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!

 

Now, For Curriculum We Will Use…

…MOST things I already have!  I ordered a few things (some used).  And I’m borrowing several things from my neighbor!  I am set for the year!

Morning Time

I haven’t been super consistent with this in the past, but I’m going to try again :-).  I have so many great resources that I want to use!  I will do this on a loop schedule.  Literature and poetry, fine arts, geography, and Bible.

Geography

Bible

Math (Math U See)

For the boys

For Karis

Language Arts

They will be doing The Good and the Beautiful for phonics, reading, grammar, spelling, art appreciation, and geography (levels 2 and up).  The boys are starting with level 1, and Karis will be starting with level 3 because it’s very advanced.  They need the spelling and grammar from the lower levels.

 

 

Karis will be doing IEW Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.

Ethan and Levi will be doing Writing With Ease Level 2 (this is narration, dictation, and copywork).

All 3 kids will also read novels and library books and do a reading response journal using these:

Reading Response Menus

Informational Text Question Cards

Reading Response Question Cards

I will also use this list of “book reports” to have them report on the books that they read in a creative way.

Here are a few pictures of the reading response questions that we will use:

This is a rubric to go with the menus.

 

Science (Apologia Astronomy)

I had this for this past year but I wasn’t consistent with it.  We’re going to use it this coming year.  We will add field trips to it!  The McDonald Observatory, the Scobee Education Center Planetarium, and NASA.  It’s going to be so much fun!

History

We’re borrowing Story of the World Volume One: Ancient Times from my neighbor.

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

These will be our read alouds… one per month.

Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears)

For Levi

For Ethan

For Karis

Nature Studies and Poetry Memorization

Journaling a Year in Nature by Simply Charlotte Mason

I think this is everything :-).  It seems like a lot, but many things we will not do everyday.

This Week in the Crosland Homeschool + IEW Writing

This week has been a productive one.  Karis now starts school at 9:00, takes a break at noon for lunch, gets back to work at 12:30, and finishes at about 1:30/2:00.  So that’s about 4- 4 1/2 hours of school work per day.  She’s being challenged in new ways, and I’m thankful that she hasn’t complained too much.

Reading

We started this week reading Esperanza Rising and she hated it.  She dreaded reading time (not at all like her).  So, I decided to let her finish the week reading what she wanted and using the reading menu to respond to it.  She has to write 3-5 sentences.  She’s usually pretty good at responding to novels.

IMG_0228

I started reading while she reads.  We sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Science

For science we studied Venus.  We read and took notes; she answered questions, did copywork (cursive), and did a crossword with vocabulary.  We were going to do the project but we needed newspaper and didn’t have any, so we will wait till we go to the store Sunday.

Spelling

She is working through 5th grade spelling menus through the end of this year (we will start Spelling Workout in the fall).  She seems to enjoy this.  It gives her some choice.

Math

We’re moving through this math pretty quickly so far, but it will slow down in a few lessons when long division is introduced.  Like I’ve said before, I started her behind so that she could learn things well that she never really understood. So we’re moving quickly through it and will continue through the summer.  The goal is to get to the next level in the fall (which may or may not happen), and it’s still a “grade level behind.”  But I really want her to understand!  I feel like with working through the summers she will eventually get caught up!

Grammar

She’s working on prepositions still, and will be doing review next week.  We have worked on prepositions for several weeks.  I love Easy Grammar!  LOTS of review and it digs deep!

We also use Khan Academy to teach some concepts. She loves that.  It also really helps her understand on a deeper level.

History

We haven’t done history the past few weeks because I wanted to save it for if we brought the boys home.  But since we decided not to, we will pick it back up next week.

I ordered this Usborne Encyclopedia of World History to go with it!


Writing

Now on to writing… I am so happy with what we are doing.  It has been a game changer for her.  She has always hated writing… she dreaded it.  She struggled with coming up with anything to write.  It brought on tears every time.  Then I found out that she didn’t really do writing at school, which made her further behind.

We started this year trying out some units that I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers but she had tears about it immediately.  Then we tried the writing that my neighbor uses (Writing with Ease), and tears again.  Now, I don’t think she’s going to like everything that we do, but it’s different if she is super anxious and in tears.  And since I can change things, I feel like it’s my job to help her be her best.

A few weeks ago I bought the online streaming course of Teaching with Structure and Style.  It worked the first day I bought it, but it wouldn’t work anytime after.  I’m not sure why.  I chatted with them online and they told me that they could send me the DVD’s for the price of the online streaming course.  That’s a $60 difference!  And the online streaming only lasts a year; the DVD’s are forever.

I received them yesterday!  It was like Christmas!

I have watched a few of the videos and so far it was just review for me (I actually watched all of the DVDs a few years ago when I taught at a private classical school, but I only used it for the first 3 out of 9 units and I forgot most of it).  We are working very closely within the second unit for a while to get a good grasp of the concept.

The way it works (for unit 1-2) is you take a passage (could be fiction or non-fiction) and make a keyword outline using 3 words or less for each sentence.  Numbers and symbols are free.  So far she hasn’t used any numbers or symbols… just words.

She then writes the paragraph(s) from the keyword outline (unit 2 starts the writing).  Next, she revises and edits.  Then she publishes by typing it out.  For now, we do everything together (well, she does the keyword outline by herself and she tells me what to write).  Eventually the goal is to get her to do everything on her own, but the founder of the program says you can’t help too much.  So I’m helping her a ton.  Through this, I’m building her confidence to be able to be successful at it on her own.

For the first time ever, she says that she likes writing.  We have tried almost everything out there!  Writeshop, Writing with Ease, units on Teachers Pay Teachers, Classical Academic Press, and Essentials in Writing.

Pretty much everything else was too open-ended for her.  She needed something to tell her what to write (to start out).

Now through the summer we will be doing units 2-4.

Then starting in September we will be using Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.  There are some units that don’t have much practice in this book so I will add various source texts to expand.

Over time, the goal is to get her to be able to write original works.  Next fall she will write from a story, a one source research paragraph, writing from pictures, multi-source research paper, creative (inventive) writing, essay, and finally literary analysis.  It’s a long process.

Another part of this program is that the students use “stylistic techniques.”  The first ones that we are using are called “dress-ups.”  Right now the dress ups that we’re using are an -ly adverb and a because clause.  They are starting to get easy for her, so we will move on to another one soon.

Other techniques include using figurative language, sensory words, creative sentence openers, etc.

He teaches that everything is about process and not product.  The dress-ups are to learn and practice a technical skill to become a better writer.  For a long time, she will have to include all dress ups in every paragraph.  Once I feel that she has them down, she can start using them as she wishes.

He also says that the writing will be awkward at first, and that’s normal until they get the skills down.

I feel like I’ve finally figured out all of the curriculum that I want to do and feel confident in my decisions.  She’s thriving for the first time ever, really (it’s at least been several years).  The last time I homeschooled her I was still trying to figure out curriculum.  Now I’m just investing in what we’re using!

Coming Up: Week of 3/27-3/31

This coming week we won’t be doing school Monday because we will be in town most of the day, and Tuesday we will be in town in the morning so we will do just the basics.

Morning time will consist of:

Bible 

Bible study Genesis chapters 5-6 and mom/daughter devotional.

Shakespeare

Learning about William Shakespeare

Fine arts 

Artist study: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest ArtistsPablo Picasso

Geography

For geography we will be studying the continent of Africa.

We will spend 5-20 minutes on each.

 

For spelling we will do All About Spelling Level 2, Step 1: Review.  This reviews what was taught in Level 1, which we did not do.  This step is very necessary to move forward.  We will not use letter tiles like the lessons state because that would just drive her crazy!  We’ll do everything in a composition notebook.

For reading she will read The Devil’s Arithmetic chapters 1-3, do vocabulary, and answer questions.  I love these units!  I have so many more coming up!

I will also have her read something of her choosing for independent reading time (3 chapters will take her like 15 minutes… she loves to read so she’ll need more).

For writing we will do Week 2 of Writing with Ease Level 4.  The excerpts to narrate and dictations are from A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich.

Math will be Math U See Delta, lesson 1 A-F and Test (we are moving through this fast because I went backwards to fill in some gaps). Tuesday she will do A & B, Wednesday C & D, Thursday E & F, and Friday will be the test.

Grammar will be Easy Grammar 6 and Daily Grams 6.  I haven’t received these yet so I don’t know what it covers.  We’ll just go in order.

Art will be creating art like Picasso.

Science will be Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy Lesson 3: Mercury.  We will receive her notebooking journal from Rainbow Resource on Monday.  We will study lesson 3 for 2 weeks since we only have 3 days this coming week.

History will be Story of the World chapter 2: “Egyptians Lived on the Nile River.”

A Sunday Well Spent and Coming Up This Week!

We didn’t go to church today because Robert is working and we really can’t afford to drive this week (we had about $300 worth of medical expenses this pay check plus counseling, gas, groceries, etc).  Life is expensive.  Especially with mental illness (or any illness for that matter).  I’m looking forward to less expenses this coming check.  We can get through!

The kids touched up the house again and we got caught up on laundry.  I made a big pot of oatmeal for Karis and I this week (she is now gluten free so we have to find whole grains for fiber that aren’t wheat).

I spent most of my time today finishing up lesson plans and organizing binders.  I also enjoyed some time looking at Teachers Pay Teachers for writing and reading curriculum.  It was fun :-).

I’m so excited about the writing and spelling that I have bought (and the reading that I had previously bought).

The spelling is very simple, but that’s exactly what I wanted.  It’s a menu of options for practicing the words on the page.  It was only $2 for an entire year.  Well, we’ll just stop whenever Karis has gone through the whole thing (since we are starting in March, we’ll just continue it after summer).

The writing is my favorite part!!!  I bought a 5th grade informative writing bundle and a narrative writing bundle!  They are so amazing!  I have struggled with writing all along as I’ve homeschooled and this is exactly what I wanted.  I let Karis decide what we are starting, and it will be informative.  This is a research paper (5 paragraph)!  She has never done one, I don’t think.  I already bought 6th grade informative and narrative bundles, and I will be buying argumentative, poetry, and writing a novel bundles!  I have decided that we will just use these formats from now on.  I think she’s going to do really well with them.

I’m also excited about the simple grammar that I bought (decided against what I had from TpT).  It’s called Easy Grammar and it’s just that… easy and grammar.  I printed the sample lesson for this week!

Karis told me this afternoon (while looking through her binder) that she wants to start today!  She doesn’t want to wait till tomorrow :-).

Through planning our history (Story of the World Volume One) the past few days, I’m super excited about it and think that we may actually keep using this instead of moving to Notgrass in the fall.  We’ll see!  I think it’s more what Karis will like because it’s written in story form and has lots of fun activities to go with it.

We’re also going to do morning time again (Bible study, devotional, and poetry memorization) and art.

Karis is excited about it all.

In my binder I have the lesson plans for writing (obviously these were written for classroom teachers, but I will make it work for homeschool):

These are in her binder:

Reading

Writing

Math (this level is WAY too easy for her, but she doesn’t have a good grasp of long division so I went backwards… she should breeze through it and on her level soon!)

Grammar

For some reason my pictures of the spelling and history (maps) won’t load.  The history is just maps and spelling you can see by clicking the spelling link above.

She will have 3 notebooks: A reading response journal, a writing journal, and a history journal.

She and I are both ready!

Robert will be heading to Rocksprings in the morning before I leave to withdraw her.

Her teacher responded to my email and was very supportive and thinks we’re doing what’s best for her.

She’s excited that she still gets to do choir.  She’ll get to see her friends there.

She also has friends here, so she will have plenty of chance for socialization.

I’ll update in the next few days about how things have gone!  Check back!

Really Doing What is Best for My Girl

This has been a long week for Karis and I (more for her than me).  Starting Tuesday she was acting weird… extra emotional.  Then it got worse Wednesday.  She was also complaining about stomach pain.  She had a few others symptoms that worried me.  Wednesday night was a little party for her and she blew the candles out on the cake and left.  She went home and was in tears about stomach pain.

She was going to help me with this cake but didn’t feel up to it.  Her friend iced it.

I made her smile for a few pictures.

The pain just got worse and worse.  Thursday she was in tears most of the day (bawling sometimes… and it didn’t matter who was there).  I finally decided to call the doc and make an appointment.  She was able to get her in the next morning.  Thursday night I found out she has been having digestive issues for a while but she was embarrassed to tell me.  At that point I was so glad that I made an appointment for her.

I’m so thankful to my cousins because they watched the boys so I could take her in without them.  It turned out to be God’s hand in it because we wouldn’t have been able to be as open with them there.

We were there for an hour.  We talked about Karis’ severe anxiety at school, her crying all the time at school, her withdrawal from other students and struggling to make friends, the fact that she has mentioned suicidal thoughts to me, the being exhausted all day and having a hard time going to sleep at night.  Then we talked about her digestive issues, and my suspicion was correct.  She has the condition that I thought she had.

What I didn’t realize is that her psychological issues are likely the cause of it.

The nurse practitioner was adamant that she see a psychologist to get a diagnosis then have her see a counselor.  She also strongly felt that homeschooling is best for Karis.  She believes that she has severe social anxiety (and some depression).  But we won’t know for sure until we see a psychologist (if we can afford it).  She said that school is a major trigger for her and we need to remove that trigger to heal her body.

After that appointment I asked my counselor if she saw kids and she doesn’t, but she referred me to a person in her office that does (and said he is amazing with kids).  I called him yesterday afternoon and we talked for about 30 minutes.  He is fantastic.  He does art and play therapy and has experience with kids with the same condition that Karis has.  Bonus is that he is an LPC intern (I trust interns because I have had a good experience with one) and he doesn’t charge much at all.  He charges what you can afford.  He said I could pay as low as $10.  I’m paying $25.  That is incredible for good counseling!

We also decided to go ahead and withdraw Karis and start homeschooling her.  Just in time for STAAR testing.  She has been in tears over that stupid test.  She was being tutored for math and her teacher stopped it because she passed the benchmark by 2 points (not enough in my opinion).  And she doesn’t know how to divide!  It blows my mind that their only goal is passing that stupid test.  I hate it.  But I don’t blame the teachers.  It’s not their fault.  It’s the system.  They hate the test as much as I do (I remember from being a teacher).

Another thing that we have to do is to start limiting gluten and dairy again (mainly no breads and straight dairy like milk, ice cream, straight cheese, etc).  She said that she can still have yogurt because the proteins are broken down.  Lots of water.  Lots of fiber (which is hard for her because she is so picky because of textures).  We got a fiber supplement and will be trying to get her to eat more veggies.  She refuses to eat fruits (except bananas and apples, but the doc said those are out).  She has to take a few meds for a while to get her healthy.  She also will be taking a good probiotic, vitamins, and fish oil.

We’re coming at this from all sides.

Karis is so relieved and excited that we are going to be homeschooling.  She feels better emotionally already.  Her whole demeanor has changed.  She slept great last night!!

Robert told me last night that we need to do this as cheaply as possible for now.  I dug through what I still had (stuff that wouldn’t sell) and I have so much already!  I have science (textbook, notebooking journal… I realize it’s a junior one, but we’ll make it work… and lab kit), spelling, writing (between the book pictured and writing packs from Teachers Pay Teachers), tons of novels (and reading response cards from TpT for journaling), lots of informational books (and reading response cards from TpT for journaling), and a quiet time curriculum studying the whole Bible.

My neighbor is loaning me history (everything needed, saving me about $60) and Math U See blocks, fraction over lays, the DVD, and the instruction book (saved me $115!).

All I had to buy was Math U See student books ($40… workbook and tests) and grammar (an $11 workbook… Easy Grammar).  I’m going backwards on math so that she will learn division well.  She has struggled with it from the beginning.  She will feel so confident once we get through some of this.

I will be saving up for a few things for the fall.  Notgrass From Adam to Us (unless we decide to keep doing what we’re doing… this is literature and history… Karis loves it… it is $100), Essentials in Writing (maybe… it’s $87), more spelling (each book is short and cheap), and the next math student books (when we’re finished with this one, $40).

 

 

Now, for my self care.  I will be able to continue AA and counseling on Mondays.  Robert is off 2 out of 3 Mondays so he will be with her then.  The other Monday she will either hang out with a friend here or we will go to town together and my mom will hang out with her in town.  She can take some work with her and they can hang out in a coffee shop or something.  I will do some online AA during the week (I have to actually make a point to do this because I didn’t do a good job in the past).

I will make sure to do my Bible study each morning (and have Karis do a quiet time).  We will do a mother/daughter devotional together as well.  I will make sure to continue to eat all meals (breakfast is new to me), reduce caffeine until I no longer drink caffeine (for anxiety and figuring out my hunger/fullness cues), I will continue doing the readings and meetings with my dietitian, and keep a good routine for myself.

This is the devotional that we will be doing:

We’ve had it a few weeks but it has been hard to find time to do it with school.

We both feel at complete peace and can’t wait to get started!