Saturday, January 30, 2010

Crafts for Babes

The project? BEADING!

The dilemma? Needles with children. Okay, so what do you use that a child from 18 months to whatever would like to use to bead?

Pipecleaners!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, that's right. It's brillient because the beads don't fall off every which way and the kids don't need a needle that can slip off of the thread or elastic. The other great things about pipecleaner beading is that you can shape them into anything you want to shape them into. (Here's another place you can have the kids shape letters.) Renna isn't into beading as much as Lily was at this age (and younger!), but she did it for a little while and the pipecleaner really helped. Lily actually could use a needle and thread at 18 months, but she is probably unusual that way

Okay, so what we did with the beaded strands is hang them from our lights that are above the art/school/craft/whatever room.

Here's a farther back view of the decor in our craft room. Of course, you could make beaded pipecleaner ornaments or chains for garlands or whatever. It's just a fun thing to keep them busy and it's always nice to be able to display what they've made. :]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Edible school!

As "Scrimpalicious says about wearing a uniform" aprons are a great thing to start out with. For me, it keeps me going when I'd want to sit down and leave something undone... the apron reminds me to persevere. My Mom made me this one along with some for the girls as well!

Lily is just four now and I've begun to teach her her letters. One letter a week and we are only on week two. Last week we worked repeatedly on the sounds of A and recognizing the letter in words and so forth. She wrote "A" a little, but wasn't into that quite as much as she really likes to be able to do something well immediately. When she's older though it will be physically easier for her to write letters and I'll help her more specifically with that. Now we are mainly doing recognition and sound.
What better way to teach her about the letter "B" than to Bake some B's! And "A's" too. :] After our school today she was remembering the sounds quite well.. and then would eat a cookie. "Can I have another one?" "Yes, find an 'A'..... what sound does an 'A' make?" Then she'd sing the "A" song like our fridge alphabet! She's doing really well so far and this is only the second week! I'm only doing school with her like three times a week, but that seemed appropriate for pre-school and just to get us used to homeschooling. :]

The girls pretty much had cookies as their food of choice for lunch, BUT these cookies are whole wheat and are essentially as healthy (or more so) than a breakfast bar! I've made them forever and all different shapes. Gingerbread men and stars are the usual preferred shape. Youssef calls these cookies "hardy" and this is the first time I've made them into letters!

Want the recipe?

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl--

4 cups flour (I use whole Wheat.. you can add a cup of white if you want or make it all in white.. it just won't be good for you anymore!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
(You can also add more spices like Allspice or Ginger or whatever if you want it even more zingy.)

In a separate bowl mix up the "wet" ingredients.

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup honey (or brown sugar)
1 cup molasses
1 egg

Now add a half a cup of the "dry" mixture at a time into the molasses mixture until the cookie dough feels *just* able to be rolled out and still soft and light feeling. The remainder of the flour mixture can be periodically sprinkled on the table to always keep it from *just* shy of sticking. (If you put too much of the flour mixture into the dough it will get too heavy and dense, so don't over due it... just use enough to let you roll it out.)

Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick.. I've done thicker and also thinner, but this is probably the nicest thickness. Cook on 350 for 7 to 9 minutes. If you like soft cookies remember that it will come out softer than how it will be when it cools, so if the first batch comes out of the oven the texture that you like, set the timer for a minute or two less than that and it will cool into the texture that you like.
After they helped make and eat the cookies I had to clean up! I just took these pictures in case someone is out there who feels like they can't have their kids "help" with things like this because of the mess. Yes... there is a mess, but it's okay to let it go until the end and do a big clean up afterward! (Anyway, I made "C" and "D" cookies as well so this one mess created edible school for the next two weeks as well too! Oh, and I did make her name in cookies. Fun fun!)

Renna got away for a minute after "helping" with the flour and powered the couch with her handprints! Needless to say, I did some vacuuming after cookie baking as well, but the girls helped to pick up toys and just like everything else it all ends up being a teaching moment for them and a growth in patience and so forth for me. ;] It's amazing though how well children respond when you are calm and encouraging to them... how well they learn and obey and just how happy in general they are! ... and then so am I. :]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Personality--- I'm essentially the oddest of all types...

My comments will be in bold italics. :] Not that anyone will actually read all of this, but.. analyzing things as I do, I found it interesting... Oh, and this picture of me is a few years old, but the thoughtful cock-eyed look seemed to fit this post...

Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way. (That's like.. me in a nutshell. I feel like I'm always fighting to be in the present instead of either in my own head or spouting whatever I'm excited about. I've realized how I can come across though, showing off, or ignoring someone when I'm actually in my own head and oblivious to everything around me. I'm not saying this as an excuse, because I shouldn't be this way.. I'm saying it because this is how I am and it's difficult for me to not be this way even though I try... I've always seen other people interact with others so easily and wished for that...)

  • Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
  • Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
Probably why I do so many projects... I really never do feel good enough though.. and often the projects terrify me.. most people don't know that because they only hear when I'm excited not as much when I'm freaking out.

Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.
This is also really true because I'm the type of person who will get as much information about a thing or place as I can... when I was a child I was terrified of dropping off library books. Just get out of the car and put the library books in the drop... but I'd think, Where IS the drop, what if I miss it? If I wasn't caught unaware and could prepare myself (observe where the drop was for instance) than I'd be able to do this simple task. That has stretched into my adult life unfortunately. I can do things well the first time only because of all the preparation that I do to give myself enough confidence to do anything.

Type Five Overview

We have named personality type Five The Investigator because, more than any other type, Fives want to find out why things are the way they are. They want to understand how the world works, whether it is the cosmos, the microscopic world, the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms—or the inner world of their imaginations. They are always searching, asking questions, and delving into things in depth. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth of most assumptions for themselves. So this is pretty obvious... if I wasn't like this, why would I be analyzing it all and posting my personality on my blog? I'm figuring it out. I like to know about other people too and their personalities. Often I feel like I'm being too personal when I ask questions of other people and then I won't ask questions at all. I probably sound very self-centered, and.. having the personality of being in my own head is difficult to not be that way. But.. I don't WANT to be the way that I am, not that that makes it okay...

John, a graphic artist, describes this approach to life.

“Being a Five means always needing to learn, to take in information about the world. A day without learning is like a day without ‘sunshine.’ As a Five, I want to have an understanding of life. I like having a theoretical explanation about why things happen as they do. This understanding makes me feel in charge and in control. I most often learn from a distance as an observer and not a participant. Sometimes, it seems that understanding life is as good as living it. It is a difficult journey to learn that life must be lived and not just studied.”

Learning is important to me, but it's more incorporated with creating something rather than just knowing something (though knowing stuff is cool too) I'm also a "four" see about what that means, but having the two together means that I'll create something differently .. find the niche, or learn something new, a new technique or something in what I do is makes me feel happy. "Life must be lived and not just studied" .. yes... it's easier to analyze it.

Behind Fives’ relentless pursuit of knowledge are deep insecurities about their ability to function successfully in the world. Fives feel that they do not have an ability to do things as well as others. But rather than engage directly with activities that might bolster their confidence, Fives “take a step back” into their minds where they feel more capable. Their belief is that from the safety of their minds they will eventually figure out how to do things—and one day rejoin the world. Being creative for me is what bolsters my confidence. The thing that I mainly feel I don't do as well as other is just being with people, interpersonal skills... which is another part of "fives" personality.

Fives spend a lot of time observing and contemplating—listening to the sounds of wind or of a synthesizer, or taking notes on the activities in an anthill in their back yard. As they immerse themselves in their observations, they begin to internalize their knowledge and gain a feeling of self-confidence. They can then go out and play a piece on the synthesizer or tell people what they know about ants. They may also stumble across exciting new information or make new creative combinations (playing a piece of music based on recordings of wind and water). When they get verification of their observations and hypotheses, or see that others understand their work, it is a confirmation of their competency, and this fulfills their Basic Desire. (“You know what you are talking about.”)

Knowledge, understanding, and insight are thus highly valued by Fives, because their identity is built around “having ideas” and being someone who has something unusual and insightful to say. For this reason, Fives are not interested in exploring what is already familiar and well-established; rather, their attention is drawn to the unusual, the overlooked, the secret, the occult, the bizarre, the fantastic, the “unthinkable.” Investigating "unknown territory"—knowing something that others do not know, or creating something that no one has ever experienced—allows Fives to have a niche for themselves that no one else occupies. They believe that developing this niche is the best way that they can attain independence and confidence.

I can see some of that, but don't understand it enough to explain it.

Thus, for their own security and self-esteem, Fives need to have at least one area in which they have a degree of expertise that will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world. Fives think, “I am going to find something that I can do really well, and then I will be able to meet the challenges of life. But I can’t have other things distracting me or getting in the way.” They therefore develop an intense focus on whatever they can master and feel secure about. It may be the world of mathematics, or the world of rock and roll, or classical music, or car mechanics, or horror and science fiction, or a world entirely created in their imagination. Not all Fives are scholars or Ph.Ds. But, depending on their intelligence and the resources available to them, they focus intensely on mastering something that has captured their interest.

For better or worse, the areas that Fives explore do not depend on social validation; indeed, if others agree with their ideas too readily, Fives tend to fear that their ideas might be too conventional. I don't really remember feeling like that, but I could see how that might be true. History is full of famous Fives who overturned accepted ways of understanding or doing things (Darwin, Einstein, Nietzshce). Many more Fives, however, have become lost in the Byzantine complexities of their own thought processes, becoming merely eccentric and socially isolated. I'm trying really hard to not be socially isolated, though I often think I could become a hermit. A hermit who wishes for someone to talk to? Oh, right, that's why blogging is so great for me... or not...

The intense focus of Fives can thus lead to remarkable discoveries and innovations, but when the personality is more fixated, it can also create self-defeating problems. This is because their focus of attention unwittingly serves to distract them from their most pressing practical problems. Whatever the sources of their anxieties may be—relationships, lack of physical strength, inability to gain employment, and so forth—average Fives tend not to deal with these issues. Rather, they find something else to do that will make them feel more competent. The irony is that no matter what degree of mastery they develop in their area of expertise, this cannot solve their more basic insecurities about functioning in the world. For example, as a marine biologist, a Five could learn everything there is to know about a type of shellfish, but if her fear is that she is never going to be able to run her own household adequately, she will not have solved her underlying anxiety.What is my underlying anxiety? Not being a good mother perhaps? Not being all the things I know I could be... (so much untapped potential in the human mind... so much time wasted in the day...)

Dealing directly with physical matters can feel extremely daunting for Fives. Henry is a life scientist working in a major medical research lab:

“Since I was a child, I have shied away from sports and strenuous physical activity whenever possible. I was never able to climb the ropes in gym class, stopped participating in sports as soon as it was feasible, and the smell of a gymnasium still makes me uncomfortable. At the same time, I have always had a very active mental life. I learned to read at the age of three, and in school I was always one of the smartest kids in academic subjects.”

When I was a kid I'd never play any sports with the kids at church... I think I was afraid of doing it all wrong, but I'd observe a lot. It wasn't until I had friends that wouldn't make fun of me that I actually tried playing soccer and other things and found that I really liked it and wasn't that terrible at it.

Thus, much of their time gets spent "collecting" and developing ideas and skills they believe will make them feel confident and prepared. They want to retain everything that they have learned and “carry it around in their heads.” The problem is that while they are engrossed in this process, they are not interacting with others or even increasing many other practical and social skills. They devote more and more time to collecting and attending to their collections, less to anything related to their real needs. I see how I could be this way naturally, but I've developed the practical creative stuff a lot because I don't want to be useless or do something that won't matter (though it's all tied with surrounding myself with beauty - see the 4 type about that side). But, as I said the social skills part is an issue. People have tried to tell me that it's because I was homeschooled, but that isn't true because my brother was too and he's always been completely different from me in that way. I always felt like the odd ball in my family too, not just with outsiders. Yeah, it's just me, and what I need to work on.

Thus, the challenge to Fives is to understand that they can pursue whatever questions or problems spark their imaginations and maintain relationships, take proper care of themselves, and do all of the things that are the hallmarks of a healthy life.

For more about a five type this is an audio clip.
And here's if anyone else wants to take the shorter free test.

I also scored pretty high as an eight (see the test to learn more about that), but in brief it's this Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others' lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring. You might be able to see how some of those strong traits could be partly good (with goals and as an artist because I finish things and like to inspire others) and partly really terrible, because if I'm oblivious and in my own head and socially inept than the strong assertive, straight-talking thing could really put people off because it will inevitably come out completely wrong and out of context and possibly offensive... and I won't even know it unless someone tells me. Really though... I need to know! I'm glad that I married someone who is patient enough with me and shows me enough grace to get to the root of what's going on with me and tell me what my expressions or tone of voice conveyed.

Of course, on the good side of my oblivious personality, I tend to have no idea when someone hates me and will generally think they are really nice... I suppose oblivion can be bliss in some ways, but it's not helpful when I want to keep from hurting people.

If a friend is reading this and has been offended by me (I'm sure I've offended all of my friends at some point) It wasn't intentional!!! I'm a social nit-wit and need much grace extended to me.