Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Contentment

My belly is full of spaghetti, my children are in the other room cooperatively playing one last game of Hangman before their Dad puts them to bed, I'm enjoying a glass of locally grown and produced blackberry wine, I'm up to my happy little eyeballs in Grendel, and a Democrat may actually win the presidency.

Just don't make me watch the absurd waste of time and money that is the convention.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Go Ahead

Tell me my man is not hilarious.

(Back off, random women who keep stopping my man in the street to tell him just how hilarious he is. I've got my eye on you.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yesterday my best friend was telling me that an overheard conversation at work prompted her to revisit her Myers-Briggs personality profile. She said she took the instrument again and got the same thing she always has. I vaguely remembered taking it at some point, but I couldn't remember my profile, so she urged me to do it again. It turns out I'm an ENFP. That's Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving, in case you didn't know.

I'm not really one for the psychobabble, but I have to admit that some of my elaborated profile was jarringly accurate. It's a strange feeling to see things that I thought were part of my own unique world view spelled out almost to a T by a complete stranger who never even heard of me. And then, ironically, I was annoyed by the few things that I felt did not reflect the real me. Shouldn't I find those small miscalculations comforting?

Here's my basic breakdown:
moderately expressed extravert
distinctively expressed intuitive personality
moderately expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed perceiving personality

The first paragraph of my elaborated profile contains elements of both the startlingly accurate and the annoyingly unflattering incorrect:

ENFPs are both "idea"-people and "people"-people, who see everyone and everything as part of an often bizarre cosmic whole. They want to both help (at least, their own definition of "help") and be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. They are interested in new ideas on principle, but ultimately discard most of them for one reason or another.

The part about everything being part of the bizarre cosmic whole is dead on. And I do like and try to help people. I do get intersted in new ideas and then habitually reject them as flawed. That's why I can't buy into any one system of religious or philosophical beliefs, even the few that I find mostly appealing. But I don't feel that I care about being liked and admired by other people, especially on a humanitarian level. I mean, not that I want people not to like me, but I accepted long ago that some people just won't. It has been my experience that I do not inspire feelings of neutrality in many people. They either like me or strongly and immediately dislike me. And I'm cool with that, really!

It's mostly the extravert stuff that I find to be a tad off in my profile. I am good with people, but I'm also good alone. My seemingly outgoing personality has more to do with a lack of social anxiety than with an inherent love of people. And there's a lot of stuff about having a short attention span in relationships which is obviously not true (exhibit A: my 20 year relationship with BD), and about "zany charm" and sponteneity, which I find laughable. Not so much with the zany, I don't think.

I scored lowest on the "Feeling" part, and I was actually surprised that it wasn't "Thinking," because I answered "yes" to all the logical and analytical questions. But when I read the ENTP profile, it's far less accurate then the ENFP, so I guess they know what they're talking about.

The work habits part was another bull's eye for me. See especially the part about follow through and procrastination:

ENFPs are pleasant, easygoing, and usually fun to work with. They come up with great ideas, and are a major asset in brainstorming sessions. Followthrough tends to be a problem, however; they tend to get bored quickly, especially if a newer, more interesting project comes along. They also tend to be procrastinators, both about meeting hard deadlines and about performing any small, uninteresting tasks that they've been assigned...ENFPs sometimes can be blindsided by their secondary Feeling function. Hasty decisions based on deeply felt values may boil over with unpredictable results. More than one ENFP has abruptly quit a job in such a moment. (Ahem, see numbers 87 and 88)

This part is especially true of me:

The physical world, both geos and kosmos, is the ENFP's primary source of information. Rather than sensing things as they are, dominant intuition is sensitive to things as they might be. These extraverted intuitives are most adept with patterns and connections. Their natural inclination is toward relationships, especially among people or living things.

That's where that bizarre cosmos thing comes in. The part I found most thought-provoking, because I recognize its accuracy even though it's something I have only just recently begun to realize, was this:

Introverted Sensing
Sensing, the least discernible ENFP function, resides in the inner world where reality is reduced to symbols and icons--ideas representing essences of external realities. Under the influence of the ever-present intuition, the ENFP's sensory perceptions are in danger of being replaced by hypothetical data consistent with pattern and paradigm. When it is protected and nourished, introverted sensing provides information about the fixed. From such firm anchoring ENFPs are best equipped to launch into thousands of plausibilities and curiosities yet to be imagined.

I have always recognized my tendency toward conceptual thinking, but only recently have I realized that I can become too quickly confident that I see the essence of a person's behavior and can predict what patterns they will follow. This isn't really fair to the people close to me, and it can and does cause problems at times.

It was also really eye opening to read my friend's profile and see that what it says is her dominant trait is one that I have never really seen expressed. It explained a lot about some things that have been frustratingly out of balance for her, both within our friendship and in the larger world. That's really why I wanted to post about the instrument; because I think it can be a helpful tool for understanding not only yourslf, but the people closest to you. Now go take it and tell me what letters you are!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Super Flake

Here's something not so fun that happened to me last week, the first official week of school.

Back story: Last year, Genevieve was at the Montessori school that my two middle children attended when they were pre-school aged. The school had just opened a Nido program (Montessori for baby room), our previous babysitting arrangement ran out, and we were excited to have her at this cheerful, colorful, less-institutional version of daycare. Only the school doesn't see itself as any kind of daycare. It sees itself as a school. At first I just wanted them to stop doing that. I didn't want to go to meetings and do parent hours or have a semester conference about my two year old's "education." But ultimately I decided that if that was their vision and it didn't work for me, I should probably make other arrangements for my child or just stop griping about it. It didn't help that the two teachers in the baby room seemed to hate BD and me, even though they were never anything but loving toward Genevieve. And then as the year ended, they both bolted, leaving the always-friendly directress high and dry. She called me personally to apologize for things she was just fully realizing had gone on between those two and the parents. It seems we weren't the only ones they'd deemed unworthy of the Montessori "lifestyle." It meant a lot to me that she called, and I'd always been happy with the actual care Genevieve received at the school. So now I was in a quandry: send her back to where I knew she'd be happy, or find a daycare or sitter who was okay with the concept that they existed for my convenience and not the other way around.

I put Genevieve on the waiting list for a nearby daycare of excellent repute, but that didn't pan out. SAM had Mr. Baby on the same list, and we both hoped to have the kids at the same place so that I could help her with pick ups some days. I resigned myself to going back to Montessori, and then I looked at the registration materials. Both tuition and parent hours had increased. In the baby room, the increase was so large that SAM felt it ruled out that option for her all together. Their calendar was not in line with the public schools', meaning they would be closed the last week of August before their official start date after Labor Day. Suddenly, it just felt like too much. We already struggled to afford what we paid last year, and the parent hours were a major thorn in my side. Having her out for that week would mean BD staying away from his business to keep her until I made it home each day at 3:30. Desperately, I posted pleas on a couple of local moms' boards for any SAHMs interested in keeping both kids. And I got a bite!

A woman who lives right around the corner from me, whose friends were my friends on the boards, and who had been to my house for a play date, was interested. Her four-year-old son would be going to preschool three days a week, leaving her home with just her three-year-old daughter. She asked for a very reasonable rate, she was close by--it seemed perfect. I left word at the Montessori school that Genevieve would not be coming after all. Monday and Tuesday, things went well. Mr. Baby hadn't started yet because his father was still on summer break from his job. Genevieve was understandably upset at being left, but then she settled down and played and was fine. Then out of nowhere, mid-morning Wednesday I got a text from the sitter saying "This isn't working out. You need to find other child care." Wha?? I asked what was going on and she sent back that G just didn't seem to be happy there and it was affecting her own kids. Thinking she was just a little overwhelmed, I dashed off an email saying that I understood that the adjustment for both G and her kids was maybe harder than she had anticipated (thinking to myself what the hell did she expect by day three??), and reassuring her that in a week or two, she'd be fine and everyone would be used to the new routine. I asked if there was anything I could do to make things easier, if she needed more money, if she wanted a key to my house so they could play there some and help ease the transition. She replied simply that she had made her decision and as of that afternoon, she was done.

What kind of person does that to someone? Nothing had even happened! Were her expectations so utterly unrealistic that she had no idea any adjustments, on anyone's part, would be necessary? Was she that much of a wus that she couldn't at least finish out the week while I made other arrangements? When did people stop feeling like they needed to honor their commitments, or at the very least, wriggle out of them in a fairly honorable way? Do people no longer believe that they should be held accountable anymore? If something is the slightest bit difficult or unpleasant, it's now okay to just walk away, even when that means other people are left holding the bag?

Don't get me wrong, if she doesn't want to watch over my precious baby, I certainly don't want her to. And I'm glad I found out now rather than later that she's a dysfunctional, irresponsible freakshow of a person. Clearly something is wrong there. I guess some people just aren't capable, in the general sense of the word.

I scrambled and begged and got Genevieve back in Montessori school the very next day. They welcomed us back with open arms, even offering to work with us on tuition, and my gratitude for that goes a long way toward mitigating the minor irritations. Genevieve is doing great there and seems perfectly happy to be back in the familiar setting. So there was a happy ending for her, at least. SAM is still scrambling for childcare.

I hate flaky people.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Lest you think I was super-industrious all weekend, here are some other things I did:

-Read Breaking Dawn in two days. Well, plus a few hours. I bought it Thursday afternoon while grocery shopping for BD's birthday dinner and squeezed in a few minutes of reading before cooking enchiladas and serving them up to the assembled friends and family, then read a little more before bed. But mostly I read it Friday and Saturday, finishing Saturday night (for some reason I woke up at 6:30 Saturday and couldn't go back to sleep, so I had a couple hours of quiet before everyone else woke up). In short, it was somewhat surprising and pretty good, but "Renesmee" is the Worst. Name. Ever. What was she thinking? My formerly and briefly Mormon friend says it's very Mormon sounding. I'll have to take her word for it.

-Unwittingly drank an unfortunate amount of Sweet Tea Vodka Friday night which later caused me to revisit the stromboli I made and consumed during cocktail hour.

-Took the kids to hang out at my folks' for a while on Saturday, during which visit I read, napped briefly on the couch, and observed them fishing from my quilt on the ground, where I read some more.

-Slept in on Sunday, made and ate a big breakfast, went back to bed with the newspaper and eventually napped while BD and the kids watched a Tarzan movie from the box set he got for his birthday. It was after 2:00 when I got up, scavenged lunch for myself and the kids, and got motivated to clean while BD took Genevieve and Calvin with him on a Sam's run for lunchbox fillers.

I'm really quite lazy. I just tend to cram all my activity into short bursts so I can spend the rest of my time lounging around in my jammies at indecent hours. Really!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miz Molassy learns you your lessons

School is in, y'all. I know you freaky northerners stay out until after Labor Day, but that's not how we roll down south. Our last day comes at the end of May and we go back the second week of August. I've been back two weeks now because as a teacher, I get one less week of vacation (that's five fewer days, Chris) than the students so I can be filled with in-servicey goodness before their return.

As I wrote in this month's Lamplighter column (p. 20), I really like this time of year. Sure, it's sad that summer is over. I love being able to stay home with the kids and having those weeks to swim, lounge, and play together. But let's be real, after a while I've had my fill of the 24/7 four-child experience. I need about 150 publicly-schooled teenagers in order to really flex my muscles. A girl gets bored with the easy life after a while is what I'm saying.

After week one with my new batch of students, I am in lurve with my schedule. For the first time since coming to the High school, I don't have first hour planning. When I started two years ago, I'd given birth on the last day of the previous school year, so my principal cut me some slack and gave me planning during that 7:30-8:30 time slot. That slack has now run out. I'm proud to say that I made it to work between 7:00 and 7:05 every day last week. We'll see if I can keep it up. Anyway, I have 2nd period Honors (this is really first period, but we call homeroom first, even though we rarely go to homeroom, because that totally makes sense), 3rd standard, 4th honors, 5th standard, then lunch, 6th period planning, and 7th journalism which only has 6 kids in it so far. In other words, I have four solid hours of teaching and then I'm pretty much on my own for the rest of the day. The purpose of the journalism class is to put out the all-but-dead school paper, which I have just taken over and am trying to revive. So it's more of an on-going project kind of class than anything else. I am really liking the kids in all my classes. I'm noticing, particularly in the honors classes, that the onslaught of Laurens and Britneys of the past two years has been abruptly cut off. Weird. These are the first 90s babies, so I guess the change is fitting. The trend must have been toward unique names because as of yet, I can't spot a trend. A lot of K-sound names like Kinika and Kennisha, but no one or two dominant names are jumping out at me.

It takes us a little while after school starts to get back in the swing of being gone all day and then coming home and maintaining the castillo. Today my house finally got in my face and reached the level of filth that causes me to get on my knees and scrub the whole bathroom with Comet. I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened since I was pregnant with Genevieve and had pica that caused me to want to do nothing but scrub things with Comet, sniff the fumes from the running dishwasher, and daydream about eating sand, so yeah, it was gross in there. (Not that gross, people. I've cleaned, just not this thoroughly.) I also took every single thing out of the nasty fridge and scrubbed the shelves. SAM, who was helping me with this chore, was moved to remark that "Its not so much that your fridge is small, but that your expired condiment collection is so large." Then she threw all my banana peppers away based on the sell-by dates. Wacky germaphobes. I had to use my beloved Pampered Chef scraper to chisel out the dried lake of Ovaltine-infused milk at the bottom, but now the inside of my fridge is all dazzlingly white. It makes me happy every time I open it. I also did a general tidying of all the main living areas (er, all both of them), swept all the wood floors and the kitchen, Swiffer wetted the kitchen, and forced the kids to clean their rooms. The boys' room was pushed from nasty to Child Protective Services-worthy by this weekend's cocktail hour junior squad, so I went behind the kids and got the last bits and vacuumed while SAM graciously excavated the window seat toy box in the girls' room and made most of the objects in the room vanish into it. So now we have clean kids' rooms on top of a Cloroxy-fresh fridge and a Comet sparkly bathroom. What a nice way to start out the week!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

So Long, Summer!

Once again, my summer vacation has flown by. I feel like we made good use of it, and the kids and I enjoyed the long lazy days of staying up late, sleeping in, hitting the pool, and staying in our jammies all day if we felt like it. I don't think I went more than three days in a row without showering, so I'm pretty impressed with myself on that front. Chlorine gets you clean, right?

How did we spend our last precious days of freedom, you ask? Well, technically it's only my freedom, since the kids have one more week off before heading back to school, but their Dad is just not as fun as I am, so there's that. Anyway, I digress. What did we do? Let me think...

I'll go back a few days from the official beginning of the end so I can include the Friday night Dive In Movie at the Quince YMCA. Swimming at night is fun. Throw in Bee Movie playing at one end of the pool, dollar Good Humor Ice Cream, and free popcorn, and what could be better? The older kids floated in front of the screen most of the time, taking occasional breaks to swim and jump off the side into the pool at the other end from the movie. Genevieve stayed in her little car float for about five minutes of film time, then we spent the rest of the time going back and forth between the chairs (and our snacks) and the baby pool. She had a big time.

Now, the official last week countdown:

Monday: Swimming for the last time at the Y.

Tuesday: "Horton Hears a Who" at the cheapie theater. We loved it!
Tuesday evening: I got tattooed for three hours, alone. The lengths I go to for some me time!

Wednesday: Used our free summer membership to the Pink Palace for the last time. I have been really surprised and pleased by the fact that my children find bones, fossils, and insects on pins to be so fascinating!

Thursday: Ran errands, met SAM for lunch at the food court in the Oak Court Mall, and made aunt Elizabeth's birthday Thursday Night Dinner. Served said dinner to six adults and six children. Okay, one was just a baby, but he ate!

Friday: Sat around avoiding washing the birthday dinner dishes, mostly. Calvin went to play at his friend's house in the afternoon, at which time he was treated to a few rounds of Laserqust and then, later, a trip to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth" at the movies. When BD got home from work, he took S on a daddy-daughter date to some art openings and dinner. Joshua got some highly-coveted computer time, and SAM and I ordered pizza and hung with the babies until the rest of the crew came home.

Saturday: Took the kids out to my parents' for a few hours, as is usual for Saturdays. That night we had a big Girls' Night Out planned with SAM, Stacey, Stephanie, Melissa, Mary, and Shiloh (yes, I'm too lazy to link to all of you at once), so I took the carseats out of the Sassymobile and vacuumed the remaining crushed goldfish and peanut shells from our beach trip so as not to mess up their pretty outfits. Viola--seven hot mamas (well, one not-mama) in a semi-clean minivan. What more could you want from life? I'd post the link to the pictures on Flickr, but it's blocked at work. Maybe later I will. Right here in this very spot.

Sunday: Made a big breakfast then pretty much lazed around all day, as one should on Sundays, right?