Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life on this here Wednesday

Ping ping ping ping ping ping...Pingu! Pingu!

Yep, that's what Harriet is singing over and over again right now.  According to her, Pingu is the absolute bomb.  She started loving Pingu when she was 10-months-old back in Jerseyville, and her affections have continued without decrease.  How she can tolerate a crazy little claymation penguin speaking jibberish for days on end, I do not know.

(Hey, it's way better than Wow, Wow, Wubsy.)

We decided to cancel Netflix this week because we already have several episodes of Shaun the Sheep on DVD, and Pingu has recently been added to Amazon Prime's free instant movies.  We figured that since Amazon Prime movies can now be viewed through the XBox and since they have just as many choices (if not more) as Netflix, we would save $10 a month.  We can use that money to rent movies from Amazon, if we so desire.  Or we could grab some Runza and go park somewhere and read Post Captain.  

Harriet is watching said Pingu because she did not take a nap today and some quiet time is in order.

Here is Edmund at fifteen weeks:

And here is Harriet at fifteen weeks:

They look a lot alike.  (Except that Harriet's eyes are buggier.)  That's because they look like this guy:

What's going to happen when I have a kid that looks like me?  I'll probably just sit and stare at him/her because it will be so insanely odd.

In other random news, I do not suggest making chocolate mousse with an almost-two-year-old helper.

Whoops.  Pingu is over.  Time to be an attentive mommy.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ramblings about Quiet

As mentioned in my previous post, I just finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I enjoyed it so very much that I kept calling Mom to share my latest discoveries...and I really don't want to take it back to the library.  I know that this book as made the rounds of blogs and LiveJournals, but I want to jot down some of the sections that really meant a lot to me.  (It's safe to say that I gleaned something out of each well-written chapter, but why write out the entire book?  Go read it yourself!)

 First off, I loved how the author chose to define introversion and extroversion based on an individual's tolerance of social and sensory stimulation.  Being introverted doesn't mean that you don't like people, or that you hate going to parties, or that you would always rather be reading a book.  It does mean, however, that you have a lower tolerance for social and sensory stimulation - so going to a party or hanging out with a bunch of loud people might make you feel mentally "fried."  This is so characteristic of my growing up in a large and loud family: I just physically couldn't take it after a while.  I would have to go to my room and sit in the quiet before I could interact without feeling completely frazzled.  The same thing happens nearly every day as I parent Harriet.  Because I'm introverted, the constant go-go-go of parenting Harriet, her constant conversation and need for interaction seriously grates on my nerves after a while.  This doesn't mean that I don't like parenting or that Harriet is obnoxious.  It's just that the stimulation is too much.

Introverts...may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.  They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family.  They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.  They tend to dislike conflict.  Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions. (p.11)
 I have often felt guilty because I can honestly say that hanging out with people in groups is not my idea of a relaxing time.  Take MOPS for example.  It's touted as being this place to re-charge with your girlfriends and get away from the kids.  That's great...if you can feel recharged after attending.  I don't.  I feel tired and like I want snuggle up with a book.  That's the introverted aspect of my personality saying, "HEY!  Too much stimulation!  Time to regroup!"  Does that mean that I don't go to MOPS?  No.  Does that mean that I don't like people?  No. I like getting to know the other moms in one-on-one conversations.  Do I need to feel guilty because I don't get re-charged from social situations?  Certainly not.  
Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation. (p. 74)
This is so true of me.  I totally prefer to work alone on a project, primarily because I'm able to completely focus all of my creative energy to the task at hand.

The chapter on highly sensitive introverted personalities (I consider myself to be in this sub-category) was particularly interesting.
The other thing Aron found about sensitive people is that sometimes they're empathic.  It's as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people's emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world.  They tend to have unusually strong consciences.  They avoid violent movies and TV shows; they're acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior.  In social settings they often focus on subjects like personal problems, which others consider to be too heavy.
YES!  The whole part about skipping violent movies and TV shows makes complete sense now.  Some people just aren't as sensitive to them - and that doesn't make them horrible people, just like avoiding violence doesn't make me a wuss.  It's just a different personality make-up.
In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once their comfortable do they connect more seriously.  Sensitive people seem to do the reverse.  They "enjoy small talk only after they've gone deep," says Strickland.  "When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chit-chat just as much as anyone else.
 One big hearty AMEN for that paragraph, thank you very much.  As I read this, I though, "Aha!  This is why Steve and I got along so well with long-distance dating!"  Because we are both introverts, it worked so very well for us to express ourselves in writing and, in doing so, to be able to jump right in to really deep topics without the pressure of being face-to-face (our first email exchange dealt with the Christian's attitude towards small talk there).  With a foundation of deep subjects under us, I felt very comfortable making lighter conversation with him as the relationship developed.

This dynamic is the same for each person that I would consider part of my circle of close friends.  After initial introductions, I was eager to move deeper and connect with them on a meaningful level.  It was only after this occurred that I felt comfortable being chatty or silly around them.

The final chapters of the book discuss when an introvert should stretch the elastic of their personality type and venture into more extroverted realms.  I appreciated her idea of setting personal goals ("The Free Trait Agreement") for being more extroverted when situations arise - like church fellowship times, in my experience.  Instead of feeling a) overwhelmed by the situation or b) guilty for not being the liveliest one in the crowd, decide what goal you will reach and then leave it at that.  For me it may be shaking the hands of two or three people instead of clinging to my pew during a meet-and-greet time.  It doesn't mean that I have to run around the sanctuary trying to greet everyone.

The author also mentioned the vital importance of creating a restorative niche in an introvert's daily routine.  This can be any length of time that is perfectly devoid of the social and sensory stimulus that can send an introvert into the Cliffs of Insanity or it can be a personal interest or activity that restores the energy of the individual.  I implemented this idea this week when I realized that I was always super-cranky when Steve went to work each afternoon.  I felt like running as fast as I could from the children and the house and all of the noise.  Why?  I was choosing to spend naptime running about cleaning and doing laundry and cooking.  I was not taking the time to get restored before the chaos resumed.  So, I have been taking a good thirty minutes to an hour out of each naptime to read, catch up on emails, or just sit in the quiet.  It has worked wonders, people.  Wonders.  I feel consistently energized to resume my tasks and I don't feel like tranquilizing the small people.

There you go: some brief, disjointed thoughts on Quiet and why I benefited from reading it.  I might note that while the book is secular, the author has Jewish roots so she is not against the idea of religion and does not assume an aggressive (or obnoxious) anti-faith position.  That was nice.  It was also interesting to think about what she was saying from a secular view and apply my Christian worldview.  It made me think, "How is God sanctifying my introverted personality?"  "How can I use the specific personality that He has given me to better serve His Body?"

(Also, check out this post for more interesting discussion on introverts in the church.  It's good stuff.)

So what do you think?

Harriet-isms, Church Membershipism, and thoughts on Introversion

My house looks like a bomb went off.  The bomb happened to closely resemble two little girls - one with wispy blond hair and a major attitude, and the other with auburn curls and a knack for rampaging.  While said bomb was being dropped, I watched powerlessly...being attached to another small person (or rather he being attached to me).  That is the current state of affairs in the Rodgers home, which is why I'm typing a blog post and ignoring the mess until the morning.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow!  You're only a daaaaaayyy aaaaawwwwwaaayyyyy!

Harriet is just about a month out from being two.  Two crazy years old! I can't believe it.  I can't believe it mostly because she continues to act like she's 35, or something.  True to her position as eldest girl, Harriet does a lot of Edmund monitoring.  Her frequently used phrase is "No teeth," meaning that Edmund can't participate in, consume, or like the same things that Harriet does because...well...he has no teeth.  That said, Harriet condescends to include him in whatever she is doing.  For example, she noticed that the bulgur I was cooking was very hot, and after confirming this fact with me she ran into the bedroom where E was sleeping, got right in his face and declared, "It's very hot, Edmund.  Got to blow."

One of Harriet's current delights is summer reading program at the library.  Once a week she attends the preschool age group and participates with appropriate gusto.  Harriet has also been sleeping in her very own bed for over a week now.  A-maz-ing.  We do have some rough nights, but out of the past ten days she has only ended up in our bed twice.  She is such a big girl!

In other news, we decided to become members of the church we have been attending regularly for the past year and a half.  We debated it for some time, but concluded that even though the church is an hour away, we really do enjoy worshiping with that bunch of folks and we want to express our commitment to that body of believers.  (And we discovered that our position on infant baptism does not effect our ability to become members.)  There are so many things we appreciate: the music, the integration of Scripture into every part of the service, the focus on building up the body instead of piling on more programs, the welcoming of young families.    Of course, once we made the decision and met with the pastors I had this huge sinking feeling...due primarily to recent experiences of major hurt from churches, spiritual abuse from former pastors, and bizarre behavior from those claiming to have a relationship with Christ.  My knee-jerk reaction to that is to pull back and distance myself...just slide out the back door as quickly as possible so that no relationships are developed and no one gets hurt.  But I don't think that's the right thing to do - I can't throw the baby out with the bath water.  And so here we are.  It's a good thing.

I just finished a really interesting book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.  Fascinating, fascinating read.  So many times I said, "Yes!  This is me!  This is why I do [insert typical Amelia behavior]."  I appreciated the author's choice to define introversion and extroversion based on toleration of social and sensory stimulation - which completely debunks the idea that all introverts are shy bookish people who don't like people.  Although the author wrote from a secular viewpoint and relied heavily on recent psychological research, her points were insightful, helpful, and well-written.  I feel as though I can integrate what I learned from that book with what I believe about God's sanctifying work in my life to see that my personality can be used to glorify Him.  I think I'm going to jot down some of the really useful/interesting things I learned and bore you with them.

I made a gigantic chocolate chip cookie tonight in a mini cast iron skillet.  Yep.  Pretty sure all of my hard work at Jazzercise is now completely undone.