Sunday, May 31, 2015

Things I Want to Remember

Wren upon discovering she has her first loose tooth:

Sammy, look my tooth is loose.  That means my baby teeth, you know the teeth you have, are going to fall out and I am going to get adult teeth. 

Sammy:  Shut up, Wren. 

Chia Barbie

Wren:  Mom, Barbie’s hair is not growing back where I cut it off. 
Me:  She’s a Barbie, not a chia pet.  I told you that when you said you wanted to cut her hair.  I said it was your choice, but it wouldn’t grow back.
Wren:  But it’s hair.
Me:  It’s not real.
Wren:  But it’s hair.
Me:  Her boobs aren’t real either.  Just sayin’.

Learning but(t)s
Sammy:  Today in homeschool I learned about butts!
Me:  You learned about the word but, not butt.  You learned how to write and spell but.
Sammy, laughing:  I learned about butts.  I like school. 

Bean Hunting
We spend a portion of our morning searching up and down Costco because Sammy feels we must find bean chips.  Once we discover they are not there, I ask if we should go to Sprouts to get him some or if he wants a different snack. 
“Mommy, I don’t even eat those things.”
“Then why in the world have we been running across the store looking for them?”
“Because I know you like them.  I want you to have things you like.”
That kid.  He pretty much owns me.

Twin Fights
Eowyn likes to take Asher’s toys, period.  She has no remorse.  This week upon getting caught taking Asher’s book away from her for the third time in 10 minutes, she actually started punishing herself.   By the time I made my way over to give the book back to Asher, Eowyn was throwing it across the room muttering, “I know, I know, I know.”

And this is Asher’s favorite song to sing, or rather she just moves her mouth to make the appropriate facial expressions as if she is singing it.

Good luck getting that song out of your head!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time Travel and War

D and I watched the season finale of The Flash last week.  Don’t laugh.  Yes, it is a CW superhero show, the only show I watch now that Mad Men is over.  I agreed to watch it one time with Dennis, sure I would roll my eyes and walk away.  But the story is good, the writing is tight, the actors are solid.  I haven’t missed an episode. 

The show deals with time travel quite a bit, which for a comic, sci-fi novice like me, can be confusing.  What happens when you start an alternate timeline?  Why didn’t the current timeline fall apart when something was changed?  Why am I thinking this hard watching a show on the CW?!?

Somehow after staying up way too late talking about The Flash, D and I continued our irresponsible march to after midnight talking about ISIS.  This was last week when ISIS took Ramadi.  I read this from Ann Voskamp.  If you haven’t read it, please do.  Read all of it. 

When I could no longer avoid the images crawling through my mind and my escapism to superhero land was over, I shared parts of Voskamp’s post with D.  We were devastated together, having already known these things were happening yet letting them fall to the back of our minds the way things do when they’re not happening to you.  And we asked the big questions, the questions I think God welcomes because He’s God and knows the answers:

Why were we born here and not there?

How do you live when your children are killed and raped, when you don’t know where some of them are, may never know again on earth?

What do we do from where we sit? 

How hard is it to believe God keeps His promises when you pray for relief and you get ISIS?

The last question is where we sat for a while.  Two thoughts collided in my head at once as we mulled over that one.  The first was from a sermon our pastor taught months ago.  When students at a retreat challenged the idea that God gave us all we needed, citing poverty and the needs in this world that seem to go unmet, the pastor’s wife countered with the truth:  God gave us all we need through Jesus.  If we get any extras here on earth, that’s great.  But those aren’t needs.  Jesus is all we need.  It wasn’t a callous answer.  It is Biblically-based, true, though sometimes hard to swallow in the face of suffering.  

That does not mean the rest of us should be apathetic in the face of suffering.  Jesus said the exact opposite.  We are here to glorify His name and seek justice, love mercy, help those in need.  We should live our whole lives to do so.  Situations like what is happening in Iraq should release in us a righteous anger, one that pushes us out of apathy to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Yes, God already kept His promise.  Jesus on the cross, Jesus resurrected, this fulfilled His promise to give us the opportunity to unite with Him.  That’s done and will always be.  Now we have the opportunity to act, secure that what is forever has already been taken care of.

The other thought that jumped into my head (I blame the time travel discussion from The Flash) was a quote from Albert Einstein I had recently come across that said, “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”  C.S. Lewis similarly spoke of time in Mere Christianity, about how it’s basically not something God has to have, but it helps us humans with our whole needing-things-in-some-kind-of-order tendencies.  God is beyond time.  So while there is suffering and horror here on earth, the battle is won and over, really.  Maybe we haven’t seen that yet in the in-order-time way we’d like, but it’s still true.  That doesn’t make it easy to be where we are, the in between where horrible things happen.  It does give us a destination to meditate on, to tell others about.

So what do we do in the waiting time, that space where we welcome the coming of Christ, the end of what we’re surrounded by now?  We use our resources, our extras given to us beyond salvation from Jesus Christ, to reach out a hand to those who need it.  Voskamp gives two options for how to help those displaced by ISIS through Preemptive Love Coalition.  Consider them seriously.  And remember that understanding the ins and outs of time and how this life works isn’t as important as knowing the battle has already been won.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Menu Posting

I'm going to try different formats to see what works.  This week, I'm going to list foods by category.

Homemade protein bars   (I snuck chia seeds in these!)
Almond milk hot chocolate  (I get my gluten free cocoa powder here and also use it in my fat bombs from last week.)
Eggs and chicken sausage
One day at my Nanny's, the kids ate hot dogs for breakfast.  They were stoked!
Pancakes with eggs and bacon

Lunch was pretty much dinner leftovers.  I cooked A LOT of chicken and froze it ahead this week to make quick travel meals fast and easy, so we ate on that for a while.  We threw in some ham roll ups and other dinner leftovers for variety, but we downed chicken a bunch of different ways for lunch!

This chicken dish
Leftover chicken, threw in snap peas, carrots, and onions and put coconut aminos on top. 
(Coconut aminos are a great soy sauce replacement, and you can find them at Sprouts.)
Pork chops and baked new potatoes
Baked chicken with BBQ sauce and snap peas with carrots 
Leftover pork chops with leftover veggies
Ham roll ups with fruit and veggies

Amazing torte here
fruit, including raisins, apples, bananas, and strawberries
apples and peanut butter
snap peas and carrots with hummus
protein bars from breakfast

We grocery shop tomorrow, and I think we're just going to knock off whatever is left in the kitchen tonight.  I'm thinking burgers and something involving spinach.  We'll see!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trying New Things Tuesday: Taking Care of the Careless Words

I am going to menu post consistently, which was my trying new thing for last week.  I'm going to menu post tomorrow for last week's meals.  We went out of town over the weekend, my grandmother cooked, so everything we ate that three days was perfection!  I'm excited to share.

This week I'm focusing on words.  I write, I talk, I use a lot of words.  I vacillate between being an introvert and an extrovert, so I either don't want to talk at all or I'm the definition of verbal vomit.

With four kids, I'm not 100% pleased with the way of my words lately.  I put this book on hold at the library after running across the blog, and I have been reading some tips.

I'm not a yeller, exactly.  I don't yell at my kids daily, I don't generally rage.  But we don't spank, so if I blow my top, yelling is where I tend to end up.  (There was this one time one kid pushed me over the top, so I grabbed that child's butt cheek then realized no matter how mad I was, I didn't want to break my no spanking commitment.  I only bring that up because one of my children might one day say that though I didn't spank them, having their butt cheek grabbed only then to have mom break down in the giggle fits and lay on the floor laughing until she started hysterically crying and then hugging the kid while still crying was weirder to deal with than being spanked.)  Also, if you spank your kids, I don't care.  It's just not my thing.  Discipline on, however that works in your house.

Anyway, though I'm not a yeller, I'm a snapper.  And I'm sarcastic.  Sarcastic snapping, well, it's maybe not the most pleasant combo.  This problem has gotten worse at times and not been so bad during others.  However, I'm a realist in this:  I have four kids; they all need something from me, usually at the same time; they are loud little people.  The needing and noise and the sometimes overwhelming feeling that comes with it are triggers for me.  I start to snap.  I don't take the time to fully assess the situation because I need to change a diaper or cook a meal or shower.  If I don't deal with this, it's not going to magically go away.  Whatever illusions I had as a newbie parent about that next phase they would all get in where it would be 100% smooth sailing because no one would have problems or throw sass or be obnoxious or only eat ketchup at a meal, where their sin nature would just dissipate therefore giving me no reason to say anything harsh, well, I'm over that.  I believe in that phase as much as I believe I will one day have no cellulite.

My goal this week is simple: no words I don't want to have to answer for.  Matthew 12:36 has inspired and convicted me in this department.  It needs to be tattooed on my face.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak...

If you're in line behind me that day, bring a book.

Seriously, I know Jesus paid the price for me.  His grace is enough.  However, this feels like a pretty important part of my sanctification process.  Besides being more careful of my words to my kids, I want this to apply with every word I speak, what I say to and about people.  No masking gossip as simply venting.  No verbalizing the worst instead of looking for the good.  No sarcastic defense when an honest, heartfelt response would go further.

So if we happen to speak this week, hold me accountable.  Bring duct tape.  Do what you got to do to keep me on track.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trying New Things: Menu Posting

Trying to eat healthy and also include variety in our diet can be difficult and expensive.  One of the best ways for me to monitor what we're eating to make sure we're eating well and utilizing our grocery budget the best way possible is to visually see a list of what we're eating.  With that in mind, I'm going to start blogging our menu.  It will help us, plus I have told countless people who want to know how we eat gluten-free, dairy free, largely grain-free meals for a family of six, "Hey, I should just post it to the blog", then I've never done it.  I'm fixing that now!

This is what we ate the last six days.  I included links to recipes I found online.  You can also follow me on Pinterest here to see the multitude of yummy recipes I plan on trying in the future!

Day 1
Breakfast:  These fat bombs to help Wren with her lack of fat absorption and to keep her from asking for food every ten minutes.  It worked!
leftover salami and provolone(no provolone for the ones who don't do dairy.  They call it "stinky cheese" and won't go near it anyway.)
Chia pudding, which was not a hit in our house.  We need another way to sneak in the chia seeds for fiber, so I'm still on the lookout.
Lunch:  sweet potato turkey nachos with guacamole
Dinner:  almond bread bacon and egg sandwiches
Snacks:  Larabars, fruit, snap peas

Day 2
Breakfast: leftovers of last night's dinner with fat bomb strawberries (strawberries covered in melted fat bombs)
Lunch:  ground turkey and okra
Dinner:  leftovers
Snacks:  Larabars and a variety of fruit

Day 3
Breakfast:  Eggs and bacon
Lunch and Dinner:  Pizza  with this dairy free, gluten free cheese.  So technically we don't do a lot of grains because no one processes them especially well.  However, Wren had a slumber party.  Pizza had to happen.   This is hands-down the easiest, yummiest gluten free pizza crust I have ever eaten.  Double the batch.  Seriously.
Snacks:  These brownies!   Even our slumber party guests devoured those brownies completely unaware of the secret ingredients!

Day 4
Breakfast:  Eggs and bacon
Lunch:  In and Out protein-style burgers.  We didn't have a lot of leftovers.  We don't usually do pizza and fast food in one weekend.
Dinner:  Okra, veggies, whatever wasn't growing mold in the fridge because I didn't want to cook.

Day 5
Breakfast:  Eggs and fruit
Lunch:  turkey burgers and veggies
Dinner:  Leftovers
Snacks:  Kind bars and these.  Do not judge by the ingredients.  They are awesome.

Day 6
Breakfast:  eggs and leftover avocado brownies
Lunch:  salami and provolone with veggies
Snacks:  Larabars
Dinner:  salmon patties with veggies

A Few Tricks of the Gluten-free Trade

  • Try to save store bought snacks for on-the-go.  I will buy Kind bars and Larabars in bulk at Costco, but we rarely eat them at home.  Those are great for on-the-go because they don't melt and are quick.  Plus, if you only use them when you're out, you don't go through them so quickly.  That helps with grocery expenses.
  • Buy ingredients as much as possible.  For what you can spend on all the gluten-free packaged food, you can usually just pay for ingredients and make several batches of homemade treats from fat bombs to protein bars to homemade ice cream.  It's cheaper in the long run.
Happy Menu Planning and Many Yummy Meals to You!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gretchin Rubin Helped Me Understand Why I Ponder Cutlery

Better Than Before, a book by Gretchin Rubin who also wrote the wildly popular The Happiness Project, was devoured in this house in record time.  I love the way Rubin researches, writes, and presents real-life solutions.  Better Than Before deals with habits-how to break them and how to make them-and I loved the whole book!  I especially loved that no matter who you are, this book will feel tailored for you because Rubin spends so much time reminding and helping readers get to the most important part about habit keeping:  Know yourself.

Rubin's blog is very hopeful as well, and many things featured from the book are also on the blog.  So, while you wait to get your copy of the book(you did just put it on hold at your library or order it from Amazon, right?) peruse the blog.

A few things I learned that are helping me make positive, lasting changes; I'm an obliger, a minimalist, and an underbuyer.  Basically, I keep commitments to others better than I do myself, I do not like having a ton of stuff, and I wait until we have half a role of toilet paper to buy more.  All interesting characteristics, unless you need to wipe your tush at two a.m.

I am using these facts and many more I learned about myself  to help make positive changes using tools that will help me specifically, because the tools that will help an upholder who loves abundance and overbuys are not going to lead me to success.

I started with something I hate to do:  shop.  For clothes.  Post four babies body.  Yeah.  I'm also a do-it-all-at-once type.  Let's just rip the band-aid off and move on.

I hated shopping before I had a gut that makes me look like I swallowed a child's flotation device and it got lodged right around my belly button.  I actually do not like to think about or invest in appearance stuff much at all.  Give me a book or chocolate over a mirror and shoes any day and I'm good.

But lately I have been thinking about appearance because I've been uncomfortable.  Wearing clothes that are either big enough I could fit in them during that trying-to-lose-the-baby-weight phase or clothes that were from the pre-twins-living-in-my-body-together phase, it's not working.  It's making me self-conscious.  I either have plumber's crack or a muffin top.  In this one pair of jeans, I have both.

Then a friend posted on Facebook about wardrobe capsules.  It's the idea that you put together a certain amount-20-35 items-you want in your wardrobe and that's all you wear.  These items are versatile enough to create many outfits, and you don't have to think much about what to grab from your closet.  I'm a minimalist.  I'm going to see if I can have maybe 15 items and call it a day.

This appealed to everything in me.  First of all, you don't have a ton of clothes or shoes in the closet.  The minimalist part of me LOVES that.  Tons of anything stresses me out.  There are days I stare in our silverware drawer and wonder if life would be simpler if we had less butter knives.  The underbuyer in me thinks it's fabulous.  Don't buy much, love every item you buy, and just add a few accessories to make these same items work in different seasons.  The obliger, well, that side of me can always be tricky.

Obligers don't do things for themselves without outside accountability, because we'll show up when there is someone we would let down if we didn't, but we won't show up for ourselves.  Being a parent, I think, made me turn into an obliger.  Maybe I always was, but I recognize that side of me now in relation to being a parent.  Take care of everyone else's health but postpone my dentist appointment and yearly exam for a year because the kids were having issues I felt certain required my presence that day.  Check to make sure everyone else's cups are full but forget to check my cup until I'm in the middle of PMS and wanting to throw my cup at people's faces for no reason.  It's ugly.  It's not the tendency I would have chosen, but I need to work with what I have.

So I scheduled my first wardrobe capsule shopping event for a night I had plans with a friend.  We got pedis-something I find very awkward  unless I have a friend but completely awesome when I do because I can focus on good conversation and not the poor person tasked with dealing with my feet-and then I was already out of the house, sans-kids.  The pedi and buying a few items were my Mother's Day choice.  Linking the buying to a holiday helped me because I justified it like this:  I was doing this for Dennis.  See, Father's Day will come next month and I will want him to do something for himself.  I know if I do something for myself and link it to Mother's Day, he'll have less trouble allowing himself to splurge on whatever he wants for Father's Day.  How do I know this?  He's also an obliger.

And that's how I ended it up with a pair of shoes, jeans, a shirt, and a very forgiving dress.  That is a shopping spree for me, seriously.  I feel good about it.  This buying is linked to goals-less stuff, less of a need to buy in the future-that I believe in, so I can see it through.  Plus, I bought a shirt I love for $5 so when my kids inevitably stain it with paint, puke, or grease, it's fine.  Okay, so I probably should have bought more than one of these shirts, but I'm an underbuyer.  When the shirt literally has holes in it, I'll go back for more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trying New Things: The Book List

I used to work part-time at a library, and one of my favorite parts of the job was spending time with the books.  As I shelved items, I would lovingly caress the spines of all the books containing stories and characters, words to provoke thought or action.  Many times I would end up checking out as many books as I shelved, and I found that my time at the library helped me read outside my comfort zone.  I would grab any book that called to me from the shelves knowing it would be easy to return if it didn’t end up drawing me in.

Now that I no longer work at the library, I can easily fall into a book rut.  I grab my type, generally realistic fiction or memoirs or books by the likes of David Platt, Sarah Bessey, Jen Hatmaker which are non-fiction Christian journey type of books, and that’s about that.  I don’t expand; it’s not an intentional decision.  Without my beloved shelves to roam, I fall into form. 

Fortunately, I fell into the equivalent of a library full of stacks holding a variety of books from every genre:  the Top 50 Bookpages Lists for 2014.  I grab Bookpages magazines at the library every month, and at the end of last year, I hit a gold mine.  I’m now reading my way through the 50 books on this list, and I hope to finish them by the end of December.  One problem that may thwart my goal is that I also read other books that grab my attention through the internet or word of mouth, so I’m reading these 50 plus whatever I grab. 

You can find this list online as well.  I am going to track what I’m reading and possibly book review my favorites on occasion.  Here’s what I’ve read so far.  The * denotes a book that was not on the list. 

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
The Rosie Project* by Graeme Simsion
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Unbroken* by Laura Hillenbrand
All the Lights We Cannot See* by Anthony Doerr

The Invention of Wings by Susan Monk Kidd
Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
The Girl on the Train* by Paula Hawkins
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Rosie Effect* by Graeme Simsion
We Were Liars* by E. Lockhart
What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Us by David Nicholls
The Forgetting Place* by John Burley
In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
Better Than Before* by Gretchin Rubin

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

This is what I'm attempting for May:

Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn
Before I Go* by Colleen Oakley
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Continuing to read different types of literature seems like a good long term thing to try.  Station Eleven, a sci-fi post apocalypse story, has been my favorite so far, and I would have NEVER grabbed that one on my own.  I'll let you know how I feel about the book about a woman who works in a morgue.  Also COMPLETELY not my usual type.

I'd love to get any book recommendations any readers would like to pass along.  I'm faithful to my list, but I can't help it if my eye wonders on occasion.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Trying to Ace the Test

In August of 2013 we decided to have Sammy tested for the Celiac genes.  D had been helping out in his Sunday School class to make sure he didn’t get cross-contaminated, but we didn’t know if it was for sure necessary.  Yes, Sammy had been exposed to gluten his first six-months of life via my breast milk before we knew about D and Wren’s Celiac.  Yes, he had experienced a “trigger event”, pneumonia at the age of 10 days.  The only thing we didn’t know for sure was if he had the genes.  Without the Celiac genes, the chance of developing Celiac is less than 3%.  We knew Sam needed more autonomy.  We wanted to give it to him, but if he had Celiac or a strong likelihood of developing it and gluten crumbs mattered, then we’d have to stick to him like glue, same as we did with Wren until she was almost four. 

The blood draw was hard on Sam, though he was a trooper the whole way through it.  Sammy has thick blood, and it took stabbing him in the veins of both arms to get the two vials of blood.  It took Sammy about five full minutes to fill up the vials once the needle found its way in.

After the 10 day waiting period was over, I called our pediatrician.  They were shocked not to have heard back from the lab yet.  When they did reach the lab, we didn’t get the news we expected:  the lab had thrown Sam’s blood away.  The lab had changed their coding for Celiac genotype testing and didn’t inform our pediatrician.  When the lab saw the incorrect codes, they didn’t ask questions, they just threw all the blood away without testing it. 

I called the lab; that did not go well.  I cried and vented to D and we prayed about what to do next.  Should we put Sammy through it all over again?  Should we wait until a later date?  What?

We decided we needed to know, and I took him back in to start the whole process over in September.
Again, both arms punctured, three vials of blood this time, and probably no less than eight minutes to get it all out.  Sammy thanked the nurses after he was finished, and both of them teared up.

I honestly thought the same thing would happen again.  I didn’t hold out hope for an answer.  But a week later I received a call from the doctor, and this is what happened next:
This sign is not completely accurate.  Technically, Sam has about a 3% chance of developing it.
Still, we're pretty stoked it's not likely!  Oh, and Wren just wanted to be in the picture.  She has a
100% chance of having Celiac!

We were shocked, to say the least.  Sammy did not respond well to gluten in my breast milk, and we figured out he had a dairy allergy at a very young age.  But there it was, evidence that even if he had a gluten intolerance, he did not have a very high chance of developing Celiac.  The genes weren't there.  We were relieved, so naturally we told no one.

For a while we just wanted to bask in this amazing news without the inevitable questions:  Will you let Sammy eat gluten?  No.  Do you think he’ll grow to resent you for it?  Don’t know.  We also didn’t want Sammy to become the gluten garbage disposal where all the well-meaning people in our lives dropped the food they had always dreamed of cooking for the grandkids but had been forbidden. 

Our home is D and Wren’s safe place; we’re keeping it gluten-free.  And I see no reason to feed any of our kids gluten when there’s no need for it and they’re happy without it.  When Sammy is an adult, armed with his genetic results, he can decide on his own.

What is awesome is that dealing with cross-contamination is not an issue with Sam.  He doesn’t eat gluten, but if he were subjected to crumbs it wouldn’t be a game changer.  Not having to deal with cross-contamination with Sammy proved what D and I had already sort of guessed:  avoiding cross-contamination is harder than living on a gluten-free diet, especially when you’re dealing with kids. 

If you or someone you know wants to get gene tested, here’s what I recommend:

1.       Call your doctor and find out what lab they use.  Try to get the codes for the test.

2.      Call your insurance company and find out if they cover gene testing.  You may have to give them the codes to make sure they cover the specific test you need.

3.       Schedule your appointment.

We'll be doing this with the twins next month.  We're praying for no DQ2 or DQ8 genes.  

You may be asking yourself, why didn't they just test him for Celiac?  Why the gene test?  Well, Sammy had only ever had gluten through my breast milk.  By the time he was eating baby food, we knew Wren had Celiac and so no one in our family ate gluten from that point on.  Sammy didn't have enough gluten in his system to come back positive for Celiac, even if he had it.  Gene testing, we felt, was easier than subjecting him to gluten, possibly triggering Celiac.  

Questions about Celiac testing?  Try me.  If I don't have the answer, I can probably point you to someone who does.

Happy Month of May, the month to get Celiac Aware.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Surprise Food

All four of my kids are happy to bring their own snacks to events or classes they attend.  Routine seems to be the key.  They know other people will have animal crackers or goldfish crackers or something similar and they will have the snack they chose, usually a Larabar or fruit.  Due to how easy it’s always been to just throw them in a room with their own snacks and not worry, I was shocked when we came across an issue that has been a huge stumbling block for Wren:  surprise food.

Definition of Surprise Food:  Food that is offered at an event that comes as a surprise; food not expected; food offered as a reward; food that surprises us because we can’t eat it.

Surprise food has not been a problem in the way I thought it would be.  My kids do not try to eat food given to them by another adult because they know not to.  It’s the emotional impact that has been rough.  After attending a class where food was given for those who answered the right questions (think candy that, even if it was gluten and dairy free, Wren’s body couldn’t process) Wren came out of the door, waited until it was closed behind her and then crumbled to the floor in tears.

“I will never be special because I answered all the questions right but I still couldn’t eat the food, and the food was for special people who knew the answers.  I can never eat that food, so I can never be special.”

All of us cried all the way home.

Here’s my advice about surprise food:  try to anticipate as much as you can so you can be ready with alternatives; know you’re not always going to be ready, hence the reason it is surprise food.

Look, before I lived in a family of people with food issues, it never would have occurred to me not to do what so many people have done, which is offer food as a reward or add extra food to an event.  People fellowship over food; food is yummy.  Kids can’t talk as much when they’re chewing, so that’s nice.   There are tons of problems with the food-as-reward-or-pacifier approach, but as a parent, I can’t fix them all.  I have to deal with my own issues, which usually involve telling my kids to perform a task and then offering a Larabar when the task is done so they gripe about the task they don’t want to do less.  I’m not bribing them with hard core sugar, but we all have our problems.

We’ve started trying to offer surprise food alternatives.  Once we know someone is prone to offer surprise food, we will send a box or baggy of extra approved food for Wren, just in case.  She only gets that food if other kids have received some sort of extra above and beyond snack.  Her surprise food may not look exactly the same as the other kids since we’re never sure what will be served, but it’s something, and it’s worked so far.  Wren said she wants to be a person who teaches people about Celiac and helps them.  When I asked how she would do that she said, “I’d tell them they can’t eat everything everyone else can, but that’s okay because their mom will make them something else.”  We do try to be on top of making her an alternative because the last thing I want is for her to feel so isolated or grow so resentful that she decides to just risk her health and eat whatever to fit in.  I don’t think she’d ever do that, and I’d know if she did because of how sick she would be, but I don’t even want her to be tempted.

We also try to use surprise food experiences as teachable moments.  We remind her that this is how it is, and it’s okay.  It’s okay to be disappointed, it’s okay to feel a little left out, it’s okay to be sad and angry.  However, we remind her how good she feels when she takes care of her body; we remind her of all the foods she can have.; we remind her that none of us eat those surprise foods either and that there are many people who can’t.  Mostly we remind her that we’re not defined by what we can or cannot eat; we’re defined as children of God, followers of Christ.

Wren asked the other day if we thought there would be food in Heaven.  D said he thought there would be tons and it would all taste perfect.  Wren looked at us with doubt in her face and asked, “Do you think I’ll be able to eat any of it?”

We told her we thought Heaven would be a food-for-everyone kind of place.  She was pretty happy about that.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Problem with Trending

May is Celiac Awareness Month, and though I’d venture to say people with Celiac are aware of it all the time, it’s important for others to know what Celiac is and if they need to be tested.  Five years ago, I did not know what Celiac was.  I didn’t really know what gluten was.  We got a super-fast education.

What I notice now is pretty much EVERYONE knows what gluten is, or they know the term gluten-free.  Back in 2011, I called my general care practitioner after D was diagnosed to ask if she was familiar with Celiac disease.  Her nurse responded, “Is that, like, a disease you get from cats?”  Not joking.  I did not feel reassured. 

There are tons of benefits to suddenly being the hot thing in town, as gluten-free is at the moment.  The FDA has put out measurable limits and guidelines for what counts as gluten-free (they haven’t bothered to actually measure or due diligence to find out if anyone is following them, but for the FDA, this is progress, sadly).   Tons of foods are catered to the gluten-free crowd.  Gluten free mac n cheese?  Yes!  Gluten free Oreo-looking cookies?  Oh yeah!  Gluten free soap?  What?  Yes, it’s happened.

But with all this attention and all these products, the inevitable backslash has come.  My friend relayed a story of how she knew someone who was indignant about gluten-free soap.  “Hasn’t this gone a bit far?”  she griped.  To this woman I say come talk to me when your three year-old with Celiac swallows bath water with soap in it.  We need that soap. 

And that’s not all.  As people who do not have Celiac go gluten-free, suddenly all of us gluten-free eaters are “trendy” and therefore worthy of being made fun of.  My whole family has dealt with the comments at some point, even though gluten can actually kill people in our home.  Trending is apparently the ultimate sin, as opposed to say ignoring your child’s dietary needs so they won’t be made fun of for following the latest trend. 

Honestly, I’m not sure why gluten eaters care what gluten-free eaters eat, or why they eat it for that matter.  Some people are gluten-free because they have Celiac; some are gluten-free due to gluten intolerance or because they have health issues that are made worse by gluten.  And some people, yes, are just jumping on the bandwagon hoping to lose weight or just look cool (better check the fat content on those GF Oreos.  GF processed food don’t play in the fat department.)

My question is why is this a thing?  In a country where the acronym for the Standard American Diet is SAD, what does it matter if people decide not to follow it?  Not knowing anyone’s situation, it’s okay to refrain from the eye rolling when viewing a grocery cart full of only gluten-free food or when hearing someone put in an order at a restaurant for gluten-free.  I have seen the people behind me in line seethe as I’ve asked a server to change their gloves before touching our gluten-free food.  Those people don’t know.  They hear gluten-free and assume that’s code for difficult, therefore making my child who has no choice in this feel like every time she advocates for her health she’s being a diva.  On the upside, there ARE actually places we can eat out safely now.  Being popular is hard.

I would say the most important issue is this:  don’t let the trending hate keep you from getting tested for Celiac.  I’m not sure if all the attention towards gluten-free is helping or hurting the effort to actually get people properly diagnosed, but I hope it’s helping.  People eat gluten-free for many reasons, and Celiac disease is one of them.  Food is the cause and the cure for Celiac sufferers. 

Throughout this month I am going to attempt to write and post about Celiac related issues.  I’ve never been in the trendy category before, so I’m going to strike while the iron is hot.  Happy Celiac Awareness Month!