Saturday, August 24, 2013

An Interview with an Introvert - Loading social time... Stand by.

Gabriel granted me an interview about being an introvert. His answers are italicized.

How many people are in your immediate family?
Counting me? 5

How many of them are introverts?

Are you the introvert?

Is it difficult to dwell in a family of extroverts as an introvert?
It can be. Sometimes.

What makes it difficult?

Often times, they don't understand that I just need time alone. That I'm drained. It's not that I don't want to be with them. I just need time to myself. Need to refuel.

What steps do you take to relieve the strain?
Exercise helps. Following a hobby helps as well. Sometimes, just accepting the inevitable and hopping on stage and playing the people person for a bit helps. Just go with the flow sometimes.

What is vacation like with a family of extroverts?
*snort* Crazy. My idea of a good time, and their idea of a good time are often different things. It helps that we have the same interests for the most part. And they try to take my personality into account.

What can your family do to make vacations more enjoyable for you?
Taking into account my personality really helps. So they don't always overload me. They allow me to have time to myself.

On our recent cruise, what did you do to accommodate yourself?
Often, I would walk around the ship. I would find a quiet place, sit down, read a book. Then, I would hop back in when I felt ready to do so.

Do you think the cruise provided a good place for an introvert?
Yes, the reading area on the ship was not densely populated and it was quiet. A good place to sit down. It was good that they could go with other people and enjoy that time while I could enjoy my time alone.

Do you feel like people think there's something wrong with you because you're an introvert?
Sometimes. People try to change what they don't understand. If you don't fit in with society, most people think you don't belong in it, or that you should be changed to belong in it. They say that the nail that sticks out is the one that gets hammered down the hardest. That's true. Introverts aren't quiet because we're arrogant or snotty. In groups of friends, we often have one or two really good friends because large groups are overwhelming. And, if we're quiet, it's just because it's our nature. If we don't say much, it's because we don't want to say something or because we don't have anything to say.

What do you want extroverts and the world to know about living with introverts?
Don't always pressure an introvert to go out somewhere. It's draining for us. We need time alone. Time to relax. Time to get our thoughts in order. Being exposed to large groups of people on a regular basis can be overwhelming. It doesn't develop a good reaction. It's always better to make sure that all parties agree on something. If one person isn't enjoying, often the entire group ceases to enjoy it. It's better to invite us first, because if you merely assume we don't want to come, it can hurt our feelings, and make us feel like our opinions don't matter to you.

Is there anything else you want to say about being an introvert in an extrovert world?
Don't think my words apply to all introverts. We're all different. There's no one mold for everyone.

Thank you, Gabriel.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I sit, alone in the darkness.
The silence of loneliness surrounds me.
No sound or light can penetrate the pain.
Why must the world stop turning when you are gone?

I surface from the pain to take stock of the day.
The laughter of our children leads my way.

*I wrote this a couple years ago and just found it. It is always true, so I thought I would share it. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dabrowski's Overexcitabilites and Picture Books

Addressing Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities Through the Genre of Picture Books
Dr. Bob Seney
World Conference for Gifted Children

Gifted children take in information from the world around them; they react and reason more quickly and intensely than other children. They are stimulated by what's going on around them and by what moves them from within. (Daniels)
This lecture was particularly exciting for me. Perhaps it's because I have so many of the overexcitabilities myself. Perhaps it is because I see so many of them in my children. In case you've never heard of Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities, I'll give a brief overview of them.

According to Stephanie Tolan, in Dabrowski's Over-excitabilities: A Layman's Explanation, “It's a stimulus-response difference from the norms. It means that in these 5 areas a person reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to a stimulus that may be very small. It involves not just psychological factors but central nervous system sensitivity.”

So, what does this mean for our children and ourselves? These sensitivities can be wonderful gifts for the artist, musician, mathematician, athlete, etc. They can also be burdens for the children whose sense of hearing is too acute, whose need to move is suppressed, whose imagination creates terrors for them.

The five areas are psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual, and emotional. For children who have all 5 areas of overexcitability, life can be quite intense. I am an adult with all five of the overexcitabilities. Knowing what life feels like for our children with these sensitivities can help us help them. Let us address each one individually.

Someone who experiences psychomotor OE may need to more more and need more physical activity than the average person. But, this person may also have a difficult time calming their mind down for sleeping. They frequently have high levels of movement, energy, gesture a lot, and even speed talk.

This is the child who can't stand to wear socks. Those seams at the toe physically hurt their feet. I was never so happy as to learn to knit so that my socks fit me correctly. Hanes no tags were custom made for these children. People with sensual overexcitabilities may seek out sensory experiences, having a need to touch different textures, see vivid colors, smell everything in their environment, and be able to detect small variations in taste. On the other hand, their sensitiveness to texture and taste may make them 'picky' eaters. These children can be brought to tears by a symphony and have a true emotional response to a sunset.

From Tolan “These are the dreamers, poets, “space cadets” who are strong visual thinkers, use lots of metaphorical speech. They day dream, remember their dreams at night and often react strongly to them, believe in magic (take a long time to 'grow out of' Santa, the tooth fairy, elves and fairies, etc.)

When I was a kid, my parents told me there was no Santa, but I was determined that there was. My mother decided to take me to all the malls and show me that there were Santas in all of them, so Santa couldn't be real. I responded, “He's magic!” I have vivid dreams. I've woken up with adrenaline pumping through my body, tears running down my face, and having an emotional response to something that didn't happen, but my emotional response is just as strong as to reality. Our children's imagination can be an amazing, wonderful, terrifying thing.

This is the overexcitability that gets children labeled as gifted. According to Tolan, “Kids with a strong 'logical imperative,' who love brain teasers and puzzles, enjoy following a line of complex reasoning, figuring things out. A love of academic, new information, cognitive games, etc.”

These are the people who need input constantly. When parents or teachers try to slow them down, it can cause them to go into a deep depression. These children's brains are working on hyperdrive, and hyperdrive hasn't even been invented yet.

This is intensity of emotion. These children have higher highs and lower lows. They also have a wide range of emotions, and develop deep connections with other people and animals. If they are unable to find close friends, they may have imaginary friends. They have strong senses of empathy and compassion. Their anger is legendary, their sorrow devastating to all around.

When Xavier was in kindergarten, his teacher called me the 2nd day of school to tell me he wasn't settling in. I thought, “It's only the 2nd day of school!” But, I went to the school and took her a two page list of things to do to help him settle in. The one thing that made the most difference was making sure he had enough to eat. She called me the following week and said, “It's like a totally different child! When he's happy, it's like the sun is shining inside our classroom. And when he's not happy, it's as though the worst thunderhead had made its way into our room and won't leave.” He feels emotions deeply and strongly.

The greatest gift that we can give gifted learners is an awareness and appreciation of their sensitivities, intensities, and passions. (Silverman)

Dr. Seney proposes that we help children understand, and deal with their own overexcitabilities using picture books. Dr. Seney makes the point that the illustrations speak directly to both Sensual OE and Imaginational OE, and perhaps to Emotional OE as well.

We can use bibliotheraphy to respond to children's needs, especially since many of them are avid readers. According to Dr. Seney, bibliotheraphy is guidance in solving personal problems through selected readings, and can be either therapeutic or preventative.

Below I have listed a few of the books Dr. Seney recommended for specific overexcitabilities. I am listing the books that I have personal experience with, and what OE he recommends them for. I do not have permission to share the entire list, so I will not do so.

Code: Psychomotor (P); Sensual (S); Intellectual (IN); Imaginational (I); Emotional (E)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (I, S, P) – a family favorite that addresses frustration, imagination, and redemption, and motion- oh the motion!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tail and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems (E, I) We love all the Mo Willems books. These particular books address the loss of a close friend through the loss of a stuffed animal.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae (P) Have you ever wanted to do something that was difficult for you to do, or you didn't do in the prescribed way?

Paddle to the Sea by H. C. Hollin (IN, S) Another author whose books we love. This book draws you into the journey a model canoe makes down the river to the sea. Children can see how obstacles can be put in their path that they have to overcome.

Love You Forever by R. Munsch (E) Oh, wow, is this an emotional book! This book can bring a grown man to tears, and you can expect the same sort of emotion from a child with an emotional overexcitability. I would say this book would be an excellent resource for a child dealing with the loss of a parent.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (I, P, IN, S) This book is quoted so often in our house that I still seriously consider putting Sam on our wall.

Absolutely Positively Alexander, The Complete Stories by J. Viorst (E, IN) If you have a child who needs reassurance that he/she is not alone in feeling strong emotions, this is your book.

Rapunzel by P.O. Zelinsky (S, IN, E) This book is a feast for the eyes.

Dr. Seney provides his top ten young adult book list on Hoagies for your perusal, along with several other lists of young adult books. He publishes a review of new young adult books each year. Since his list is available online, I want to provide that list for you here, because he provided us with the OE connections for each of those books. For a more complete list, including authors, please visit Hoagies.
What Child is This (E)
Fade (E,I)
Salamandastron (I)
Gathering Blue (E, I, S, IN)
Dogsong (E, IN)
Bridge to Terabithia (E)
The Van Gogh Cafe (I, S, E)
Interstellar Pig (I)
Welcome to the Ark (E, IN, S, I, P)
A Solitary Blue (E, IN)

It is unfortunate that the stronger these excitabilities are, the less peers and teachers welcome them, unless they, too, are gifted. Children exhibiting strong overexcitabilities are often made to feel embarrassed and guilty for being 'different' Criticized and teased for what they cannot help, they begin to believe something is wrong with them. (Michael Piechowski)
Other resources: Show Me a Story: Why picture books matter by Marcus
The Teenager's Guide to Sensitiveness by Judy Galbraith
Living With Intensity by Daniels and Piechowski
Some of my Best Friends are Books by Halsted
Bibliotherapy: The Interactive Process by Hynes and Hynes-Berry
Dabrowski'sOver-excitabilities: A Layman's Explanation by Stephanie Tolan

*Rather than linking to each book individually, I have added them all to my Amazon store front. I also added a few books of my own that I think address some of the overexcitabilities. I am not linking to the Young Adult books Dr. Seney has listed on Hoagies because Hoagies is supported entirely through donations and people following their links. Please, purchase books through their website to support them!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finding Community

As I mentioned Monday, I attended the 20th Biennial World Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. It ended today, and my brain is full to the brim with new information. My heart is full to the brim with the wonderful satiety of community.

I have never really stepped into the gifted world. I've just kept my toe in the edge of the stream through the gifted homeschooling community. Until this week, I didn't realize what I was missing out on.

I went to the conference because it was in my hometown, and seemed like it would be interesting. I felt lucky to be able to participate in a conference that I never would have attended had it not been local. Now that it's all over, I feel even luckier.

Every morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30. Anyone who knows me knows that this is an amazing feat in and of itself. I  am not really a morning person, and I can be a bit whiney about it. The fact that I not only survived getting up at 6:30 four days in a row, but I also didn't complain about it is, quite frankly, a bloody miracle. And that miracle is what I want to talk about.

One of the things I learned more about this week is Dabrowski's theory of Overexcitabilities. One of the overexcitabilities is Intellectual Overexcitabilities. It is characterized by "thirst for knowledge, discovery, questioning, love of ideas and theoretical analysis, search for truth." (Living With Intensity Daniels and Piechowski) Well, that pretty much sums me up in a nutshell. I occasionally have what I like to call a crisis of rut. I'm stuck in a rut. I've wanted to go back to school for some time, but not to get a degree. What I want is to learn, to be exposed to new ideas, to find other people to bounce ideas off, and to share my ideas with other people. I am looking for community. This week, I found it.

I didn't talk to a lot of people. I mostly absorbed information. My brain was going 90 miles an hour and it was wonderful. But, I did talk to people. I met people. I made connections with people whom I may never see again, but probably will. You see, I like this community because they are passionate about making sure gifted children get the support they so badly need. If I can figure out a way, I'll be at the NAGC conference in November.

I walked to my car each afternoon full of happiness. That 6:30 time came early each morning, but my brain never let me roll back over and go back to sleep. It was too afraid it would miss something. Have you found your community?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Live Blogging

Or not. I am attending the 20th Biennial World Conference of The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. I had originally planned to do a modified version of live blogging the event, posting each evening. Instead, when I got home last night, I dropped into bed. I'm just hoping to spend some time with the kids tonight before I once again find the sweet, sweet solace of slumber. I am really not a morning person and these 8 am sessions are killing me. 

So, no live blogging of this great conference. I will, however, share with you that I am thoroughly enjoying myself and I plan to share all the information I found interesting. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Musings of an Almost-Convert Part 3: Buddhism

After I left Christianity, I made a brief stop in Wicca.  I found Wicca very interesting, however it became clear very quickly that Wicca was not for me.  There were two other religions that I had found interesting and curious since I was a young girl.  The first that I explored was Buddhism.  I was never interested in the form of Buddhism that included multiple gods.  Instead, I was specifically interested in the idea of attaining peace and releasing one's worries.

The first thing I learned about Buddhism is that the way to enlightenment is not an easy path.  We have so many worries, woes, pains, frustrations, and fears that it is hard to release them all.  As the world becomes busier and easier to navigate, our minds and spirits have easier access to more worries, frustrations, etc.  Technology enables more pains and fears than ever before.  To truly become enlightened, it might be necessary to become like the Buddha and leave the trappings of civilization behind in order to live outside of ourselves.

When I first started learning about Buddhism, I read Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor. This was exactly what I was looking for. Buddhism was not about gods or belief. It was about learning to let go. I was excited to join a Buddhist congregation, but didn't know where to start. When we moved to Tulsa, I found a temple that had English services. I was thrilled to be able to go, and I loved the services.

Meditation provides a way to focus your energy and mind in ways I had never experienced before. Have you ever attempted to meditate in the way that Buddhists meditate? It is not the act of focusing on something to attempt to understand it better; it is the act of clearing one's mind. If a thought floats to the surface of your mind, you are to notice it, acknowledge it, and let it go. It is an extremely difficult prospect, but it gives you great control over your mind. I highly recommend reading books about meditation by Ticht Naht Hahn. I have enjoyed everything of his that I've read.

But, then 9/11 happened and Gary deployed. I had a 4 year old child, a 9 month old baby, and no babysitter. Temple visitation was next to impossible. My children were amazing, but it wasn't fair to them or the other members of the temple to force them to sit through the service. And that became the death nell for my Buddhist practice. Not long after that, we moved to a place that didn't have the services I needed. We now live somewhere that I could practice again, since we have a large Buddhist community here. I've considered getting back to practice, but it obviously hasn't been a big priority. On the other hand, Buddhism didn't require me to question my beliefs to practice it the way I did. It was more Zen Buddhism than anything else. In the meantime, I continued my search for religious understanding. It led me to Judaism.

This is the third installment of my series on religious searching. It is a long time (3 years) coming. If you would like to read the first two installments, please go to part 1 (me) here, and part 2 (Christianity) here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Searching, Confrontation, and Finding Your Voice - I know god's not real, but I'm not as sure about the Doctor.Recently, my children and I made an agreement that they would occasionally blog for me. A week ago, Xavier wrote me a blog post, and I told him I couldn't post it. It is a very confrontational piece, and that isn't what this blog is all about. When he originally suggested blogging for me, he was talking about discussing things he loves like planets, Doctor Who, etc.

Today, I realized that the post is written in Xavier's voice, and his voice is important. It is important to recognize his searching, and the fact that he is at a place in his life where he is confrontational. I want him to find his voice, and right now, it is confrontational. And if he needs to be confrontational to satisfy the needs of his soul, confrontational is what we'll get. Great things can come from confrontation. So, here is his unfiltered blog post, edited only for punctuation and spelling on his request. All emphasis is his.

Why are we here? NO, NOT WHY ARE WE ALIVE. Why do we exist? Is it because of nature, the moon, or are we part of a greater plot, something we don't even know about yet? I've been asking myself and other people why we're here. They don't understand what I'm trying to ask is why do we live on Earth; instead of being just simple, we evolved into the largest race on the planet. Is it god? Is there some overpowered cosmic being watching over us, judging how we thing, watching our wars AND DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT? I don't believe in god for this reason. TELL ME GOD, IF YOU'RE REAL, WHY DON'T YOU HELP US, MAYBE A LITTLE BIT, A TINY BIT? Now I'm done with that. 

Let's get on to something else. If it's just nature, WELL THAT'S BORING. The moon? Why did I even think of that? Somethin' about tides, ah I'll think about it later. 

Anyway, so now let's think about the grand design. So let's think. What do you think about that idea? It seems stupid. Think who would make a bunch of people who could become so great, but then would be faulty so that they make hundreds of freakin' smart phones, and hundreds of cars. WHO WOULD MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THIS? The truth is folks, we will never know, not until we travel through time, and that is a whole different story.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dating Advice from My Sons

I have a pretty open relationship with my children. I managed to give birth to three sons, all of whom have an advanced sense of humor. For this, I am thankful.
Tonight, on our way home, we began discussing romance. I'm not sure how it came up, but we were discussing pickup lines. The overall consensus was that it is neither a good idea to tell a girl, "You are my density," or "You are my destiny." The first might work on a geeky woman, but the second would probably be too strong for any woman.
Other pickup lines that were deemed unacceptable among the gales of laughter:
  • Uranus is bright tonight.
  • I'd like to orbit Uranus.
  • Do you think we'll get to see a full moon tonight?
From there, we discussed what not to say if a girl tells you, "I love you."
  • Unless she is an avid Star Wars fan, "I know" is not a good response.
  • Okay *
  • Uhhhhhhhh
  • Awkward!
  • I was not prepared for that!
  • That's nice. *
  • Can I get back to you on that?
Finally, I asked my children to give each other advice on girls. These were their responses.
  • Don't come on too strong.
  • (In response to that one) But don't take 3 years to ask her out!
  • What do I know about women?
  • I think I'm going to break a lot of hearts when I get married. (From the almost 10 year old)
  • Don't stint on the compliments, but don't overdo it either.
  • Don't tell her, "It's not the dress that makes you look fat, you're just fat."
  • Just tell her the dress makes her look beautiful. It's a good way to dodge the question. Besides, she'll always be beautiful to you, so you're being honest, too.
  • Always tell her she's whatever age she thinks she is.
  • Don't ask her if it's her "womanly time." If it is, she'll just get more angry because her hormones are off. If its not, she'll get mad that you think she's moody. There's just no way to come out of that conversation with your head.
I want it noted that except for a couple of the "I love you" responses, two of which my children have said to me at some point (the starred ones), all of these gems came from my 15, 12, and 9 year old sons. I have taught them well, right?

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Post Zombie Apocalypse Skills

I'm sure I could do this without electricity and my Vitamix; it just wouldn't be as much fun. In case you were wondering, I'm a vital piece to our zombie apocalypse team. I will keep you warm (knitting), make you rugs and blankets (weaving), preserve your food, and keep the zombies off your back while I'm doing it. Don't try to get me to butcher anything, though. You'll have to find someone else to do that.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week in Pictures

In my front yard

In my sister's arms

Broken septic

Things to get rid of

Smelly septic mess

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Bees

When I was a kid, I got stung by bees at least once a summer, usually by stepping on them. Every summer, I ran around barefoot and paid the price for it by having swollen, painful feet at least once a summer. There were bees all over our 2 acre yard, and my feet found them on a regular basis. By the time I was 8, I felt bad for killing the bees I stepped on, but not nearly as bad as my children would now.

The bees are dying. For years, those of us who have payed attention have been fighting to save the bees. But our cries have gone unheard, especially when our voices were raised in accusation of insecticides. We've been told that insecticides couldn't possibly be killing the bees, that it must be some dread disease. They were right.

It's not only the insecticides that are killing the bees. It's also fungicides. In an article published recently, scientists discovered that colonies that had high levels of fungicides were more susceptible to Nosema infection. This is important because bees are pollinators. Without pollinators, humans would lose most of our consumable crops. 

I am not trying to be an alarmist. But that friendly bee at the top of the page? He's the only bee we've seen all season. In fact, he's so unusual that Dominic has sat and stared and him, oohed and ahed over him, and basically been completely fascinated. That's not to say that bees are not worthy of fascination, for certainly they are. Rather, it's to point out how conspicuously absent bees are from our yard.

So, here's my plea. We, as homeowners, can make the choice to remove pesticides from our yards. Not only will it save you money, and help the bees, it will also reduce pesticides in the ground water. Who wants to drink pesticides?

Thursday, August 1, 2013


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