Scattered Post… Update, AA, My Story, Friendship, and Plans

I used to blog every day and now every time I sit at my computer to blog the words don’t come.  I have so much on my mind, and I just don’t know how to get it out these days. … Continue reading

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:

IMG_2106

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.

Contentment and Teaching the Kids to Work Through Hard Things

I have a history of discontent.  If something doesn’t seem to be working well or is hard, I change things.  I see the difficulty as a sign that something isn’t right.

Because of this, we have moved so much and I kept chasing something new.  We have moved 12 times in the 13 years that we have been married (a lot of that was at the same camp).  We moved apartments early in our marriage.  We moved twice when we lived in the Dallas area.

This worked its way into homeschooling.  I have homeschooled off and on for a long time.  When I started struggling mentally, I would put them back into school.  This last time I really had no choice since I had to go to town all the time for AA when I got out of rehab.  But it still counts.

I have spent a FORTUNE (and a lot of that in credit) on new curriculum.  When things got hard for the kids or they seemed to struggle, I would buy the “shiny new thing” thinking that it would be better and they wouldn’t struggle as much.  For Karis, this was math.  For Ethan, this was reading and phonics.

We are using Math U See for the kids and while I LOVE it, Karis has still been struggling greatly.  She’s going into 6th grade and she’s on the 4th grade level and still struggling.  She can barely do basic division (2 digit by 1 digit with a  remainder).  So I was talking to Robert about Life of Fred math and telling him that maybe it would be a good fit for her because she loves reading (it’s story based).  Without him even saying anything, I said, “Wait… I just need to stick with something, don’t I?”  He agreed immediately and reminded me that hard doesn’t necessarily equal bad.  And she may just never be good at math and that’s okay.  And it’s okay that she’s on a level lower than her grade and it’s okay to take it slow.  He also reminded me that it’ll be so good for the kids if I stick with something for a full year.  And honestly, I need to stick with Math U See from now on because there is a DVD with a teacher teaching everything (and I’m terrible at math!).  He teaches it in a way that makes more sense than any teacher ever taught me.  There are also manipulatives and all of the kids make use of them every single day.

I REALLY want The Good and the Beautiful history, handwriting, nature journals, and another science unit.  But.  We have all that we need for those subjects right now.  While I love the set up of those, I need to be content with what we have.

I already have Story of the World Volume one… the book, audio book, activity book, historical fiction novels to go with it (9!), the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, and the Usborne Book of World History.  I have an amazing set up for history this year.  It would make NO sense to change.

Now. The reason why I love G&B is because the history covers all periods of history in one year (adding to it each year), it has fun activities, it has an amazing book of stories, worksheets, and a game for review.  But I can always get it next year!  No big deal!  I’m not even sure if I’ll want to change after we finish what we have… I may want to stick with Story of the World!

Also, I was looking at buying handwriting from G&B.  I ALMOST did.  Then my doctor and I were talking about my impulsive spending and reminded me that if I am buying something new even though I already have something for that subject (and causing final trouble), that’s a sign of being impulsive.  And she’s right!  It stopped me in my tracks!  I have Handwriting Without Tears, and the kids even like it!

Now.  Next year I will probably buy G&B because I love that it teaches handwriting through copywork.  It would cut out a step of our writing.  But I can wait till next year!  No big deal!

I was also looking at buying the G&B nature journals.  But I already have some from Simply Charlotte Mason!  They love them because they can watercolor right on the page (the pages are thick).

And… Science!  I have SO much to teach science.  I have one unit of G&B science already (which will last us about a semester), and I also have Apologia Astronomy.  AND LOTS of science books and encyclopedias to make my own units if I want.  I really have enough to make science work for a couple of years honestly.  Now.  When Karis is in 7th or 8th grade, I will be buying the junior high science books because she’s going to need them to prepare for high school (and honestly she LOVES science so she’ll be happy).  But I have a year or two before I need to do that (I can’t believe she’s already in 6th grade).

All this to say… I think I will finally have a FULL year in which I don’t buy anything new!  I have everything I need for at LEAST a full year (maybe more) and I am happy about that.  It’s weird, to be honest.

And… we are not going anywhere.  While camp ministry is HARD because especially lately Robert has been working a ton, we are content to stay right where we are.  We love the way Camp Eagle is run, we love the people (camp family!), we love our home, we love that we live on 1400 acres and there are hiking trails and a clear river to play in.  Moving to Camp Eagle has been the best thing that has happened to us!

Deciding to stick with something long-term actually takes away a lot of anxiety.  I have a major spending issue, then I feel bad and feel anxious after I have spent.  It’s so easy to buy online and I just throw money away that way.  We were going to have me spend only cash but it hasn’t worked out well (lots of reasons), but at least this next check I will only have cash to spend (and less than usual because we’re going to New Mexico in a few weeks and we need money for that).  I think we’ll actually be able to save up this year.  And do more fun things with the kids.

I’m feeling content, hopeful, and peaceful.  I know I will still have times of anxiety and depression (hopefully not, but I’m planning on it happening eventually), but I know I can work through them and just do what we need during those moments.  That doesn’t mean we need to move, it doesn’t mean I need to stop homeschooling, and it doesn’t mean I need to buy something new and shiny.  It just means we need to spend time in prayer and God’s word, I need to work through it, and I need to teach my kids to do both of those.

Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

This week has been a doozy.

Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:

“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is  a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”

Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid.  His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.

I felt anxiety for several days because of this.  I thought that maybe they were better off in school.

Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…

  1. It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
  2. I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
  3. Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
  4. Giving myself grace is so important.
  5. I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
  6. Anxiety comes and goes.  It’s like waves.
  7. Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
  8. It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
  9. I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety.  If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something.  Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again.  It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember.  I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).

Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school.  It works so much better out here at camp.

I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision.  It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too.  The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.

Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year.  They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying.  They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!).  Haha.  I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that.  I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well).  This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are!  They just needed to be home to remember what it was like.  They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside.  Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year.  We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).

We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life.  The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home.  Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.

Life is hard, but it is good.  I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense.  I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.

The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)!  It was super fun!  This will be a regular activity!  When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys.  When they aren’t, we just swim :-).  Their favorite thing is the floating dock.  They get on, jump off, on, off.

This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard.  They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch.  They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!

I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time.  So that helps my anxiety considerably!  I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well.  I slept the whole night last night!

I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober.  In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did.  I drank typically starting at noon into the evening.  Maybe not every day, but most days.  I wasn’t living life!  I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me.  Now I can think clearly and experience things.

Life is good!  Praise God!

Reading Comprehension and Digging Deeper

I’ve mentioned before that Karis is on an 8th grade reading level (at least she was when she left school in March).

She loves reading and that’s fantastic, but I want her to think critically and dig deep into the books.  I also want to expand her vocabulary.

I have so many ways for her to do that!

Teachers Pay Teachers has so many fantastic novel studies.  I love The Book Umbrella the most!

Starting next week she will be doing a novel study on Ella Enchanted (we have this book from the library).


In addition to novel studies, I will have her use different forms of reading response questions to answer in her reading response journal.  These will be on books of her choice.  She has to answer them in a paragraph with text evidence (4-6 sentences).

I will also have her read some non-fiction/informational books and respond to those.

We will learn about figurative language.

We will use reading menus with prompts and a rubric to grade.

And lastly I will teach skills and strategies and have her respond to them using a sentence starter (also in a paragraph).  These are a few examples:

I will use this rubric to grade all reading response:

The books that I will be having her study are on my homeschooling page above.     In addition to the books that I will have her study, I will give her plenty of time to read for enjoyment.  We will study one novel a month along with one novel to go with our history, and the rest will be books of her own choosing.

Learning to Cope with Anxiety Now That I’m Not Drinking

I realized Saturday night just how much my mental illness affects me these days.  The past few weeks I was in town multiple days (town is far, far away).  Between the driving (2 1/2 hours round trip), the waiting, the meetings, the counseling, the doctor appointments, etc, I was just worn.  I don’t handle being away from home well.

This weekend we planned on going to my parents’, staying the night, then going to church for Easter yesterday.  Saturday evening I was sitting at my parents’ just feeling very restless and anxious.  I just needed to be home.

We left at about 8:00 to head home.  We got home at about 10:30.  Sounds crazy to leave that late, but I just couldn’t handle being away from home anymore.

Saturday night I was just lying in bed mad at myself for not being able to handle things well.

In the past (for about 7 years), I would drink to handle anxiety.  I would drink at my parents’ house (a lot), most evenings (because that’s when I was most anxious), before going to camp events (and I know I made a fool of myself on multiple occasions), and when we traveled.  I would drink every time we had people over (before they came I would binge).  It was just how I handled anxiety; mostly social anxiety, but generalized as well.  And being the alcoholic that I am, I would just drink “because” a lot.  It prevented anxiety.

I remember talking to my previous psychiatrist (well, PA) about my drinking and he would just tell me that it’s common for people who have anxiety to drink to quiet it.  Not once did he tell me that it’s a problem (well once he just told me to not drink and take Xanax at the same time).  Because of this I was in denial that I had a problem, but that’s for another post.

Now that I’m not drinking, I have to feel my emotions.  I also have to have different ways of coping, and my biggest way is to just stay home as much as I can.  I keep a clean/organized house because mess and clutter makes me have anxiety.  I have to leave the boys in school even though I want to homeschool them, and they want to homeschool.  I have to have a quiet morning of Bible study and coffee to start my day out well.  I listen to a lot of worship music.  I have to end my day listening to “Serenity relaxing spa music” because it quiets my anxiety.  I drink a lot of caffeine free Coke Zero to replace the alcohol that I often had in my hand.  I have reduced my caffeine a LOT.  Mostly just drink half caff coffee in the morning and a Coke Zero with lime when I’m in town.  That’s about all the caffeine that I drink now.  It has helped.  I take a lot of medication.  It helps a lot, but it doesn’t take it away.  I see my counselor 3-4 times a month.  Sometimes I hike or walk to prevent evening anxiety.  And believe it or not, homeschooling Karis has helped a ton.  It gives me purpose for my days, but with just her it’s not anxiety inducing.  She’s easy.

I am trying to get disability and I have been denied 3 times already.  My lawyer is trying to get me a hearing date but she said it takes 12-18 months.  So I’m just waiting right now.

My desire is to be stable enough in a few years to be able to homeschool the boys again the year after next.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  I will for sure homeschool them when they are in junior high because they will be independent by then.

I just want to be able to do what my heart desires, but with mental illness it’s important to be realistic.  Since I’m not super stable right now, I would possibly relapse.

My goal right now is just focusing on coping and self care without drinking.  It’s a big goal!  With God’s help I can do it.  It’s just going to take lots of work!

An Update and Grati-Tuesday

This past week was lllooonnnggg.  I had bad anxiety and I could barely see past it.  I was pretty selfish through it and have had to repair a few things.  I’m grateful for the grace of people in my life … Continue reading

Happy Monday and Grati-Tuesday

I realize it’s Tuesday, but I didn’t have a chance to blog yesterday so I’m going to share some things today.

Yesterday was a long, exhausting day, but it was great in a lot of ways.  I have made some decisions to possibly help with anxiety and my own digestive issues.

After Karis’ doctor told us to eliminate wheat, reduce dairy, take probiotics, and increase water and fiber for anxiety and her digestive issues, I talked to my counselor about it and she asked why I wouldn’t try it as well.  She read me some studies that point to lowered anxiety and depression with eliminating gluten.  And dairy makes my stomach hurt.  My counselor has been doing this for 30 years so I trust that when she says it works, it works.  Then I talked with a friend here that is gluten free and she said it decreased anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  So we’ll see!

I talked with my dietitian about it and she said we can try it for a month (well, she said 3 weeks but I think a month is better) and see how I feel.  I can then add them in one at a time and see if it affects me.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m eliminating dairy and gluten, adding in fiber and probiotics (also encouraged by my dietitian), and drinking lots of water (mainly because I’m taking lithium now and you have to drink lots of water with it).

Yesterday I ordered some good probiotics and fiber (Garden of Life brand) as well as probiotics for Karis (just Vitacost brand).  I also take fish oil and a whole foods multi vitamin.

Now the question that I asked myself and my dietitian has been very adamant about is that I don’t view this as a weight loss diet, but as a way to feel better.  I don’t think I’ll lose weight… I’ll still eat intuitively (eat when I’m hungry until I’m comfortably full).  I won’t focus on eating “good foods” vs. “bad foods,” but just foods that make me feel good.  I’m not planning to lose weight at all.  My goal is health.  Lower weight does not always mean good health (lots of studies show this!).

And now that Karis is home I will be better about hiking.  It was hard to convince myself to go alone.

I also did EMDR and wow it brought out a lot of things that I can work on and process.  I have decided to not go into details about these sessions because it’s very personal.  Just know that I think this will also help my anxiety and increase emotional connection with my family and friends.

I’m trying to be the best me that I can be.  Closer to Jesus, positive body image, healthy, feeling good, lower anxiety and depression, better mom and wife, etc.  And I’ve gotten back to my daily routine which helps so much.

I’m soooooo grateful for spring!

I’m grateful that Karis has been so excited about school.

I’m grateful for a way for Karis to study God’s word at her level.

I’m grateful that she got up on her own this morning, got dressed, made her bed, brushed her hair and teeth, and filled out her planner for the week using my lesson plans!

(Yes her handwriting and spelling aren’t great…)

I’m grateful for coffee (even when it’s decaf with almond milk), water, spring scented candles, and my new Happy Planner!

I’m so grateful for the Bible study that I’m doing.  It is more in-depth than any study I’ve ever done, as you can see by my marked-up Bible.

I’m grateful that she’s enjoying school (mostly… she hates writing and it brought her to tears today).

I’m soooooo grateful for a neighbor that is loaning us so much!  We are using her math DVD’s, fraction overlays, and blocks (Math U See); history (Story of the World); and now writing (Writing with Ease).  She is saving us so much money.

Along those lines, I’m learning to do this homeschool thing much cheaper this time!     Instead of spending the $400 that I originally told my hubby I would need to spend (to get all of the stuff I wanted), I have only spent about $125 (Math U See Delta student books, Apologia Astronomy notebooking journal, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams, and some Teachers Pay Teachers stuff).

I’m currently creating a Geography unit based solely on free stuff that I found on Pinterest!  This is fun!