Pursuing What Sets My Soul on Fire (Jesus)

Being in a constant state of worship and adoration, service, gratitude, prayer, and confession are what set my heart on fire. Unfortunately my life has been just one struggle after another and my spirit has gotten lost in all of … 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!

Scattered Update… An Alcoholic is Always an Alcoholic

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Truth is, I have been struggling (still).

I don’t know if it’s my thyroid (I just started meds for it) or the hydroxyzine that my psychiatrist put me on, but I’m just sleeping all of the time.  Also my friend suggested that maybe I am depressed and I think that’s true, as well, to an extent.  And my cough has been there still, which is so annoying.  My doctor told me that it’s just allergies and gave me a nose spray and Tessalon Pearles.  I’ve also been taking Mucinex DM.  It helps some, but when it wears off, my cough comes back in full force.  There’s also a chance that it could be viral.

I have had no desire to clean, I’ve struggled to be fully present for Karis; Robert has been doing dishes, dinner, and laundry when he gets home from work.

I’ve also been struggling deeply with obsession about alcohol.  I had been doing sooooooo well until this week.  It hasn’t left me alone.  I went to Rocksprings Tuesday by myself and went to the store for a few things.  I kept walking by the wine and staring at it.  Remembering the wine that I used to drink, feeling the relief that I felt at the beginning of drinking it (not thinking of how bad I felt at the end of the day), and finding a wine that isn’t in a bottle that I could easily buy a bunch of and hide.  I was feeling desperate.  Luckily I walked away and texted my sponsor when I got home.  I talked with Robert and he reminded me that I’m okay.  I will be okay.  I just need to take good care of myself.  I wrote about it on Facebook for accountability (I know, most people don’t share about that on FB but I do).

I’ve been doing a lot of AA meetings on In The Rooms.  I want to do more in person but it’s so hard with where we live.  Honestly the online meetings are just as good!  And I can do multiple a day if I need to.

I’m taking it one day at a time.  I’ve read and heard that coming up on a year is really hard.  I have a couple of friends that are struggling who I met in the treatment center.

An alcoholic is always an alcoholic.  The possibility to drink is always there.  All we can do is take it minute by minute and day by day.  It has been pretty easy lately until this week so I’m hoping that it’ll get easy again.

I saw my doctor on Monday to discuss my blood work, symptoms, and my cough.  She was so great… she was concerned, listened to me, and did a thorough exam.  She came to the conclusion that my cough is most likely from allergies based on the fact that my lungs and heart sound great, and I have bad drainage.  She gave me Tessalon Pearles and a nose spray to clear the drainage.  So every day I take Mucinex DM, the Tessalon Pearles, the nose spray that she prescribed, and Flonase.  I feel okay when I stay on top of all of this but when it wears off the cough comes back.  And I have a slight cough even with all of that.  The cough has lasted about 2 months so far and is wearing on me.

I told her about my symptoms and she said that with my TSH number and symptoms she is diagnosing me with hypothyroidism.  She put me on Nature Throid which I was thankful for because I have had bad side effects from synthetic thyroid meds.

She also put me on cholesterol meds because I have been on it before and it worked with no side effects.  It’s in my family so changing my diet and exercising did nothing in the past.

I’m on sooooo many meds and supplements.

Morning meds and supplements

Night meds and supplements

I have continued to end my day listening to Serenity Spa Music and lying next to my diffuser with essential oils.  I take baths when needed.  I meditate sometimes (though I don’t do this often enough).

I still feel so distant from God (I have talked about this in the past).  I haven’t been leaning into Him like I want to.  I miss Him.  I do spend some time in worship and that’s helpful.  We will be going back to church again in a few weeks, and I think that’ll help so much!

I have been asking Karis constantly if she would go back to school.  I have been so worried that she will suffer because I am struggling.  But she has begged me to stay home.  I then considered the online public school, but I changed my mind after talking with people about it.  It’s super difficult and intense.  Plus she would still have to test, which is why she struggles so much in school as it is.  So we have landed right where we were.  She is pretty independent and helping her some actually helps me.  It gives me some purpose and something positive to do.  She has been doing well these past few weeks.

Anyway, this is a scattered update.  I will hopefully come back with a  more positive post next time, but this is life with mental illness (bipolar 2, depression, and severe anxiety), alcoholism, and now hypothyroidism (high cholesterol has no symptoms).

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

Feeling Defeated

When I started feeling better with-in a day of telling the boys that they would be going back to school I thought that was IT!  I wouldn’t struggle with hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) again. To my disappointment, Friday night, I started … Continue reading

Night and Day

I thought I would give a little bit of an update on things.

I am night and day better from where I was this time last week.

I have settled into the idea that I will only be homeschooling Karis, and I’ve learned to be good with that. She does better at home, she is mostly independent, and she is fun to work with. There is no stress or anxiety involved in it. I’m looking forward to digging into things with her. And we have a good relationship and she’s now a pre-teener so this is good for us.  I plan to really dive into stuff with her and learn along side her.  And on the days that I don’t feel up to it, she is capable of doing everything on her own!

I hope to do Poetry Teatime every Friday with the girls at the camp.  It will be so fun.

The boys are so excited about going back to school, and honestly they do really well in school. I’ve talked with their teachers from this past year (one emailed me and one I emailed first), and they are so happy that they will be back. They were so encouraging and positive.  The boys will learn and grow at school. We will have a regular routine/schedule every day which will be good for my anxiety and good for my Ethan’s anxiety as well. He needs that routine.

I plan to still do some nature studies with all of the kids.  We will try to take a few “field trips” but not as many as when I would have had them home.

And I am happy to be able to focus on getting healthier mentally and physically. As you know, I have mental illness, and I also went to rehab last fall for alcoholism (which is a mental illness as well). I need to be able to focus on keeping myself healthy and sober. In addition, I’m trying to get back to health physically (using the Balance 365 program) because I haven’t been doing too well there, either. So I guess this is just a season of health for me. Maybe once I’m healthier, I can bring my boys back home (if that’s God’s plan). It’ll probably be a while if that does happen. In the meantime I’m happy about playing with the kids until the boys’ school starts on August 23rd. We were going to start school next week. And I’m looking forward to doing some back-to-school shopping and all of that.

Family camp this week has been pretty great so far.  We have 2 more full days, then we leave on Saturday.  I haven’t felt good the whole time, though, because of my cough and constant nausea.  I’m also really tired all the time.  So I’ve just been resting as much as I can.  We have done 1-2 activities per day and played in the game room a lot.  We have had great meals, fun themed nights, and I’ve enjoyed time with friends.  We have been gone from home for a full week already, which is hard for me because I’m a homebody and an introvert.  I’m making it, though, and am trying to just enjoy the time that I have with my family all together!  It is a blessing to have this opportunity.

Here are some pictures of our week so far:

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Build-your-own pizzas

I actually did the Cross Bows!

The kids love the foam pit, but not as much as last year.

Family devotionals and outdoor worship

RC Cars were fun!

Patriotic night

Patriotic night ended up being indoors.

Drift Ball ended in some minor injuries.

Tonight is Luau night.

The next two days are packed full of fun activities.  Paint war, lake front, date night, hiking, more RC cars, kickball game, dessert, and a dance.

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.