Perpetual Menu

So my latest foray into menu planning is with a “perpetual menu.”

That is, instead of doing an entire month (which worked twice just the way it was supposed to, but never again—in the two years since).

Don’t get me wrong– I’ve used all the menus, and having a whole month (or several) of gluten free meals in front of me is a HUGE confidence-booster when I am depressed or tempted to freak out or eat what will hurt me…

But I’d still prefer a system I don’t have to maintain, or even hours of time when I don’t have to wonder where the next meal is coming from.

Doh– ME! Why did I wonder?

So in honor of the new year (and a few days off that gave me a taste of not being responsible for every. bite. of healthy, edible food that five humans eat), I’m alpha testing a perpetual menu.

Family Meals (Click on that if you have Excel and want your own high-tech boxes to fill-in ^^) This image gets more clear when you click on it.

perpetual menu image

So you can see I color-coded it per kid, and gave my husband the job he does better than me (dealing with multiple input– including children– while pursuing an output-goal.)

How we did it:

  • Passed out paper to each kid, insisted on no talking or comparing notes till it was done.
  • Determined the number of evenings we need to be out of the house by a certain time (3 or 4)
  • Gave kids the nights without that deadline
  • Negotiated where chosen food overlapped (M & E both wanted to make pizza– They’ll make it together with Daddy. E & N both wanted to do salmon– I asked the 10yo to let E have the easy fish and take on the more-complex Chicken and Rice. Which she loves, so it was win-win.  Whew.)

I should pause here to say for the folks that don’t know that I don’t eat gluten. And I actually do way better when I don’t eat a lot of grains. There are grains on this menu, but except for the Cinnamon Rolls (yes, they deserve to be capitalized), everything, even the bread that I’ll happily feed anyone is GF.

This is why the Chix&Rice is a multi-step process. We don’t have to go back as far as plucking the chickens, but we do have to make our own “cream-of” base for the casserole.

So this is the plan.

If enough people are interested I can make an effort to photograph and record recipes as we go along. I’m not a typical GF blogger (there are lots in my sidebar if you need to find those), but I do feed my family what I’m eating, and any company. And I think I strike a pretty manageable balance between easy and esoteric in this whole-foods endeavor.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

Next Steps – more infrastructure


Reminded today why I was sure as a kid I hated writing.

And I’m instantly a supporter of smart, on-line registrations.

You know the kind– where forms replicate your information as soon as you check same on your mailing address.

I filled out paperwork for three kids for school, and for a doctor appointment at a clinic they’ve never visited before. Four pages for each kid for each set. And I swear they wanted addresses and every phone number onevery page.


My hand was cramping up by the end, and hurt to use.

Can you get carpal tunnel from writing when you don’t get it from typing?

Anyway, I decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and get all my kids tested for Celiac disease, just because there are health repercussions if they have it and don’t know to take care, and also because I’m ready (at times) to just simplify my life by making the whole crew GF.

Thing is, as testing works these days you can (by definition) only be diagnosed with CD by the lab finding damage in one’s small intestine.  If someone has been off of gluten long enough that no damage shows, there is no way to be 100% certain about that individual’s status.

So before I got really serious about including the kids all the time, I wanted to get this ou of the way so they can make their own choices down the road with all the data.

That’s tomorrow. And I’m always nervous about meeting a new practitioner, because I have a (maybe overactive) tendency to read into what people say and how they treat me.

And I expect them to know more than me, since they’re the ones who’ve been educated in these things.


School Plans for Fall of 2012

We are very excited (nervous, anticipatory– not anxious) about school this fall.

As you may know, this year is Jay’s “turn” to travel to Antarctica again (because this is the internet I’m not going to specify when. Those who need to know and don’t should have our email).  Because of the combined weight of single parenting and the other challenges during his absence we looked into “away” school as a means of lightening my load.

The result is we’ve picked a Christian school (uniforms and all) that we’ve committed to for the fall semester. We’ll reevaluate at Christmas as to whether the children will finish out the year there.

Natasha is already excited, Melody already trepedatious, and Elisha vaguely positive, but mostly neutral.

School starts early enough in the day that Jay will take the kids on his way to work, but that will mean retraining everyone’s sleep schedules: they’ll need to leave with Daddy before 7:30 in the morning, which means they’ll need to be up around 6, which means we’ll have to try and have everyone down by 7:30.

We’ll experiment with some of those changes (up and down) closer to school’s start in August.

And for me, now that I’m settled that Fall semester (at least) is happening away from home, I’m trying to wrap my head around the implications. Of course there’s the ~6-hours alone each day, and that currently seems like a fairy tale.

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Early May 2012

So we’re barely out of April, but still loads going on.

(I hope really soon to start back up with the menu-building posts– because it could mean *I’m* back on a menu.)

We decided to sell Cream. It was really hard for Natasha and me.

The one consolation we could offer her is that she now has her very own rabbit. It is the last silver fox (cross) we have, and Natasha named her Black Beauty. We’ve given Natasha full ownership (along with care) and Natasha will be able to keep BB as long as she lives, if that’s her desire. She just has to maintain the present level of care.

We sold all of the non-Orpington chickens (and the extra rooster) last week, and I’ve sold a total of 14 meat rabbits so far, for breeding stock.  I expect to sell one more trio this week, along with the angora buck (and I’d let the mama-A go to, if I could find an interested buyer).

I have a few small baskets of angora from what I’ve collected over the last year, so I think one will do fine to keep me as busy as I want to be with wool.

It was a relief to find critters leaving (nearly) as fast as we wanted, and then this week I went out to feed the chickens and found a slaughterhouse.

A marten had gotten in and torn out the throats of every bird in the place.

Thankfully for me, three of the hens broke out; they were the only ones to survive (but they mean I still have home grown eggs so I can still eat eggs). I stayed up till after 3a.m. Thursday morning, trying to work through salvaging all the meat. Continue reading

No Right to Not Be Offended

I have a pretty strict no-provoking policy among the kids.

For many years this has been enshrined in my mom-phrase, “Don’t. cause. problems.”

The idea is that many people (and children most-blatantly) find their ability to affect the emotional (or physical) state of other people to be quite entertaining.

It’s closely related to the delight of the small child who realizes s/he can knock over a tower of blocks.  After the initial shock, interminable repetition becomes hilarious and a delight: I, aware of my finiteness in this vast world I do not understand, nevertheless have the power to effect change!

Or something equally giggle-inducing.

So, desiring a maintenance-pattern that requires the least amount possible of my direct intervention, I taught my children from a very young age that this form of entertainment was a barely a degree more acceptable than swinging the cat by his tail.

The resulting problem is one I can see in our society as well:

When people become used to living in a neutral environment, where conflict is not blatant, anyone who makes life harder seems bad.

I am agitated, therefore they are provoking.

 ~ ~ ~

Earlier this week, while I was out in the barn, there was a small earthquake in the house. Natasha, in a blanket-sleeper and boots, staggered (having just awakened) out to tell me that Melody wouldn’t stop screaming.

Apparently Elisha (on his bed) began making a noise that Melody (on her bed) found “annoying” and he would not stop come pleas or high decibels.

In negotiating the situation, I asked if he had been following her around with the noise, and found out, no, they had just (both) gone back to their room after breakfast.

~ ~ ~

Because Elisha was the one causing Melody’s discomfort, she assumed he was the one that needed to change. But they were both in places they were allowed to be, doing nothing intrinsically bad.

In fact, both children frequently enjoy making random noises together, kicking the air and creating competing rhythms.

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Parental Rights Amendment

More things to think about in relation to the Parental Rights Amendment:

  • The reason the amendment efforts exist is because there is currently no legal precedent assuring that parents (rather than other entities) have any say over their children.  Only historical precedent.

(And, as with historical precedent of marriage defined as between one man and one woman, courts have begin ruling that historical precedent is not strong enough for force of law.)

    • There is most-definitely a need for some kind of protection/articulation of our rights as parents (to direct the upbringing of our own offspring).
  • The reason PRA supporters are working on a constitutional amendment is in direct response to the threat (and I do not use that word lightly) of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    • You can click on the link to see why many parents are concerned about the CRC becoming international law, but for the purposes of this discussion I will just say that as an international “treaty,” the CRC (if ratified by Congress) would supersede any state-level efforts to affirm parental rights.

This is the reason for beginning with a constitutional amendment: the resistance to CRC must be at the national level.

All that said, I still don’t fault NRLC for their stance. (More than one IRL person has challenged me on my defense of NRLC’s objection, and I added these facts to to show readers PRA is not beign unreasonable either: that this is all bigger than two worthy organizations not seeing eye-to-eye).

I really believe you should read all the links: the necessity of the amendment, the details of the concerns NRLC expressed in their letter, and consider (this is the hardest, most-frightening, thing to me) how the “wrong” judges interpreting the amendment– however it is worded– could redefine a national approach to parenting.

That is, all legal cases dealing with an amendment would be national issues, with the outcome affecting all parents in the United States.

Call me a pessimist, but all the assurances that no reasonable person could read this wrong (and I agree with this), cannot assure me that we live in reasonable times.

I love logic. It’s a nice break from the real world.

In the end, I truly don’t know what to hope for.  I want a parental rights amendment. But I want the government to have the teeth to perform its God-ordained protective role.

And if the government can use the PRA “exception” language to protect a Muslim girl from genital mutilation, (stepping in to protect the child from her parents’ practice/application of deeply-held religious beliefs…) I cringe at the same time, wondering how long it will take an activist judge to step beyond physical protection to emotional, relational, or educational protection.

Ultimately, having the amendment will provide a context within which to begin and define these battles, but I still tremble to consider how unsure their outcome must be.

Constitutional Amendments are Designed to be Hard Work

I was sad to read about the struggle with National Right to Life (NRLC) regarding the Parental Rights Amendment, and checked with a friend who works for a state branch of NRL. I want to share her response that opened another perspective that I did not get from Farris’s article alone:

Perhaps part of the disconnect comes in from the types of people each organization works with every day. HSLDA and PR work with good parents…parents who really have the best interests of their kids in mind, who want to educate and protect them. NRLC deals daily with parents who want the legal right to kill their children. So of course PR is saying, “We have to give parents the right to protect their kids, because that’s what parents want to do!” And of course NRLC is saying, “Are you kidding? Parents want to kill their children! We have to protect the children!”
Having read both perspectives, I understand where NRLC is coming from. Amending the Constitution is VERY serious, a much bigger deal than changing state law or even federal law. Because the PRA would be enshrined in the Constitution, it’s imperative that it protect the unborn. Giving parents total authority over the lives of their unborn children, in the constitution, would ultimately be very damaging to the pro-life cause.
In the article, Farris describes the amendment as “abortion neutral,” but considering the state of the abortion war, I hesitate to agree a neutral position is possible (just look at Planned Parenthood’s response to the “neutral” Komen for the Cure group). Once this “neutrality” is locked into the constitution the battle will begin over which side it strengthens, and I cringe at the dangerous possibilities.
If the NRLC elements create a “dead on arrival” element, is there no other way to strengthen parental rights, even incrementally? This outrageous case of an infant being taken from her mother is the perfect example.  I pray success and precedent from this as the effort of parental rights gains a wider hearing, but I don’t agree that NRLC is being overly sensitive or unaware that their efforts create frustration.

A constitutional amendment is a Big Deal, and NRLC stepping in to agree it’s a Big Deal is not an attack but a healthy check between two mature, educated and well-meaning organizations.

In choosing to start with a constitutional amendment as its goal, PR has stepped up to the highest standard possible and should be prepared for a rigorous vetting– especially from good-spirited organizations entrusted with a particular focus.  Who better than these to understand the present reality as it pertains to the center of their focus?

There need not be any shame in an incremental approach.  The more cases that can come together to emphasize the rights of parents, the better aim or case proofs pro-family groups will have in interpreting the function of such an amendment when it is ratified.

I believe that an amendment is needed; I want to feel secure in my place and role to protect my children. But what I can’t bear is the image of pro-abortion advocates waiting behind closed doors, gathering resources, “staying out of our way” only to throw a series of cases into motion as soon as the back door’s paint has dried.

I agree with the NRLC’s position that if this is going to be “enshrined in the Constitution” there cannot be any wrinkles to be ironed out later.  If this results in a further delay of a Parental Rights Amendment, so be it.  My insecurity (even fear) as I wait is worth the lives of unborn children.

M-B #9: More About Cognitive Functions.

Acknowledging from the beginning I’m treading on thin ice, here’s what I’ve learned about cognitive functions.

First of all (if you want to) refer back to the typing children post (and maybe even the original processes post), because the four groups we divide children into are what we refer to as the cognitive functions.


With two worlds to notice/spend time in (the inner world and the outer world), each of the cognitive functions develops first in one of those two directions.

When a child is developing his or her Dominant function s/he will do so in his/her preferred world.

That is, as in introverted, dominant-intuitive, I didn’t follow my mother around all day telling her stories. I spent my story-creating time *alone* (or, when I was a bit older, with a single trusted friend).

In contrast my extraverted, dominant-intuitive daughter once shouted at her brother (who’d reached his limit), “But I can’t tell it if nobody’s listening!”

My N is introverted (Ni).  The stories are rich, but largely private. As a child I hid in the basement to tell my stories aloud.

Melody’s N is extraverted (Ne).  The story doesn’t exist if there’s not someone else participating.

(This is not an ultimate definition, but CFs are slippery things, and I’ve found examples the easiest way of getting a clearer view of them.)

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Myers-Briggs #8: Appreciating Differences

Whole charts have been created about how different combinations of Type make for different sorts of friendships or conflicts.

For example, you’re likely to have a fairly easy friendship with someone who shares your two inner letters, because you approach the world with a similar orientation.

Or, if your outer two letters are the same, you might be good roommates because you have relatively similar habits.

When your inner two letters are both reversed, you become one another’s “enigma,” wondering what in the world makes that person tick?

An ISTJ might be the hardest for me to truly understand (or me for them), but we tend to tolerate each others’ presence fairly peaceably.  We may neither of us want to be the other, but I think we are able to appreciate the unique contribution of the other person’s type.

The truly hardest type for me to appreciate is the Innovator, aka SP, quadrant. What they’re good at are things I don’t feel a need for, and it’s hard to value a group if you don’t see them as fulfilling a necessary role.

~ ~ ~

This really bothered me.

Here was a group of people (almost 50% of the population!) that I admitted I couldn’t see the value of.  Not only did it mess with my view of myself as an accepting, loving person, it seemed really unhealthy.

I read all the reasons of course (they’re in every typing book or article-series out there), and I understood them cognitively, but I was embarrassed by how little difference the information made.  None of the examples I saw in my real world were helping, either.

So I prayed about it.

Yes, I prayed about a personality quadrant. I hope you can understand why.

About this same time I was working to figure out the types of the people closest to me (some were taking the quizzes, some weren’t).

My parents and my husband were of deepest interest to me; my parents (I’ll admit) because I wondered how who they were had affected who I am, and my husband because, well, he’s so perfect for me, and I’ve got this private research going with type-pairing in successful marriages and my own little personality theory about the marriage’s M-B type.

Anyway, because of how balanced they all are (or maybe it’s just how well I know them?) they were as tricky to suss out as I was.

What I ended up doing (instead of trying to pick their preferences) was jumping to the deeper level of cognitive functions. (Please understand this has everything to do with how long I’ve been playing with this theory, not something I expect anybody to try.)

My husband has a delightful mix of traits that I appreciate in both my parents, but at a level I like so much better (which is perfect considering I live with him now, not them).

  • They all have a solid Fi (they’re much at ease than I when encountering opinions different than their own)
  • Jay and my mom both bemoan their poor memories (but since they know their weak spot, they know how to compensate for it, so they both are very conscientious and careful to remember important things) I called this Se
  • All of them are good at producing a quotable soundbite in a please-help-me crunch of time.  Which makes sense because Te is the natural opposite of the Fi I already mentioned.
  • And for Mom and Jay, the natural opposite of Se is Ni, which is my dominant process, and may explain why I can feel like I have a such a good connection with either one of them

(I’m giving this process much more organized and incremental that I ran it in real time, but I wanted to offer a model in case anyone else should find it useful.)

Now, for all that my mom and my husband are both very detail-oriented (Se), my husband is more fun to be around (sorry, Mom).  In terms of hierarchy, my mom’s Te is over her Se, while for my husband it’s reversed. She works before she plays. Sometimes to the extent that I wonder when (if!) she plays.

I lined out the remaining order of preferences and made a shocking discovery.

Best-fit I have for Jay is ISFP.

I am married to an Innovator.

And when I said that sentence aloud, I responded with, Yes, I knew he was brilliant but I didn’t know he was SP!

I checked my “math.”  And I laughed, and thanked God for his many good answers to many prayers.

Now I can appreciate SPs like I never knew I would, because I am learning how many people I already love and appreciate are this type.

And the ones that bug me?  Yeah, Innovators  also make the highest percentage of my bug-me group, but that’s to be expected.  We are most irritated by that most different from (or the most similar to) ourselves.

But God is always gracious: What he designs is good, and I firmly believe that if you ask any designer to elaborate on the brilliance of his design he will be happy to oblige.

Myers-Briggs #7: “But it doesn’t work!”

I take such delight is discussing ideas with people I know in real life.

Sure, you can find someone willing to discuss most anything on the internet (and for that I’m profoundly thankful), but there is something extra special to me about watching someone respond to my thoughts and ideas in real time.  Getting to see how their brains work.

A month or so ago at church, I was “speaking the language” of M-B with someone across the table, and the woman next to us asked what was going on.  So we explained some of the basics I covered in my first article, and the three of us ended up spending about an hour on the topic (it was potluck Sunday).

Friend #2 (the one new to the topic) ended up taking one of the on-line tests and being impressed (as I think we all are upon first exposure) by how accurate the type description was for her.

When we spoke again on the subject it was plain she’d been educating herself. She’d gotten to the place of recognizing people of other types and the four patterns in adults and children and so on.  She saw it as an interesting tool, and I felt excited to have another person in my real world that knew the language.

Then, before long, I got a frustrated e-mail from her.  The description of the type she tested as– though accurate– was off on several key points. And, she said, the quadrant description of the group she was in got her wrong in several important ways.

And I laughed out-loud.  Not at her frustration, but in vivid recollection. Here’s how I responded.

MB is descriptive, and provides a vocabulary.  It opens our eyes to a set of dichotomies that many people are not aware of. (This is the primary goal, and that’s been fulfilled in what you’ve learned.)

The main challenge you have is that maturity (as I see it) has a great deal to do with “fluency” along the whole length of each spectrum (T<—>F, P<—>J, etc).  The more mature and balanced you are, the more difficult it will be for one side to jump up as 100% *you*.

The best way I’ve found to find an elusive M-B preference is to look for which specific areas require more thought or concentration.  As an N-dominant person, I now know why I get exhausted working out details in real-life (as opposed to organizing novels, which is also work, but not nearly as draining), and with that understanding I was able to tell Jay, in the case of Melody’s teeth issue, “I’m worn out dealing with detail-gathering [S & P demanding stuff], can I please just pick somebody who made a good impression [N & F application] and move forward [J]?”

When he said yes, the pall that had been hanging over me for days evaporated.

Most people start out in M-B with Wow, how could a generic description be so accurate?! Then, as this enthusiasm leads to looking closer, they notice inconsistencies between the depths of who they are, and descriptions that are so detailed they seem like they should cover everything.

When I first discovered M-B and recognized it’s accuracy and implications, I was beyond excited.  I think I experienced what Isabel Myers and her mother felt, when they began the project in a genuine effort to promote world peace.

Really. According to her son (in the book linked above) this project was was the direct result of WWII.

Understanding core identity and motivations is a huge part of getting to peace in most relationships, so I can understand this thought process. But what happens (coming back to myself and my frustrated friend) when you don’t fit into one of 16 neat little boxes?

First of all, you can know this is normal.

How do I know? There are pushing-past 7 billion people in the world.  You’re not going to squish that many individuals into 16 boxes and have everyone in each box look the same. So type descriptions make an effort to collect behavior components connected to that combination of four preferences.

I always enjoy it when someone tells me their type and it’s the same as someone else’s that I know. It’s helpful to be reminded that what might bug me about one (that, admittedly, I’d blamed on type), does not exist in the other.

It is my continual reminder that individuals are individuals.  Even when they fall into patterns.

Which I still believe they do.

On one level, once you know the categories and typical motivations (and weakness), M-B theory has done its most-important job for you.  It’s guided you outside of your automatic way of seeing the world, and opened your awareness to different ways of experiencing reality beyond your own.

Congratulations: you are one step ahead of a lot of folks.

But for a lot of us (me included), that’s not good enough.  We see the potential of getting our our type *exactly* pegged, and there is an impatience (approaching at times desperation) to eliminate ambiguity.

If you are frustrated by what you don’t know, I have two thoughts.

  1. Feel free to ask for help or additional input from those who know you (and M-B language) and will listen to you.
  2. Remember that your M-B type doesn’t tell you how to live or who you are (really). It is to provide a language and patterns to understand interactions. Give yourself time. And if it’s painfully hard to wait and watch, that might be an indication you lean toward the J preference of the final scale.