On this Thanksgiving…

I have pulled out my computer and sat there staring at the screen (or getting distracted by Facebook) so many times in the past month or so.  We have so much going on and I have so much that I … Continue reading

Finally Thriving, Not Just Surviving

The past 2 weeks have been long and stressful and amazing.  I was in town 10 times in those 2 weeks (either Kerrville or Rocksprings).  Karis broke her arm and we went to urgent care on Monday the 9th, Karis started school on the 10th, choir was on the 11th, we went to the orthopedic doctor on the 12th, the 14th we went to Wild Seed Farms and Robert and I had a date day (amazing day!!!!!), the 15th we went to the Alumni meeting at La Hacienda and I got my 1 year chip (and we picked up the kids), the 16th I went to AA (and Robert took Ethan to the ER that night for asthma), the 17th I went to town to get Ethan’s steroid med filled, the 18th was choir, the 19th Karis met with her partner for science fair at the library, and Friday Ethan and I went to the doc for a follow up and we got groceries.  The urgent care, ER, and doctors were not good (well, the docs and stuff were great but having to go wasn’t good), but the rest was!  And I’m really starting to feel better.  I’m having a few physical symptoms that I’m not sure about, but I’m still just taking it one day at a time.  I might go back to the doctor eventually.  It’s nothing extreme.  And tomorrow I will see my psychiatrist.  That’ll be good!  I don’t think I really need to make any changes.  I feel like things are going better and while I do have anxiety still, I don’t want to take more meds and I think it’s just something I have to live with.  I’ve learned a lot of coping skills and put those into place when I’m struggling.  Things are going well for the first time in a long time!

Tuesday we had “HAF (Home Away From) Homes.”  This is time with our gap year students (well, 3 of them).  We share with our neighbors who we love deeply.  It’s such a sweet time!

Friday was so fun.  I had an entire day with Ethan.  The appointment with the doctor went super well.  We got all of his asthma meds refilled and we’re going to focus on getting him completely stable in that area.  He got a flu shot.  Then we got donuts and got some blood work done to see what he’s allergic to.  We got groceries (I spent very little and am so proud of myself!) and we got Halloween costumes.  Then went to eat at a Chinese restaurant (Ethan’s choice).

This past weekend was so productive.

Saturday I cleaned the house nearly spotless.  It has been a long time coming!  I have just been having the kids clean it and obviously that means that things weren’t being cleaned super well. So I deep cleaned the bathrooms.  I cleaned the floors.  I cleaned and organized my bedroom (desperately needed to be done… I had piles everywhere).  I got caught up on laundry.  Washed some sheets (I need to finish that this week), and washed towels and bathroom mats.  The kids cleaned their rooms (not spotless, but good enough for now).  I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.

After the kids cleaned, they enjoyed time with their friends and Levi enjoyed time reading fall and Halloween books that I pulled out :-).  At the end of the day we watched a movie as a family (Spiderwick Chronicles… so good!).

Sunday I did a bunch of food prep!  Mini whole wheat pumpkin banana muffins.  Homemade whole wheat bread (though it didn’t rise real well).  I made lunches for 4 days.  I bagged snacks.  Cut cantaloupe.  Cut veggies for the veggie tray.  Froze pumpkin in candy molds for smoothies.

The kids were out playing with friends this whole time.  The boys went fishing in the river.  Karis played with her friends.  I love that they have each other!

Robert worked, then he had to go pick up the camp jeep because it broke down.

At the end of the day I did a quick pick up of the house, finished the dishes, set the coffee up for the next day, signed the kids folders, and did a little bit of spot sweeping.  I went to bed exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly!  It was so great!

I really think having all three kids in school is the best for our family.  I feel so much better mentally/emotionally.  The kids are thriving.  Karis is actually doing so much better this time.  She feels somewhat stressed, but she’s handling it very well.  I encourage her constantly and she has amazing teachers.  She’s making A’s and B’s!  A 100 in science and even an 86 in math!  This is HUGE, especially since she came in late in the school year.  Also, she’s doing well writing with her left hand since her write arm has a cast on it!

Yesterday I went to AA (always amazing!), then I had a nice lunch on the patio of Chili’s afterwards.  Then Walmart, then home!  We had dinner with friends last night.  It was so amazing!

I always get my Sonic Coke Zero with lime before AA.  And there’s a dollar there because they take up donations to pay for the fee for using the building, material, etc.  That’s my AA Big Book.  We read “How It Works” last week and this week.  It’s my favorite chapter in the book.  It tells you how to work the 12 steps.

The burger was a Smokehouse Cheeseburger.  It had a special sauce, crumbled bacon, 2 amazing onion rings, and all the veggies.  It was so amazing, and of course I love their fries.

Today I’m hosting ladies’ Bible study here.  It’s always a sweet time of fellowship.

Life is good!!  Praise God for this!!

My Health and Big Changes

Gosh.  I don’t really even know where to start.  I haven’t written in a long time and it has been mostly because I have felt pretty horrible.

I was sleeping all the time, no energy, eating very little, and my cough continued.  I went to the doctor again about a week and a half ago and she told me that she thinks I have bronchitis (though my breath sounds sounded fine, I had some symptoms of it).  She decided to try a steroid and she gave me another 10 days worth of Tessalon Pearles.  Over the next few days I started feeling better, but still not 100%.  I went back in on Monday because I was having a hard time breathing (though my cough was somewhat better).  Again.  Normal breath sounds, oxygen level was normal, etc.  She told me that she thinks it’s anxiety but gave me orders to get a chest x-ray and EKG just to rule things out (though told me a few times that she didn’t think we would find anything).  I haven’t gone yet because it’s very expensive.  Over the next several days things started getting slowly better.  My cough was slightly better and I started having more energy and desire to do things.  Last night was another horrible night with my cough.  I just resigned myself to decide to get the x-ray next week, still not sure that it will be worth the money (we just don’t have the money to throw away).  Then this morning my friend sent me an article that made so much sense.  It was about a woman that had an unexplained cough for 10 years.  She ended up finding out that she had silent reflux.  And I remembered that there were two ladies in a FB group that told me the same thing.  So I did a little research.  Sure enough.  I have a lot of the symptoms.  Robert just happened to be in town so I called him to see if he could pick up a reflux med.  The prescription strength ones are now over the counter.  I’m hopeful!  We’ll see what happens.  Today I’m really tired because I coughed all night.  I’m so ready to feel well.  It has been so long.

Now on to other, bigger things going on in my life…

I have been struggling with homeschooling Karis.  Between my mental illness and being physically ill for a long time, I felt that she needed something that I couldn’t offer her.  I have been asking her for a few months to consider going back to school and she has been completely set against it.  Just the idea brought her anxiety and she seemed stressed to discuss it.  Fast forward to this past Wednesday.

We went to Rocksprings (the town where the boys are in school) for a homecoming parade.  It was so fun!  The whole town shut down to be part of this parade.  Each class had their own themed float.  They threw candy out to the people watching.  Karis gathered a lot!  The boys enjoyed throwing it.  The parade ended with a huge bonfire at the Fairgrounds.

On the way home, Robert and I were talking about how much fun being a part of a small community like that is.  We were talking about how we wished that Karis would be okay with going to school there so we can just fully invest in the community.  It’s hard being split like we have been.

That night I sat down and talked to Karis about the possibility of talking with two of her teachers from last year (one that she just loved, and the other that is now the principal).  I said that we can discuss her fears, anxieties, and reasons why she left and figure out ways to work through all of that to make things more successful if she were to come back.  She was open and willing to discuss things.  I emailed the teacher and principal and they were so happy to hear from me.  They agreed that it would be so good for Karis to be back at school.

We met yesterday morning.  Karis was acting a little annoying… I had to pull her into the rooms.  But she is just literally so anxious/nervous and has trouble controlling herself.  She was making her weird noises and talking like a little kid (also what she does when she’s nervous).  But over time she opened up and started acting a little more “normal.”  We talked about her crying last year, her struggle with math, her struggle with friendships, and counseling.  We decided at the end of the meeting that it would be good for Karis to do a placement test in math to see if she needs to go back to 5th grade or stick with 6th grade.

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She did the placement test (which is just a released STAAR test) right away.  We were told that we would hear back by the end of the day with the score and their decision about what grade she would be in.

She and I went to Kerrville and had a great day in town.  We ate lunch at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants and sat on the porch in 75 degree weather.

We went to Starbucks and I had a PSL and she had a mummy cake pop.

We went to a craft store to get a few fall crafts.

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We had fun looking at Halloween decorations AND Christmas decorations (at Walmart).

We got groceries.  Then we came home.  On the way home I told her that we wouldn’t be trying to homeschool anymore.  I have tried to homeschool her like 4 times (and the boys 3 times).  I think it has contributed to some of her gaps.  Our school may be far away, but it has fantastic teachers and administration.  I told her that I know she prefers to be homeschooled, but it’ll be so much better for her to be in school.  I feel at this point that I will be doing her a disservice to try to homeschool her.  She needs to be with kids her age and she needs to be challenged.

When I got home I had a message and an email about Karis’ score.  She actually did really well!  The principal felt good about deciding to put her into 6th grade. When I told Karis this she was jumping up and down screaming.  She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to repeat fifth grade.  And the cool thing is, she will have the same teachers (well, except one new one).

So, soon I will be alone again during the week.  My plan is to take a week or two to rest.  Then I will get busy!  I need to spend some time organizing things around my house that have gotten disorganized the past 6 months.  I plan to go to town for AA Mondays and Wednesdays.  I will go to Rocksprings Wednesday afternoons because Ethan and Karis want to do choir again.  I will try to volunteer at the school sometimes.  I plan to invite friends over here for coffee, lunch, tea, etc.   I will hike with my friend some afternoons.  Lots of self care and focusing on my sobriety.  I will probably try to find a hobby or two (besides just blogging).

I hope things continue to improve.  All I can do is take one day at a time.  I feel better some days than others.  My sleep is better some days than others.  Some days I have energy, other days I can’t do much.

I’m in the process of selling the rest of my homeschooling curriculum.  I am keeping things like encyclopedias and art books because those can be used even if we aren’t homeschooling.  But the actual curriculum has to go!

Alright, off to make dinner then possibly carve a pumpkin with the fam!

Life is hard, but God is good!

The Hard Stuff… Processing Through My Fear, Falling into the Gospel

I have had yet another long few days thanks to anxiety.  I will feel good for a few days and think that I’m “over the hump” for it to all come flooding back even worse than before.  This over-breathing/hyperventilation syndrome … Continue reading

Over-Breathing, More Natural Remedies, and My New Focus

One of my best friends spent some time Monday sharing a bunch of links with me about hyperventilation syndrome (also called disordered breathing or over-breathing).  I didn’t read all of the links, but I found a few really helpful ones that made me feel like I’m not just making this up.

From Breathing Works:
“Disordered breathing occurs when upper chest breathing, usually at a faster rate and through the mouth, becomes the dominant pattern of breathing. Disordered breathing can also include big sighs, yawning, breath holding, feelings of breathlessness, or feeling unable to take a good breath in or out. Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, blurred vision, feeling easily overwhelmed, and constantly on edge.”

From Physiotherapy for Hyperventilation:

“How do I know if I am over-breathing? You may not be aware that your breathing is wrong or you may be aware of some, or even all, of the following most commonly experienced symptoms:

(I have most of these, though some of them aren’t constant.)

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Feeling breathless, even after relatively minor exercise
  • Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating
  • Breathless when anxious or upset
  • Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
  • Throat symptoms (I clear my throat constantly)
  • Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
  • Bloated feeling in the stomach
  • Light headedness

 

What causes these symptoms?

When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every out breath.

This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.

Triggers
You may be well aware of a particular event or experience that triggers your over-breathing, although this is not always the case. Possible triggers include bereavement, anxieties at work or home, altered breathing due to chest disease, (e.g. asthma) or following surgery.

(My trigger was anxiety)

How can I help myself?
Become aware of the way you breathe…
and how it may vary in certain situations. By learning to control the rate and depth of your breathing, i.e. retraining:
Learn to nose breathe.
Try to stop yawning and sighing.
Focus your breathing gently into your abdomen, avoiding excessive upper chest movement.
Become aware of your posture and learn to recognise areas of tension in your body.

Exercise…
This can be a good way of increasing your general feeling of well-being and self-confidence. If exercising is particularly difficult, discuss this with your physiotherapist.

(Exercise makes it worse right now but I think I’m going to try yoga.)

Diet…
Variations in your blood sugar levels can contribute to your symptoms, so:
Avoid large meals, particularly late at night.
Eat regularly
Take healthy snacks between meals”

(I’m working on this.  I’m not always consistent with my eating.)

 

I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that reflux is a symptom, and I’ve been struggling with that as well.  Papaya enzymes are my friend!  I tried them Monday night, and they worked almost right away.

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More Natural Ways that I’m Working on my Anxiety

Meditation and Breathing Training

I have two great apps that have worked really well for me.  I wrote about the meditation one before (Meditation Studio), but my friend shared a different one with me yesterday and it made a HUGE difference just using it a couple of times!

The app is called Breathing Zone.  It’s really simple.  It just has you breathe in and out in different amounts and times.  It completely reset my breathing.  Then I struggled again, then I started focusing on breathing through my nose only.  I have also been meditating when I first go to bed.

I took a picture today of myself before I started my breathing re-training while resting this afternoon.  I look kind of a mess (no makeup, hair everywhere, and zits), but I’m just thankful that I have these resources!  They have helped so much!

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Essential Oils
I received these essential oils from a friend yesterday, and I was floored.  She bought me 11 oils and some Stress Away bath bombs.  I totally don’t feel deserving of this.  Young Living EO’s are NOT cheap.  I’m praying that they help me!!!

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I no longer have a diffuser, so I ordered a pretty inexpensive one off Amazon.  Hopefully it works okay.  Diffusers from Young Living are at least $60 and this one was only $20!  It looks promising.  I will probably buy another one in a few weeks to have one in the living room and one on my desk in my bedroom.  We’ll see.

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I used to be anti-oils but I have decided that I am willing to try anything and my friend is helping me out SO much with this so I will try all of my options!

Supplements

I take a lot of meds (Buspirone, Lexapro, small dose of Lithium, Lamtictal, small dose of Risperdol, Propranolol, and Gabapentin), but I’m actually hoping to reduce soon because my doctor and I feel that I’m on too much (which I think has been causing me more anxiety).  I will always have to take meds, but less would be better.

I recently shared about all of the supplements that I take (Rescue Remedy as needed, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics), but I have recently added 5HTP with Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin B Complex.

I also ordered Epsom salt to use with essential oils in baths consistently.  I bought a “Sport” one because it was $5 cheaper ($10 instead of $15 for 5lbs)!  If I find that I’m going through a lot, I will buy a 19lb bag because it’s so much cheaper.  We’ll see.

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Acupuncture

When I was really struggling a few days ago my counselor suggested I try acupuncture.  I have never been open to that before in the past, but I was desperate and I made an appointment at a place called Kerrville Community Acupuncture.

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I ended up canceling the appointment when I noticed that they breathing re-training was WORKING.  It is always a fall back, though, if my anxiety gets bad again or if it just doesn’t settle down long-term.  The acupuncture does a lot of good things so it would never be bad to do.  I just don’t want to spend the money now (although she is pretty inexpensive with a sliding scale!).

Bible Study, Journaling, Prayer, Worship 

This is the most important one.  I have been struggling so much spiritually and I talked with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about not totally trusting God because He allows such bad things to happen.  In the midst of my suffering with the breathing issue (it’s TERRIBLE you guys) and having to put the boys back into school (again), plus thinking about the gruesome suicide of my brother and mine and my brother’s mental illness in general, I was just low.  She was amazing and shared lots of scripture with me, but I just couldn’t hear it.

The past few days I have been reading from an app called the First 5, and the study is on suffering.  It’s so perfect and exactly what I need to be reading right now.  It has you read a chapter out of scripture (starting with Job, and I read out of my study Bible with commentary), then there is a devotional to follow and an open-ended question that it asks at the end where you can type your answer right into it.  I am also using my Quieting Your Heart journal that I’ve shared before in the past.

Then I spent some time listening to worship music (which I haven’t been doing as much lately) and it was so perfect for my heart.  I could “hear” God speaking to me again for the first time in a long time.  I could feel His love.  I felt hope.  It’s been a while since I have felt hope.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me today, and He comforted me and was my counselor.  I have needed that for a long time.  Years.  I am convinced that I need to trust Him to be that for me more often.

Speaking of… I decided to pull out a book that has been on my bookshelf for like 8 years.  I read a couple of chapters when I got it but never finished it.  I totally forgot what I read those 8 years ago.  It’s called Forgotten God and it’s by Francis Chan.  I started reading it again today and it spoke so clearly to me.  I’m looking forward to actually reading it all the way through this time :-).

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I’m keeping most things off of my plate right now.

My new focus is my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends, keeping my anxiety low, going to AA (and staying sober), homeschooling Karis, and “healthy” habits that I have been doing for a long time (including gratitude, meal planning, meal prep, self care, keeping the house mostly clean, and one that I have been working on for about 5 months but still have a long way to go… self love).  That is all I can handle at the moment. And honestly it’s a lot!  What keeps triggering my anxiety is trying to do too much (all of that PLUS a movement habit, still feeling the need to focus on weight loss, planning other Balance 365 habits, planning a backpacking trip that I’m not ready for, homeschooling all of the kids which is the biggest thing, etc), so I will NOT make that mistake again, for a while at least ;-).  Now if I can keep my perfectionist brain away!

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.

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.

Busy Weekend with Some Self Care Mixed In

This has been an extremely busy weekend so far!!

The kids did most of the cleaning on Friday.  I just did some touch up.  I am so thankful that they can do that because I had so much cooking and food prep to do.

We had HAF (“home away from”) Homes Friday night with some summer staff.  We had homemade carnitas, pinto beans, Spanish rice, homemade guacamole, banana pudding, and coconut oatmeal cookies.  And sweet tea and hibiscus mint tea.  So I was in the kitchen allllll afternoon and evening.  It was so fun though!

The kids helped in the kitchen (well, Karis and Ethan).

The carnitas look pretty in the Instant Pot (one of these days I’ll get around to sharing the recipe!).  We also had my favorite corn and wheat tortillas and Spanish rice made from a package (everything else was homemade… just not the rice).  Robert makes the best homemade guacamole.

The summer staff and my kids played Mario Cart for a long time after dinner!

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One thing that made me happy was when one of the summer staff told me that my home is very warm and peaceful.  I have been told that before and that is always my goal!  I want people to feel comfortable here.

That night I had a LOT of anxiety.  I’m not even sure why, I just know that I had a hard time breathing.  I have been much better since, though!

Yesterday I slept in a bit (like 8 or 8:30), then I cleaned up again.  I didn’t do the dishes on Friday and the floor was dirty, etc.  

Yesterday I made some peanut butter pies, then got things ready to have people over again.  We had a meet and greet last night for a prospective maintenance tech and his wife.  It went so well!  We all loved them!

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Then I did a ton of prep work for the week!

weekend meal prep

I cut veggies for the week and took the grapes off the vine.

I made whole wheat pumpkin banana muffins (for the week) and pumpkin banana bread (for the meet and greet, and no one touched it…).

I had a piece of the bread and it was soooooo amazing.  I know it’s a little early for pumpkin, but I get ready for fall super early since it’s my favorite season!

My neighbor gave me a sweet gift and card yesterday.

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The candle is fall scented.  It smells amazing!  And I love the lotion and I needed some chapstick.  The little booklet that she gave me has ways to handle issues with kids including the scripture to go with it.  So cool!  This gift meant SO much to me.  I often feel like I’m annoying to others because of my anxiety so receiving a gift just encouraged me so much.

Today is going to be a nice, relaxing Self Care Sunday.

relaxitssunday

I’m writing this blog post and another one coming up.  I’m planning to read.  Maybe take a nap.  I will do a little bit more prep including baking some bread (which I love doing), but not much else!  I might also do one load of laundry.

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This coming week is going to be pretty laid back.  Tomorrow I am having some more summer staff over for dessert and coffee (my “Fruit Group,” which is some ladies).

The kids will continue to do their reading and math every day.  I will keep up with the house by doing a load of laundry a day, having the kids do their chores, and tidying each day.  We will do one hike/nature walk this week, probably in the evening with Robert again.  It was so nice last week.

We leave on the 19th to visit my inlaws, then go to Family Camp at Glorieta in New Mexico (which is our yearly vacation)!  I am beyond excited.  I am not even that anxious about it this year because I’m not drinking anymore and I know what to expect!  It’s a very fun and relaxing week!  There will be arrow tag, hiking, mountain biking, nerf room, blacklight dodge ball, foam pit, ice cream, coffee shop, good food, putt putt golf, mountain scooters, drift trikes, 50’s night, western night, dances, a date night, white water rafting (if we can afford it, it’s an additional fee), waterfront, inflatables, naps, games, and most importantly worship!  We will also have a counselor assigned to us!  And a lot of our friends here at Camp Eagle are going too so we will get to have fun together!

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OH!  And today is 9 months sober!!!!  This is HUGE!  It feels like yesterday that I went into La Ha, but it’ll be a year before I know it.  I am so much healthier than I was.  I have grown so much over the past 9 months!

9 months

What are your plans this week?

Any plans for a vacation soon?

Scaling Back, Learning through Anxiety, Healthy Habits, and Becoming More Relaxed

Yesterday morning I was having an “I hate mental illness” day.  I went to bed with a lot of anxiety and that stupid breathing issue again.

After some time and talking things out, I figured out WHY I was having anxiety, but it didn’t make me hate mental illness any less.

I have still been putting too much on my plate.

I will feel really good so I’ll pile stuff on my plate.  Then I will have anxiety, and throw it off.  Good, more.  Anxiety, less.  Rinse and repeat.  I was talking to ladies in my Home of the Croslands group and one of my friends said that it sounds like a bipolar thing.  Then another friend said that it sounds like an anxiety thing.  But whatever it is, it has been something I have struggled with for years and years.  I guess, ultimately, it doesn’t need a label.  I just need to learn how to cope.

Also, Tuesday, I was obsessing about curriculum again ALL day.  I wrote a blog post that took me HOURS (I have since deleted it).  All I was thinking about was homeschooling curriculum and mostly about ALL of the resources that I have (SO many)!

And then there is the whole *hiking as my new habit* for the Balance 365 program that I have been feeling guilty about not doing even though I said I would!  I had a goal of getting to hiking every day and that was over my head.

I have just been feeling overwhelmed.

Yesterday afternoon Ethan went to town with Robert so I let Karis and Levi just be on electronics so that I could lie down.  I was in bed for quite a while and couldn’t ever fall asleep, but it was still really good.  I listened to my Serenity Spa Music and just focused on my breathing.  It was very beneficial for me.

Then I got up and wrote in my Balance 365 group that I am struggling with my first habit, still.  One of the founders and a coach both reminded me that it needs to be so easy that I am 90-100% sure that I can stick with it.  I’m realizing that the 4-5 days a week of hiking is just way too much for me right now!  So I told them that a few weeks ago the kids and I started hiking once a week for their nature studies and they told me that would be enough for now!  If I’m 90-100% sure I can stick with that, then do that for a while.  Once I’m consistent with that for about a month, then I can add more to my plate.  This is going to be a VERY slow process and that is so hard for me to get used to!  I’m so used to dieting and exercising hard for a little while and not being able to continue because that’s not sustainable!  I can do 1 day a week!  I’m hoping to add in another day after Family Camp :-).

I actually have a lot of good habits in place: daily self care, one load of laundry a day, getting the kids to do their daily chores, making my bed each day (most days at least), tidying the house most days, once a week “big clean,” mostly healthy meals (balanced), meal planning and prepping (every 2 weeks),  and most importantly, I’m almost 9 months sober (on Sunday!).

Then there’s the whole curriculum and book/resource thing…

I was sooooooo overwhelmed after looking at all that I have.  Thinking about coming up with my own units for science (in addition to Apologia and nature studies) using living books in addition to our history curriculum, and just having ALL of the books and resources was too much.  And trying to do The Good and the Beautiful AND Brave Writer was too much.  So I’ve decided to reduce and scale back.  I keep having this fear that if I scale back it won’t be enough, but I’m learning that the kids need me healthy and it actually benefits them in many ways to reduce what we do.

I decided that for the next few weeks (until Family Camp… we leave on the 19th), the kids will just do math and read for 20 minutes.  We will also do nature studies once a week.

After Family Camp (we come back on the 29th) I will add in The Good and the Beautiful, then after labor day (after Robert and I get back from our backpacking trip), I will add in science and history.

This is my plan for the fall:

  • The kids will read independently for 20 minutes per day.  Karis will read extra to do her history novels (1 per month).  She’s 11 and can handle that.  And she loves to read.
  • The Good and the Beautiful language arts covers all of this, a little bit each day: Phonics, reading/literature, poetry, spelling (with additional activities that I came up with), grammar, writing, art appreciation, and geography.
  • I’m scaling back on the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  We will do Poetry Teatime because the kids love it (but even if we miss a week it won’t be the end of the world).  The kids like Friday Free-writes, so we will continue that most Fridays (I told them that they didn’t have to, but they want to). Copywork is through G&B handwriting.  No consistent dictation (only once in a while).  No writing projects for now (Brave Writer Partnership Writing).  I have this for good (it is a pdf so I can’t sell), and we can always add them later if we need/want to.  We will continue movie nights and playing games because we’ve always done that before Brave Writer.  And like I mentioned, we will do nature studies.
  • Instead of reading aloud (for morning time), we will listen to audio books: Shakespeare, The Action Bible (I also bought the book for them to take turns following along), and novels (some classics, some newish books).  If we don’t get to it in the morning we will do it before bed (or even in the car).  I won’t be strict about this… just several days a week.
  • Math will be the same: Math U See with some Kumon books thrown in for extra practice.  Karis is JUST doing the Kumon division book right now to practice.  Like I’ve said before, she’s a few years “behind” in levels because she really struggles with math.  That’s okay.  She’ll get there.
  • We will do Apologia Astronomy for science and Exploring Nature with Children (with the Handbook of Nature Study) for nature studies.  We will not add in extra fun units for now even though I have a TON of living books.  This may be something I add in eventually, but I need to keep it SIMPLE for now.  I have the Apologia text, note booking journals, and the lab kit with the materials in bags labeled with the lesson on the outside.  Karis will do every part of the notebooking journals (including taking notes, answering questions, doing vocabulary crosswords, project recording, mini books, and more), but the boys will do less.
  • Story of the World for history:  The boys will answer the questions and do narration orally.  Karis will do written questions and written narration over what we read together.  She will also read the novels on her own to go with it (one a month) and do a book project over it.  We will do the internet links through the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History together because they are fun videos.  I probably won’t do any extra projects through history.  Maybe every once in a while.

That’s still a lot but I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.  I won’t use many “living books” after all because I just can’t right now.  And that’s okay.

This is all of the stuff that I WON’T be using (at least not intentionally, for now):

Everything that I’m using is in the kitchen/dining room where we do our school (well, except novels that the kids will choose from).

I’m in the process of making a list for the kids’ independent work to put in their binder, but mostly for Karis.  She will be involved in the read alouds of science and history and will branch off for the rest.  I’m going to make her level of the Good and the Beautiful more independent even though it’s supposed to be together (we started on level 3 even though she’s 11 because this curriculum is advanced and she doesn’t have a solid foundation in grammar).  I will find a way to make it work because she is ready for independence (she WAS independent before the boys came home).  Also, making her more independent will actually help me out a ton.

I’m also going to make things more relaxed.  As long as we get things done in the day, we’re good.  Ethan is doing better these days without a strict schedule so I’m trying to have more of a routine and not a schedule.  I want the kids to be able to stay up for fun camp activities, to have people over, and to just have movie nights and game nights.  So I want them to be able to sleep in if they can/want.  Of course Ethan CAN’T sleep in no matter how late he stays up, so we’ll have some limits :-).

 

One of the biggest things that I am learning is that I can use the breathing issue to my advantage.  I have noticed that when I am doing too much and I get overwhelmed, I struggle with my breathing.  When I take stuff off my plate, I feel better.  So if I struggle with breathing, I will evaluate what I need to take off my plate!

I also just keep telling myself “grace” over and over anytime I get a thought in my head that I “should” or “need to.”

Now to print this off and hang it on my bulletin board!  Haha!