Grati-Tuesday and Getting Back Into Routine!

It has been a long time since I’ve written a Grati-Tuesday post so I thought I would do that today.

I have been struggling for so long that I have forgotten to be grateful.  In fact, at one time I wrote “Gratefuls” to my sponsor every day and I haven’t been doing it much at all lately.  I need to get back into the habit of gratitude.

My wonderful hubby.

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My beautiful kiddos.

 

Our view and rainbow (second one recently).

Girl time with Karis eating homemade pizza and watching Gilmore Girls.  This will happen more often now that it’ll just be the two of us during the day.  She’s excited!

Having summer staff (and one full time staff) over for a big breakfast a few days ago :-).

Date night in of steak dinner with Robert thanks to my mom buying the steaks.

We played games and watched a movie :-).

My Happy Planner and seasonal stickers, my household notebook, pumpkin spice candle in a fun mason jar, and coffee with pumpkin spice creamer in it (NO, it’s not too early… see header picture! haha).

The kids played store for HOURS this morning.  I love that they spent so much time without electronics by choice!

Then they played with friends.  I love that they have great friends that are like family here.  I also love that Robert and I have great friends that are like family here.  We are so blessed to be here.  This is the only picture I took.

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Tonight Karis has her two good friends coming over and the boys are going to our neighbors’ house.  We will be making dessert and watching a movie.

 

My anxiety breathing issue has been so much better since Sunday.  I don’t want to get my hopes up, though, because it could come back.

On a similar note, I don’t feel 100% because I still have a cough.  I called Teladoc and the doc told me that I have a viral cough and they just last a long time.  There’s not much that can be done for it… She gave me 3 days’ worth of cough medicine (they can only treat for a few days and if it lasts longer they tell you to see your doctor), and she told me to drink honey and lemon in warm water and use a humidifier (which I don’t have, but I might get one Friday if I decide not to go to my doctor).

Anyway…

Robert and I spent all afternoon/evening Sunday cleaning the kids’ rooms, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and prepping food for the week.  We took the boys separate beds and put them back into a bunk bed (their request) and deep cleaned their room.  It took hours.  It was so bad.  The goal is to make them clean after they play now.

Before:

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After:

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I made Italian coffee cake, peanut butter pies, peanut butter chocolate protein steel cut oats (recipe to come!), cut veggies for snacks and meals, boiled eggs, made chicken salad, and cut summer sausage and cheese.  Robert helped with a few things.

Fall is coming soon which means ROUTINE!  In 2 weeks (from tomorrow!) the boys will be going back to school and Karis will start homeschool.  Friday we are buying school supplies.  The boys are super excited!  Levi will be taking his lunch and Ethan wants to eat lunch there most days (they get free lunch… everyone at that school does).

I meant to do some school planning today but it just didn’t happen.  I have time, and I don’t have much to do :-).  I pretty much just need to update the schedule/checklist that I made for Karis.

Karis will be staying home alone (with neighbor’s on call for emergencies) on some Mondays or Wednesdays that I go to town for AA and/or counseling.  I plan to go once a week either of those days.  Robert will be off 2 out of 3 Mondays pretty soon so it’ll most likely happen on a Monday.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m going to give her a chance :-).  The beauty of living here at camp is that there are people everywhere to help out!  And this is a safe place.

Things are looking up :-).

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!

Thankful Thursday: Life is So Good

I’m just so stinkin’ thankful for life.  I wake up early easily because I’m thankful for the day ahead now (I used to dread it).  Before, I would struggle to get out of bed because I was alone all day every day.  It was depressing.

I love spending time with my girl.  I enjoy teaching her.

Yesterday was a fantastic day (despite being exhausted from waking up at 3:50).

We went on a hike on a beautiful day.  I’m so thankful for this beautiful land that we live on with hike/bike trails!

She’s so beautiful!

Then the kids had choir.

Today has been great!  It started out with Bible study this morning at 7:00.  We have it here which I love for two reasons: 1) I love opening my home to the ladies here at camp, 2) I will actually attend it!

We studied 1 Peter 2 this week.

Karis always starts her day with a quiet time.  Today she read and studied Genesis chapters 3 and 4.

We borrowed the Math U See Gamma DVD from my neighbor so that Karis could learn how the MUS teacher teaches long multiplication.  I’m so glad that we did!  He teaches things in a way that totally makes sense and is easy to do.  She is more confident in her multiplication now.  Tomorrow we’ll watch more, then Monday we’ll move on to Delta (division).  She should be on the next level (Epsilon), but she was behind so I thought I would help her understand better.

She does all of her reading on the floor :-).  Whatever works!

I didn’t take a picture of her doing her writing, but it went really well again today!  We did dictation today.  I’m glad that we made the decision to try this curriculum again.  It’s not ideal long term, but it’s good now.  I want her to get more confident in writing before I make her write things from scratch.  When that happens, I have a ton of units to do that I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers.  We’ll get there.  I’ve considered maybe trying Institute for Excellence in Writing again if the units that I bought don’t work for her, but we’ll see.  I’m not going to make any long term plans anymore because things always change.

I’m just happy to have her home, and she’s soooooo happy to be home!  She’s giddy with excitement all the time!  Her anxious self is no longer here.  She’s her content, happy self again.  I think she’s just meant to homeschool.

What are you thankful for?

Learning and Growing with Every New Day

From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

“…self-seeking…”

“…self-centered, egocentric…”

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”

“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”

“We had to have God’s help.

“First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”

“He is the Father, and we are His children.”

We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me.  I have been stuck in this for a long time.  I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity.  I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.

I posted this on Sunday:

“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”

While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me.  This is self-centered.  I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.

I want people to see me as strong.  I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest.  I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered.  I want people to see my love for others.  I want to be known for my love for Jesus.  My identity is in Jesus first and foremost.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving.  Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health.  I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature.  It was perfect.  I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority.  It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it.  My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking.  So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and the perfect temperature.

I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight.  I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate.  This is not healthy.  I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it.  I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious.  It’s not something I have to keep up with every day.  And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.

The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.

Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books).  She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another.  Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.

Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake.  She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat.  She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water).  She thinks I have a habit to the process.  Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things.  It’s an emotional crutch.  She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.

We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch.  The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos.  Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese.  It keeps me comfortable until lunch.  Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal.  I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.

The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am.  She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years.  My body is trying to find it’s set point.  Where it’s supposed to be without dieting.  I may end up losing weight eventually.  But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.

The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.

I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind.  Robert did everything but push me out the door.

We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion.  It was really great!  From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house.  I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability.  I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!

We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!

I started it as soon as we finished!

This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering.  It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to.  The good news is that it says “for a little while.”  That’s hopeful!

 

So… through struggle comes strength and growth.

Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am,  my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!

Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.

How My Parenting Has Changed Over the Years

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This was a very difficult time in my life.  I was going through postpartum depression; I was raising 3 babies, 4 and under, by myself pretty much (Robert worked ALL the time).  Joey had just committed suicide (a few months earlier).  I was in a fog to say the least.  Behind that smile was a lot of pain.

I would barely survive the day and as soon as Robert got home, I would hand him the baby and leave.  Not every day, but a lot of days.  I didn’t keep up with laundry, clean the house, cook.  I just survived.

I did NOT feel like a good mom.  But I did the best I could under the circumstances.  I couldn’t help that Joey had just died.  I couldn’t help that I was going through postpartum depression.  I couldn’t do anything about the fact that Robert worked so much (We ended up leaving the camp we were at because of that, and life was still hard in different ways, but have never regretted leaving!).

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As you can see, we all look different these days.  Karis is now almost 11, Levi just turned 7, and Ethan is 8 1/2.  We have much more fun with our kids!

Since the earlier picture, I have been hospitalized twice for my mental health, I’ve been diagnosed properly, I am on great meds, I have been treated for alcoholism and work hard to stay sober, I have all day to take care of the house and laundry so I’m not feeling overwhelmed anymore (because the kids are in school), and I no longer try to work (because I know that I can’t… I’m fighting for disability now).

My parenting has changed over the years, my view of myself as a mom has changed, it has been over 7 years since Joey died, we are at peace with and love where we live and our life here at Camp Eagle (we will be here indefinitely unless God calls us elsewhere), the kids are in an amazing school where they are loved and valued, I’m much more patient, my house stays mostly clean, the kids can do chores (and they are excited about it with a sticker chart/rewards!), and so much more.

How am I different as a mom?

Well, for one, we rarely spank now.  When they were younger I spanked often out of anger.  I would spank and spank because I didn’t know what else to do.  I would spank Ethan so much that it hurt me as much as it hurt him.

Ethan threw a LOT of huge tantrums.  Those didn’t stop until the past few years.  He did throw some when I was homeschooling him, but he would do them in his room and come out just fine.  He has since stopped them completely.  I have taught him how to control himself better and he uses those skills (lots of pausing, breathing, and figuring out what emotion he is feeling).  Going to school has really helped him in this area.  I am much more patient with him and use a different form of consequences.

Typically, with the kids, we ground them and/or take away privileges.

It helps that their teachers give them consequences at school.  We (almost) always support the teacher (even if we don’t agree) and give them a consequence at home.  They rarely get in trouble at school these days!

They love their Wii U, Kindles, Minecraft, etc.  They don’t get to play on them all the time, but they lose the privilege for a few days to a week if they do something that deserves a consequence.  Sometimes we ground them from playing with friends (this is huge for Ethan and Karis).  We spank sometimes, but it’s usually for something big where they need a spanking and another consequence.  This is rare.

We have a conversation with them about why.  We discuss what the purpose of their decision was.  We talk to them about having control over their actions and how they interact with their siblings and/or friends.  We discuss the implications of their choices and how they affect others.  We talk about how they would feel if that was done to them.

We try to not discipline in front of friends, but sometimes we have to.

We use rewards when we can.

Are we always perfect at this?  No.  Do we yell?  Sometimes, but not near as much as we used to.

The thing that helps all of this is that the kids are older, able to discuss things, able to work through emotions, and able to control themselves better.  It makes a huge difference!

We have also learned what works for each child.  This has taken a long time to learn through trial and error.

It really helps that I’m not with them all day, every day.

I was much less patient when they were home all the time.  I was much less patient when I was homeschooling them.

They get what they need at school (social interaction with kiddos their age, being challenged, etc), then they come home and do homework and chores.  They have routine every day (which was lacking when I homeschooled them, mostly because I was either drinking or hungover).

My favorite part of the day is bedtime.  Most nights (not all) we read the Bible or a devotional.  We read out of a chapter book, we sing a worship song, and we pray (usually Ethan prays… it is precious).  I end most days (not all) in bed with each kid, talking to them about their day, their feelings and emotions, and what God is doing in their lives.  Most nights I end this time praying for them (not every night).

Karis and I have a Google Document where we write each other back and forth.  This has helped our relationship a lot!

Last night both Levi and Ethan made the decision to accept and follow Christ!  They prayed and asked for forgiveness, they understood the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross (and as Levi said, he washed away our sins!), they prayed for the ability to repent from their sins, and they decided to serve Jesus all the days of their lives (Ethan realized that what we do here at camp is serving Christ)!

I also discussed this with Karis again because she accepted Christ at a very young age and I wanted to make sure she understood.

They are all ready to be baptized!  We started going to a new church (very small church plant), and the pastor wants to have a little class with them before they get baptized.

We are also going to join the church.  We feel at home there.  I still want to talk about some things with the pastor that are different for me, but I’m sure it will be fine.  We’re looking forward to it!

I will always have something that isn’t perfect.

I get worn sometimes on the weekends when they are home all day.  Sometimes I let them play on electronics too much.  We often forget to have them brush their teeth at night.  When they are home for lunch, they often eat chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.  We don’t always eat healthy, but I’m okay with that.  We sometimes yell at them.  Sometimes I spoil them with too much candy, too many snacks, and sometimes I do too much for them that they can do themselves.  Recently I caught myself enabling them by making their beds, etc.  Robert reaffirmed this.  I am remedying that.  They have been cussing lately because they are learning new words on the bus with high school students.  We’re working on what words are not appropriate to say :-).  It’s new to them so it may take a bit of time.

Being imperfect keeps me humble and helps me rely on Jesus more.

I’m thankful that God has helped me learn how to be a better parent.  I have a long way to go, and that’s okay.  I’m just thankful that life is much more peaceful these days.

Doing What’s Best Even When It’s Hard

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I wrote a post on Monday titled Waiting Room.  In a nutshell I talked about the possibility again of homeschooling the kids next year.  I talked about having to wait a few months to make the decision and that was really hard for me.

Well, we already have our decision made (for next year at least), and it makes me sad, but I know it’s best.  It’s what gives me the most peace.

You see, I want to homeschool.  I love it.  It gives me purpose.  It helps me fill my day with something that I feel joy about.  I love being with my kids all day.  I love that they have lots of play time.  I love the convenience of it.  I love that most people here homeschool, and the kids all get to be together.

This time of year is when I’m usually researching to buy curriculum for the next year (of course, I ended up changing so many times I lost count…).

I saw some pictures of Karis today that I took when I was homeschooling just her last year.  It breaks my heart that I’m not doing that with her right now.  It brought me joy.

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But those reasons are all about me, not about what’s best for her.  Sure she wants to be homeschooled as well, but that doesn’t mean that’s best for her.  Her teacher has made it clear that she has seen her come out of her shell since she started and she really feels that school is best for her.  And she’s right.  She also has the opportunity to be counseled by an amazing counselor and the opportunity to do choir (and maybe other extra curricular activities in the future).

Karis is making A’s and B’s (even in math she’s making a B, and she started really struggling).  She is on an eighth grade level in reading and she is challenged.  She loves science and social studies, which are subjects I was never good at teaching.

She is making friends and really starting to like school.  Yesterday a friend gave her a Valentine’s gift and she said, “Do you know why he gave this to me?  Because he likes me and I like him.”  He’s a sweet friend and they seem to have a lot in common.  They talk Minecraft every day :-).  While she’s a little young to be liking boys, I’m just happy that she has a good friend that’s her age and boys don’t cause as much drama as girls ;-).

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And the boys… why would I want to homeschool them?  Only because it’s safe and comfortable.

They are also both thriving.

Ethan has gone from a first grade reading level to a second-third grade reading level since November!  I struggled every day to help him learn how to read, and I just wasn’t successful.  He has all A’s and B’s!  This is huge.  He has the opportunity to do sports, which is what he has always wanted to do.

This is from his teacher today: 

“I am enjoying Ethan.  He has made some huge strides since he came to me in November.  He is doing well.

Ethan is very polite and always helpful.  He has several different groups of friends that he plays with on the playground.  He is great about including the students that don’t always have a friend.

We had a conversation the other day, because he gets his work done, but he has to procrastinate a little before he gets it done.  As we talked, he told me that he gets distracted by the others around him when he has to do independent work.  Ethan asked to sit at a table by himself so he can concentrate.  I let him sit by himself with the option to move with a group if he wanted and he seems to be staying on task.  He sits with the group when we are doing partner/group collaboration, however prefers to sit by himself when doing independent work.  Ethan does like to rush through his work, but that has seemed to subside as well by letting him sit by himself for independent work.

He has really taken to reading.  I have noticed that just in the last month or so, he has really began to push himself to read even more so than before.  He is reading about 70 words per minute with accurate comprehension.  He should be able to read at 90 words per minute fluently by the end of 2nd grade.  He is right on track to meet the 90 words a minute in fluency.   Ethan is reading at a 2.5 reading level and I will test him on his reading level again this coming Monday.  I suspect his reading level with be higher than 2.5.

He is doing well in math.  He still needs to continue working on his math facts, but is getting better with them every day.  We have started multiplication as repeated addition this week and he is picking up on this really fast.

I am sure enjoying Ethan in my class.”

He has met his AR goal early this six weeks.  He and his classmates that met their AR goals are in this picture.  He is the one lifting his paper high :-).

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Levi is learning social skills that I couldn’t teach him here.  He started by getting in trouble all the time, and now he rarely gets in trouble.  His teacher has been way more successful at teaching him the correct behavior than I ever was.  She told me today that he’s a joy to have in class.  He has all A’s and 1 B (math).  He is growing so much in the area of academics.  He is also on a second-third grade reading level.  He is challenged in this area.  I love that he can read books on his level versus reading readers that I pick out.  And he is tested on comprehension which is something I wasn’t doing with the reading curriculum that I was doing here.  Today he made a 100% on his chapter book that he read in 25 minutes yesterday.

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Levi’s teacher told me that he is a joy to have in class.  She is pleased with his quality of reading.  He has made such progress since November.

 

One other thing that is really important is my healing.  I have so much work to do still.  I know that if I were to work, I would spin into severe anxiety and depression.  How is homeschooling any different? I was obsessing about curriculum.  Spending hundreds on credit.  I would change their curriculum every few weeks!

I was drinking every day when I was homeschooling before.  Obviously it was causing me anxiety.  Well, that and I’m an alcoholic.

Staying sober, working through trauma, self care, and fighting to stay healthy are my goals.  I hate that.  But it’s reality.  There’s a reason why I’m fighting for disability.

 

I spent some time today asking friends to remind me of why I know having them in school is best, and pretty much everyone was “right on.”  These comments especially stood out to me because it was different than anything else, and it made so much sense.

“Pulling them based on the your original post seems to be about you & not them. It’s best for them because you socially, emotionally and mentally then need to be where they are thriving and you need to focus on you.”

“Is it possible that the rhythm of homeschool became sort of an addiction as well? Something to distract, define or comfort you?”

“Not trying to vilify it at all but maybe it was more for you than them at times?”

“This is a really good point. _________ and I were having conversations about this because he is also doing his stepwork with addiction. It’s all too easy for those with addiction issues to trade one addiction for another. You give up drinking, but a part of you still craves something, so you feed it with something else. In your case, it could be the “high” you get from buying curriculum, planning lessons, and homeschooling. This might be a good topic to talk to your counselor about and get their take too!”

I am in awe of how God speaks through friends.  I needed to “hear” everything that these people said to me.

I truly think I have an addiction to all things homeschooling (and teaching in general).  The high that I get from researching curriculum, buying curriculum, lesson planning, etc keeps me going.  Now I have to learn to not search for a high, but allow God to work in me and help me learn how to take good care of myself.

A few things I decided today:  Along with taking good care of myself, I also want to start serving friends here.  I plan to start making meals for friends, having coffee with friends, hiking with friends, etc.  I feel like I have purpose now after making decisions today.

I’m looking forward to the future!

Grati-Tuesday, February 14th

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I’m struggling today.  I have many things to be grateful for, but I’m still struggling.  I will write a post on that in a bit.  But for now I will try to focus on the good!

I’m so thankful for this man.  He has been there supporting me through hospitalizations for mental illness, treatment for alcoholism, and through leaving countless jobs because of all of this.  He loves me more than I could imagine a man loving a woman.  He’s amazing.

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My babies.

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Our camp family (and my parents, Meemaw, and Grandma)

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I spent time yesterday teaching Karis how to bake my sugar cookies on her own (she had to bake cookies for school).

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These cookies were made and decorated by a friend here at camp.  She’s talented!

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I got the kids a little something for Valentines this year.  I don’t normally do this.  I let them eat their cookies before school today!  That made their day.

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I spent today working on my blog and drinking coffee.  Great for a cold day like today!

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I’m 125 days sober today!  It gets easier every day!

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Also thankful for:

  • God’s word (and She Reads Truth Bible studies)
  • The fact that God worked out all the details to make it so I can go to town on Mondays instead of Wednesdays… which means the kids can do the community choir :-).
  • The kids being able to be involved in extra curricular activities
  • Restful days at home
  • A clean home
  • Laundry caught up every day
  • Self care

I could go on and on apparently.  This brightened my day!  Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

Processing Through Difficult Things

My weekends are amazing (I’m usually very productive and feel great… and the kids and I have bonding time) and my week days are hard.  I’m trying to learn to accept that.  I’m only going to town 2 days a week from now on.  Going to town takes so much energy and makes me tired.

Even staying home is hard.  I desperately miss homeschooling (I loved it despite the anxiety that it brought me) and evenings are so hard… with homework (lots of protest and sometimes tears), exhausted kids, emotions about school, etc.  I hope it gets easier over time.

 

I have been chairing an AA meeting on Wednesdays (12 Steps and 12 Traditions), and I’ve enjoyed that.  I just wish I didn’t live so far from town.  Tomorrow is 100 days sober!

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I also processed through the rest of my AA Step 6, which took some energy.  It was good… just exhausting.  My sponsor is so good.  She helps me see things in a different way and pushes me to be my best.  I’m working on making some changes with my perfectionism, and the first thing is that I’m working on letting the kids have things in the living room.  I always like a spotless living area so this is taking me a lot to let go.  Of course some structure is good so they have to clean up before bed.  I feel that’s a good compromise.  This picture is what it looked like to have a “messy” living area.  The kids did bring out some Legos after this, but they cleaned them up quickly when I told them it was time for bed!

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This is what it looks like now!  It took 5 minutes to clean up.

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On another note… I received a lot of new information yesterday.  I am processing it so I’m not ready to blog about it yet (and probably won’t ever, actually).  It has to do with abuse and death of a family member (other than my brother… I’ve shared about his suicide a lot on my blog).  It’s all so raw and difficult to process.  I asked for the info, but I probably should have waited to ask till it’s closer to the day I meet with my new counselor (she can’t meet until February 1st because she will be out of town next week).  I’ll survive, though.  It’s good to know the info so I can process it in counseling.

The one thing that I realized yesterday is that I have such a victim mentality.  I know why, but I need to learn to fight through that.  I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.  Encouragement is nice, but pity isn’t.  I often seek pity and that’s not healthy.  I’m working on this.

I’m also going to read this book again.  My friend that is a counselor suggested it when I was going through hyperventilation syndrome last spring.  I started reading it, but I never finished so I’m going to start over.

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I have so much anxiety in the evenings.  I hate that because all community events (here at camp) happen in the evenings.  And dinner in the dining hall (we didn’t end up going this week at all and there were meals every night this week).

That’s when I drank.  Lots in the afternoon/evenings.  It helped quiet the anxiety.  I would also drink before community events which helped with social anxiety.  Obviously none of that was healthy.  I need to find a better way.

My old psychiatric PA didn’t question my drinking.  He just said that it’s common among people who have anxiety.  I would tell him how much I drank and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  Hello?!  It would have helped me so much to hear from a medical professional that I needed to get help!  I have all of the signs of alcohol use disorder and he didn’t know!  AND, drinking while on the meds that I’m on is stupid and dangerous.  I know all of this now, but in the middle of it, I didn’t process it.

Another thing is that I’m wondering if I have been having symptoms of my bipolar 2 and didn’t know it because the symptoms didn’t last long.  Like rapid cycles or something.  I found out last week when I saw my new psychiatrist that the birth control affects my Lamictal (one of my bipolar meds).  She took me off of it, but this past week I have had lots of ups and downs, so we’ll see what happens.  I had what I think was hypomania on Sunday and Monday.  Not much sleep, got a TON done around the house (more than the normal person… see my posts from Sunday and Monday), and just felt more energetic than normal.  Then these past few days I have been feeling down again.  Obviously the symptoms aren’t as bad and don’t last long, but it’s still more pronounced than a normal day.

Anyway… lots of stuff to process.  Yuck.  I am hopeful, though, that through all of this processing (and EMDR treatment) I will come out a stronger, more confident, less anxious and depressed person.

Don’t feel sorry for me, but I love encouragement!  Reminding me that God will help me through it, and He’s always been there!  Even (and especially) through the thick of it.  I spent some time praising Him this morning and he reminded me that He is there.  He’s got this.  Reminding me that I am a strong person and I can get through anything with the strength of Christ, His grace, and His peace!  Thank you!

Preparation for the Upcoming Week

Because week days are so busy now days, I spend lots of time on the weekends getting ready for the week ahead.

I cleaned the house Friday and we have kept up with it today.

Robert got caught up on laundry today!

I spent the afternoon prepping meals for the coming week!

I cut up lots of veggies.

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Prepped my lunches and snacks for my days in town.

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I made granola.

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I washed the jars for yogurt and made yogurt (it’s in the Instant Pot right now).

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I made Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies.  I used a recipe that I found online, but changed it a ton, so I’ll post my recipe soon.

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Robert made chili for dinner tonight :-).

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Before any of the prep work began, the boys and I played games, and Robert and I played a game!  Karis did some art on the small marker board :-).  It was a great way to start the day :-).

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Tomorrow we are going to church (yay!), buying white elephant gifts for our camp Christmas party Monday, and taking family pictures!

We have a busy week coming up with AA, camp Christmas party, doctor appointment in San Antonio, Robert will be busy Wednesday evening, and kids’ Christmas concert Thursday evening.  Next Saturday is Christmas at my parents’, then Sunday our friends are coming to stay!  Looking forward to all of it!

My 2016 Thankful Post

I have so much to be thankful for.  Life today is NOT what I imagined it to be at the beginning of the year, but I’m so thankful for the way it has turned out.

Before I get started on the things that I’m thankful for in the world, I want to say that what I am thankful for first is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Without His grace, I would be in a bad spot.  I’m so thankful for who He is and what He has taught me since I trusted in Him as an 11 year old.  I have grown to be more like Him every day, with some mountains and valleys in the process.  I have so much more to learn and so much space to fill between Him and me… One day at a time!  One moment at a time!

I’m thankful for my amazing, supportive husband.  He has been through a lot because of me (between my mental illness including bipolar 2, severe anxiety with obsessive/compulsive traits, and now my addiction).  I have been in the hospital twice for my mental illnesses and in rehab for a full month for my alcoholism.  He has held down the “fort” more times than the normal household.  I have spent so much of our money and credit because of my obsessive/compulsive behaviors.  He has had to take on a lot.  Through my stay in rehab and our experience with Family Week, our marriage has grown so much.  We have gotten in touch with our Love Languages again and have nurtured that.  We communicate better than we ever have.  He has taken leadership in areas that I’ve asked him to take leadership.  He prays for me all the time.  He is amazing, good looking, and everything a wife could hope for.

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My beautiful kids.  They are everything a mama would hope for in kids.  They have their moments, but overall, they are really good kids.  They make good choices most of the time, they love to worship, they love to play outside, they are good friends, they love to play games with me :-), and they love to bake with me.

Karis is creative, loves to read (and reads on an eighth grade level in fifth grade), is messy and disorganized (ha!), is very smart, loves “girl time” with me, bosses her brothers around, and loves Jesus.

Ethan is passionate, spends money like his mama, loves music (he has his uncle’s guitar and a keyboard that was given to us that he wants to learn), loves to worship (mostly with Shane and Shane and Needtobreathe), and LOVES old cars/jeeps/trucks.  He wants to be a mechanic and is already working towards that.

Levi is my baby.  He loves to cuddle, loves electronics and doesn’t like outside very much (but we force him out every day! ha!), loves Christmas like me, loves to play games, is very smart (he reads on a 2nd-3rd grade level in first grade), loves Star Wars, and loves to bake with his mama.

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This beautiful place that we live!  The ability to hike whenever I want, just outside our door (on 1400 acres).

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Our camp family.  There really are no words.  We are beyond blessed to be here.

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Our beautiful little home!  I love it!

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This is the view from our back porch :-).

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I love my little kitchen.

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The kitchen/dining/living is all open-concept.  It’s great for having people over.  It’s small, but it works.  We often have 10-15 people in here at once.

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This tree is one of my favorite things about this house.

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Our little Christmas tree :-).

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This is our bedroom.  Small and cozy.  Bed, books, and lamps.  Pretty quilt.  All the important stuff.

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The kids’ bathroom

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This is Levi’s new room (it was our school room…).

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This is Karis’ room.  It’s very cluttered and packed, but she loves it.  That’s all that matters!

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Ethan’s room.  Full of books, Legos, and musical instruments.

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Here is our Expedition that is now PAID OFF!!  No more car payments!!  I’m so thankful that we’re in a new place financially.  Probably the best we’ve ever been in.  Not that Robert makes a ton (because let’s face it, we’re in camp ministry), but we have a free place to live, free utilities, insurance premiums are paid for, and we get a lot of free food through the year… and now no car payment! We are getting through the next few months of me driving to town 5 days a week (2 1/2 hours of driving a day), then we’ll be able to focus on saving, then paying off credit card debt (again…).

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Our parents!  We would not be where we are without them!  My parents are always there for us when we need them!  They have a fantastic relationship with their grandkids.  They stay with them often!  In fact, when I was in La Hacienda for a month, the kids stayed with them most of that time.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!  My inlaws have helped us out in so many ways over the years… between letting us live with them (twice) and helping us out financially a few times.  They also love their grandkids and always look forward to spending time with them!  We’re headed there this Christmas and we’re all looking forward to it!

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My amazing friends, old and new!  I cannot imagine my life without my friends.  I have so many friends and I’m so blessed and lucky.  Between friends here at camp, friends that we went to church with/hung out with in Frisco, friends from our old camp, friends from old churches, and now friends from La Hacienda.  I have the best friends a girl could ask for.  I am very loved!

La Hacienda!  I would NOT be where I am today without this place.  I have grown to a whole new level from all that I learned there.  I can only imagine where I will be in my future because of La Ha and what I am learning now through AA.

My current and former counselors.  They have taught me so much over the years.  They give me a safe place to share my thoughts and heart.  I am currently doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I just know that it’s going to change the way I see things.  I’m looking forward to continual growth in this area.

The little things… Yummy smelling seasonal candles, Christmas lights, music (Bethel, JJ Heller, Jenny and Tyler, Crowder, Shane and Shane, etc), fresh baked goods (and the ability to spend time doing the baking), books, coffee, games, my Mac and iPhone :-), Toms and boots, leggings, comfy jeans, t-shirts, flannels, my coffee mugs, Harney and Sons hot tea with raw honey, flowers,  my Bible and Bible studies, the “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous), coloring books, organization, fires in our fire pit, Coke Zero, my “fake Yeti” cup, La Croix, eating mostly healthy (besides my Coke Zero), feeling beautiful and loving myself as is.

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