I’m super proud of myself!  I have more growth ahead in the area of money, but I am on my way!

Back and Forth, Anxiety, Back and Forth

Yesterday was rough.  At the end of the day, I wrote this on Facebook:

“I had another day of terrible anxiety (it’s still bad) and all of the things that I thought I could fight for and will to happen are crashing down around me. A few days ago I was in the belief that I could homeschool the boys again and even start running again (and lead others to do this as well), and I’m realizing that I just don’t have it in me right now. A few days of “strength” aren’t actually strength. It’s an allusion. I’m realizing that wanting something bad enough isn’t enough. I need to learn to be content with where things are because maybe this is the best I can do. I HATE MENTAL ILLNESS.”

I thought that I needed to decide not to homeschool.  I thought that’s what was causing me anxiety.  Then when I woke up still anxious this morning and couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I shouldn’t have made a decision yet, I realized that what was really causing me anxiety was seeking outside advice again about homeschooling the boys.  And trying to make a decision NOW instead of just waiting till I feel 100% that we’ve made the right decision.

Yesterday morning I was obsessing about a pros and cons list.  Then I went onto a couple of my homeschooling groups and asked them what they thought about me homeschooling the boys again.  Everyone basically made me feel like I’m dumb and selfish to want to homeschool them again and that they are better off in school because I’m an alcoholic with mental illness.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day.

The anxiety got worse as the day passed by.  I was thinking terrible thoughts about myself and how I will never be able to do what I really want because I’m mentally ill and an alcoholic.  As if it’s my fault.

I just *knew* they were right and needed to just let go of my dream.

Now, today I’m not saying I need to go the other direction and homeschool.  Logically I will most likely keep them in school.  But.  I need to know that I didn’t make a decision based on what others think.

Ultimately even if I decide to keep them in school, it’s not because they are “right.”  It’s because that’s what God wants for our family.

I’m going to try my hardest to just let go of this decision altogether for now.  I keep thinking that I have made a decision and I feel good for a bit, then I get anxious.  Then I go the other direction and feel good for a bit, then I get anxious again.  Clearly God doesn’t want me to make a decision yet.  I’m so bad at waiting, but I think that’s what He’s telling me to do right now.

Shoot, I have anxiety about waiting, too.  This whole situation is just one mass of anxiety for me.  I don’t really know what to do with it.  It’s stuff like this that makes me think I have straight up OCD.  I’m obsessing about it constantly (and have for a few months!).

I’m ready for summer!  A few more weeks and the boys will be home and we’ll be busy.  I need to be busy.

Our Thoughts Make a Huge Impact on Our Lives

Several years ago I worked with a counselor doing cognitive behavioral therapy.  She helped me to realize that my thoughts make a huge impact on my life.  It helped me so much.  I was able to live the life that I wanted to live (for the most part) despite my mental illness.

Since we moved away from Frisco and I no longer have that counselor, I have forgotten so much about how to control my thoughts.  My current counselor is fantastic, but she hasn’t really helped me work on controlling my thoughts.

This past month has been hard on me.  Like I’ve said in past posts, I have had extreme anxiety since I had to change meds.  It greatly affected my life every day.  I felt like I wanted to give up on all the things that make me happy.  I just felt like I couldn’t handle anything anymore.  Then yesterday I was extremely exhausted because of my new medication.  Yet another reason to feel like I just need to give up on everything that makes me happy.  I was feeling so down because all I want is to be able to live life to its fullest… homeschool all of my kids, go on trips, eat in the dining hall, take the kids places, go backpacking, etc without feeling extreme anxiety.

I no longer feel anxiety since I stopped taking the Geodon, but I have been extremely exhausted since starting the new med.  I was feeling really down again because of thinking I’m just doomed to struggle through life.  I was thinking that I’ll never be able to do what I want to be able to do… I should just give up trying.

Everything changed last night when Robert got home.  We had a fantastic talk and I changed my thoughts which made me feel so much better.  I feel hope again.

He went on a field trip with the boys yesterday.  He had a really rough time because Ethan’s teacher sat at the front of the bus completely ignoring the class and he had to discipline the kids (who were very difficult).  His eyes were opened to how things may be in the classroom and he was not impressed.

When he got home I joked with him saying that maybe we should homeschool the boys again because the school isn’t what we thought (knowing that it really isn’t that bad… I was kind of joking).  He asked me if I really think I can handle homeschooling.  I told him that I’m not sure but asked if we could put the idea back on the table and pray about it and see how I’m feeling over time with my new med.  He said that he’s totally fine with that… he wasn’t the one who felt like we needed to make a decision immediately.  He feels like it’s a good idea he just wants to make sure I can handle it.  And we don’t want to decide to homeschool and change our mind again.  He feels like it would actually be better for our family to have the boys home.  It opens up so much… we would no longer have to drive 50 minutes a day to pick them up from the bus.  We would be able to take trips, go backpacking, spend time with grandparents, go on field trips, etc.  The kids would be able to play with their friends here more.  They would be able to stay up later which is easier for things that go on here at camp.  They wouldn’t be away from the house for 10 hours a day.

The hard things about it are that I wouldn’t have as much time for self care, if I have a bad few days it could set us behind (which, we could school year round to account for bad days), and it would cost more to homeschool them on top of homeschooling Karis.

Anyway… just thinking about the possibility of being able to homeschool all of the kids changed my thought pattern completely.  No longer was I thinking “poor me,” “life sucks,” “I can’t handle anything.”  I started thinking that maybe I can handle things.  Maybe life doesn’t suck.  Maybe I just need to be a fighter.  I don’t need to give up.  Robert believes in me, why don’t I believe in myself?  Then I started to think about the fact that the boys will be home this summer and I want to live life to its fullest.  And Robert and I will be going backpacking.  So, summer will be full of swimming, backpacking, hiking, family camp, time with friends.  A little bit of school (math and reading).  Time with my parents.  Six flags, the zoo, etc.  Just busy and fun.  Before yesterday, I would have been anxious about all of that, but now I’m hopeful, peaceful, and excited!

I realized yesterday and this morning that my thoughts have really been impacting me.  Changing my thoughts immediately changed my mental health.

So just like I wrote the other day about Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically, I want to focus on all of the things that I can do as well as doing things that I want to do that make me happy and work well for our family.

I refuse to give in!  I’m a fighter!  I may have bad days, but that doesn’t mean that I need to give up. That just means I need to take good care of myself.

Now to do lots of prayer about what to do about homeschooling.  At this point, it’s going to be what God wants me to do.  Robert is on board if I feel like I can handle it.  Only time will tell :-).

Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

I woke up this morning (after only 4.5 hours of sleep) feeling a drive for taking charge of things.  I have been working really hard (counseling, seeing my doctor once a month, taking my medication, working with a dietitian, etc), … Continue reading

Compulsive Buying, Cash Budgeting, and 31 Days of “Living Well and Spending Zero” (Yes, Again)

So… I’m not sure if my anxiety last week was medication after all.  I have been anxious about one thing in particular and I made some decisions and have been feeling better.  Only time will tell.

This is a very honest post.  I’m hoping there will be others who can relate and join me in this!

One of the biggest things that causes me anxiety is money.

You see, I’m learning that I am a compulsive spender.  It can be due to my obsessive/compulsive nature, part of my addictive nature, part of my bipolar, or I’m just a plain old spender.  Regardless of what the reason is, I get a rush out of spending.  I have never been able to save, and I spend every cent I have.  I often go negative in my account because I don’t think about the little things that come out of my checking account like Netflix.  So I will have spent every cent, then Netflix will come out and I am negative.  I have been spending every cent on books and curriculum, or online groceries (walmart.com and boxed.com).  Often, I have spent so much money on credit.  When I was homeschooling all of the kids I would constantly buy curriculum on credit, sell it, and buy again.

Poor Robert has been trying to pay off debt, and I remembered last week that our credit card on my account on Math U See’s website.  So, I bought her math for next year on credit, once again.  The interesting thing about that purchase is that I was feeling very anxious.  I had laid down to rest because of it and I remembered that we still had our credit card on our account (this is one that I had paid off with out income tax refund but not closed).  I got a rush and felt no anxiety for a little bit while I purchased it.  I was very excited about it.  Then once that excitement wore off, I felt guilty and anxious again.  If Robert wasn’t the one to pay the bills, I would have hidden it from him.  But since I know he will see the statement I confessed to him what I had done.  He reminded me that paying that off will take a few months, and it has set us behind again.  He wasn’t mad, just confused.  I ended up closing that account and have no more ways to buy on credit.

I also spent all of the money that Robert gives me for groceries and gas on books (good old Amazon, used curriculum groups, Rainbow Resource, and our writing website), and online groceries (not all was needed).  Hundreds of dollars.  Some things that I bought we needed.  We bought groceries at HEB and spent almost $100 (not bad, really).  Gas was necessary.  I bought some t-shirts at our camp store here so that I had some clothes that fit better (I guess this wasn’t completely necessary).  I paid for counseling for Karis and me.  Etc.  But I spent a lot of money on things that either we didn’t need or I could have saved up for.

Now what?

Time and time again I have proven that I cannot be trusted with any kind of card.  Credit or debit.  If I have it in my account, I will spend it online.  If I have any credit line open, I will spend it online.  Do you see a pattern here?  Online shopping does it every time.  This coming week I have 5 packages coming!  And that doesn’t include how many packages that came in last week!

The only way we can solve this is to take away my ability to buy online, which means going to cash only.

We had the opportunity to learn a lot about managing money a few years ago.  Our friends here at camp taught a Dave Ramsey class.  We bought the materials and only went a few times.  In fact, Robert went, not me.  I’m the one that should have gone.  Today I pulled out those materials, and I’m currently listening to the CD’s.

I also dusted off the envelope system.

We don’t have a house to pay off (part of Robert’s income is a free house!), and we don’t care about building wealth, but the rest is applicable.

I also pulled out another book that I’ve had called Living Well Spending Less.  I did some reading in it yesterday and came across a section that talked about doing a zero spend month to kick start things.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.  31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero.  Well, it won’t necessarily be ZERO spending, but only essentials.  I bought the kindle book (I thought it was $0, but turns out that’s only for kindle unlimited, oops).  It’s a day-to-day plan for how to live this out.

What does that look like for me?

I’ve tried this no spend month many times and quickly failed.  Obviously I wasn’t committed, but more importantly, I was too tempted by being able to buy things online.  This is part of my pattern.

What am I allowed to spend money on?  Perishable food (as little as possible), gas, counseling, doctor appointment, and medicine (my medical and counseling is the most expensive part of our month).  Anything else will be saved.  I’m planning to be able to buy the rest of the curriculum that I need by the end plus have money saved up.  To buy this curriculum, I will hand Robert the cash and he’ll make the online purchase.  I think this is going to work nicely.

For once I’m hopeful.  It’s going to take a lot of work, but I think it’ll teach me to be more content.  That’s my goal.  Hopefully with this kick start I will be better with money.  We’ll see!