Monday, November 4, 2013

I thought I was Lupin

The other night, while I was at my book club, we were chatting about a fun quiz on Facebook that determines which Hogwarts house in which you will be sorted. The quiz is based upon the NEO-PI Personality Inventory that measures the Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism).  I hoped I'd get sorted into Gryffindor, well, because, Hermione is awesome and Gryffindor is her house. However, the Sorting Hat put me in Hufflepuff and actually, Hufflepuff is the house for me. It's a fun little quiz, but it got me thinking about the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. I'm something of a MBTI geek since I first took the test in college.

I took a handful of upper division psychology classes while in college and while I never thought I'd major in Psychology, I was fascinated with the subject especially personality. Over the years, I've taken the Myers-Briggs again and again always getting the same result: INFJ. See the above chart? I'm similar to Remus Lupin in personality. (It keeps coming back to Harry Potter.)

Out of all those letters, I most strongly identified with my "I". Introversion is something that seems to drive my whole being. I get introversion. I understand it well.

Well, the other day, while dealing with a grouchy twin who wasn't feeling well, I decided to take the Myers-Briggs again, but I couldn't find the actual test. Apparently, you have to pay for the real test, but there's all kinds of MBTI type tests on the internet. So, I took EIGHT different assessments! While I didn't really expect that every single test would yield the same result of INFJ, I was stunned to find that out of those eight tests, on half of them, I was sorted into the Extroverted category. On one test, Introversion/Extroversion were tied. I have long considered that I'm possibly in a third category: the Ambivert. I found this post a while back on the subject. Perhaps, I'm a good blend of both and introvert and extrovert?

 I don't believe that our personalities can be narrowed down into four letters, but I do think that the Myers Briggs Personality Assesment does help us understand ourselves much better. So, after rekindling my interest in the MBTI, I ordered this book:

These are my results:  INFP, ENFJ, ENFP, ESFJ, E/INFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFP. Did you notice that I didn't turn out an INFJ on any of those eight tests? Is it possible that our letters just aren't static? It seems that our personalities grown and change within a certain framework of letters. It's worth investigating.

Modern Mrs. Darcy is a kindred spirit. She's been writing a lot about personality too. She loves the MBTI, but she introduced me to another book that's now a must read.

Honestly, at first, I thought this title had something to do with ancient codes, conspiracy theories, or maybe a cult, but since I trust Modern Mrs Darcy so much, I knew I was wrong. (It's possible that the word enneagram made me think of the word pentagram which of course makes me think of dark things.) It just sounded weird, but after looking into it, I think this book will help me further down my rabbit hole of personality research. It's fascinating stuff and I always gets excited to learn something new.

Where will the Sorting Hat put you?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Blah-g

As we enter my favorite season of the year, let me take a moment to reflect on blogging. Where have I been?

Well, sometime mid-Summer I realized that my life was changing in some big ways. Most notably, we decided to send Luke off to high school. I've written about this before. So, I won't spend time on that, but I did spend this summer savoring our last moments of home education. I hoped that I'd accomplished my mission of teaching him the joy of lifelong learning. I hoped he'd always bring a book with him. I hoped that he would find time for all the things he loves since he's away most of the day now.

One of my closest friends commented that my blog, in a few previous posts this year, sounded ominous at best. I had hinted at change and transformation. I didn't mean to be vague, but we had a little upheaval  this summer getting ready to send two boys to school and moving kids to different bedrooms and me getting ready to be home with the littlest ones all day. I acknowledged that I would not really be homeschooling this year with the exception of teaching little Tess to read and some math. I guess I can see that my blog thoroughly moved into the blah-g variety.

If I'm honest, I realized that blogging really started to drop off for me with increased use of Facebook and Instagram. It's easy and quick and well, I reasoned that I didn't have much time to sit and compose all of my thoughts like I used to. For the most part, I stopped reading so many blogs and especially blogs devoted to home education. With the demise of Google Reader, I now read only five blogs with consistency.

We're about a month into the school year and we're starting to feel our way into a Fall rhythm, but I'm still a little bit off-kilter. There's still that feeling that time is controlling me rather than the other way around.

So, here's what happened this summer:
 I didn't knit quite so much (I'll be back to the Yarn Along soon.)
 I read a lot of YA fiction. I'm still reading YA.
 I thought about increasing happiness.
 I went to the movies a lot. I really enjoyed The Way Way Back and The Sapphires.
 I decided I needed way more exercise.
 I bought pink running shoes.
 I bought paint in a nice Barn Red to paint our front door.
 I canned pickles.
 I learned that all five of my kids can handle being in the car for 15 hours. (We drove to Virginia this summer driving two 15 hour days. Yes. We are crazy like that.)

 If you're interested, here are the blogs that inspire me every day:

In the Heart of My Home
Elizabeth is my kindred spirit. She writes about everything. Food. Time Management. Home Education. Reading. Knitting. Home Life. Faith. Jesus. Children. Eerily, often, I will find that I will have thought of something and when I go to read her blog, she will have written something about that very subject. She's my very fellow introvert. I won't give her up.

Modern Mrs Darcy
Anne is also another kindred spirit. She writes about everything. We tend to read a lot of the same books. She writes about happiness, fashion, home education, and well, being the best version of yourself.

Happiness Project
I've read both books on happiness by Gretchen Rubin and she really kicked me into high gear about increasing happiness and teaching me that I really need to know thyself to be really happy. I wrote about it here. I'm learning a lot about myself by reading Gretchen's blog.

As Cozy As Spring
I love Jenn. She makes beautiful things. She thinks deeply. She confesses her shortcomings. She makes me laugh. When I want a dose of cozy, I'll spend a little time at her blog. We both hate the same thing in By the Shores of Silver Lake.

Small Things
Ginny takes beautiful pictures, but she's honest about life outside those pictures. She hosts the Yarn Along. She knits and reads voraciously.

I also spend a fair share of my online time at GoodReads because I really enjoy both reading about books and reading book reviews. My to-read pile never shrinks.

There. Inspirational reading. Every day.

Back to my blog. I'm thinking about revamping my corner of cyberspace. It definitely needs a makeover. I started this blog in 2007 and well, life moves pretty fast and it's time for this space to reflect now. I'll think about that tomorrow. I'm thinking about writing more about what I'm reading and what I'm watching. I'm thinking about photography and diversifying my crafting. I'm thinking about where our family life is going.

Right now, I'm going to go and think about a pumpkin spice latte and enjoying everything Autumn!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daddy and his little girl

Watching Fireworks on the 4th of July
My little girl just looks so grown up here.  

The Great Room Shuffle Debate

I've planned a super big, possibly overwhelming, and challenging summer undertaking despite my need for hiatus and renewal, but I think that this change might actually facilitate some good transitions for us all.

Here's the thing: I have 5 kids, 3 bedrooms (on 3 different floors) for said 5 kids, and out of those 5 only 1 girl!! I've been thinking that it's time for a room shuffle for a long time. When the twins first arrived, I knew that I would be losing my guest/sewing room. After the twins moved from their co-sleeper in my room to the guest room in the basement, I just let things be. They slept magnificently in their basement room until recently when they decided to climb out of their cribs. Despite frequent after-midnight trips to the basement bedroom (two flights of stairs), Paul and I continued to let things be. We didn't want to disrupt Luke and Sam and their shared bedroom right across the hall from us. They've shared a bedroom since we moved into this house in 2006 and I just didn't want to break that up until now.

After removing everything (and I mean everything) from the twins' basement room for safety, I realized that their room was going to waste. We recently removed the toddler beds because they kept taking the mattresses off and moving the bed frames around the room. Yup. They do things that my other kids would never dreamed of doing.

As Luke gets older, I decided it might be time for him to have his own room in the basement although my heart breaks a little about it since I think this will impact Sam deeply. I suggested to Paul that we move Luke to the basement, move the twins to Tess's room on the main floor, and move Tess upstairs into Luke's old spot. Tess would now become Sam's roommate. It's a massive change. (Didn't I say change was coming?) I'm still not satisfied with this plan either. Sam said he'd rather have the twins in his room than his sister. I kind of agree with this sentiment. (Currently, Sam and Luke have the biggest room.) It can easily fit 3 kids, but frankly, I don't trust the twins and their crazy whims. I can't remove everything from Sam's room to ensure their safety either. Honestly, I don't think that I will be able to make these changes and have them be optimal. I'm just trying to work with my parameters. I realized that Sam and the twins are the same age spread as Sam and Luke. Luke is five years older than Sam and there's been some growing pains among those two for some time now. I guess it'll never be perfect, but as I feel that change is in order, I'll proceed with the plan.

This plan involves a lot of painting,  packing, and moving furniture. It won't be easy, but it's time for some transition in this house. It just might be the thing to kick start some renewal for everyone in this house.

Suggestions and ideas are welcome.

Portraits of the twins



My friend Leah, aspiring photographer, recently accepted the challenge of  photographing the twins. They posed quite the challenge while not posing for her at all. Yet, she captured them in all their cuteness. Thanks, Leah!

Twins in a Canoe

James and Liam in a canoe

Summer Knitting

I just wrote this long post on how I've taken a break from a lot of my hobbies this summer, but I haven't stopped knitting entirely. I knit this cute little summer tunic for Tess. I knit this in a slow leisurely manner and it still didn't take me very long. However, I hate how this turned out in Ty-Dy Cotton. I'm going to re-knit this in solid colors. I also need to take a better picture not using my phone.  The back of this tunic is adorable with crossing i-cord straps. I definitely need better pics here.

This is the picture of Phoebe's Sun Tunic from the book, Phoebe's Birthday. Doesn't it look so much better in solid contrasting colors?? I must re-knit this before Summer is over.

Summer Renewal

As I find myself almost in mid-July already, I've realized just how much I've neglected my blog. It's not because I haven't had anything to say, but actually the quite the contrary. I have too much to say, but I have kept silent realizing that I needed a break from just about everything. If there is a theme to any of my sporadic blog posts this year, it's burn out. I intentionally took a break from many of my favorite hobbies because even though I love my hobbies and passions, I started to feel like these things were making me feel like I had homework all. the. time. Unfinished projects all around me made me feel like I had these deadlines hanging over me. Of course, all these deadlines are self-imposed, but nevertheless, I realized that I needed to feel some freedom my own ambition. I'm a person who likes being busy and my self-imposed break from quilting, gardening, and knitting isn't easy. I see that I take much solace in creating things and the break from such activities is weird for me. I don't like doing nothing and I'm not doing nothing, but it's still weird to cease doing things that have somehow come to define me in some ways. I'm not sure it's entirely peaceful to let go, even temporarily, of enjoyable activities, but it seems that it's required of me this summer. I've been luxuriating in reading more. Reading is a passion that I cannot let go. Reading invigorates me in ways I can't always fathom. I know that I sound vague and distant and entirely too serious, but that's actually because I can't seem to write eloquently about the small things that are stirring my soul this summer.

Despite being very busy this summer, we've slowed down enormously. My days are stretching longer and not just because there is more daylight, but even as I resist a somewhat monotonous day, I know that we need them to recharge. Honestly, this summer feels like I'm getting the rest I need. I can feel myself embracing this rest because I know that come mid-August, I'm going to have be renewed ready or not. My friend Elizabeth has been writing about  renewal on her blog this year and I've learned that I need to devote some time to self-care. I've neglected my health in so many ways depleting myself into oblivion.

  I can I feel a sea change coming. Actually, I've noticed that change is what's in store for me in so many ways- kids, friendships, etc. It's not a bad thing, but change nonetheless. I know that I've resisted this unknown change for a long time, but why? I've been holding onto an old paradigm that hasn't been working for a long time. I've been clinging to things in my life that have depleted and zapped the energy I need for my kids. On the horizon of renewal, I am thinking deeply about making some permanent changes in self-care. I'm not gentle with myself. I demand a lot of myself. I'm harsh on myself. I've longed blamed my crazy life with five children for my exhaustion, but I only recently learned that I've sabotaged myself just as much. As much as I crave and embrace simplicity, I don't always live it.

I may not be out on the beach reading a novel under an umbrella this summer, but I am reveling in the joy that simplicity brings in these brief slower days.

Today, I intend to make Fudge popsicles with Sam. Today, I intend to read late into the night. Today, I intend to enjoy the pockets of silence in my very noisy home. Today, I'm going to be gentle and kind.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Knitting for little girls

I'm not going to lie. Knitting for little girls is so much fun and I especially like knitting for this little girl in particular. This was supposed to be the Sydney Lace Dress, but when I realized that I had almost ten inches left to knit in a 4 row repeat pattern, I decided to shorten it and make it tunic-length. She can wear this with skirts and jeans. I'm actually pleased with the way it turned out. I don't usually get lazy on a pattern, but the more I knit, the more I realized that I'd like this better shorter. I used Cascade Sunseeker yarn. This is a cotton/acrylic blend with subtle sparkles as well.

I haven't been knitting very much lately since I transferred a lot of my energy to finishing those quilts in my previous post. Honestly, I think I had gotten a little burned out on knitting. I know. That doesn't sound like me at all, but I realized it's time for some Summer knitting and I have a handful of things I want to knit for Tess for this Summer. She's looking pretty grown-up these days especially since I swept her long bangs to the side for these pictures. She's 4  1/2 now. She's growing too fast for me to put these cute little girls items off.

Anyway, this is the Sydney Lace Dress from the book Just Like Me Knits.  You can even knit this dress for a doll, but I don't knit for her dolls. At least, Tess has never asked me to knit for one of her dolls and I can admit that I'm relieved that she hasn't.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Needle and ThREAD- It's all about quilts!

needle and thREAD

I had six quilts that I picked up from the quilter in December. I intended to get the bindings on all six before Christmas, but I managed only one. So, until just the past month, I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't stand having so many unfinished projects and I decided to knock out the bindings no matter how tedious I found the task. You know what? I learned that leaning into this task and focusing on it even when I was getting bored and tired, I was able to just do it and get these quilts done...quickly. Three of these quilts have been gifted. The quilt with the cupcakes on it is for Tess. We've called her our little Cupcake since she was a baby. There's one quilt left and I just might keep it. I've never sewn a quilt for myself.

As for reading, I've been reading a lot lately. I'm reading Because of Winn-Dixie to Sam, my eight year-old son and I'm enjoying every minute of it. This has to be one of my very favorite read-aloud books. I enjoyed reading this book to Luke too. You have to read it in a Southern accent. That's half the fun!

The books are stacking up on my nightstand again. I have way too many books from the library, but I plucked a book from my own shelves and decided that I needed to revisit The Great Gatsby. I'd really like to read it again before I see the new movie.

That's it for now. I'm really having a hard time trying to find time to sit and blog these days. I don't want to give up blogging, but I think it may be time for a blog overhaul, but that's for another day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Sense of an Ending

Last Friday night, My husband and I were at a Rockies baseball game. We were there celebrating a birthday  of a friend. Luke was our babysitter. We hadn't been at the game very long when I get a call from Luke. I started to panic. What happened? Did one of the kids knock out a tooth? Did someone fall? Is there blood? Yes. I go there very quickly. Well, none of those things happened. Simply, the twins escaped the cribs. They finally figured out how to get out. I knew this day was coming as they've stayed in their cribs longer than most babies do, but I'd been praying that they stay put even if only for a few more months. When they're in their cribs in their shared bedroom, I can breathe a sigh of relief that they are safe. Unlike my other kids, the twins, little tornadoes, get into everything. Anyway, I knew in that moment, that I could no longer contain them. The very next day, Paul took down the cribs and we moved them to toddler beds. Now, it's a whole new routine. They won't stay in bed. They now know that they are free!  Up until now, They've been excellent sleepers. We're all in transition again...

I wish this was the only transition I'm facing. Recently, Paul and I decided that it's time to send Luke to school. After nine years of homeschooling, we made the difficult decision to enroll Luke in high school come mid-August. It's truly heartbreaking for me as I'd hoped we be able to continue on, but the sad truth is that he's the oldest of our five children by five years. He lives in a house with much younger siblings. I can't stand that he doesn't have a study buddy at home. It just didn't work out that way. The other thing is I liked high school. No. I really loved high school. Part of me doesn't want him to miss out on some of the good rituals of  high school.  I tell Luke that you will get only what you invest into it. I think that he might benefit immensely from the high school experience. On one hand, I'm devastated because letting him go to school also sounds like I was a failure at educating my own child and I know that isn't true. He's smart and well-read and he's thrived at home. But, on the other hand, there's something to be said about acknowledging that it's time for both of us to move on to the next adventure.

 Life with twins has been somewhat chaotic and I hate that I sound so pessimistic about it. The other day I was reading Arwen's blog about  how her identical twins are almost two. So many of the sentiments she shares, I'm feeling right along with her. She wrote, I am not Mom Enough for two babies. I'm barely Mom Enough for one at a time. It's the truth."  Wow!  That's how I feel every day. She sounds overwhelmed, but there's this hope in her words. 

 I believe my entire family is suffering from our inability to find a good rhythm over the past two years. So, a sense of an ending is where I find myself.

This is total and complete burnout. Lately, when Paul and I talk, it's about how we can't seem to get back on track. I recently read Rebekah Lyons' new book, Freefall to Fly and it's largely about how once she stopped trying to avoid the discomfort, the pain, and the frustrations of life, she found renewal. She leaned in to the hard stuff. I suppose it's time to lean into the chaos, accept the changes, and find a way to set a new course. Is there renewal on the horizon? I hope so.

Yes, it's hard, but in tiniest corners of my mind, I find myself standing on a precipice for the next adventure, hopeful. I will still have three small children at home this fall. I will miss Luke fiercely and I hope we will still get to talk about books together. This chapter may be ending, but let me turn the page and find out what's to come. I bet it's good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thinking Happy

 I don't know why I can't seem to get a post here on my blog these days. I've been working on this one for days, but each time I log out without publishing. I don't think it has to do with this particular post or anything.

 Anyway, I just finished reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and honestly, I can't stop thinking about it. I read her first book, The Happiness Project a couple of years ago, but largely, I didn't implement much to my life. I know why.  I read this book while deep in the trenches of life with the twins. I wasn't exactly unhappy, but I was/am struggling with to find some sort of balance for our family. I was failing miserably and I didn't think I had time to ponder increasing my happiness. How wrong I was. I continued to be frustrated.

I didn't get the impression that Rubin was unhappy herself, but I believe it took some deep introspection to determine that she could be happier and that her habits could be contributing to what I'll call sub-par happiness. This so-called sub-par happiness is what really got me thinking deeper about happiness and how to achieve it. Happiness is work, but it can/should be happy work. Her journey to happiness, in essence, is a journey of knowing one's self.

Throughout her first book, she identified a set of personal commandments that would be more like principles to live by. Her first commandment is simply: Be Gretchen. The first time I read "Be Gretchen" I suppose I thought it too broad to really mean anything. Be Gretchen? What's that supposed to mean? This is the tricky part. I only really understood it once I read her second book. Be Carmen. Be Carmen? Don't I already know who I am? Yes and no. When I started to think about this, I thought about all the things I think I should like or be interested in, but just am not.  Like skiing. I live in Colorado. I should ski. Everybody loves skiing. I should love skiing. Right? No. I don't have any interest in skiing. Once I let go of the notion that I should like skiing, I was relieved. I am finally being Carmen. In addition to Rubin's 12 Personal Commandments, she also has a list of Eight Splendid Truths and  one of those truths is that "I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature". Why is it so challenging to be ourselves? Understanding who we really are in contrast to who we think we should be is at the crux of the whole thing.

I think a scene in The Runaway Bride illustrates this point very well. Richard Gere goes to the small town to interview all of the jilted grooms. Richard Gere asks each groom how Julia Roberts' character likes her eggs. They all answer the same way. She likes her eggs the same way they do. Richard Gere gets many different answers. Later on in the movie, she tries all the egg dishes- scrambled, poached, etc. to determine exactly how she likes them. It took work for her to determine something as simple figuring how she liked her eggs cooked.

Somewhere along the way of motherhood, I think I started to think, albeit unconsciously, that I didn't matter much. Motherhood involves sacrifice and somehow, I may have intuited that I wasn't nearly as important as my children. I wasn't some martyr or anything like that, I simply forgot to be me. I had to dig deep and get re-acquainted myself. I realized that there was nothing selfish with this idea of "being Carmen".

So, this time around while I ponder happiness, I realized that Gretchen Rubin had a couple of other things that truly made me sit up and pay attention. These things, I might add, were also an education into my own character. Rubin talks about the notion of "spending out". I don't think I have a miserly nature as Rubin thinks of herself, but I definitely saw myself in her description of "saving" things for some better day in the future. It makes no sense. For instance, I used to save all of my "good clothes" and wear all my worn junkie stuff. I couldn't stand the notion of wearing out my good stuff. This didn't just apply to my clothes. It was books. It was dishes. It was everything. I never wanted to crease book spines. In short, I wanted my stuff to stay, nice and perfect. When I was a kid, my sister used to say that my room looked like a museum. Simply, I didn't want to use my good stuff. Of course, by the time I decided that I could wear my "good clothes" they were mostly out of style and I wouldn't wear them anyway. "Spending out" has to do both with using the things we have and enjoying them. Once I relaxed and decided that my books didn't have to stay in pristine condition, I enjoyed my books much more. Once things stopped being off-limits, I started to take pleasure in having things. It's way less work to use them than to save them for some ambiguous day in the future that may not come. In the end, it's just stuff. I realized that this is a weird thing that most people wouldn't even understand, but I realized that this one thing was not contributing to my happiness. So, I started wearing all of my clothes, bending the covers on my books, and in general deciding to use something or give it to someone who would. Rubin has a chapter in The Happiness Project on just this thing. I've discovered those small things that hinder deeper happiness.

These seemingly little things are the big things. Happiness is work, but it should be happy work. Check out Rubin's website, The Happiness Project for more on happiness. There's something for you there. I promise.

Here are Rubin's Splendid Truths. They seem like common sense, but seeing these ideas all together and taken as a whole really gives a clearer picture.
First Splendid Truth
To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
Second Splendid Truth
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
Third Splendid Truth
The days are long, but the years are short. (Click here to see my one-minute movie; of everything I’ve written about happiness, I think this video resonates most with people.)
Fourth Splendid Truth
You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
[Many argue the opposite case. John Stuart Mill, for example, wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” I disagree.]
Fifth Splendid Truth
I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.
Sixth Splendid Truth
The only person I can change is myself.
Seventh Splendid Truth
Happy people make people happy, but
I can’t make someone be happy, and
No one else can make me happy.
Eighth Splendid Truth
Now is now.