Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Happenings

May has treated us well.  The weather has been really nice, and I am really enjoying my children at their current ages.  It makes a huge difference to be more mobile.  Enna is potty trained and now sleeps in a big bed.  We more or less get sleep at night.  Life is good.

We have a historical site near us where the docents don historical garb and show visitors life in Colonial America.  For May Day, they had special activities planned: a outdoor performance of The Tortoise and the Hare, people spinning wool, some historically appropriate vendors, hair wreath making, maypole dancing, etc.  We came at the end which worked out well.  It wasn't overly crowded, and we got to participate in the Maypole Dance.  The weather was perfect and everyone was entertained.





We also went camping for the second time.  We decided to ventured out a bit further than before by traveling to Harper's Ferry--a 2-3 hour drive from our home.  It is a quaint historical town near the intersection of two rivers: Shenandoah and Potomac and and three states: Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.  It was really the perfect trip because it hit Finn's Trifecta: Trains, Biking, and Camping.  There were a number of trains, tunnels, and tracks which brought delight to both kids.  Also, there is a canal path that runs from DC all the way to Pittsburgh, PA and part of the path is right there at Harper's Ferry.

I decided a while ago that I want to be a family that bikes.  It seemed like it would be a great way for us to get outside and be active together despite having younger children.  It meant investing in some substantial gear, but it has been worth it.  I have loved our family bike rides, and I love this mode of exploring new places.  On our ride at Harper's Ferry, I kept brainstorming other places that would be fun to visit and also bike friendly.  Our current set-up is a child seat on my bike for Enna and a trailer bike attached to Mr. F.'s bike.  I admit, I get the better end of the deal.  While I have to deal with the occasional kick to the backside and the added weight, Mr. F. has to cope with the completely unpredictable pedaling and lurching from Finn on the trailer bike.  It can be a bit amusing to ride behind them and see it all in action.

For camping, we went to the The Treehouse Camp.  I have to admit, the place was not like I had pictured in my mind based on their website.  I was thinking of something a bit more rural and secluded.  And while it is located in a wooded area, that wooded area is smack dab in the middle of a residential and farm community.  In the end though, it was great, and I would have no regrets going back.  We didn't stay in one of the tree houses, although they looked fun.  Instead, we tried out our family tent for the first time.  It was fun to wake up in the morning and hear the birds sining.  It felt like camping in an arboretum.







I don't think anyone sleeps well with kids in tents.  (If you do, please don't tell me.)  While Finn has gotten better about falling asleep with it still being a bit light, Enna will not.  And he can't really fall asleep while Enna is insisting that she doesn't want to sleep yet.  So that means a really late bedtime with a normal wakeup.  The kids run around on a 3 hour deficit which by day two, means things get really hairy, really quickly.  Once asleep, they are fine except for the complete lack of motor control by the children which makes them toss and turn and whack you in the face or other body parts.  Needless to say, two nights, is my max at this point.

We brought the kids' bikes for them to use around camp and also visited a local playground.  I wanted to explore more of the town of Harper's Ferry or do some hiking on the Appalachian trail, but we ran out of time and sanity.  I am trying to decide on our next camping location which probably won't be until fall because trying to sleep when it is hot and humid is my idea of purgatory.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finn at Five

It seems fitting that Finn's birthday write up should be as equally delayed as Enna's.  Equality among siblings and all that.

At five, Finn still needs lots of snuggles, which is great because Enna is not much of a snuggler at all (unless her brother is snuggling and then she suddenly develops a strong need for them.)  He loves projects and making things.  More than anything, he wants to be involved.  That could include helping me clean, or cook, or garden.  He loves to learn.  He enjoys filling out worksheets, reading, and practicing writing.  This bodes well for our next adventure: homeschooling.  He asks a billion questions a day with much repetition.  I try to be patient but, it is a work in progress.  He struggles a bit with anxiety.  I know the current topic of study at preschool due to his anxious questions regarding crabs or lobsters (last week) or bees and spiny caterpillars (this week.)  He shows great concern about anything that could potentially cause hurt.

In general, he is a fantastic older brother.  He loves playing with Enna and thinks up many games for them to play together.  And yes, he does enjoy being able to boss another person around.

He is tall and skinny.  Lately he experienced a growth spurt where he grew half an inch in just a couple of weeks.  I know this because I measured him for clothes and then a couple of weeks later we measured him again for a project and whoa......the mark was in a completely different spot.  That could explain how he can pack away a significant amount of food and why he suddenly started waking us up multiple times a night.

He is a boy that needs lots of love and patience, and I try my hardest to give it to him.  Sometimes I am successful, and sometimes I am not.

For his birthday, we celebrated by making paper crowns, eating waffles with chocolate syrup for breakfast, and having a special dinner of bean and cheese quesadillas, cauliflower, and most importantly chocolate cake for dessert.  We also took in some chocolate cookies to his preschool class.  And what happened after all this chocolatey indulgence?  He had a bit of an upset stomach the next day.  It is a hard lesson to learn: that one can have too much of a good thing.  For gifts, he received a pedal bike, a number of books, a small lego set, a remote-controlled train, a monster bowling set, and a trip to the zoo.  It really was a wonderful birthday.







More pictures can be found on my flickr page.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fictional Personality Typing: Anne of Green Gables

After reading MotherSytles and thinking obsessively about my personality type and those of my acquaintances, my mind wandered into the realm of fictional characters.  Anne of Green Gables for instance.  I have always felt that I could be Anne in real life, baring the unfortunate lack of red hair.  In any case, I believe she is a kindred spirit, my fictional soul mate.  Perhaps I have felt this way because we have similar personalities?  I decided to do a little fictional personality typing.


I: I think we can all agree that Anne is an introvert.  She takes long, solitary walks.  She immerses herself into books.  She always is described as just having a few close friends.  These characteristics are classically introvert.

N: Anne is not into the mundane and the nitty gritty.  She is the type of person to get swept away by the chariot race in Ben Hur and ignore geometry.  She needs places that have "scope for the imagination."  She will make a fine plum pudding sauce, but forget to put the cheesecloth on top because of her day dreaming.  She is also more inclined to see the big picture: cow in the cabbage patch.  And not the details: not her cow, Dolly.



F: Anne is definitely an F.  She is a sympathizer.  She makes decisions based on her feelings and of those around her.  There is a section in Anne of Avonlea where Anne, Jane and Gilbert talk about discipline:

"I could never whip a child," said Anne with equal decision. "I don't believe in it at all. Miss Stacy never whipped any of us and she had perfect order; and Mr. Phillips was always whipping and he had no order at all. No, if I can't get along without whipping I shall not try to teach school. There are better ways of managing. I shall try to win my pupils' affections and then they will want to do what I tell them."

Anne also likes to "fly on the wings of anticipation" and wallow in the depths of despair.  She has a hard time keeping composure when teased about her hair and, out of the blue, breaks her slate over Gilbert's head.



P or J:  Now this is the tricky letter.  This letter has to do with how to one likes their outer world structured.  The problem here is the lack of data from the novels.  A J likes organized day-to-day living, structure, smooth-running household, etc.  P is spontaneous, process- and experience-oriented, relaxed about clutter, disorder, chaos, relaxed about plans going awry, etc.  Among the internet, most people have classified Anne as a P.  I tend to differ, but of course I have an ulterior motive here (my thesis being that she is my personality twin.)

When we look at Anne as an adult, we see that she has help running a household from Susan and things run smoothly.  (Smoothly enough that it doesn't warrant a comment in the novels.)  Is this because of Anne or Susan?  In the earlier years, a couple of instances are mentioned in the books about Anne running late due to distraction.  (I.e. getting Mr. Hammond his lunch and so he gets himself into a rage and dies.)  These appear to be isolated events however, and not a character trait.  We do know she does chores on a regular basis (her inclination or Marilla's, we don't know.)  She always is able to keep herself more or less on task in terms of school work, employment, etc.  These points lead me to say she is more likely to be a J than a P.  (Most likely she falls someplace in the middle of the J and P spectrum.)



So there you have it.  Proof (ha!) that Anne is an INFJ just like myself.  No wonder I feel so connected!

Turns out, fictional personality typing is totally a thing.  A brief internet search has found the following INFJs:

Christina (Divergent)
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars)
Remus Lupin (Harry Potter)
Hermione Granger (HP)--(I actually don't agree with this one.  I think she would be more S than N.)
Jane Eyre
Kermit the Frog
Galadriel (LOTR)
Frodo Baggins (LOTR)
Albus Dumbledore (HP)
Yoda (SW)
Harry Potter
Nancy Drew--(Maybe this is another reason I read so many Nancy Drew novels as a child?!)
Elizabeth Bennett
Indiana Jones

Of course you can find a number of other sites having those same characters typed as something else (see chart below).  It is a fun, albeit rather pointless, pastime.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths



I previously viewed personality typing as something moderately interesting and perhaps vaguely useful, similar to having one's colors done (supposedly, I am a Winter, but I have never actually used that information.)  However, when Amy over at Sunlit pages mentioned that she no longer feels guilty about not holding non-family birthday parties and that this book will validate any mother, I knew I needed to check it out pronto.  I too, am plagued by guilt over our lack of birthday celebrations, along with a slew of other parenting decisions I make every single day.  What parent doesn't need validation?

Of course there are limits to personality typing and it wasn't spot on about everything, but parts of the book were like glimpses into my soul.  Other people thought that way?  This is a thing?

Turns out I am a INFJ: Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging.  Each letter corresponds the following questions: Where to I get my energy? (I)  What information to I attend to most? (N)  How do I make judgements/decisions? (F) And how do I like my outer world structured? (J)   I knew I was an introvert.  But the other letters were more illuminating.  Also, the interaction between the different letters gives even more insight, which is covered in the book.

When I have taken similar type tests before, it was difficult to determine where I fell.  (My scores for N and S are very close, for example.)  In previous exams, I felt the questions were more geared towards a professional setting and that influenced how I answered them.  For example, I would feel like I should be more rational in my decision making versus being influenced by feelings, etc.  The questions in MotherStyles, however, were based on everyday decisions/actions that I make in response to my family, and so it was easier to tease out my natural inclination.

Insights:

I:
A number of the introvert struggles rang a bell with me: Struggling with handling large family or large groups of people.  Finding the energy to maintain the pace of active young children and adolescents.  Responding to "on the spot" to questions.

Introverts can also be drained if they are also an N by keeping on top of all the Sensing (S) details of caring for children.  Also, If Judging (J) drains the battery too due to the chaos of children and family life.

This means I am basically drained of all energy all the time.

N:
I felt like I had a number of Sensing strengths but all of the struggles of the Intuitive.  Ie: living in the here-and-now, keeping things simple, not starting a project because I can't get it all done, etc.  I am pretty evenly split between the two groups.  What clarified things for me were the tips at the end of the section.  For sensing moms, "taking care of me" meant feeding the senses as too much dullness and sameness is draining.  You can take care of yourself by getting more sensory experiences.  For the Intuitive, "me time" meant giving myself a break from reality by watching a movie, reading fiction or pursing a new interest.  That was a bell ringing loud and clear for me, since that is exactly how I recharge.

I had to laugh at one section where it talks about not wanting to start a part of a project you can't finish.  Mr. F. had recently given me a "you are crazy" look when I went off about not wanting to clean just the toilets when the whole bathroom needed to be cleaned, but I didn't have the time for that large of a project.

F:
The strengths and weaknesses of the Feeling mom hit home: being responsive to my children's needs and struggling with multiple wants and constant demands.  Also struggling with separating my feelings from those of my children's.  I have a hard time remaining cool and rational when my children are spewing fire, so to speak.

J:
I was pretty clear cut on my I and J.  I have strong preferences towards those.  I would love to be spontaneous (P), but I am not.  I really am a lot less anxious if I know what is going on.

According to the book, some types are less frequent in the population that others.  INFJ is one of those.  That can make one feel even more of an "oddball."

There is just a lot of information in this book.  It really is illuminating.  There are some people (E), who are energized by having kids!  This is mind-blowing to me as I find parenting to be so exhausting and draining All The Time.  But, now I know that it is a function of personality.  Some people just love all the details (S) and the chaos (P) and the interaction (E).  And it feeds their soul while it conversely drains mine.  The book also mentions working harmoniously with the different personality types in your own family.  My kids are a bit too young, but I can still see preferences starting to make themselves known.

I feel like everyone should read this book and then let me know what their personality type is.  I found myself guessing some of the personality types of my friends.  There is one mother (a mother of 8) who is so reasonable and unruffled when disciplining/raising her children that it makes me think she must have a strong T preference.  Another mother I know is always volunteering to take children for the day etc., and is completely unfazed by the ensuing chaos.  I am pretty sure she would be an E.

Finally, (I know.  This is a killer of a post), I love the tips, permissions, etc that the author gives.  You can embrace who you are.  You can say "no" to things that will over-extend you and negatively influence your family.  You can actively protect the activities that will recharge you.  I feel like I have been given some concrete data which shows that 1) people are different and 2) that differences are o.k. and 3) you can act on said data and not feel (as) guilty.    




Monday, March 9, 2015

Sewing: Little Red Riding Hood Cape

Having spent so much time on the cape, I think it deserves it's own blog post.

The cape had a two scissor rating, one of the more easier patterns from the book, "Little Things to Sew".  According to Oliver + S, two scissors indicate an Advanced Beginner: someone who has sewn from a pattern before or has taken a few classes and completed several projects.  I thought that it would be a fairly straight forward sew.  I felt pretty confident in my sewing abilities to tackle that pattern.  And while there wasn't anything intrinsically difficult about the pattern, it wasn't trivial.  This was my first time working with a lining.  I loved that it was fully-lined, but that doubled the amount of fabric pieces.  The three-dimensional hood was a bit tricky too.  I messed up attaching it to the main part of the cape.  I had to unpick and hand-sew a small bit.  It all came together, but it reinforced that idea that I am still learning and very much a beginner when it comes to sewing.

That being said, I can't say enough awesome things about the pattern.  I had heard that Oliver + S patterns (or Lisette patterns in general) were the cream of the crop in terms of attention to details and construction, etc.  They are written really well and are very instructive.  It is nice to learn the correct way of doing something versus the slap-dash method found in other patterns or online tutorials.

For the fabric, I used Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in red for the main and Art Gallery Rapture Butterfly Bliss Aqua for the lining.  I ordered both from Fabric.com.  I was hoping the the reds would match well enough since I couldn't see them in person.  It is always a bit of a gamble when ordering fabric online, but luckily, both of them were perfect.






















Cost Breakdown

Pattern: Little Things to Sew Book sold on Amazon for $19.01 but used gift certificate.
Fabric
    Main: $14.22 @ $9.48/yd
    Lining: $14.93 @ 9.95/yd
Thread: 4.00?
Buttons: Grandmother's button box

Total: $33.15

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Enna at Two

People!  My family and I are stuck in this vortex of sickness.  I honestly can't remember the last time all of us were well.  Enna usually falls sick first, followed in a few days by Finn, then Mr. F. and I fall victim.  The whole process is then repeated.  I thought perhaps we might have a break after this last bit (Mr. F. and I are still hacking, but health could be a possibility soonish?), but Enna is again running a low-grade fever and is congested.  This has been our life for the last month or two.  I am sick of the cold, sick of being sick, and sick of our house.  Spring and health can't come soon enough!  This is all to say: here is a birthday post a few weeks late.



Stats: 
Head circumference: 48.5 cm (75%)
Height: 33'' (25-50%)
Weight: 22.3 lbs (< 5%)

Enna turned 2 on Valentine's Day.  People are always remarking on her size.  "She's so petite!" While she isn't breaking any records for size, she isn't too far off others her age that we see.  Instead, I think people comment because they mistake her for being older.  People have asked me if she was starting preschool next year when she wasn't even two.  Enna is very self-possessed, and I am convinced she thinks she's four.  She doesn't understand why she can't attend preschool with her brother, when she obviously knows she is completely capable!  She is also quite verbal and lacks the puffy diaper-bum sported by her contemporaries (we potty-trained at 21 months like we did Finn).  All those characteristics combined make her seem much older than her age.  Even the pediatrician commented on it when we had her well visit.  (The pediatrician said she acted like a 3.5 year old.)

We are still nursing, but celebrated her birthday (ha!) by cutting out her last remaining night nursing session.  Now we are down to morning, nap, and bedtime.  I never would have pegged me for an extended nurser, but, there ya go.  I am still enjoying those quiet bonding moments.

Enna likes to: run so fast, jump off pieces of furniture with no fear, play with her brother, read books, cut paper, color with crayons and markers (left handed!), play in water, quote sections of books, be silly, play outdoors, give love to stuffed animals, and whine like a siren.



We celebrated by eating birthday pancakes, opening gifts, and having a special dinner of cream of tomato soup (her favorite) and grilled cheese (Finn's favorite) with dessert being vanilla pudding (wasn't a fan) and gingerbread cookies (was a fan).

We gave a number of homemade gifts this year.  I made a felt crown (using this pattern), a Red Riding Hood cape (from Little Things to Sew), and a latch board.  Plus she received a number of books from us and the Grandparents.  Truth be told, only the books have been much of a hit so far.  (Although Finn really loves the latch board.)  I am thinking she might grown into the cape and crown as she grows older and is more inclined to pretend play.  (Something I think she might do more than Finn--who just doesn't show much interest in that sort of thing).


Needless to say, we love her to death and are inclined to keep her around.



More photos to be found on my Flickr photostream.


Friday, January 30, 2015

4/52: Collection and Friday Flashback


This is my grandmother's button box.  She kept it in her bedroom.  I remember taking it out of its place on the shelf, sitting on the floor, and spending many minutes, perhaps hours, enjoying the sensation of sifting through the buttons with my hands and letting them fall between the cracks in my fingers.  I would sort through them, picking out those that were more interesting: glittery, flower-shaped, leather-tooled, wooden-carved.  Some, I tried to rig onto bobby pins and or attached to strings so that I could accessorize the outfits of the equally antique dolls she had.

When my grandmother passed away, I went with my mother to help decide what should be done regarding her belongings.  There were a number of pieces I wanted to keep so they would stay in the family: cedar chests, the cherry wood bedroom set complete with vanity, the barrister bookcases, and the family photographs.  However, there was one thing I wanted just for myself: her button box.  My memories of visiting my grandmother were inexorably linked to that humble, practical item.

The button box was stored for many years in my parents' basement along with a number of my childhood artifacts.  Due to a great cleansing and moving, I was re-gifted all of these long-forgotten items a little over a year ago.  When I cracked open the button box after not seeing it's contents for a decade or more, I was greeted by friends.  There were so many buttons that I remembered with such fondness.  It was a joy to rediscover them again.

The box symbolizes my grandmother's personality.  My grandmother reached adulthood just as the depression was starting. (She graduated college in 1929).  The saying, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was emblazoned on every action she performed.  Frugality and thrift weren't "good ideas" but a way of life.  The box is a gentle reminder to me to choose a different path: Mending vs. tossing.  Creating vs. buying.  Simplifying vs. cluttering.  



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