Attack of the Average

I am writing this post in the throws of an anxiety attack. A lot of emotions have been stirred over the past few days, so I am not surprised. I do believe this fun little side of me may be another reason well meaning folks have been a little concerned about my choices over the last few months. I had my first anxiety attack when I was in the third grade (my teacher was fierce), and I dealt with them every once in a while until a few years ago when, like we do in America, I upgraded, to a more intense and more aggressive panic attack.

Panic attacks are horrible moments where a person loses, hopefully just for an endless few minutes, the ability to be rational. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. It’s like being an indentured slave to your own emotions. No control, no power to stop them.

I spent several years trying different tactics, and by the Grace of God found freedom almost 4 years ago. I was never quiet about my struggles. I am not quiet about anything (except maybe my love for Bon Jovi and Regency novels). My hope then and my certain belief now is that those struggles were given to me so I could help others going through the same thing.

Recently, several close friends and an acquaintance familiar with my other blog reached out to let me know they were dealing with panic/anxiety. We do this in low whispers and private texts. If anyone finds out they will think we are crazy.

We are WOMEN! Ladies, please hear me: after dealing with this myself and talking to countless others, I have got to tell you. You are not special or unique…well you are, but not in this way. In this way, you are very, boringly, average. If you ever took a health class and/or are over the age of 12 you know that a woman’s body cycles every single month producing amazing amounts of hormones created TO SUSTAIN LIFE! The majority of our lives are spent preparing and then un-preparing (again, I fear I am not using a real word) to sustain a life in our bodies. Maybe that’s why Mrs. Dugger always seems so happy. That’s a lot of progesterone, but I digress.
This is an amazing feat, but the downside is that your hormones take you for a roller coaster ride every month or so. Some people are just better at tolerating it. Add this to the fact we are getting extra hormones in the form of hormone-enhanced meat and dairy, and in estrogen producing soy and we have ripe pickings for manic meltdowns. To tie it up with a bow, let’s also remember that until quite recently medical science was made up, almost entirely, of men who could not possibly understand, and you have a packaged picture of why every other person on this planet thinks they are nuts.

Inhale, exhale

Okay, I am breathing again.

Yes, my children are likely to see that their mommy has moods that can shift , but they will NOT see me controlled by my emotions. They will not see me ashamed of them either. They will see their mom deal with it. They will see me pray when I get sad, they will see me apologize if I get mad. My boys will see what a woman looks like, so hopefully they’ll understand their wives (gulp) someday. My daughter, will in turn, not have to be ashamed of, or be victim to her own emotions.

Here are a few tips for the one or two (million) women out there who deal with depression/panic/anxiety

1) Tell Someone Talk to a friend, a parent, a counselor. Do not be ashamed to let people know you are struggling.
2) Watch your diet Caffeine, refined sugar, hormone laden meat, will not be your friends if you are riding the emotional roller coaster. This doesn’t mean you can never eat them again, but give your body a little help and ease up when you feel anxious.
3) Stop Thinking Haha, I giggled writing that. That request is nearly impossible. If you are by yourself for long stretches of time whether at night, at work, or at naptime, you may need to find a way to get outside yourself. Focus on helping someone else. Sometimes dealing with other people’s problems lessens my own.
4) Exercise and God said let their be serotonin. Doesn’t have to be a lot, but just a simple walk can go a long way. Take a friend if you can.
5) If you have more downs than ups or you start noticing truly erratic behavior, please seek help. 800-273-8255 is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. They are open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Even if you haven’t gone that far, but need an anonymous ear, call.
6) Pray maybe should have listed this as number 1, but I struggle to pray when I am in the grip of anxiety. I firmly believe that this is evil’s way of trying to keep me separated from the One who can help. If that’s you as well, reach out to others who can pray for you. Intercession is an amazing thing.

Women, we are beautiful and complex creatures, capable of deep emotion that allows us to connect and empathize with those around us. For moms, this is what makes us amazing mothers! Don’t fear your emotions! Learn to harness them.

And in case you were worried…I am fine now. ūüôā
Praise be to God!

I promise, tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled (non-soap box related) programming.

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I will not

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I am hitting the two month mark since leaving my job (mostly) and coming home. It has been wonderful so far. In many ways, I feel like I am reinventing my role as mother. I have always been my children’s mom, but spending all day, every-day with them and being completely responsible for their activities and education definitely puts a different spin on the role. This choice is not for everyone. I was a working mom for 8 years, and would not go back and change it as I am not sure I could appreciate what I am doing now. I also know 8 years ago, I was not in a place to handle being at home full-time. We live in a beautiful era that allows women in this country a choice. We no longer are required to stay-at-home if we are married with children. Thanks to some great women in America’s past, we have the ability to run our own companies, become engineers, astronauts, judges, or any number of other jobs that were once considered only possible for men. I am grateful to pioneering women who refused the status quo and trailblazed their way into new industrial territory.

Recently, I have received some rather harsh criticism for my decision to leave the workforce. I have been admonished for buying in to old traditions and forfeiting what women before me fought so hard for. This does not make me angry, but it makes me sad that they have missed the point. In this country, thanks to those women (and some countercultural men), I get to choose. I don’t HAVE to work, and I don’t HAVE to stay home. I do have to follow God and His plan for me, however, and  so I did. I will NOT regret that decision. Ever.

There are a few other things that over the past two months I’ve decided I will not do:

    • I will not regret the choice to be at home and school my children. Even if it doesn’t work out like I’ve planned in my head. My kids will have seen I chose them. I chose time with them. There will be time for me to run my own Fortune 500, find a cure for cancer, and solve global warming once they are out on their own. Maybe we’ll work on it in homeschool.
    • I will not apologize for my kids being kids. I’ve noticed myself doing this a lot. Do you? You go into a store and your child touches something, or speaks too loudly, or cries, and you find yourself apologizing for their behavior to employees, to the other customers, and to the universe in general for you children acting like children. This is ridiculous and I’m done. I will continue to try to show my children how to behave in certain situations, but I’m done apologizing to strangers. Most of those people either have, have had, or once were children themselves. They get it, and if they don’t…well not much I can do for them. (Addendum: my kid breaks something, we’ll both apologize)
    • I will not apologize for “the mess” Women, we are all guilty of it. You have people over to the house, and even after you’ve spent the better part of 6 hours cleaning and are still buzzing from Clorox fumes, you say to your guests the minute they walk in : “Sorry about the mess”. First of all, this only makes your guests look for messes (and in this house they are bound to find them), it also makes for an awkward moment if they are neat freaks and DO find your place a mess–and really, who wants to deal with that kind of truth. Second, there are five people and a furball in this house. Life happens here all day, life is messy. If my house is spotless, worry, it might mean I’ve sold my kids to a circus.
    • I will not continue to justify my choices. I feel like this is all I’ve done for two straight months. I will happily answer anyone’s question, but no more accusations in a question’s wrapping. No one HAS to understand, or even agree. If our family decides to move to 2 bedroom farm in the middle of Idaho and then give Michelle Dugger a run for her reproductive money, that’s our call.((Maybe went to far there, my husband just went sheet white))
    • I will not have more than 2 cups of coffee a day. Unlimited access to my  coffee maker is a dangerous thing people.
    • I will not grocery shop with 3 kids in tow. Nothing good comes of this.
    • I will not become a crafty mom. I refuse. Just because I bought a glue gun and can happily spend half a day in Hobby Lobby does not mean I am crafty. You can’t make me.
    • I will not compare myself to other women. This will be the hardest of course. As a homeschool mom, there are no set rules or common core standards to follow. I have to learn from other moms who are walking this road, but I must be careful not to compare my road to theirs. They might be crafty moms, after all, and I’d have to refer to the previous dictate.
    • I will not feel bad for doing nothing but sitting in the hammock for an hour today. God’s beauty is all around, but it’s easy to miss if you don’t sit still for a few minutes. Rest is good.
    • I will not feel bad about the pooch. I am all for eating healthy and exercise, but I am not going to look like I did at 20. I’ve used this body to bring three lives into this world. Pooch happens, it makes me more woman not less.

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  • I will not worry about the cookie. Sometimes you just need to go ahead and have a cookie.
  • I will not always ramble like this in my posts. That’s probably not true.

I’m not really too worried about this list. I’ve never been great at sticking to resolutions, but these are the things on my mind tonight. What’s on yours?
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Camp Life

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Out for a stroll in the “backyard”

One of the big reasons we decided that if we were going to take the homeschool journey, we needed to do so now, is because of where we live. We are a camp family. My husband and I met at this camp 13 years ago, were married here nearly 10 years ago, and have lived here full-time for the last two years. ¬†Our backyard is over 300 wooded acres…on lake. We have so much to learn in our own backyard, and over the last few years we’ve barely explored at all. Between work and school, we’ve just been too busy. It’s ridiculous! I have no idea where God will lead our family, or when, and I would have to kick myself on a regular basis for the rest of my days if we didn’t take advantage of it in some way.¬†

 

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Watching her daddy and brother jump like kangaroos

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G-Money making use of the in-ground air pillow. If you can swing it, I highly recommend them.

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Dirty, sweaty face, the mark of a good day

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Don’t fence me in. Unless it’s 90 degree and you’re fencing me into a splash park…in which case, fence away!

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We found Willy Man. He’s currently a camper, but we were able to grab him for a quick hug and a photo op.

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If you are considering a career in camping or recreation…well, you could do worse.

Survival

Curriculum requires coffee.

Trying to organize all the books we will be using this year. We will be utilizing the Sonlightcurriculum. We have decided to put both boys at approximately the same level. We may change this later on, but being that they are only 18 months apart and G-money will beg to do what his big brother is doing anyway, we are starting like this. We are going to use Core B and C, and take a trip through World History. I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the amount of information and books we received. Now, with the floor littered with books, a 4 inch 3-ring binder (find a happy place, find a happy place), and a large cup of coffee, I am attempting to organize our first couple of weeks. We are not great planners (hence the blog title) so we are going to keep things flexible. I have decided to divide our year into 4 semesters. In an attempt not to completely freak ourselves out with all this stuff, we are going to separate semesters 2-4 and put them away for now. The books we will be dealing with for semester 1 will stay on the shelves. If we need more time to finish, we will. If we zoom through it we will open up box two (it’s like Christmas morning)!

I want some kind of roadmap for the year, but I want to be able to jump off the interstate and explore Route 66 if we feel like it. How else will we see the World’s Largest Ball of Yarn? And really, isn’t that where life is lived? (Off the beaten path, not at the yarn ball)

Next step? Creating activities for AnnaJane to keep her occupied and involved while I work with the boys. I don’t have a curriculum for this, but I do have coffee, so it’s all good in the hood for now.

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Crafty

We have finished our first week of homeschooling…and survived. I feel like I should make a t-shirt. Oh wait, I did! Check it y’all. I got my craft on. Anyone who knows me knows that even the word “craft” sends cold chills down my spine. I have friends who have entire rooms dedicated to all things crafty. I don’t spend time at their houses lest they get any ideas that involve me, glue guns, and scrapbook paper.

For my kids though, I realize I’m going to have to face this fear. Monet we are not, but not bad for our first try.

Star Boxes

We knew we would be ending the week by spending time with my Aunt and Uncle, so we decided to make them 4th of July themed boxes. Our unit study this week was on the American flag, so we spray painted star shaped boxes we got at Hobby Lobby with blue metallic spray paint. Then I gave each boy red and white acrylic paint and let them create whatever they want. Willy-man did the flag, G-Money attempted the flag as well. I’ve decided not to tell him it looks like Japan’s. Susanna and I used straws to create fireworks on her little box.
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Patriotic Tie Dye shirts

Every year I feel like I am running around on July 3rd trying to pick up red, white and blue gear for the kids to wear on the 4th. This year we planned ahead and decided to tie dye our own. G-Money wanted a Captain America themed shirt, and we found this website that gave us a how-to.

Captain America Themed Tie Dye DIY

I thought the instructions were pretty straight forward, but I made a couple of changes. I used rubber bands instead of zip ties. Who has those lying around? She also used some fancy thing called a ciricut to create the star. Round these parts we ain’t so fancy so I used construction paper and scissors.
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We started by selecting several plates and bowels of differing sizes to give us the target.

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Then we used a pencil to sketch around each.
Once that is done you pick up the t-shirt from the center of the target and put rubber bands around each line you drew. Then dye to your specifications. Again, no fancy craft thingy to give me the perfect star so I used a cookie cutter and scissors.
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We just used basic spray paint, and voila.

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The other kids chose different designs, but I thought all turned out pretty well.

I’m not going to create my own craft haven any time soon, but this was rather fun.

Happy Independence Day!

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First Day

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Today has been our unofficial first day homeschooling. We decided that to combat the summer educational loss and the steamy temperatures, we’d skip camp for two weeks and do a unit study on the American Flag in honor of Independence Day this Friday. I stocked up on crafts (oy.), read up on flag-related books and projects, and coraled¬†my mini-masters for the week.

How is it going you ask? It’s day one. It’s been rocky. Okay, to tell the truth its been a disaster from my perspective. So, during obligatory, quiet time (it’s obligatory for mommy, not the minis), I’m trying to regroup and figure out what went wrong.

First, I woke up early and ran and had my alone (with a friend) time. This was to clear my head of cobwebs so I could be ready for whatever was thrown my way. I also showered, and got ready for the day. This sounds trite, but I’m lucky to get in a shower before dinner since coming home. I wanted to be totally focused on the kids and not my stink.

Then we had breakfast and went downstairs to our playroom. We have a small table, several couches and comfy chairs, our computer, book shelves, craft area (again, oy.) and it’s the only room in the house that is carpeted making spreading out wherever, possible. I’ve read over and over that one big rookie homeschool mom mistake is to make things look too much like a classroom, so instead, it’s just more of a creative kid room. We started with Bible lessons. I was FLOORED at how much they have learned in their private school about the old testament and the Ten Commandments. Willy-man rattled off 6 of the 10 verbatim. I should have been thrilled, instead the doubts were planted: “see they were doing so well, why did you take them out?”

The biggest issue we had during this time was their inability to take me seriously. I got a lot of “awe, mom do we havta?” There was also the littlest of our brood, sweet, sweet AnnaJane who wanted mommy’s attention…now….no, right now!

Then we went to the library to gather our books on the flag. I spent 60 minutes chasing kids down and shushing them. I swear these heathens have been in libraries before, but with mom it’s license to scream and climb the bookshelves (no joke).

By the time we got home, I was searching for the admission director of their previous school on my contact list. Got the little girl down and went to dig into our books by doing a key word scavenger hunt. I though myself mighty creative when I came up with this. Instead of reading the kids focused completely on hunting the words and winning the prize, forget actual comprehension.

Then we attempted a craft. Never use spray paint while wearing white, in 100% humidity, with any chance of rain, around 7-8 year-old boys. Really any one of that list should make the activity a no go. ¬†Assuming the craft survives, we’ll post pictures of it later in the week.

But now, as I sit here with my restorative tea (okay, it’s strong coffee), I realize there was really only one problem today. Me.

For the last 8 years I have been the weekend mom. My job has been to cram as much entertainment, moral instruction, and try not to kill yourself information into a very short time span. My kids probably only knew I could speak about 10 phrases.

  • Get in the car
  • Get out of the car
  • Don’t do ____
  • Leave your brother alone
  • Yes, you have to eat the vegetables
  • Go to sleep
  • Clean up
  • Be patient
  • I love you
  • Or some variation on any of the above

I honestly don’t think I meant to be like this, but with only the evenings and weekends to attempt to get everything on my to-do list accomplished, plus spend time with the family, this is just what it evolved into for me. I’m going to have to learn how to let loose and let my kids be kids while they are around me. They are going to have to make messes, they are going to have to make mistakes, they are going to have get things out of every drawer in my kitchen in order to make the perfect robot, I am going to need an inhaler.

Small steps.

As we move into our afternoon activities, I’ve learned that my kids are Bible scholars, loud at libraries, and terrible with paint cans. I’ve learned that even though they are too competitive and reward-focused for the game I created, they now know 12 new Independence Day related words. We are paint-speckled, but smiling. And really, if that doesn’t equal success for day one, what does?

*Note: our actual school year starts in August, so don’t go thinking this un-fun mom banned summer completely.

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The new segregation

The new segregation

I keep seeing these “motivational” posts with pictures of teeny tiny women and the phrase “thigh gap”. Is this a thing? Are we promoting hamstring segregation? My thighs are friends, and yes sometimes they applaud when I walk. I am THAT awesome. I have also seen posts about ridding yourself of “bat wings”. Those are just my hello echos. Ladies, relax a little. Eat the bagel, take a walk, laugh a lot. Turn off the “motivation” and just live.