Earlier this summer, I decided to stock up on audiobooks for the kids because I wanted to try to keep the tv off as much as possible. I asked in a Charlotte Mason-type Facebook group which ones would be best for the kids, and added a lot of them to a wishlist on Amazon. I started buying one every couple of weeks, and then once I set up my gofundme page, the rest were generously donated.
I didn't realize what a difference it would make in our day to spend time listening to audiobooks. I HOPED they would helped, but I never imagined HOW MUCH they would help, or how much the kids would love them.
I have a radio in their room so that they can listen to stories while they play, get ready for bed, and fall asleep. I usually just keep a cd in the radio so that the kids can turn it on themselves when they go play. The cd player is simple enough that two of the three know how to play, pause, stop, and skip. I usually keep Dr Seuss or Arnold Lobel in their room.
I don't currently have a radio in the living room, but the dvd player plays cd's so that has been working just fine. We usually do an hour or so of tv first thing in the morning, when I am still trying to wake up enough to function ;) The kids often wake up well before I want them to, and I am absolutely not a morning person.
I try to be...
I have good intentions.
I always think, "I'll get up before the kids, make a nice pot of coffee, set up a prayer station outside with my bible, journal, and art supplies, and spend some nice quiet time alone with God."
Every single time I set an alarm for the morning, SOMEONE is up before it. Sometimes even just one minute before the alarm goes off. I don't bother setting alarms anymore.
So anyway, that is why we do tv time first thing in the morning.
Some days, we do tv time all day, so that I can catch up on chores or work or whatever it is I need catching up on. But, those are the days that the kids' behavior is noticeably worse, and I am really trying hard to not have those days anymore. Instead, I've been turning on audiobooks.
When the tv has been on for awhile and they start fighting over what is going to be watched next, I turn on an audiobook.
When the kids start complaining that they're bored, I turn on an audiobook.
When I need to make dinner and it's too late for electronics (5 pm in the summer, 4 pm during the school year), I turn on an audiobook.
When it is just too darn hot to play outside and the kids aren't getting along, I turn on TWO audiobooks and split them up.... two in one room, one in the other.
Audiobooks have been saving my sanity, helping the kids to settle down and get creative, improving their vocabulary, and helping them fall asleep faster and easier than ever before. Often, as soon as I turn on a story, the kids all start playing on the floor nicely right in front of the radio or dvd player. Their imaginations go wild, and they'll play for hours.
Even the 2 year old has started quoting the stories and asking for them by name. The 3 year old and 5 year old have favorite stories from each cd and sometimes argue about which one they can listen to first. Sometimes they ask me to read certain stories along with the cd so that they can look at the pictures.
Two other favorite resources of mine for audiobooks are Audible and Librivox. Librivox is free, which is always a plus. I bought a bluetooth speaker so that I can play audiobooks on my computer while I work. I can keep the speaker near the kids while I sit at the table working with my computer. Audible is great as well, because not only do you get one book a month (and the first month is free!), you can also save 30% on additional audiobooks, exchange books that you don't like, and cancel any time while KEEPING your books. I like to use the Audible credits for bigger books, like Gone With The Wind which would've been $50 otherwise, and then buy less expensive books for the kids. I've gotten books under $2 from Audible, like a couple of books from the Anne of Green Gables series, and several books by Tolkien for the kids. AND, you can use Audible without having a membership. I can't currently afford to pay $15 a month for their membership, BUT I do still occasionally buy books that are $5 or less. And I still have access to my entire library.
I'm going to link our favorites below. If you have any favorites that aren't mentioned here, please feel free to comment below so that we can discover some new favorites!
Arnold Lobel Audio Collection CD
Winnie-the-Pooh Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
Little Bear Audio CD Collection
By E.B. White - Stuart Little (Unabridged) Audio CD
Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8
The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites
Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss
The Roald Dahl Audio Collection
The Chronicles of Narnia Collector's Edition
***This post contains affiliate links. View my disclosure on my home page***
By now some (or many) of you know that I have been battling anxiety for the better part of the year. I've been using a variety of resources and techniques, and I'm about to share them with you in the hopes that they may help you as well.
*Please note: I am not a medical professional, and recommend that you please see one before trying to treat yourself, especially if you are currently taking any medication for any reason. Everyone is different and may have different reasons for going through anxiety, so what works for me might not work for everyone. I don't recommend supplements or diet changes until you've seen or talked to a medical professional.*
One of the biggest things that has helped has been to listen to the Rosary on Youtube. The songs are very soothing, and the repetition gives me something to focus on. When I was going through the worst part of my anxiety, I fell asleep to the Rosary every night for almost a month. Most of the time I'd fall asleep before it was over, but sometimes I'd play it two or three times before falling asleep. Their accents definitely help as well.
Bible journaling has also been helping a lot. I highly recommend the Blessed is She liturgical journals and, while I haven't received my copy yet, I know for a fact that anything Elizabeth Foss produces is absolute gold and is definitely worth buying. She just started a new ministry with an incredibly gifted group of writers and artists, and I am so excited to see everything they come up with. I worked through the Lent journal she wrote for Blessed is She, and it was a huge blessing. I also like the journals and studies that Heart of Mary produces.
Essential oils have been a huge help as well. I used to be a distributor for doTERRA but have switched to Plant Therapy because their prices are much more reasonable, and they have an incredible kid-safe line. I diffuse them in my room while I work and sleep, apply them on my wrists and neck (diluted with a carrier oil), and also wear a diffuser necklace from Happy Nest Home Goods. Blending Plant Therapy's "Self Esteem" and "Worry Free" creates a blend called "Liquid Ambien" that is amazingly calming.
Oddly enough, listening to Skillet on Spotify has been helping as well. They are a Christian Emo band, and their music is amazing. I've been a fan of theirs since high school, and was privileged to see them four times live. Their new album that just came out last year has some great songs - my favorite two are "Not Gonna Die Tonight" and "Stars."
A few books have been helping as well:
1) Fearless - By Sonja Corbitt
2) On The Other Side of Fear - By Hallie Lord
3) When Panic Attacks - By David D. Burns, MD
4) The Agoraphobia Workbook - By C. Alec Pollard, PhD
5) 50 Things To Do Before Seeing A Psychiatrist - By Joe Baldizzone
Changing my diet has been a huge help. I noticed that no matter what I ate, I was constantly sick to my stomach and steadily losing weight. After cutting out wheat and dairy, the cramps, pain, and sickness went away and I feel so much better. I'm still slowly losing unneeded weight but in a healthy way, not from being sick multiple times a day. I've always had problems with wheat and dairy, but ignored them because I enjoy pizza and ice cream and donuts. But it got to where it wasn't worth it to be sick multiple times every single day and lose 10 pounds in less than a month. I also had ulcer symptoms, which I was able to get rid of through diet change as well. I don't know if I actually had an ulcer, but it made sense and changing my diet made the symptoms go away, so either way it was a win. *I have seen a primary care physician and a gastroenterologist for digestive issues.*
Drinking tea and soaking my feet in epsom salts at night became a favorite routine. I bought Tension Tamer tea from the grocery store, and Lavender epsom salts from Walmart. I have a pink bucket that I brought home from the hospital during one of my many stays, and I fill it with hot water and 1/4 cup of epsom salts. Then I just put it on the floor in front of my bed and soak my feet for 30-45 minutes while watching something on Netflix and sipping on tea :) The epsom salt is good for detoxing and also for increasing magnesium, which is known to ease anxiety.
Staying hydrated and taking a few supplements has helped a great deal as well. I take a liquid multivitamin high in b-vitamins, magnesium, an anxiety blend, and a probiotic. I also drink homemade kombucha daily. If you research kombucha and anxiety, it's amazing. There is a link between gut health and anxiety+depression. Here are the links to the supplements that I've been taking:
1) Anti Anxiety Formula
2) Natural Calm Magnesium Drink
3) Liquid Multivitamin - I give this to my kids as well
5) Rescue Remedy - This never leaves my purse.
One last thing that I've noticed really helps when I'm feeling anxious and can't stop my hands from shaking: silly putty. It was such a last minute thing that I tried, but it's amazing how much it helped. I had to go to an appointment last week, and was shaking before I even left the house. When I got to the appointment, I pulled out the silly putty from my bag and started squeezing it, and after about 10 minutes, the shaking stopped. I kept squeezing it for the remainder of the appointment, and later on at church. It now stays in my purse, because that was a lifesaver. It gave me something to focus on, and slowly squeezing it made my hands stop shaking.
Again, please see a medical professional before making changes, but I hope some of what I talked about can help you.
Comment below with things that help your anxiety. I'd love to learn new techniques!
Hey everyone! It's been a little while since I've written, but a lot has been happening this summer already.
1. I have decided to open up a second Etsy shop for my photography and painting. I'll have digital downloads, prints, postcards, greeting cards, and *hopefully* more. I've been having a lot of fun exploring our yard again, taking macro pictures of the multitude of plants that are out there. I'm also hoping to explore some nearby fields to get some pictures of wildflowers.
2. I was also recently approached to be a photographer and writer for Heart of Mary Women's Fellowship. It is an amazing ministry with daily devotionals, bible studies, free printable devotional journals, gorgeous artwork for your various devices, conferences, and more. I've been following them on Instagram for over a year and am super excited to join their team! I'll be contributing three posts next month, plus some photography. If you go to their website, you can sign up to have the daily devotions sent straight to your email every morning! Right now we are studying the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
3. I'm finally feeling well enough to start working on My Little Felt Friends again, so hopefully over the summer I'll be able to get a decent amount of sewing done so that I can have a ready-to-ship restock once my son goes back to school in August. I do have a few listings up right now, if you'd like to head over and snag something real quick ;) I'm taking a few small orders just to keep busy and try to keep a slow trickle of income coming in.
4. Thanks to all of your generosity and donations, we are set on diapers, wipes, and various toiletries and supplies for the summer. The kids have been enjoying all of the silly putty, play-doh, kinetic sand, audiobooks, board games, and art supplies that were donated as well. They listen to the audiobooks in the living room while they play and in their bedroom while we get ready for bed. Even the youngest is starting to memorize them now and request specific stories.
5. I'm still working through the anxiety and agoraphobia, but I was able to make it out of the house last week to go to an appointment and Mass one day. I'm going to try to go to Mass again tomorrow, and hopefully a long-overdue haircut, and I'm reeeally hoping to go to the homeschool conference on Friday to visit people for an hour or two. So please pray my anxiety can stay under control this week! :)