Processing Through the Sadness

Bare with me… I’m foggy-headed because my doctor increased one of my meds and it’s too much.  I was taking 800mg at night before bed and she changed it to 400mg, 3 times per day.  I just can’t keep doing this.  Also, I still have a cough AND my breathing still isn’t 100% (but still much better than it was).  I’m just not feeling great.

Robert, Karis, Ethan, and my father-in-law went for a drive in the Jeep around the mountain here in New Mexico where we’re staying.  I just woke up from another nap, but I feel the need to get things out of my head, so here I am.

I woke up this morning (after 12 hours of broken sleep and lots of dreams) feeling really sad that my anxiety/mental illness doesn’t allow me to homeschool all of my kids. I hate my brain and hate that I don’t get to live out my dream because of it. I’m also sad that the boys are really excited about staying in school. It’s totally selfish, but yeah. I guess I’m going to have to grieve this. I’m totally hoping that I will be able to homeschool them next year, but I just don’t know. Every single time I’ve tried to homeschool them I have had terrible anxiety or depression. I want to be content with just homeschooling Karis (just homeschooling her brings joy but not anxiety). She needs to be homeschooled.  And I have just enough mental ability to do that.  But I just want to be a “homeschooling family.” Maybe that’s just not God’s plan. I don’t understand why I would have such a strong desire for something that I can’t do. I guess it’s just *my* dream but not reality for our family.

The more and more I think about it, I’m realizing that maybe I am just in love with the idea of homeschooling all of the kids and the philosophies that I have adopted or that I want to adopt.  And I feel like I’m a better mom if I homeschool all of my kids and live out those philosophies.  This makes me take a deep breath and a huge step back.

What does that mean for me and all the other moms out there that can’t live out the “ideal?”

We all just do the best we can.  Each child has a different need.  Each mom has a different need.  Each family has a different circumstance.

Things may not look the way I want them to, but they will be the way they need to be for the health of our family.

I’m a list maker, so here are some of the benefits of having the boys in school:

  • Routine/schedule (which is actually really good for my anxiety)
  • The ability to teach just Karis (and she is super independent so she will be easy)
  • Very little pressure on me to be their sole educator
  • The ability to go to counseling and AA more often
  • Being able to focus on my self care
  • The boys will be with other kids, and they are both extroverts
  • They loved school this past year
  • Class parties, field trips, field day
  • Being involved in the community again
  • Saving money (not spending a fortune on curriculum, homeschooling supplies, books, etc and being able to sell a bit)

The boys are happy that they don’t start school till August 23rd so they have a lot of summer left.  With homeschooling, we were starting a full load when we got back from Glorieta!  I see several more weeks of relaxation ahead!

I’ll write my plans for enrichment for the boys and for Karis soon!

Made a Hard Decision to Feel Better

Wow.  This week has been hard and crazy and good all at once.

It started out really rough.

I went to counseling on Monday, thanks to my neighbor watching my kids.  The meeting with her went really well, but my breathing/anxiety was really bad.  The way home it got worse and worse and when I got home I couldn’t breathe at all and just had a really bad panic attack.  And Robert worked late.  And Levi screamed at me (this doesn’t happen… he was just really mad about something).  Kids kept coming in and out even though I told them not to (my kids kept inviting them back in, haha).  When Robert got home I just cried and cried.  It got a little bit better after that, but I was still struggling.

Tuesday I woke up still feeling really bad.  I called my doc’s office and they told me to come in that very day.  So, Karis and I made the long trek to San Antonio (2 hours one way) while Robert had the boys with him at work.

My doctor didn’t really know what to do.  She had never heard of Hyperventilation Syndrome and when she did some research she said she didn’t want to officially diagnose it without further testing.  But she told me that since I was about to go out of town we could try a few med adjustments and see if it helps.

On the way there I came to some big conclusions.  I realized that I had a feeling what was causing this.  It all started about the time that I told the boys that I would be homeschooling them.  And I have been obsessing about it because I’ve been trying to find a way to do it without taking much time each day, but still covering everything we needed to cover.  So yet again I was obsessing about curriculum and methods.  And I literally just COULD NOT turn it off.  No matter how hard I tried.  Homeschooling was all I thought about and all I talked about.  With family, friends, and even my counselor.  And of course here on the blog.  And on Facebook.  I was constantly reading books, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, following people on Instagram… the list goes on and on.

I called Robert while in San Antonio, and talked to him about it.  He was in agreement immediately.  And the more I talked to him the more I realized how relieved he was that I came to that conclusion.  He wanted to keep them in school all along.  So, we decided to keep the boys in school.  Maybe just this year, maybe longer.  We’ll just take it a year at a time.  Now.  I will keep Karis home.  She needs to be home.  She has bad social anxiety and was crying every day at school.  She ended up with a physical condition from it.  She’s doing well at home, she’s mostly independent, and she is thriving.  I also don’t want to put her in junior high in Rocksprings.  It’s kind of rough.

Unfortunately the breathing issue didn’t resolve right away.  It got somewhat better, but not 100%.  And yesterday it was actually pretty rough.  Until.  I told Robert that I really felt like we needed to tell the boys for me to get better (he wanted to wait).  The anticipation was killing me.  I’m not good at keeping secrets, so that was killing me.  I needed to get it out.  So yesterday while we were driving to New Mexico (we’re here visiting my in-laws, then for Family Camp starting Sunday), I told the boys.  Levi was excited immediately.  He had actually brought his class picture with him on vacation :-).  He misses his friends.  Ethan, on the other hand, was pretty upset at first (I expected that).  He is nervous about testing (state testing starts in third grade).  And honestly I’m nervous about that for him, too, because he struggles with reading and math.  But the more he thought about it and talked about it, the more excited he got.  Then I told him that it may just be this year, but we’ll see.  He told me that he wants to go to fourth and fifth grade there.   The testing gets more and more difficult in fourth and fifth grades so I’m not sure that I want that for him.  We’ll just see how he does.  I really don’t think that I will put them in junior high, but I don’t want to plan that far out because things NEVER go as planned anyway.

Almost immediately after telling the boys (with-in a couple of hours), my anxiety got better and my breathing got better.  I guess I just needed that closure.  The only thing lingering is a dry cough.  But as annoying as that is, I’ll take that over the anxiety breathing issue.

If this cough gets under control I will truly have a week and a half that I can just enjoy with my family here at Glorieta.  I am taking cough medicine and it helps some, but it’s still not great.

I’m sooooo thankful that God made the issue so clear on that drive to my doc.  I just wish I had figured it out sooner.  Well.  I think I knew, but I was stuffing it down, trying to ignore it.  I wanted to homeschool the boys.  And honestly I’m kind of sad, but since I feel better, it’s totally worth it!  That was miserable!

This is a picture of Levi holding his class picture from this past year.  He was missing his friends so much that he wanted to “bring them along.”  He was so proud :-).

I’m happy for the kids… happy that the boys get to stay at school, happy that Karis will get to stay home and by herself.  And I’m happy for me that I will get to focus on self care.  I just don’t have it in me to homeschool all of the kids right now.  Who knows if I ever will.  But in the meantime I need to get more stable mentally.  So that’s my goal!

Oh.  And I’m also happy that I will get to go to town once a week and bring Karis along (when Robert is working).  AA and counseling will happen more often now :-).  Which is part of my self care.

Hyperventilation Syndrome and Trying All the Things to Reduce Anxiety

Hyperventilation syndrome (HVS); also chronic hyperventilation syndrome (CHVS) and dysfunctional breathing hyperventilation syndrome is a respiratory disorder, psychologically or physiologically based, involving breathing too deeply or too rapidly (hyperventilation). HVS may present with chest pain and a tingling sensation in the fingertips and around the mouth (paresthesia) and may accompany a panic attack.

People with HVS may feel that they cannot get enough air. In reality, they have about the same oxygenation in the arterial blood (normal values are about 98% for hemoglobin saturation) and too little carbon dioxide(hypocapnia) in their blood and other tissues.”

I’ve had this twice before, lasting 3 months and 1 month.  This time it has lasted about 1 month so far (though it has been more off and on this time).

I’m thankful for my hubby. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out WHY I’m anxious. I’ve been thinking that there has to be a reason, and it must be my fault. I must have done something to cause it. But he reminded me that I have generalized anxiety disorder and it’s a chemical imbalance. I will have anxiety just because. I don’t have to have a reason, and it’s definitely not my fault. I can do things to help, and I am being proactive.  Tomorrow I’ll be getting blood work done, going to AA, and going to counseling.  I’ll see my doctor in about a month.   I’ll be taking some supplements as soon as I receive them from Amazon.  Last night I meditated twice and that helped.  I use these apps:

I’m also happy that I have continued to be present with my family despite this, and we have done lots of fun things! Poetry Teatime, I cooked a big dinner last night, we made Oobleck and homemade playdough yesterday, Levi and I played several games the other day, the kids have been crafting like crazy in our new craft/reading room, and last night we did independent reading as a family and Robert read aloud to the kids. All of this helps a ton because I’m not as focused on the anxiety (it’s still there while I’m doing all of this, but I’m not thinking about it as much).  

I feel like this hyperventilation syndrome will last forever but Sue in my Parenting with Anxiety group reminded me a while back that it won’t. It just feels like it.

Like my counselor says, “feelings aren’t facts.”  And what I say to myself matters!

Now on to supplements…

I have these supplements: Melatonin (I take these every night), B12, Cod liver oil, Garden of Life Vitamin Code, and Garden of Life Probiotics.

I ordered Vitamin D3.

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I ordered Calm Magnesium but then found out that it isn’t absorbed well into the system and it tastes gross (it’s a powder that you mix with water), so I’ll be sending it back.  My best friend ordered me some magnesium glycinate, which is the highest absorbed into the system, and it’s a tablet!  I’m so thankful for her (I had found out about the Calm after it was too late to cancel and I am out of money for supplements… this is my birthday present from her!).

Magnesium Gly

I did order Rescue Remedy candies (along with the Calm).  These are alcohol free.

Rescue remedy

 

 

I will order a Super B complex when I run out of my B12 and Vitamin Code.  I will probably also order some epsom salt because I’ve read and heard that it’s good for anxiety (it is magnesium!).

I listen to my Serenity Spa Music often during the day and especially at night, then switch to ocean sounds (white noise app) to sleep (I have done this for a long time).

 

Robert and I have decided that we will work on becoming caffeine free again.  My counselor told me to do this a while back.  We were almost there, then I started increasing my caffeine more and more and now I drink a lot of caffeine again.

Along those same lines, I’m going to switch from Coke Zero to only sparkling water (over time).

I also need to get back to being outside more.  I can’t do major hikes because when I get out of breath it makes things harder for me, but walks are good.

I also pray a lot, but I struggle with this because I am kind of frustrated that God would allow me to suffer with anxiety so badly.  I feel like my prayers are going unanswered.

Last night right before our reading time, it rained (for the first time in a long time), and I saw this beautiful rainbow out of my back windows/door.

It was a great reminder that God is with me.  Even in the moments when I don’t understand why He allows things to happen, I can trust that He will use it for His glory.

The last 2 times this happened I took a LOT of Xanax.  My previous doctor gave me 120 tablets at once and told me to take it every 4 hours!  And he knew that I drank a lot because I told him and he did urine tests!  Drinking and Xanax aren’t options anymore so I’m praying that the natural remedies and things will work!

Just Processing Through Anxiety and Continuing to Figure Out Who I Am

So I’m sitting here on my back porch just feeling terrible… hyperventilation syndrome, chest hurts, cough, tingly hands and feet, foggy brain.  Just bad.  And since I’m struggling with the breathing thing, yet again, my mind goes to “fix it” mode.  What’s wrong with me this time?  What can *I* do to make myself feel better?  It has to be anxiety, why am I anxious?

My blog is usually my way to process through things, so I’m going to use it to try to find some relief.  And if I can’t, I’ll just go to bed early and do some meditation.

I started Monday out excited.  I found a blog called Blissful Britt that is basically who I used to be and who I want to be all wrapped up in one.  She’s a coffee lover, hiker, runner, foodie, and blogger.  She’s not married and she doesn’t have kids (at least not from what I can tell), so there’s that.  Obviously our lives look a lot different, but I can do what I want out of those things to be who I want to be!  It’s a choice that I make, right?

Robert seemed very excited because he was happy to see me excited about the outdoors again.  He really feels that being outside more will make a huge difference for my anxiety.  And for the most part he’s right.  I’m sitting on my porch and while I feel pretty terrible still, I can breathe a little bit better.  Unfortunately, though, that is what caused my breathing issue Monday night.  I went for an hour long hike and started to struggle, and it just never got better.

So now I’m wondering if maybe I’m trying to be someone I’m just not anymore… or maybe someone I can’t be right now at least.

This is who I want to be:

  • A person who is outside often and does all the nature-y things with her family.
  • Someone who backpacks regularly.
  • Someone who cooks and bakes often (and does a good job).
  • A homeschool mom who has a relaxed way of doing things and just enjoys being with the kids.  A Charlotte Mason homeschooling family (I LOVE her work).
  • A sober person with the ability to encourage those who are trying to be sober or are struggling (and sponsors others).
  • Someone who uses her mental illness to help others.
  • Someone who loves Jesus and that is evident in her life.
  • Someone who can let the house go a little.  Someone who can let go of organization a little and just live.
  • A good writer.
  • A mom with a lot of grace.
  • Someone who practices regular hospitality.
  • Someone who makes health priority, but doesn’t obsess over it or make it the focus.
  • Someone who is content with who she is.
  • Someone who doesn’t feel the need to live up to anything (in life, in homeschooling, in appearance, etc).
  • Someone who can just enjoy the moments as they come and not be so serious all the time (I want to be joyful!)

Oh, and then I actually considered trying to start “living naturally” again yesterday.  Like, go back to the no BPA, no paper, natural products, homemade cleaners, all homemade foods, organic, grass fed, herbal supplements, blah blah blah that I let go of a long time ago!  Maybe that’s what also caused my anxiety yesterday.  Some is good, but 100% is NOT healthy for me! (this is me, the black and white thinker here)

So now I’m trying to decide if I should make decisions based on these things (like a mission statement), or if that’s too much?  Am I causing anxiety by expecting too much from myself?  Maybe I just need to be okay with “enough.”

This is who I am (now):

  • I like to sit on the porch daily to blog or read but I don’t go for hikes as often as I would like (1-2 times a week).  The kids and I do nature walks/studies once a week.  We have plans for camping in the fall.
  • Robert and I go backpacking once or twice a year.  (I may not be able to go in August like we have planned if I don’t start feeling better, but I’m hoping to feel better, and there’s always next time)
  • I cook and bake often :-).  I love using recipes, coming up with recipes, and tweaking recipes.  I like to bake bread, pizza crust, muffins, cookies, etc.  I love to cook new things for dinner.  I have been branching out more lately.
  • I am a homeschool mom that is learning to relax and enjoy spending time with her kids using mostly a Charlotte Mason method.  I am also learning to throw off stuff that is heavy and doesn’t serve me well (I’m simplifying even more than what I had written on my last blog about curriculum).
  • I AM a sober alcoholic that does my best to encourage others when the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t sponsor like I would like to (and should) because I live so far from town!
  • I am very open about my sobriety and mental illnesses and I have a small group where people can share their needs.  I hope that my blog helps people.  It’s hard to know, though.  I don’t have many followers/readers/commenters.
  • I do love Jesus but I often wonder if it’s evident in my life because my mental illness overshadows it.  I’m working on growing this relationship, but it’s going to take a while because I have been running away (not really intentionally, but through my mental illness and addiction).
  • I definitely struggle to let the house or organization go.  I spend more time organizing than I actually spend using the organization.  And I’m constantly cleaning or yelling at my kids to clean.  That was the source of major anxiety yesterday (we spent HOURS cleaning and a lot of that was me yelling at the boys to clean!).
  • I don’t have as much grace with my kids as I would like to have, but I’m hoping I will get there one day.  Most of the time I’m doing much better than I did when they were smaller, but I have my days (I guess we all do… maybe I need to give myself that grace… maybe that’s the conclusion to all of this…).
  • I am learning to practice hospitality, but it does bring me anxiety and that makes me sad :-(.  Friday through Monday we had people over 3 times!  I really only had anxiety one of those days (Friday night).
  • I’m working on the health thing, one habit at a time.  I’m probably not going to go back to the natural/organic thing because I’ve begun to see that natural/organic isn’t what makes something healthy… it’s the nutrients in things that makes them healthy.  And slow, habit change is what’s sustainable (I have never been able to do a diet more than 3 months max).
  • I’m working on being joyful but it’s really hard when I can’t breathe right.  So that’s going to be a one moment at a time kind of thing.

Maybe I’m closer to who I want to be than I thought.  I have a really hard time “just living life” and being content with things.  I have had so much change over the years that I am always expecting something to change.  Or that we will have to do something differently because of my mental illness (and then it will be all my fault).  Thing is, I absolutely LOVE life (I’m pretty much living my dream)!  I just hate anxiety!

I’m trying to remember that I am ME, and I don’t have to fit into some kind of  box.

Well, after some time writing, I’m feeling somewhat better.  But I do think I’m going to go to bed pretty soon and do some meditation.

Tomorrow is a new day.  And I am going to town for AA, so that’ll help so much.

A Look Inside The Good and the Beautiful Level 4 Language Arts and Literature

I have been doing level 3 with Karis because it teaches sentence diagramming and she doesn’t have a background in it.  It has honestly been kind of hard because she is 11 and needs to be more independent (she was pretty much completely independent before G&B).  So I asked in the G&B group what they thought about moving to level 4 even though she doesn’t know how to diagram.  Everyone said that there isn’t much diagramming in level 4, there is a video on their website, and there is a reference section in level 4 to show how to diagram.  Also, I am torn about how much I really even care about diagramming.  We’ll see.  Karis is a really good reader (about an 8th grade level) so I feel that she can handle a higher level.  I know she’s going into 6th grade so level 4 may not make much sense, but the curriculum is very advanced.  I have the boys doing level 1.  I have looked at level 5 (level 6 isn’t out yet), and I think she could probably do it just fine, but I already have level 4 so I’m going with it!

I downloaded the free pdf of the course book and printed that because it’s black and white.  It includes grammar, reading/comprehension (it has whole chapter books with-in it), spelling, and writing.  She will do one lesson out of the course book per day.  Sometimes two.

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She will also read for 20 minutes out of a novel of her choice AND 20 minutes out of a history novel.  When she is finished with the history novel she will do a narration/book project of her choice (she has a list of 30 to choose from).

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In addition to the course book, she will do one lesson out of the Creative Companion each day.  This is my favorite part of this level.  It includes geography complete with gorgeous maps, beautiful paintings for art appreciation, art instruction using pastels, and writing instruction.  I wish I could show you every single page out of this because I love it so much.  And it was only $14!

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Then she will also practice the grammar and geography cards for about 5 minutes per day, alternating between the two.  These cards only cost $10 and they cover the grammar basics for levels 4-7.  For geography they will learn all of the US states and their capitals and all of the countries in Europe.    Like the Creative Companion, I wish I could share all of the cards with you :-).

Now that she is doing independent work, I have created a checklist for her to go through each day/week.

We will start this after Family Camp!!  Can’t wait!

 

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!

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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.

The Best Saturday in a Long Time

Yesterday was a fantastic day.  Robert didn’t work.  He’s not home often right now.  There are so many projects going on here at camp.  Things should slow down soon, and we are taking a few trips this summer.

We cleaned up the house, Robert worked on our Xterra a bit, then we went to town so Robert could buy some things for camp.

We went to Sonic for ice cream, went to the park (a new one that we hadn’t tried before), and went to a book store that we had never been to before.

The kids played on the little kid stuff at the park :-).  Haha.

The book store that we went to gives 75% off the cover price if you bring a book to trade (I didn’t know this so I paid 50% off the cover price). You have to bring kid books to buy a kid book. But we have a lot that we won’t read. I think we’ll plan to let the kids pick out a book each time that we go into town. This will give them something to look forward to and maybe the boys will enjoy reading more (well, Levi enjoys it already but Ethan pretty much hates it). Levi started reading one of his Star Wars books right away and is several chapters in. It blows me away that he can read and comprehend books that are written for older kids. Karis actually struggled with reading until she got a little older (now she’s on like an 8th grade level). Ethan has always struggled (and still does). So for Levi to be in first grade (well, just finished) and able to read big chapter books blows me away. He’s also really good at math. And spelling. Things just come easy to him! I’m thankful!

I didn’t get Karis any books because she has a LOT of books that she loves (the boys don’t), and I just didn’t see any that she would enjoy.

We also got stuff for s’mores and hot dogs at Walmart.

When I went to Walmart to get the stuff for s’mores, I had to walk by the cases of beer (cause grilling, fires, s’mores, and beer all goes together). I looked closely at my Blue Moon that I used to drink. I had a fleeting thought of how nice it was when I could drink it and sometimes I miss it. But. I wouldn’t trade where I am today for what I felt like a year ago. I’ve had anxiety lately but it’s nothing like it was a year ago. I had hyperventilation syndrome and I couldn’t breathe right. I had restless legs a lot. I had terrible insomnia. I would wake up after the alcohol had worn off and couldn’t go back to sleep. Every. Single. Night. I tried everything to be able to sleep. I had an obsession and compulsion to drink and the more I had the more I wanted. It was never enough. I threw up multiple times a week (like I’ve mentioned before). The room spun every night, and I often passed out. Many, many times I woke up wondering if I had done anything that I shouldn’t have (looking at texts, FB messages, and fb posts). I also didn’t remember a lot. Being an alcoholic is ugly and embarrassing. There’s nothing glamorous about it. And statistics show that 15% of people are addicts/alcoholics so I know there are people reading this that are and don’t know it. Or they don’t want to admit it. You can have this freedom that I have with some work! I’m 228 days sober today and I take it one day at a time!

We ended the night with a fire in the fire ring.  We roasted hot dogs and made s’mores.  Some neighbor kiddos came and told camp fire stories.  It was super cute.  The kids had a blast.

Ethan told me yesterday that it was the best day of his life.

I would agree that it was a pretty good day.

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!

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!