Healthy Habits and Learning to Love Me

Like I’ve mentioned before, someone graciously sponsored me to do the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Balance 365 program.  I started a few weeks ago and I tried to “do all the things” and it caused me a lot of anxiety.  I also started homeschooling the same week.  It was just too much.

I have since pulled back and decided on two things: self love and daily Bible study.  You’re really only supposed to choose one, but self love will be something I’m working on every day for a long time so I’m doing that at the same time as another.  Daily Bible study obviously isn’t one of their habits, but it’s one that I want to focus on because I am desiring a more intimate relationship with Jesus over anything else right now.

I have started a book/study that a friend of mine bought me when we were in rehab.  It’s amazing so far!

It’s a study of Romans, complete with the scripture right in the book.  I’m so excited about it :-).

Also, I am working through the self love and gratitude journal from the B365 program.

I made some huge revelations yesterday about my self love journey.

Yesterday I wrote this in the B365 Group:

“How can you love yourself as is and still want to lose weight? The idea of possibly losing weight is what is keeping me stuck. Then I just want to diet again to make it happen faster. It’s a vicious cycle. Right now I’m working on daily Bible reading and self love as my habit, but it’s hard when all I want to do is move on to the ones that will “matter.” I have been diet deprogramming since like March, but I still feel like I’ll never get there.”

A new friend wrote this:

“Also I’ve found the more I love my inside me the more I no longer see my body as me but rather a vessel that holds me. When it’s no longer the main focus of my value the easier it is to be okay with me. Or to accept slower changes. I still have longer term goals to be smaller, but only if I’m healthier than now.”

I realized in that moment that that’s the issue.  I don’t love the inside of me.

“I think that’s the hard part. With having mental illnesses and alcoholism, it takes a lot to be happy with myself. I don’t feel like I have much to offer, and I feel like I’m a burden to everyone.”

I will never be able to love my outside if I don’t love my inside.  So that’s what I need to work on in the self love department.

Also, many people mentioned that health should be my goal, and I know this, but I have been programmed that a smaller body means healthier.  That’s not always the case!  I need to come to a point in which I don’t care if I lose weight as long as I’m healthy.  And the health part will take time as I pick up one healthy habit at a time.  That’s what works long term and is sustainable.  Dieting and trying to do things all at once isn’t sustainable.

I pulled out my book, Healthy at Every Size, again and am reading through it slowly.  It’s so informative and helpful in thinking of my body in a different way.

Health at Every Size

Thing is, I am struggling with my body mostly because of what people think.  For example, a friend wrote on Facebook the other day that it’s not healthy to be big and you should always try to be smaller (summarized).  I know that this is the way people are conditioned by the (60 billion dollar) diet industry, but it’s hard to ignore that kind of stuff.  I assume that people are judging me for having gained weight.

Logically I know a few things: 1) I have gained because of mental health medications (40 pounds since I started bipolar meds in 2014, and 14 pounds since I went into rehab), 2) I have gained because of quitting drinking, 3) I am balanced (I eat a variety of foods), 4) Being sober is BIG and should be celebrated!  This is very healthy!

I just take on other people’s opinions.

If people judge me for gaining (and they truly might be), that’s their problem, not mine.  It’s not my business what people think of me.

It might be a while until I am ready to address food and movement habits.  That’s okay :-).  That doesn’t mean I can’t have vegetables and fruit or protein and that I can’t go for walks.  It just means it’s not something I’m focusing on.  I’m waiting until I spend time reading my Bible 4-5 days a week consistently, then I’ll add on another habit.  I haven’t decided what the next habit will be.  I’ll probably focus on eating a protein rich breakfast.  That is my biggest struggle when it comes to food!

Yesterday in my Healthy Habits Happy Moms group, someone started a “free the belly” thread.  Hundreds of women took pictures of their bellies and posted them in the comments.  I was blown away by how different and similar everyone’s bellies were!  They are all moms who have had babies in their bellies, and you could tell on most of them.  Stretch marks, sagging, bigger than they used to be.  It was so helpful.  And one mama told me that we are belly twins.  It’s so great to hear/see that other mamas have similar bellies to me (my least favorite part of myself).  And the funny thing is that when I see my belly on someone else, I see beauty!

I love this!

IMG_1250

I have more to offer than my body.  It’s just my shell.

I am passionate, I love others without judgment, I am organized and keep the house clean for my family (most of the time, that is), I am a good teacher, I love Jesus (though I want to grow in this area!), I love my family wholeheartedly, I AM SOBER (259 days!), I love to bake and cook for my family, I desire to make learning fun for my kids, I have learned to live simply, I am an inspiration to others through sharing about my mental illness and alcoholism, and I’m sure there’s more that I’m not thinking of.

Celebrate YOU.  Learn to love all of you.  Inside and out!

Contentment and Teaching the Kids to Work Through Hard Things

I have a history of discontent.  If something doesn’t seem to be working well or is hard, I change things.  I see the difficulty as a sign that something isn’t right.

Because of this, we have moved so much and I kept chasing something new.  We have moved 12 times in the 13 years that we have been married (a lot of that was at the same camp).  We moved apartments early in our marriage.  We moved twice when we lived in the Dallas area.

This worked its way into homeschooling.  I have homeschooled off and on for a long time.  When I started struggling mentally, I would put them back into school.  This last time I really had no choice since I had to go to town all the time for AA when I got out of rehab.  But it still counts.

I have spent a FORTUNE (and a lot of that in credit) on new curriculum.  When things got hard for the kids or they seemed to struggle, I would buy the “shiny new thing” thinking that it would be better and they wouldn’t struggle as much.  For Karis, this was math.  For Ethan, this was reading and phonics.

We are using Math U See for the kids and while I LOVE it, Karis has still been struggling greatly.  She’s going into 6th grade and she’s on the 4th grade level and still struggling.  She can barely do basic division (2 digit by 1 digit with a  remainder).  So I was talking to Robert about Life of Fred math and telling him that maybe it would be a good fit for her because she loves reading (it’s story based).  Without him even saying anything, I said, “Wait… I just need to stick with something, don’t I?”  He agreed immediately and reminded me that hard doesn’t necessarily equal bad.  And she may just never be good at math and that’s okay.  And it’s okay that she’s on a level lower than her grade and it’s okay to take it slow.  He also reminded me that it’ll be so good for the kids if I stick with something for a full year.  And honestly, I need to stick with Math U See from now on because there is a DVD with a teacher teaching everything (and I’m terrible at math!).  He teaches it in a way that makes more sense than any teacher ever taught me.  There are also manipulatives and all of the kids make use of them every single day.

I REALLY want The Good and the Beautiful history, handwriting, nature journals, and another science unit.  But.  We have all that we need for those subjects right now.  While I love the set up of those, I need to be content with what we have.

I already have Story of the World Volume one… the book, audio book, activity book, historical fiction novels to go with it (9!), the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, and the Usborne Book of World History.  I have an amazing set up for history this year.  It would make NO sense to change.

Now. The reason why I love G&B is because the history covers all periods of history in one year (adding to it each year), it has fun activities, it has an amazing book of stories, worksheets, and a game for review.  But I can always get it next year!  No big deal!  I’m not even sure if I’ll want to change after we finish what we have… I may want to stick with Story of the World!

Also, I was looking at buying handwriting from G&B.  I ALMOST did.  Then my doctor and I were talking about my impulsive spending and reminded me that if I am buying something new even though I already have something for that subject (and causing final trouble), that’s a sign of being impulsive.  And she’s right!  It stopped me in my tracks!  I have Handwriting Without Tears, and the kids even like it!

Now.  Next year I will probably buy G&B because I love that it teaches handwriting through copywork.  It would cut out a step of our writing.  But I can wait till next year!  No big deal!

I was also looking at buying the G&B nature journals.  But I already have some from Simply Charlotte Mason!  They love them because they can watercolor right on the page (the pages are thick).

And… Science!  I have SO much to teach science.  I have one unit of G&B science already (which will last us about a semester), and I also have Apologia Astronomy.  AND LOTS of science books and encyclopedias to make my own units if I want.  I really have enough to make science work for a couple of years honestly.  Now.  When Karis is in 7th or 8th grade, I will be buying the junior high science books because she’s going to need them to prepare for high school (and honestly she LOVES science so she’ll be happy).  But I have a year or two before I need to do that (I can’t believe she’s already in 6th grade).

All this to say… I think I will finally have a FULL year in which I don’t buy anything new!  I have everything I need for at LEAST a full year (maybe more) and I am happy about that.  It’s weird, to be honest.

And… we are not going anywhere.  While camp ministry is HARD because especially lately Robert has been working a ton, we are content to stay right where we are.  We love the way Camp Eagle is run, we love the people (camp family!), we love our home, we love that we live on 1400 acres and there are hiking trails and a clear river to play in.  Moving to Camp Eagle has been the best thing that has happened to us!

Deciding to stick with something long-term actually takes away a lot of anxiety.  I have a major spending issue, then I feel bad and feel anxious after I have spent.  It’s so easy to buy online and I just throw money away that way.  We were going to have me spend only cash but it hasn’t worked out well (lots of reasons), but at least this next check I will only have cash to spend (and less than usual because we’re going to New Mexico in a few weeks and we need money for that).  I think we’ll actually be able to save up this year.  And do more fun things with the kids.

I’m feeling content, hopeful, and peaceful.  I know I will still have times of anxiety and depression (hopefully not, but I’m planning on it happening eventually), but I know I can work through them and just do what we need during those moments.  That doesn’t mean we need to move, it doesn’t mean I need to stop homeschooling, and it doesn’t mean I need to buy something new and shiny.  It just means we need to spend time in prayer and God’s word, I need to work through it, and I need to teach my kids to do both of those.

Such an Amazing Week!

We are all falling in love with homeschooling.  I am sooooo thankful that I found the curricula that I have and that I found out about the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  It has completely changed our homeschool.

This is a recap of this week (minus the pictures that I shared the other day).

We only had “evening time” (we do that instead of “morning time” because it works best for us) once this week, and frankly, I’m okay with that :-).  I’ve learned to just do the best I can.  The other nights we stayed up late watching movies :-).

Yesterday we took our first nature hike.  Ethan and Levi both had cameras and Levi acted like he had never hiked that trail before (even though we have hiked it numerous times).  It was like he was seeing things for the first time.  It made me so happy.  All three kids had baggies to gather items.

When we got home, Levi and Ethan painted pictures and all three kids did leaf rubbings.

They had so much fun!

For spelling time, the kids get to choose an activity from a list of spelling practice activities, and they all chose to write their words in shaving cream.  I guess 11 isn’t too old for that!  They are so excited about some of the options on their list!

Yesterday afternoon Karis and I played Yahtzee for a few hours while the boys played with Legos in the living room.  It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon!

Then last night we made stove top popcorn, cut up cheese and lunch meat, got out the veggies, and had “finger foods” while we watched “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves” (cute movie!).

This morning was so lovely! We had our first Poetry Teatime, then we did our first Friday Free-write!

Up to this point the house had been a disaster (which I was kind of okay with) so before we left I decided we needed to clean the house!  We worked together and got it done in about 45 minutes!  The kids’ rooms aren’t spotless, but I’m okay with “good enough.”  I am in LOVE with our little house (the school room isn’t pictured here).

Then, we set off to my parents’ house!  It is SOOOOO hot here in Texas.  It was over 100 every where that we were.  The kids got into the pool immediately!

This is going to be a relaxing weekend here at my parents’!  Robert is actually is going to be here soon and will get to hang out with us this weekend!  He has been so busy and hasn’t been able to get away!

Cause for My Anxiety AND Our First Day of Homeschool

Gosh. I had a lot of time today to myself (I drove to San Antonio to see my doctor) and did a lot of processing through things.

I figured out what was wrong (and surprise, surprise, I am better!).

My doctor thought it was because maybe I’m hypomanic (I have bipolar 2), but I really don’t think that’s the case (I don’t have any of my classic symptoms).

I really do think it was anxiety because…

This week I was trying to do all of this:
1) Go back to meal planning
2) Go back to meal prepping
3) Eat “healthy” (because I bought of bunch of “healthy” food out of compulsion and felt that I needed to eat it)
4) Go back to Bible reading and prayer journaling every day
5) Do my Healthy Habits, Happy Moms gratitude journal
6) Go back to hiking multiple days a week (to work up to being able to backpack again in a few months)
7) Try to read every day
8) Try to keep a clean house and laundry caught up (even though all of the kids are home all of the time now)
9) ON TOP OF starting to homeschool again (after not homeschooling for a while because I had to put them into school because I went to rehab)… and I’m doing things a totally different way than when I homeschooled before (which will honestly help a ton over time, but it’s a new routine)

Oh, and there’s this thing… I have multiple mental illnesses: severe anxiety (general, panic, social, and obsessive/compulsive) and bipolar 2.

And I’m just 7 1/2 months out of rehab.

A bit much? Haha. Just realizing all of this made a huge difference.

So. Taking a HUGE step back.

Bible reading/prayer journaling and homeschooling are the most important to me. If my Bible reading and prayer time is going well, the rest of my day is better. So that’s my plan.

I told Robert that I may not be able to hike a ton of miles when we go in August, and that that’s okay! The goal is to be together and outdoors! We can do that without hiking 15 miles 🙂.

The funny thing is, the WHOLE purpose of the Healthy Habits, Happy Moms Balance 365 program is to teach you to make SMALL habit changes, ONE AT A TIME, yet I was still trying to #doallthethings. It’s a new mindset for me to get used to. And I’m so thankful I have those ladies to talk through all of this with.

I am feeling so peaceful tonight! I hate that I spent an entire day and $$ to go to the doctor when she didn’t really know what to do for me, but I’m thankful that I had that time alone in the car (it’s over 2 hours one way!), and I ate alone at Chili’s. It gave me a lot of opportunity to process! Yay!

I’ve been awake since 4:45 and went to bed late (and drove all day), so I am WORN OUT.  I will be going to bed early and will sleep well tonight!

Tomorrow we’re back to doing school!  (which, by the way, is going SO WELL so far!)

Here are a few pictures of our first day (yesterday!):

This is in the front of their binders.

We all spent 30 minutes reading.

We all chose a few sentences from our books for copywork.

Then we did one-on-one time and independent time.

I got my Thriftbooks order in and a book that I bought from a used curriculum group on Facebook.  I LOVE books!

This weekend we are all going to my parents’ to get away from camp.  Robert doesn’t get much time off and he needs to get away when he does get off :-).  It’ll be a nice, relaxing weekend!  Looking forward to it!

Simplifying for the Summer

Because of all my excitement about the “Brave Writer Lifestyle” among other things homeschooling related, I didn’t realize that I was getting more anxious by the day.  I tend to get obsessed about things that I am excited about and give 200%, then it leads to anxiety (the obsessive/compulsive side of my severe anxiety).

I came home Friday from my parents’ and the kids came home from camp on Saturday.  We spent that day just resting.  Sunday I started to notice something.  My breathing was going back to the way it was last year (and in 2013) when I had hyperventilation syndrome.  It got worse through the day.

Robert came home from work in the middle of the day and I told him about it and he pointed to the table that was COVERED with curriculum and books and said “this is why!”  I was also staring at my homeschool routine on my google doc (it was very congested).

In that moment I decided something needed to change because I can’t live that way again.  I want homeschooling to be something that we all enjoy and that works for our family!  Not something that makes my kids stressed out and causes me anxiety.

So.

I was so thankful that a good friend of mine could chat that day.  I sent her the link to the document and she helped me make necessary changes to my homeschooling routine, and I have simplified it dramatically for the summer.  I don’t plan to pick up much else in August.

So I picked the non-negotiables and made my routine with that (and definitely not scheduled times… just an order that we follow)!  I thought about just putting school off until the fall but decided to go ahead and start for three reasons: 1) Ethan needs the routine!  2) I need the routine!  3) Karis desperately wants to start (like last week!).  It’ll be good to go ahead and start so that we can take breaks as we need to!

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

  • Mom and kids will read independently for 30 minutes!  
    • Read sitting on the couch, floor, chair, bean bag, at the table, or on the back porch!

Table Time
Writing

  • Copywork, dictation, narration, writing project (Brave Writer Partnership Writing), or free write (one of these per day)

One-on-One Time: The Good and the Beautiful (along with Brave Writer, I am in LOVE with this curriculum!)

  • 1-3 lessons per day (mostly one, but some of the lessons are SUPER short!)

Independent activities while I work with each kids one-on-one:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (1 page)
  • Spelling practice
  • Math U See (one video per lesson and one page per day)

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

Read aloud @bedtime- the book Wonder and a chapter out of the Bible.

This is IT!

In the fall I will add “group time” in the afternoon consisting of science OR history (not both) each day.  It will probably take about 30-45 minutes for that.

I also filled the basket in our kitchen/dining area with our essentials and plan to just put things in that basket that we will use each day.  Right now it has:

  • The Good and Beautiful books
  • Handwriting books
  • A binder for each kid (with math pages, G&B printouts, spelling lists, and history questions)
  • 3 composition notebooks for each kid: writing, spelling, and nature journal
  • The book that they chose to read
  • And the readers to go with The Good and the Beautiful

In the fall I will add the Story of the World book and science (starting with a unit from G&B).

I have also been watching videos from Julie Bogart from Brave Writer about simplifying and being okay with what we can handle.  She has a video titled 55 Things that We Did NOT Do As a Homeschooler.  It made me feel okay with what we’re doing!

Now.  Am I better today?  Not 100%!  But it is much better today than it was several weeks in last year, so I’ll take it.

Also, a lady in a group that I’m in told me about a technique that she does when she is struggling with this and it helped me yesterday!  I also meditate and listen to spa music to relax.

Anxiety is a beast.  There are soooooo many different physical symptoms and even when I feel better mentally, it takes a while for the physical symptoms to go away.  It’s maddening.

I see my doctor in two weeks and if it’s still going on, we will address it then.  BUT!  I’m hoping it’s better by then!

I am in a parenting with anxiety group and many of the mamas in there reminded me that it won’t last forever!  It might feel like it in the moment, but it will eventually get better.

Today we are starting school, then I will catch up on housework!  After that I might spend some time meditating while the kids have their “electronic time”.

Despite this physical symptom of anxiety, I’m so happy about life and where we are.  I’m so thankful that I no longer use alcohol to cope and that I don’t go to bed drunk every night anymore.  Sometimes I dream about it and I wake up SO THANKFUL for sobriety!  It’s a good reminder about why sobriety is so important!

Two Week Meal Plan, June 19th-July 2nd

weeklymealplan

I have been soooooo bad at meal planning these days (we have been busy!).  We are back home for a month so I am getting back to meal planning.  I bought two weeks’ worth of groceries because we won’t be in town for a while.  Breakfasts and lunches will just be a list of options and dinners will be specific to the day because we are eating in the dining hall a couple nights a week.

Breakfasts

Lunches

  • Leftovers
  • Wraps, veggies and hummus, and fruit
  • Sandwiches (meat and cheese or PB&J), veggies and hummus, and fruit
  • Finger foods (salami, boiled eggs, cheese, veggies and hummus, fruit, and Triscuits or Quinoa chips)
  • Corn dogs
  • Chicken nuggets (kids)
  • Mac N Cheese with little smokies (kids)
  • Pan seared chicken on salad

Dinners

  • Monday, June 19th- Dining hall, chicken tenders and large salad
  • Tuesday, June 20th- Southwestern roasted vegetable quinoa salad with poached egg
  • Wednesday, June 21st- Dining hall, chicken Alfredo and large salad
  • Thursday, June 22nd- Chicken pesto and pasta with salad
  • Friday, June 23rd- Homemade pizza (movie night) and salad
  • Saturday, June 24th- Pulled pork (Instant Pot)
  • Sunday, June 25th- Sweet potato black bean quinoa bowl
  • Monday, June 26th- Dining hall, chicken Alfredo and large salad
  • Tuesday, June 27th- Pan seared pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, and salad
  • Wednesday, June 28th- Dining hall, chicken tenders and large salad
  • Thursday, June 29th- Baked chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes, and salad
  • Friday, June 30th- Easy chili
  • Saturday, July 1st- Cinnamon Apple Pork Chops
  • Sunday, July 2nd- Pan Seared Salmon, salad

Snacks

  • Greek yogurt
  • Boiled eggs
  • Fruit and veggies
  • Nuts
  • Green protein smoothie

Prep

Sunday, June 18th:

  • Make a frittata
  • Make a small batch of protein oats
  • Cut/slice fruit and veggies for the week
    • Put veggies in one container and fruits in another
  • Thaw chicken breast and pork roast
  • Make homemade dressing

Thursday:

  • In the evening, make the brownies for teatime.

Sunday, June 25th:

  • Make a frittata
  • Make small batch of protein oats
  • Cut/slice fruit and veggies for the week
    • Put veggies in one container and fruits in another
  • Thaw pork chops, drumsticks, and ground beef
  • Make homemade dressing

Creating a Language Rich Environment, Making Science Fun, and Curriculum that We Have Landed On

(I wrote this post earlier and accidentally reverted it back to a previous saved draft so I’m starting again with just a portion of it.)

I can hardly contain my excitement and my revived love for education.  I have learned so much about creating a language rich environment and following my kids’ curiosities!

I also want to help them grow as writers in a gentle way.  I have had such high expectations in this area and have been frustrated when they didn’t meet those expectations.  Truth is, some kids need things to move really slowly in order to build their confidence.  Karis is one of those kiddos.  She has always struggled with writing and always says “I’m not a good writer.”  It’s because she has never had anyone value what she had to say in writing.  And she always worked so hard to follow a specific format that she just followed the format to a “t” and didn’t have good content.  I want the content to be the most important at this point.  The mechanics and format will come!

The way that I’m going to do this for the kids is copywork and dictation (to reinforce good grammar and writing, sometimes using Brave Writer products but also just coming up with copywork from their novels), free-writes (allowing them to write with a prompt without correction), writing projects (making writing fun thanks to Brave Writer!), and reading lots and lots of good literature.  I have so many good novels and just bought some more classics ($1 each!) on a used curriculum Facebook page.  I’ll also use The Good and the Beautiful for mechanics and format, but it’ll be a while before we get to writing with format.  I started them on “low levels” because the curriculum is super advanced, and there isn’t much writing in the lower levels!  And I’m not worried about the level, really.  I want to build confidence and fill in gaps because they didn’t learn much grammar in school.

I’m also going to start “Poetry Teatime” every Friday.  I am beyond excited about this!

I was excitedly telling Robert about this and told him that I need to buy a tea set but they are so expensive!  He then had a great idea: buy one at Goodwill!  Then I remembered that our Goodwill in Kerrville has SO MUCH fine china and fancy dishes.  I bet I can find multiple there for cheap!  I cannot wait to check it out Friday!  Karis is going to LOVE this and Levi was so excited when I showed him this video.  I’m not sure how Ethan will like it, but I’m sure he’ll eventually warm up to the idea :-).  Especially if he knows he’ll get treats!  It’s just something special to look forward to, and we can invite friends sometimes as well!

I also ordered 3 Shel Silverstein poetry books for the kids to read during our Poetry Teatime!

I am reviving Morning Time next week.  We will read scripture and memorize it, memorize poetry (thanks to a free level one of Poetry Memorization by IEW that I received a while back… many poems and audios to go with them!), read aloud (starting with the book Wonder), and we will have a fine arts/literature loop: Aesop’s Fables, Fairy Tales, Shakespeare, Artist study, composer study, and music appreciation.  Art appreciation will happen during the one-on-one lessons of The Good and the Beautiful!

I also just really love The Good and the Beautiful! It’s gentle yet thorough and so inexpensive!  I’m so thankful to have found all of this!

Now on to science…

I have Apologia Astronomy but haven’t been consistent with it for a couple of reasons.  1) It’s only ONE type of science for the whole year and 2) It’s a text book and kind of dry and wordy.  I’m not sure that it’s the best fit for us.

I have decided recently that I want to make science fun this year as we embark on our first full year of homeschooling.  I want them to fall in love with learning and with homeschooling in general.  I want some things to be child led, and science is one of those things that can be done that way!  I have decided to pull out all of my science resources.

I also bought a science unit from The Good and the Beautiful to try!  These units are great because while they are for elementary, they can be adapted for older kids.  Each lesson has activities for further study.  I also bought a book to go with the unit for Karis.  These units are short so they won’t get burned out on one type of science.

I had bought Exploring Nature with Children a few months ago and this week I bought The Handbook of Nature Study to go with it and plan to implement this!

I have these resources at home, along with many science picture books!  The Usborne Science Encyclopedia has internet links with videos and activities as well as experiments throughout!

I will probably do a unit on Owls with an Owl Pellet Dissection at some point just for fun!

When the kids get into 7th or 8th grade, I will probably go back to Apologia for General Science to get them ready for high school science.  But we’ll see!

We will be continuing Math U See for many reasons: 1) It’s video, hands on, and worksheet, 2) The teacher is amazing and helps the kids learn in a way that makes sense, 3) The kids like it!  It has helped Karis understand something that she didn’t understand when she did Teaching Textbooks.  I’m a believer in Math U See!

We will continue Story of the World for many reasons: 1) It’s in story form, 2) I have many great resources to use to reinforce what they are learning, 3) There is map work and fun activities to do with it, 4) There is an audio book, 5) The kids are excited about learning ancient history!

I ordered Home Education by Charlotte Mason because it was on sale!  I can’t wait to start reading it and implementing things as I go!

Home Education

Can’t wait to get started!

Breath of Fresh Air and The Brave Writer Lifestyle

Writing has been one of the things that I have struggled with from the beginning.  I was considered an excellent writing teacher when I taught, but it hasn’t gone as well at home. Karis HATES writing and dreads it every day.  There have been many tears over writing.  I have tried teaching it the way I taught in public school (Writer’s Workshop), Writing with Ease, Writing and Rhetoric, WriteShop, Essentials in Writing, and most recently IEW.  Some of those I liked and she hated.  Some of those she didn’t hate (still didn’t like) but I hated.    She didn’t get good instruction in school either.  It has just been a terrible struggle for years.  She even hated it when she was in school back in Frisco (Writer’s Worshop).  She would spend weeks on one paper and she wouldn’t end up turning them in, which resulted in poor grades.

I thought that she needed IEW because it tells you what to write.  You use a passage and a keyword outline.  This worked okay, but I honestly hated it… and I know she didn’t love it.  The more we got into it, the harder it was for both of us.  I chose this program because that’s “the program” to create good writers.  I thought it was my only choice.

I was going to continue IEW for my kids… then I was going to just use it for Karis and use Writing with Ease for the boys (because I felt that they wouldn’t do well with the strictness of IEW).

A few days ago I was chatting in The Good and Beautiful Facebook group and learned about “The Brave Writer Lifestyle.”  I had never heard of this (though I had heard of the curriculum, I had never heard of the “lifestyle.”).  Many of the ladies that use The Good and the Beautiful also use Brave Writer for writing (G&B doesn’t have the greatest writing… at least in the lower levels).

I decided to check out “Brave Writer Lifestyle” on YouTube because I was curious what that meant.

I wasn’t prepared to have my whole view of homeschooling changed by a new philosophy of education.

Check out the video below:

It’s an hour long so I’ll summarize it with these bullet points:

  • Poetry Teatimes
    • Have a time set aside each week to set the table with a tablecloth, have tea or hot chocolate or whatever your kids want to drink, a breakfast treat like scones or muffins, then let your kids read their favorite poetry.
  • Read alouds
    • Read aloud from many and varied books each day
  • Copywork/dictation
    • The kids should copy sentences and paragraphs and write from dictation.
  • Art appreciation
    • Appreciate art… look at it and discuss
  • Shakespeare
    • Read Shakespeare, watch Shakespeare movies and plays, etc.
  • Movies/television
    • Watch documentaries, watch movies of good books, etc.
    • Movies and tv teach characterization, plot, etc.
  • Friday Free Writes
    • Set a timer and write.  You can use a prompt if necessary.  The kids write about anything that is on their mind.  Pay no attention to grammar and mechanics.  Do not correct, just admire.  Write while the kids write if possible.
    • The kid can write “I don’t know what to write” over and over if necessary, as long as their pencil is moving!
  • Nature journaling
    • Go on nature walks and draw/color/paint pictures of what you see.
  • Literary elements
    • Learn about things such as metaphors, analogies, similes, alliteration, etc.
  • One on one time
    • Give each child one-on-one time each day, even if it’s just a few minutes.
  • Language games
    • Play games such as scrabble, Scattergories, Cranium, Apples to Apples, etc
    • Also do crosswords and word searches
  • Writing projects
    • Make writing fun!  Turn it into a project (use her ideas if you need them!).
    • This will only be one a month or even less if necessary.

 

Then I decided to keep watching Julie Bogart YouTube videos.

Can I just say that she’s a breath of fresh air?  I have had so much anxiety about homeschooling (even though I was so excited about it) because I carried so much weight thinking that I had to do everything a certain way, that the kids needed to be on or above “level,” that I needed to have a schedule so that Ethan could thrive (because I thought he needs extreme structure), that I needed to have “school at home,” that I had to have the perfect curriculum in order to have everyone on or above level, and so much more.  I have spent so much money over the years on curriculum because I didn’t trust myself to teach them and because I wanted “rigor.”

Here are some great ones!

Through all of this I’ve decided to:

  • Do The Good and the Beautiful for all of language arts but writing (I got my books the other day and I LOVE them!  They are beautiful!).
  • Go ahead and do copywork, dictation, and narration with all of my kids, not just the boys (using Brave Writer products to reinforce mechanics, learn literary elements, etc through novels).
  • Do writing projects with all of the kids.
  • Do Friday free-writes.
  • Continue with my plans to do nature journaling, read Shakespeare, do art appreciation, and do read-alouds.  A lot of this will happen during morning time.
  • Do poetry tea time every Friday (get out the tablecloth, make a breakfast treat, have hot chocolate and/or tea, and allow the kids to choose their own poetry to read).  I showed Levi the video about this and he is so excited!  I have so many poetry books that we haven’t been reading.

If I can’t implement all of these all the time, that’s okay.  It’s just a guide.  She even says that sometimes she goes months without implementing some of these things.

I’m learning to be okay when they aren’t “perfect” at things because NO ONE IS PERFECT.  And small kids shouldn’t be expected to do things that aren’t developmentally appropriate for them.  Also, writing comes easy for some people and not for others.  That’s normal.

Rigor doesn’t equal right.  Rigor isn’t my personality and it’s not the personality of my kids.  Sarah McKenzie talks about this in her book Teaching From Rest.  I have learned a TON through that book as well (read twice and listened to 3 times)!  There are tons of videos on YouTube about it, and I suggest watching the 3 part Teaching From Rest book club!  This is the gist of the book and a great conversation about it.

I feel like I can take a deep breath and just enjoy being home with my kids educating them!

Most of what I’m adopting for our family is the Charlotte Mason method of education (along with a little bit of classical).  I am at such peace and “in love” with where I have landed!

Here are some pictures of The Good and the Beautiful:

Here are some pictures of Brave Writer:

I can’t wait to get started!