The Still of The Morning

I will never forget being pregnant with James and chatting with a friend who just had her third boy. She was imparting mother/wife wisdom and said something to the effect of “I can’t stay up that late because my 5 a.m. alarm comes quick.”

Insert record scratch. I replied, “Why on earth is your alarm set that early? Why do you need to be awake then? Those are unGodly hours!” I’ll never forget how simple her response was. She took a deep breathe looked me dead in my eyes, smiles and said, “Peace. Trust me, you’ll get there.” I continued thinking she was crazy until about 5 months ago. 

As you read in my previous post, things got really really really bad for me and I began the work of healing and putting me back together. Do you know how hard that is to do when you don’t have peace? I mean, almost all of my waking hours were used to take care of other people. When I sat down and looked at my day, what I wanted to happen, what I needed to happen and how to make it work- getting up before my kids and my husband was the only way.

You guys, I kid you not, I was transported back to that conversation and all I could think and feel was the serenity coming from her heart (that I interpreted as insanity in my pre-mom days) when she said, “peace” and I knew that was what I was going to get.

So, turning this into action, I set my phone alarm for 5:30. The first morning I hit snooze a million times and before I knew it Jude was awake. Didn’t work. So, I set my phone alarm for 5:30 and the alarm from my watch, which charges away from my bed, for 5:45. I had to get up and turn off the alarm which made it MUCH harder to get back in bed. It worked but needed improvement.

Fast forward a few weeks of ups and downs and now we have this: Monday-Friday, my phone alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. because I need a buffer. I can’t just jump out of bed Marry Poppins style at 5:30. I know my strengths. The alarm on my watch goes off at 5:30 a.m. The day before, I put on my clothes, athleisure attire of course, in the bathroom. I stumble from my bed to get my watch, fall into the bathroom and get dressed while I pee.  (Multitasking at its finest, people!) I also turn on lights. It is really hard to get back in bed after that.

I also make sure I am in bed by 10 p.m. This means I have showered, I have on pajamas-not workout clothes-, my hair is wrapped and my skin is moisturized. In Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, she delves into the need to prepare your body for sleep. Let’s she just say she knows what she speaks.

Also, my friend was right. There is so much peace in the still of the morning. I mean, even the birds respect it.

I’ll have more on what I actually do with my morning time later.

What is stopping you from getting up early?

Love you. Mean It. 

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Self-Care: What That Really Looks Like

Hey Loves!

So, let’s talk about #selfcare. No, really-we need to-because everyone needs it. For so very long, I thought that wasn’t for me. You know, I didn’t have time for an hour-long bath, weekly mani-pedis were not an option. So, I couldn’t participate, right? WRONG. Very very wrong! 

If you ask me, self-care is a fluid movement in which certain practices enable you to be the best you and/or improve yourself. I should copyright that. That was a taste of the awesomeness that comes straight from my head that no one gets to hear because I am in negotiations in tiny dictators 90 percent of the time.

I digress. My apologies.

So, self-care, what does that look like? Well, for starters, it looks different for most. It may be keeping your A/C temps very low because a hot sweaty you is very far from your best you. It could also be being around people who hold you accountable so you don’t do that harming activity.

For me, it is making time to do my nails. It is also investing in me. So, if that is spending $1.99 on a book I want but also carving out the time to read and reflect on said book. It is sometimes making my plate first to ensure I eat. (*see tiny dictators reference above). It is also being aware of my water intake-oh my word! How dehydrated I was! I also make sure I have time with friends and time to myself in the evenings-very small but extremely achievable and effective things that I can do regularly that improve my mood, my health, and my self-esteem. Things that expand my knowledge and encourage me to be more self-aware. 

Also, I tried baths. I even bought a candle. I like them but I can’t every week. It is a lot of water and a lot of cleaning after.

What does self-care look like for you? I’m dying to know.

Love you. Mean it.

Losing Yourself In Motherhood

Hey Lovelies-

Let’s chat.

Let’s talk about what no one tells you about motherhood. No one tells you exactly how incredibly hard it is. No one alludes to the depths of exhaustion, mentally and physically, it can take you to. No one says how you just wake up one day and have no idea who you are.

Enter me. You should know I was loved beyond measure as a child. My parents worked. I was raised by my dad but my mom was active in my life. So, I didn’t know the SAHM life. I made up what this was supposed to look like in my head and what was supposed to take place and, because I work in extremes, I went all in. There was no happy medium. Anxiety, Depression, kids having special needs-nothing slowed me down. Then, “oh! We ARE homeschooling.” Again, I was all in…

And then, I knew nothing about me. I knew who I was (and if I’m being honest that was wavering because I defined myself by who I wanted to be; I was very much trying to put my finger on the pulse of me while chasing the next adventure. Then “pregnant” appears 27.6 seconds after peeing on a stick.).

I’m not sure if you have ever been there, but this is, I’m sure, where the tread meets the pavement. I would go to my closet and have no idea how to dress. What did I like? What was appropriate? What fits? Does this match? And then I would give up.

I meal plan according to the needs of my family. I had no idea what I really liked to eat. What food just made me happy and smile. I knew what I could eat. I was very aware of what available to me and if I wanted to eat it but what I loved? Not a clue. Friends, not even an inkling.

TV Shows? I’ve always said ‘Greys Anatomy’ is my longest committed relationship. Outside of that, I watched TV for a mental escape so I honestly can’t tell you if I looked forward to these shows because I loved them and they were so great or because I didn’t want to think or feel things about reality. I can tell you when episodes would maybe hit a little close to home, I wasn’t feeling that episode.

Beauty products? For what? I mean, is there more to life than EOS lip balm I share with my kids? Self-care… stahhhhhhp.

So, post-break-down, I started doing the work to know me, who I am right now, in all the mess and all the glory. Guys, it wasn’t pretty. It is a far cry from a work of art now. But I have things I know I like. That is HUGE! I’m also building my personal principles that will do what? Define me! Yay!

What is crucial to know- I am still, very much so, an all-in mom. I just learned that me being an “all-in mom” does not mean that I can’t be an all-in human. I don’t have to stop being kind to myself to show love to my kids. Crazy I’m just figuring this, right?  I know.

But guess what? I’m building a “My Favorite Things List” to share with you because those aren’t exclusively reserved for the likes of Mother Oprah.

Love you. I mean it.

Homeschool Room Updates

Hey Loves!

So, if you are new here, I am a homeschool mom. This year, I am homeschooling 2 preschoolers. Thus, updates were greatly needed.

The first thing we needed to maximize was space. One of the reasons I chose to homeschool was individualized lesson plans and one-on-one learning. I don’t think you can do that without space to learn. That meant re-organizing what we already had, removing some things and adding a few things (I know adding things doesn’t make sense but go with me).

Removing

Don’t hate me. I got rid of the train table while my children were sleeping. Yes, I waited until they were sound asleep, dismantled it and put in the garage and the immediately gave it away. There was an adjustment period of maybe 12 hours. Why? That’s simple. Valuable real estate. That thing was freaking huge. Plus, the kids didn’t use it properly. Train tracks, trains, cars and whatever else were always flying and my kids would not stop crawling up on to the train table. It was no longer safe…for my sanity, of course. So, off it went. Man, oh man. The joy of that space.

Re-organizing

To start, for me, meant evaluating our space and seeing what works for us. I new our circle time wall and safe space for reading and calm down time worked and worked well. Our art table is very close to the bathroom and that works very well (easy access to handwashing is a must!). What didn’t work was our lack of storage. So, I took the cubby organizer we got from Ikea from its horizontal position and placed it vertically. BAM! Not only did that make the cubbies more effective for children to access their toys, it gave two cubbies AND a shelf to store curricula supplies and supplements. What????

I also moved our world map to a blank wall that was lower, giving my children more visual and physical access.

The cars, trucks, planes, etc. from the train table I placed in storage bins and totes under our bench in the learning room.

Adding

I added a map of the USA (Dollar Tree). Geography and map studies are going to be a big focus for us this year and I wanted constant visuals of this. I also added a small table from Ikea (who doesn’t love Ikea???) in order to have to learn/work spaces for my boys because …frenemies. #thestruggleisreal I also made another art display because double kids equal more art to show off. I thought I was done and then… Target dollar spot got me. I bought two more pocket charts to display our visual schedule and one for WORD WALL. What in the actual world, people???

That’s it! Any suggestions for me? For pics, check out my facebook page! You can also keep up with my (almost) daily ramblings about life.

Love you. Mean it.

Homeschooling Inexpensively

Hey Loves!

I am going to try to make this quick but this is important. Very important. As overwhelming as homeschooling can already be, the cost can sometimes be very daunting. I know this personally. I am no millionaire, but even if I was, I wouldn’t want to spend a ton on homeschooling. I could you know, feed the hungry or something. For those who aren’t millionaires, have budgets and bills, but want to homeschool and can’t get over the cost, there are ways around that.

  1. Buy used: I know some people abhor this concept but hear me out. Buying used curriculum is a great way to save money. You can see in a previous post that I saved a ton on our math curriculum. If you are worried about germs, Lysol. Most homeschool moms take great care of the curriculum they invested in hoping to recoup some of the cost so you get a good product at a fraction of the price. Look for homeschool sales in your area or search online. You can also buy books used from local thrift stores and online. This has saved me a ton and I am sure it will save you a ton as well.
  1. Download free curriculum: Well, duh! So many people have created free curriculums and units studies for your taking. Take them gleefully! My Pinterest board is full of them.
  2. Create units and activities from books: This may not be for everyone but for some, it can be a great teaching experience and yield awesome results.
  3. Buy supplies inexpensively: Stock up during back-to-school sales. Crayons, pencils, markers, composition notebooks, glue sticks- grab them all. During the year or for more specific items, check your local Dollar Tree. They have amazing items for ONE DOLLAR. You can’t beat that price.
  4. Use what you have: If a project calls for something you don’t have, look for substitutes or another version to see if you can use something you already have.
  1. Buy and split: If you have some homeschool friends that all need the same supply item that needs to be ordered, but comes in larger quantities at a higher cost, split the cost and share the quantity.

Ok, those are my tricks and tips for now. Did I miss something? Please tell me if so!

Love you. Mean it.

My Lesson Planner

Hey Loves!

Ok-if you are new here, planning is my jam. Planners are my joy. My old friends, nothing new here.

So, this was my first year researching and purchasing a lesson planner for homeschool. The past 2 years, I created our curricula and typed them up as I planned them. With purchasing curriculums and planning for two kids, I needed a planner to stay organized.

Now, I don’t want to delve into the amount of time I spent researching planners because that will just end in a judgment of me but I will say in my research I stumbled across the Scholastic Teacher Inspiration Planner.

Total transparency here, it was the cost that drew me in. Then, I did more research. How were others using this? How functional was it? Is it one of those “you get what you pay for?” deals? I learned that it was very similar to the Erin Condren Lesson Planner and, well, let’s just say in my pre-mom days Erin Condren planners were my world. 

I did know I wanted a little flare with this planner but it also had to be extremely functional. Hold up for at least this school year, and hopefully last on the shelf for following school years.

Armed with my research, I decided to try it. I got in the mail and was pleased before opening it because it was longer than I originally thought. I assumed it would be the length of my day planner. This meant I had more room to write in each subject session.

Opening the planner and reviewing some of the pages, I realized quickly, like I did with just about every other planner, some pages I would not used as-is and, thus, I entered the world of washi-tape and made those pages my own. I also used washi tape to indicate field trips, and days we would not have school.

While I have written in lesson plans up until the end of December, I haven’t finished adding everything to the planner I want. I will share the updates when I have them. Until then, happy planning!

Love you. Mean it.

P.S.- I have since joined some new homeschool Facebook groups and, y’all, my planner game is about to be seriously upgraded.

Our Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Hey Loves!

So, as I mentioned earlier, with homeschooling too kiddos, the time and research to create another curriculum were daunting and more than I could bear. Also, James was excelling at a rate I could not have predicted and I wanted to be prepared for that if the acceleration continued.

 Enter research. Getting Overwhelmed. Giving up. Repeat 96 million times.

Determining a curriculum is hard work, people! I had NO idea. So, more research. I happened to stumble across a youtube video from My Busy Bees and Me that shared their curriculum picks for the year and Erica detailed “The Good and The Beautiful”.

“Ummm what is that exactly?” I asked myself… and then google… and then more youtube. Then, in my heart, I knew this was the literacy and language arts curriculum for us. It encompassed all of my goals for James and enable him to confidently learn. It was also broken down into short lessons that, if needed, could be repeated. We purchased the hard copy and digital download. The hard copy came with the lesson book, flip books, and manipulatives. The digital download includes all of these items as well.

 Then, math. Ok friends, I had a budget to stick to and as amazing as the Good and The Beautiful math curriculum seemed to be, it was simply out of my budget as I knew I wanted the hard copy and digital download. So, more research and more giving up. Because Facebook is all up in my beeswax, it showed me several of my friends were interested in a used homeschool curriculum fair in a church about 8 minutes from my house. “This seems interesting,” I thought. “If nothing else, I could meet other Black homeschool moms and get good information.”

I went with $40 cash as my budget because I refused to come home with a bunch of stuff we “might” use because “it was such a good deal!” I’ve been there. Done that.

I went in not expecting much honestly. I walked around and found Math You See. I remembered it from my research and knew I liked it but did not like the retail price. The learning level was about first grade. I knew James was at Kindergarten level in math and was not sure how fast he would accelerate so I asked the seller some questions about it and pondered on it. It was listed at $10 which was already a great price but then the seller said, “if you want it to you can have it, I’ll sell it to you for $5,” “SOLD!” I replied with glee. So, winning, right? Not exactly. I needed a math curriculum for this year…

Again, I perused and found a table with what seemed to be all middle school curriculum. We definitely aren’t there but research doesn’t hurt, right? As I am looking through, I see she has a BJU K literacy curriculum and I begin to ask her about it. She explains how she has everything with it and how she loved it. In my head, I am repeating to myself, “You only need math. You only need math.” She then points to the BJU math curriculum and explains how she has the teachers manual, disc and all the manipulative for $20. I quickly look up how much it retails for… the teacher manual alone was $70-$80. The workbook was $26. I paused and thought… I looked more and couldn’t resist it. I loved the curriculum and the seller so helpful. She also sold me an entire 4-inch binder of math worksheets in page protectors, making them dry erase for $5. 

Y’all! I scored our math curriculum for 3 years for $30!!! I got all the things and stayed under budget!

Now, for social studies, I knew I wanted to focus on elections/voting, maps, and a lengthy Africa study. I purchased These 2 inexpensive workbooks from Amazon: 

180 Days of Social Studies for Kindergarten

DK Workbooks: Geography Pre-K

These will be integrated with map exploration and, well, whatever else we want because we homeschool. 🙂

Science… you guys should know I said I would never be one of those homeschool moms that have multiple curriculums for their kids. That’s just too much. Doesn’t make sense, I thought. 1. Never say never. 2. Repeat number 1 often. 3. See numbers 1-2.

I was struggling here. I knew what concepts and terms I wanted James to be familiar with. I knew I wanted him to keep a science journal. I knew what his interests were. Making it happen in a timely fashion and still having hair and sanity at the end of it did not seem likely. So, back to the Good and The Beautiful I went. I truly do love their science curriculum. It grows with the child, expanding their knowledge of subject matters from year-to-year and encompasses all of my goals. I selected Arthropods and Human Body units and purchased the digital downloads. I am seriously considering getting the space unit. I knew I wanted to do an expansive human body study with the boys so that was easy. Arthropods and Space and my kids’ interest. We are also learning a lot about the weather because my kids are interested in that as well. Lastly, we got a small book of Experiments from Usborne that I will use as well as activities from our Koala Crate Subscription.  

 Black History

This is a very important subject. James is at the age where I want to do more than just repeat facts every day. I want him to learn and understand how Black History is American and World History. We will use a variety of storybooks, short videos, and other items to explore and learn about African American first and heroes as well as field trips and other activities. We will do a lengthy Harlem Renaissance study starting in 2019.

Bible, Music, and Art will mostly be used from God’s Little Explorers. This is a free curriculum, although she does have a paid option. This curriculum does exactly what I need for Bible exploration and learning about classical composers and historic artist. I purchased Anholt’s Artist series books (USED, of course!), to assist with this. We will also use parts of the literacy and math for Jude.

So, yes. That does seem like a lot. This is why we plan. Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions?

Love you. Mean It.

Homeschool: How To Get Over the Hump

Hey Loves!

So, I’ve had lots of conversations about why I chose to homeschool (I’ll work on that post later) but mostly how I do it? I mean, having kids 22 months apart doesn’t lend itself to lots of downtime to research and explore. Then, you add the special-needs and therapies in the mix and I wonder how I do it sometimes.

For me, it starts with planning. Hope is wonderful but it is not a plan. You have to plan! However, I know just a quick Internet search can leave you feeling overwhelmed and, frankly, inadequate. At least that was my story. So, I started with the basics:

-What did I want my children to learn?

-How much time would we spend on school per day?

-What were my goals?

Those 3 questions can save lots of time and heartache. Next, I suggest finding out where your kid is academically. For example, I knew James was advanced but I didn’t know how advanced. Once I did a preliminary evaluation, He easily is doing most Kindergarten math at 3. That’s not boasting, just an example because I would not have guessed that.

 

Also, learning styles- find out how you and your kid learns! This will greatly impact how you teach. This will also impact what curriculum type you will be interested in if you choose to do one at all.

Goals are a tool of the prosperous. I make goals at the beginning of the year, check in in January and see where we are, and at the end of the year do a summary. It really is that simple. One of the amazing benefits of homeschool is you can customize learning. DO. IT. You guys know I am a crazy type-A planner with zero cares about your need to be flexible. However, homeschool has taught me flexibility is a little bit ok. I promise.

What You Can Expect

Hey Loves!

Ok, so maybe my last post was a little too much. Like, full-frontal too much. So, let’s take a step back and discuss what you can expect from me here at hitswiththemrs.

Things that will stay the same:

You guys, yes, a lot of me is changing but so much is the same. I’m still a wife. I’m still a mom. I still homeschool. I still have crafty moments. I still plan. Those things will not change. You will still get tips, tricks, thoughts and ideas that have helped me or possibly improved my life in the slightest.

Things that will change:

For starters, we are going deeper. No more BS. Marriage is hard. Parenting special needs kids is hard, very hard. Exercising and not always putting me last is a new concept that proves difficult at times. My desire to get back to happy may not be an easy walk in the park. Thus, you will probably hear about all of those things. Why? Because facades don’t help anyone. They don’t help me. They certainly don’t help you. Also, I don’t have time for that anymore. You may read more about what I am loving or things that I am trying. Basically, you will get me authentically. That means, my new experiences, should I choose to share, will be new. Also, and this a hard one, I’m putting my guard up more. It is not that I don’t want to share with you it is just that things are so new to me, I am worth it to figure it out and decide how I feel about it and decide if I want to share. Also, you are worth more than some words in your email because I wanted to put up a blog post.

So, I hope you will stick along for this ride and maybe even invite a friend or two to share all my hits and misses.

Love you. Mean it.

Welcome Back

That was more for me than you. Stating the obvious, it has been quite some time since I put pen to paper and released my thoughts to you. It was intentional. Most certainly not because I didn’t want to or that I’d moved on to bigger and better things, it was simply because I couldn’t.

I had a baby…I had 2 boys under 2. I was engulfed with postpartum depression and anxiety and in a grungy survival mode. Everything I did was simply to make it to the next hour. Hours, days and months passed and I was still just surviving. Barely, at that.

Then, my youngest wouldn’t talk and although I’d noticed and documented my sensory concerns and he started OT at 10 months, him literally not saying one word freaked me out. So, suddenly I had 2 special needs kids. You should know I had no idea the toll that would take on me. Somehow, I made up that since I had one, I was a pro and knew the ropes. You know, the “I got this” mentality. You should also know what I made up was very incorrect. I also didn’t involve my heart in these matters. I didn’t have time to feel and, if I didn’t feel anything, then there wasn’t anything to work through and definitely no need to cope. Again, I made up that I didn’t have time for it anyway so, why bother. Head down and get to work.

Somehow, that worked, until it didn’t. Without feeling or really thinking I was managing 4 different therapy appointments, continuing exercises from therapies at home, homeschooling, not sleeping, not exercising, barely eating, forcing myself to get out of bed every day, and hating so so much of this so-called life. It sounds so cliché but I honestly had no idea was who this empty person was staring back at me in the mirror. I lived on coffee, Malbec, and Xanax. Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and expecting a big ‘Aha Moment’ to come next. Spoiler Alert: It does not.

I kept going. Full speed ahead with no gas. Or oil. At this point, I was out of windshield wiper fluid, but I kept going. Then, the breakdown happened. You have to know that for the entirety of my mothering, so 3 years and 1.5 months at this point, my anxiety was a like a purse. Sometimes I left it at home or in the car. Forgot I had it. Other times it was a small crossbody-there but not in the way. At this point, it was a huge tote bag filled to the brim, spilling out everywhere and so so heavy. Again, I kept going. *insert face-palm emoji*

Back to the breakdown, I’m not sure how it happened…what sparked it… how I got to that point of allowing myself to feel but I remember laying on our sofa talking to my husband and then all of a sudden thinking the roof was leaking. (You should know that it is late March and in 6 months we had a leak, our heat broke, I put a hole in the garage wall, our fridge went out and our microwave broke so, a roof leak was par for the course.) I looked up, no leak that I could see. “Why is my face wet?” I asked myself. Then, the scene from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” happened in my living room and I said to myself, “I’m leaking!” Not crying because I don’t have time for that. I truly believed I was leaking. Sad, I know. Anyway, my heart came out of hibernation and reminded that I was, in fact, crying. Now everything from that moment to my husband carrying me upstairs shaking is a blur. I have no idea what took place but I know I emptied everything I’d been carrying in that anxiety bag. I also unloaded the depression suitcase that was way past any airline weight limit.

I remember feeling physically lighter the next day but started my day like I did any day before that. Very soon I knew that didn’t work. No one just drops 300 pounds and puts on their old clothes. So, when my oldest was in speech therapy, I threw my youngest in the stroller and did something I didn’t have time for before. I listened to “For The Love” podcast with Jen Hatmaker and her guest Glennon Doyle. You guys-those 2 changed the course of me finding me in a short 1ish hour. Glennon said, “When your done being perfect you can be good. And when you’re done being good, you can be free.”

*insert ‘Aha Moment’*

What a word that was??? Anyway, that was 3 months ago and I’ve been slowly finding my way to freedom since then. For me, freedom is:

  1. Not letting anxiety and depression win
  2. Finding my way back to happy, whatever that means
  3. Releasing the anger
  4. Accepting all the grace
  5. Giving myself and others grace
  6. Being the mom I want to be
  7. Getting to know the person looking back at me the mirror

I don’t have my list of what makes me happy complete. I know I like to exercise and I like to write. I love to read. So, I started reading again and I loved being filled with good things. I started exercising again and I love giving to me. I just started writing again and it felt good. I missed this and I missed you.