Grati-Tuesday and Getting Back Into Routine!

It has been a long time since I’ve written a Grati-Tuesday post so I thought I would do that today.

I have been struggling for so long that I have forgotten to be grateful.  In fact, at one time I wrote “Gratefuls” to my sponsor every day and I haven’t been doing it much at all lately.  I need to get back into the habit of gratitude.

My wonderful hubby.

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My beautiful kiddos.

 

Our view and rainbow (second one recently).

Girl time with Karis eating homemade pizza and watching Gilmore Girls.  This will happen more often now that it’ll just be the two of us during the day.  She’s excited!

Having summer staff (and one full time staff) over for a big breakfast a few days ago :-).

Date night in of steak dinner with Robert thanks to my mom buying the steaks.

We played games and watched a movie :-).

My Happy Planner and seasonal stickers, my household notebook, pumpkin spice candle in a fun mason jar, and coffee with pumpkin spice creamer in it (NO, it’s not too early… see header picture! haha).

The kids played store for HOURS this morning.  I love that they spent so much time without electronics by choice!

Then they played with friends.  I love that they have great friends that are like family here.  I also love that Robert and I have great friends that are like family here.  We are so blessed to be here.  This is the only picture I took.

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Tonight Karis has her two good friends coming over and the boys are going to our neighbors’ house.  We will be making dessert and watching a movie.

 

My anxiety breathing issue has been so much better since Sunday.  I don’t want to get my hopes up, though, because it could come back.

On a similar note, I don’t feel 100% because I still have a cough.  I called Teladoc and the doc told me that I have a viral cough and they just last a long time.  There’s not much that can be done for it… She gave me 3 days’ worth of cough medicine (they can only treat for a few days and if it lasts longer they tell you to see your doctor), and she told me to drink honey and lemon in warm water and use a humidifier (which I don’t have, but I might get one Friday if I decide not to go to my doctor).

Anyway…

Robert and I spent all afternoon/evening Sunday cleaning the kids’ rooms, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and prepping food for the week.  We took the boys separate beds and put them back into a bunk bed (their request) and deep cleaned their room.  It took hours.  It was so bad.  The goal is to make them clean after they play now.

Before:

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After:

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I made Italian coffee cake, peanut butter pies, peanut butter chocolate protein steel cut oats (recipe to come!), cut veggies for snacks and meals, boiled eggs, made chicken salad, and cut summer sausage and cheese.  Robert helped with a few things.

Fall is coming soon which means ROUTINE!  In 2 weeks (from tomorrow!) the boys will be going back to school and Karis will start homeschool.  Friday we are buying school supplies.  The boys are super excited!  Levi will be taking his lunch and Ethan wants to eat lunch there most days (they get free lunch… everyone at that school does).

I meant to do some school planning today but it just didn’t happen.  I have time, and I don’t have much to do :-).  I pretty much just need to update the schedule/checklist that I made for Karis.

Karis will be staying home alone (with neighbor’s on call for emergencies) on some Mondays or Wednesdays that I go to town for AA and/or counseling.  I plan to go once a week either of those days.  Robert will be off 2 out of 3 Mondays pretty soon so it’ll most likely happen on a Monday.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m going to give her a chance :-).  The beauty of living here at camp is that there are people everywhere to help out!  And this is a safe place.

Things are looking up :-).

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.

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.

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.

Simplifying for the Summer

Because of all my excitement about the “Brave Writer Lifestyle” among other things homeschooling related, I didn’t realize that I was getting more anxious by the day.  I tend to get obsessed about things that I am excited about and give 200%, then it leads to anxiety (the obsessive/compulsive side of my severe anxiety).

I came home Friday from my parents’ and the kids came home from camp on Saturday.  We spent that day just resting.  Sunday I started to notice something.  My breathing was going back to the way it was last year (and in 2013) when I had hyperventilation syndrome.  It got worse through the day.

Robert came home from work in the middle of the day and I told him about it and he pointed to the table that was COVERED with curriculum and books and said “this is why!”  I was also staring at my homeschool routine on my google doc (it was very congested).

In that moment I decided something needed to change because I can’t live that way again.  I want homeschooling to be something that we all enjoy and that works for our family!  Not something that makes my kids stressed out and causes me anxiety.

So.

I was so thankful that a good friend of mine could chat that day.  I sent her the link to the document and she helped me make necessary changes to my homeschooling routine, and I have simplified it dramatically for the summer.  I don’t plan to pick up much else in August.

So I picked the non-negotiables and made my routine with that (and definitely not scheduled times… just an order that we follow)!  I thought about just putting school off until the fall but decided to go ahead and start for three reasons: 1) Ethan needs the routine!  2) I need the routine!  3) Karis desperately wants to start (like last week!).  It’ll be good to go ahead and start so that we can take breaks as we need to!

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

  • Mom and kids will read independently for 30 minutes!  
    • Read sitting on the couch, floor, chair, bean bag, at the table, or on the back porch!

Table Time
Writing

  • Copywork, dictation, narration, writing project (Brave Writer Partnership Writing), or free write (one of these per day)

One-on-One Time: The Good and the Beautiful (along with Brave Writer, I am in LOVE with this curriculum!)

  • 1-3 lessons per day (mostly one, but some of the lessons are SUPER short!)

Independent activities while I work with each kids one-on-one:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (1 page)
  • Spelling practice
  • Math U See (one video per lesson and one page per day)

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

Read aloud @bedtime- the book Wonder and a chapter out of the Bible.

This is IT!

In the fall I will add “group time” in the afternoon consisting of science OR history (not both) each day.  It will probably take about 30-45 minutes for that.

I also filled the basket in our kitchen/dining area with our essentials and plan to just put things in that basket that we will use each day.  Right now it has:

  • The Good and Beautiful books
  • Handwriting books
  • A binder for each kid (with math pages, G&B printouts, spelling lists, and history questions)
  • 3 composition notebooks for each kid: writing, spelling, and nature journal
  • The book that they chose to read
  • And the readers to go with The Good and the Beautiful

In the fall I will add the Story of the World book and science (starting with a unit from G&B).

I have also been watching videos from Julie Bogart from Brave Writer about simplifying and being okay with what we can handle.  She has a video titled 55 Things that We Did NOT Do As a Homeschooler.  It made me feel okay with what we’re doing!

Now.  Am I better today?  Not 100%!  But it is much better today than it was several weeks in last year, so I’ll take it.

Also, a lady in a group that I’m in told me about a technique that she does when she is struggling with this and it helped me yesterday!  I also meditate and listen to spa music to relax.

Anxiety is a beast.  There are soooooo many different physical symptoms and even when I feel better mentally, it takes a while for the physical symptoms to go away.  It’s maddening.

I see my doctor in two weeks and if it’s still going on, we will address it then.  BUT!  I’m hoping it’s better by then!

I am in a parenting with anxiety group and many of the mamas in there reminded me that it won’t last forever!  It might feel like it in the moment, but it will eventually get better.

Today we are starting school, then I will catch up on housework!  After that I might spend some time meditating while the kids have their “electronic time”.

Despite this physical symptom of anxiety, I’m so happy about life and where we are.  I’m so thankful that I no longer use alcohol to cope and that I don’t go to bed drunk every night anymore.  Sometimes I dream about it and I wake up SO THANKFUL for sobriety!  It’s a good reminder about why sobriety is so important!

Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

This week has been a doozy.

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

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

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

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

Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good!  Praise God!

School Room, Rules, Reward System, Chore Charts and Commission

So a few months ago when I started thinking about wanting to homeschool the boys again I started watching this YouTuber called Homeschool on the Hill.  I had searched for videos on the spelling that I will be doing with Karis and it brought me to her.  I have watched so many of her videos, and I have learned so much!  One of the videos that I took so much from was about her rules and rewards system.  I literally copied her rules completely.  They are just so thorough and cover everything.

I am doing pretty much the same reward system but I already had everything to do that so it just makes sense.

I bought these sticker charts about a year ago and for a while we used them for chores, but I have gone to a commission system for that (more about that to come).

I will be using the sticker charts for the reward system now.  I’m going with her system of 3 strikes and you’re out.  They will get a sticker if they get less than 3 checks by their name on the board (the hope is ZERO checks, but let’s be real, that’s not likely to happen).


If they want to, after 5 stickers they can get something from the treasure box (little pieces of candy from Easter, ha!).  I may add some toys and things to it to earn if they would like as well.

If they want to save up, they can get a coupon for 10 stickers.

I have some coupons that I got from a friend (they are Christmas coupons, but oh well).

Our rewards include:

  • Delayed bedtime
  • Cook something yummy (their choice)
  • Bubble bath with candles and lots of bubbles
  • Go to the library today
  • You choose dinner
  • Brand new pencil
  • Movie rental (we use Amazon Prime)
  • Sleep in
  • Delayed start to school one hour
  • Reading day! Curl up with a good book
  • Your birthday off
  • No handwriting this week
  • Get out of one assignment
  • Science experiment of choice
  • Out to lunch
  • Get out of one chore
  • 100 on spelling test
  • Unlimited electronic time (after school)
  • Trip to movies (all 3 kids with a full chart)

I realize that not everyone agrees with a reward system, but I have seen it work really well in the classroom so I’m going to give it a shot!  There will be some things that they will just flat out lose privileges for such as tantrums, hurting someone, talking back, bad attitude toward me, lying, being sneaky, etc.  The consequences will be losing electronic privileges, losing the opportunity to play with friends, getting things taken away, etc.  We don’t really spank anymore because we never really found it to work.  Losing privileges and rewards are the biggest motivators to make good choices.  I’m hopeful that this time will go more smoothly.

Now onto chores…

We have a fantastic system in place that has been working consistently for quite a while.  The kids have a chore chart and they get 25 cents per check.  This is a Dave Ramsey thing… he calls it commission.  They won’t do every chore every day… it’ll be as needed.  Then they get paid like someone does when they work.  They then have to save some and can spend some.  On the weekends we clean the whole house as a family.  We call this our “weekend chores.”  It works really well!

And our school room…

It’s very tiny.  We don’t even have room for everyone to have their own workspace.  Luckily Karis likes to do her work in the living room (on the couch and floor!), so I have a space for each boy.  Honestly, we will probably do a lot of their work at the kitchen table anyway.  It’s just good for them to have some space to sit and do some of their independent work (they don’t have a ton, but they have some).

Here it is!

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.

Big Changes: Final Decision

As I’ve written here, the past few months have been a roller coaster with my mental health, emotional health, and just life in general.

Homeschooling has been the main thing on my mind.

When going through the month (well, over) of extreme anxiety because of meds, I couldn’t function let alone assume that I could do okay with homeschooling so Robert was very anti-homeschooling.  He wasn’t so sure that the anxiety was caused by meds or just my normal mental illness.  He wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a “flare” of my mental illness.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  We realized after coming off of Geodon that it was the med that was causing my severe anxiety.  I was immediately better with-in a day or two.  It was clear that it WAS the med and not a “flare.”  He was starting to consider that maybe homeschooling was an option again, but he wasn’t completely on board yet.

Last Wednesday I was working on a pros/cons list and it brought me anxiety, then I wrote in a homeschooling group that I wanted to homeschool and I gave a detailed background.  Most people in the group thought that I shouldn’t; in fact, some went as far as to basically say that I was selfish for wanting to and that I shouldn’t because I’m an alcoholic.  This sent me into a tailspin and I considered that maybe they were right.

Because I was anxious again, Robert said that I should just move on.  So I did my best to do that.  I wrote a few posts about how I had come to terms with just keeping the boys in school.

Though I said I had moved on and was trying really hard to find the good in keeping them in school, I still just couldn’t let the homeschooling thing go.  It was a desperation with-in that I really felt that we needed to be a homeschooling family for good.  I can’t even explain why.  It just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Fast forward a few days.  Robert and I spent Mother’s Day as a family.  We went up to the highest point on our camp (the Windmill), swam in the windmill tank, and flew a kite.  For some reason the desire to have my people home for good was just so strong.  I enjoyed every single bit of being together as a family.  I just knew that we were supposed to homeschool.

That night I made my desire very clear to Robert and told him exactly how I felt.  I shared that no matter how hard I was trying to let go of it, it wouldn’t go away.

I was so surprised to hear him tell me that I can homeschool!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was worried that he didn’t really want it so I didn’t take that and run with it.  We had a dinner here at camp that night (our summer staff got here that day), and he was exhausted so he fell asleep early and we couldn’t really talk.  That night I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking so much about what he had said (along with another issue), and I was excited but nervous that he didn’t really mean it.  I didn’t want to be the wife that pushed him into something that he didn’t agree to.  So I didn’t assume anything.  Monday morning we had several hours to talk.  He told me his concerns with homeschooling, but also told me why he thought it would be good for our family.  His concerns are that I won’t take good care of myself and that it will send me into a tailspin in which I have to go back to the hospital.  But.  He explained that he felt it would be good for our family because it would allow us so much more flexibility which is so important here at camp.  He agreed that them doing school for 3-4 hours was so much better than them being gone for 10 hours each day, then coming home to do homework.  He loves the idea of us not having to get up at 5:00-5:30 every day and the kids can stay up later, which allows us to do more here at camp.  He loves the idea that we can go places during the school year, which is much easier to do because summer here is so crazy.

So.  He was finally on board, but with some conditions.

He wants me to put self care first.  He wants part of that self care to be me exercising multiple days a week, outside, because it makes a huge difference for my mental health.  He has seen it help so much time and time again.  I will run/walk some days, and some days I will hike.

I need to still be able to go to AA and counseling as part of my self care.  The kids will go with me to town and sometimes they will hang out with my mom and sometimes they will go with me to AA.  The ladies there have told me that the kids are always welcome!  We will make a day of it.  We will go to ChickFilA for lunch, go to the park, the library, etc.

He wants me to use my resources to have mental health breaks, including sending them to my moms if I need.  She offered the day that I told her we would be homeschooling again.

He wants me to not obsess about curriculum.  So I told him that I already have most of what I need, and I have a few things already picked out.  I am currently saving up to buy everything at once.

He also wants me to take the kids on field trips.  He feels that that is one of the benefits of homeschooling and that they can see things that they wouldn’t normally get to see and be a part of.

The day that we decided to do this, I met with my counselor.  I told her what we decided and then talked about how for some reason I’m nervous even though I’m super excited.  We determined that the main reason I’m nervous is because I didn’t want to share about it because I have changed my mind so many times (which, I didn’t ever really change my mind… I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could have it).  Also, I know that so many people have strong opinions about why I shouldn’t homeschool and that has been driving my anxiety.  We talked about why I value others’ opinions so much.  We determined that it’s because of the years of bullying that I endured as a child.  I have the strong desire to please others, to do what they think, and it causes me anxiety when someone disagrees with me (and I assume that maybe they are right).  I did some EMDR about this.

We processed through the fact that even though I have had some inconsistencies in my life, I have some things that have been steady as well.  I have a great marriage to Robert and we have been married for 13 1/2 years.  I am a good mama and work through things to make sure my kids don’t feel too many affects of my illnesses.  I have consistent routines for the kids.  I got a college degree.  When I was in college, I was a pharmacy tech for 6 years.  We have lived at Camp for 2 years now and this is where we will be from now on (unless God calls us elsewhere, but I don’t see that happening).  We were in our past house for 3 years.  There are some routines and habits that have been in place for years despite the other inconsistencies in my life.  And now that I’m not drinking and have good meds, other things should become more stable.  But.  Life is life and inconsistency can be part of normal life.  It is ever changing.  My kids will grow up being able to handle change.

We talked a lot about how others’ opinions aren’t important and that Robert and I need to make decisions that are best for our family.

So, that’s what we did.

I have been so excited that it has been hard to contain myself.

He wanted me to wait to tell the boys till their last day of school next Thursday but I accidentally let Karis know (I didn’t tell her… she guessed it by the fact that I walked in with some curriculum that I bought from a friend).  I didn’t want her to accidentally tell the boys.  So I’m telling them after school today!!  I’m so excited!

This summer is going to be a busy one!  June 6th we have friends coming here for a week.  Then the next week, Karis and Ethan are going to camp and Levi and I are going to my parents’.  The last week of June, Robert and I are going backpacking in New Mexico (Gila Wilderness) while the kids are at my parents’.  I will be working some in the camp store here.  We will be going to Six Flags Fiesta Texas with my parents at some point.  The last week of July we will be going to Glorieta’s Family Camp.  So we only have a few weeks that we’re not going anywhere.

The days that we will be home, Karis will do her math (because I’m trying to get her through this level since we started behind), they will all read 30-45 minutes and do a reading log, and we will do some science activities here and there.  But actual school won’t start till the first week of August.  I will write a post next about the curriculum that I will be using with the boys.

After I pick the boys up today, I will tell them, then we will celebrate by going swimming in the river here!  Can’t wait!