Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July

July always proves to be a reflective time.

I lost a child (many years ago) in July. My mom had a birthday, died and was buried in July. We moved in July. And even this year, a gluten-free order brought another permanent change.

July.

I hardly saw it this year--my face was in books for weeks.

I did snag a few pictures recently.




  • Garden tomato, impatiens, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers in a vase; 
  • Erin, with a frog, with her dad, how gorgeous the pool area looked after Shane worked in it; 
  • more Susans, eggs for baking day, a first batch of cookies, out of the oven; 
  • light on the floor while Erin writes a story, Erin at the pool, Lanie at the pool, Lanie with the 17-yr-old cat.  

I never imagined cookies would dominate my thoughts so much.

August: go slow. And save me a seat under the walnut tree.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twenty-five percent

At the time we moved, I'd lived a quarter of my years in that house in the field.

ten years
Ten years. It didn't seem like it was that significant--that amount of time--maybe because it went so fast. And yet when I considered it in the scope of my entire life at the time, it was twenty-five percent. And that was a good (substantial) slice of pie.

If Erin brings up the other place, it's mostly to say that she misses being able to watch TV from the kitchen. I suspect Lanie would lament over a (former) prettier room and a bigger closet. Shane would laugh that he thought that yard was work--until he got here. I'd laugh at that too. I never had anything to do with the yard outside of my 8x8 herb and veggie garden. Now I'm sporting yard arms and a do rag.
transformation
We are wrapping up our fourth year here. Half of Erin's life, here. A third of Lanie's life, here. Sometimes I wonder why there would seem like such a fracture in my life--field life before, woods life after. Maybe because it was ten years. Maybe because the experiences are so vastly different. Maybe because it was a faith walk I thought would/should be joyful and turned out to be difficult. Fractured--and even though healed, not the same. And I'm glad.

this past year

Shane cut around the pool and did the edging last weekend. I was so grateful. I spent all of Saturday cutting the field and front/back yards, weeding the house/walkway gardens. I haven't even touched the big front garden. I usually get into it about half, and then get pulled away. So now one side has some touching up to do, and the other side scares me.

The breeze was wonderful in the shade. The kids were yelling "Cannon--" and jumping into the pool with big splashes. Over and over. A summer song.


"I think I will always say it: I love it here," I told him. "I think I will always love it here. Even if you don't love it as much as I do."

We talked about all the places we'd like to live (mountains, lake, farm)--wishing that there was time and energy to do it all.

(I worked with a guy named Bill a long time ago. We were still in our twenties. He was telling me about his five-year plan. But it didn't happen. He didn't live to see thirty.)

(Four years ago, David was directing our yard's landscaping makeover. Last week he was here using a cane for support. He can no longer drive a car. He turns eighty-one on Saturday.)

(Linda just retired this year. We hear of her plans, of the things that bring her joy and how she wants to spend her time.)

We talked about who we want to be. What would people remember us for (were we kind? were we generous? were we forgiving?), and what kind of contributions were we making into the lives of others (did we reach out? did we show up? did we include?)? How many opportunities does God give us to affect the quality or course of another--and what do we do with those opportunities?

Already passed the halfway mark of my lifetime, though I don't know how far past. What will I make of the remaining piece?

Reading with Erin last night, this from Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer by Janet and Geoff Benge. "Missionaries constantly face expendability. And people who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives. They forget that when their lives are spent and the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted."

While I probably won't get to experience many of the things I'd like, I want to fully experience the life and relationships (this race marked out) in front of me.

This Friday--a table for sixteen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

And still counting (7273-7290)

friends at the table this week
sunny skies
pool splashes

cucumbers from our garden
zucchinis too
sweet potato fries
and that she liked them!
a loaf of bread at the table

and one in the freezer
kids with a hose washing a bike down
their laughter that squeals and shrieks, ringing loud and free
homemade cookies so good we ate the rest
my dad's voice

sunflowers in a vase
a night out for the girls with friends
a night out to Lowe's with my man
white paint
camera 2

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The story

This is the story of the day I ruthlessly scrutinized my grocery list and decided it would be in our best interest to shop at four different stores to scoop up the very best deals. (Yesterday.)

This is the story of how I was going to throw together a quick (corn) pasta with meat sauce for dinner. I considered splurging and trying out a loaf of gluten-free Italian-style bread (a third the size of its wheaty counterpart), and then changed my mind when I saw the cost. Who needs garlic bread with pasta anyway?

This is the story of how a friend came over to coach me on gluten-free living and baking and challenges and solutions. Just as she was leaving, a package arrived. She stayed while I opened it. Inside? Gluten-free muffins! Gluten-free cookies! Gluten-free breads!

Whoa, whoa!

"I have the BEST HUSBAND EVER!" I said. Seriously, my guy was going to hear it. I opened a package of bread and cut a piece into quarters to share between my friend and the girls.

It. Was. So. Good.

The first bread we'd had in over two weeks.

The kids wanted to try a muffin and cookie too, so I let them have some of each.

When Shane came home, I stood outside with a grin a mile wide.

"I got that package you sent," I said. "You are the BEST EVER!"

"I didn't send you a package," he said.

"Huh? You asked me the other day if I got a package in the mail? I thought you had something coming for us." I couldn't figure it out.

"I didn't send it. Connie did," he said.

I HAVE THE BEST SISTER-IN-LAW EVER!

our thank-you selfie to her

This is the story of how we ended up having garlic bread with pasta after all.

I chopped up some garlic and melted butter and we put it on one of the loaves of bread--and it was a delightful feast.

My in-laws are pretty special people. I'm so glad to be part of this family.

Shazam!


The end.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The first batch

We got a package of Better Batter to try out. I made a pizza on Sunday. Yesterday, we went for chocolate chip cookies. Erin wanted to help.

The recipe only called for one stick of butter, and similar amounts of remaining ingredients like in our former go-to cookie. After adding in all the ingredients and mixing, the dough had a slight elastic quality to it. The kids licked the mixers and said it tasted the same.

My mom's wheat-themed mixing bowl


Better Batter in a glass jar. Heart.


Each pan of cookies required a flash freeze and then bake off. When I pulled the first pan out from bake off, it looked underbaked and unattractively doughy. I let it set for ten minutes before removing them from the pan. That's when the magic happened.

They deflated and morphed into a regular-like cookie. And after waiting ten minutes as this happened, they were the perfect just-out-of-the-oven temperature. The chocolate flavor shined through.

Happy dance!

Also known as lunch.

I texted a gf friend we were making cookies.

"Save me one!" she replied.

"They're ready when you are!"

We gifted a bundle to a neighbor. We had some at dessert. (Yeah, ok, I basically ate four for lunch too).

Success.

Relief.

And then, as I put them on a plate, I realized we never had a cookie jar. I've always frozen our cookies. But these have such a delightful soft-baked quality, I wanted to leave them out. For whatever reason, at Zulily that afternoon, I found the cookie canister I missed out on over the weekend. And a cute shirt, which I scooped up immediately at Lanie's encouragement (it's a "Life is good." shirt with a rolling pin on it and the words "flour power." Sometimes things seem meant to be.)

Two weeks ago yesterday, we got the diagnosis ... sat at the table during a power outage with a sorry spaghetti squash ... uneasy sleep because the next day, you know, breakfast ... and I was in a distracted fog as I tried to figure out next steps. Two weeks later, I'm wowed (wow, wow!) by the support of friends and family, have read a summer-full of celiac and gluten-free books, shopped, planned, joined groups, pinned recipes and information, and now am in the experimenting stages as I relearn baking. My kids are eager helpers, and tasters.

Life IS good.

#flourpower

***

No affiliate links or paid endorsement. But you can check out the cookies we made at this fabulous blog--a true lifesaver. I bought 3 of her 4 books the day we were diagnosed. And as for summer reading, here you go:

What Nurses Know ... Gluten-free lifestyle by Sylvia Llewelyn Bower
Celiac Disease, A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H. R. Green and Rory Jones*
Jennifer's Way by Jennifer Esposito
Mayo Clinic Going Gluten-free by Joseph Murrary
Eating Gluten-free with Emily by Bonnie Kruszka
Gluten-free Kids by Danna Korn
Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong
The Paleo Approach Cookbook by Sarah Ballantyne
Gluten-free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn*
Gluten-free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy by Nicole Hunn*
Gluten-free Classic Snacks by Nicole Hunn*

*favorites

Monday, July 20, 2015

And still counting (7239-7272)

When we first got the diagnosis, my friend Lisa texted me, "Listen, the verses that talk about not worrying about what we eat, etc. apply here to (this situation) too. It's a learning curve and very stressful I know but God is going to direct your steps and He cares so much about (her) health and well being."


Thankful for

the incredible outpouring of love and support from friends and family
bags of gluten free food gifted to us over and over and over to restore a pantry

encouragement from friends to keep doing what God has made me to do
a lighter (summer) co-op reading load, thanks Nicole!, so I can focus on getting this house up and running
advice from gf friends on flour, storage, etc.
good deals on glass containers
a quick hello to Alex G. while she was in town

Lisa's kids at our pool, splashing the day away
free rocks from Linda
and a sunny sunflower towel and oven mitt set too
links and love from Connie
zucchinis from my very own garden

and cucumbers too
time to read all the library books I got on celiac disease and gluten free
Sandy
Ivette
Denise

Karen So
the woody smell of pine
frogs in the pool
a colander
a cozy mat for the dog

provision
plans on the calendar for my girl, good summer memories to make up for lost time
really good apples
a 5 pound bag of flour blend
homemade pizza

David at the table
Linda on a Friday night
spackle on the pantry wall
sunny skies
family swim, all of us

answered prayer
how You made a way

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekend images

We needed this weekend. From Friday wine night, to a stormy Saturday, to a sunny Sunday, we needed this.

Linda at the table, and laughter. Denise at our doorstep bearing gluten-free goodies. David at our table for dinner, enjoying ice cream.



gluten-free cones

And a Sunday splash that became a family time--Shane didn't swim at all last year, but today he went in and the kids said it was the best day ever. It definitely felt like our first day of summer, after all the issues going on around here.
This smile.



Shane and Lanie were racing. He said she's fast like a fish.

And this smile.

I made my first homemade gluten-free pizza. I learned a lot in the process--like prepping the dough a different day and letting it hang out in the fridge for a while, and certainly doubling the recipe. (The recipe didn't go as far as we hoped, and I tried to rush it a little. It might have spread out better if I'd had a rolling pin--my former rolling pin is in a gluten-quarantine. I have a new one on the way. I got a French rolling pin. It's the little things, people. And, you know, kitchen things. Anyway, the pizza was tasty. Reminded me of the crusts I used to make before I started sticking ingredients in the bread machine for a dough cycle.)

Shane patched some holes from where a shelving piece was, and I'll be sanding and painting the pantry for its gluten-free makeover. I'll be so glad to do that project, and even happier when it's finished.

Tomorrow I'll bake cookies with the kids as we test out this new flour blend.

I'm so thankful for what really felt like a restful weekend, the first restful weekend of the entire summer so far--and today, what felt like a vacation day for us all.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ask

I was sitting at the table with Linda tonight. (She's awesome. She got as excited about glass gasket mason jars as I did.) We were talking about things, this and that, over wine. My girl walked in.

"Mom?" she asked. "Will you still eat gluten-free when I move out?"

Without hesitation, I said, "Of course! This house is gluten free. It's always going to be a safe place you can come to. And when you bring your family over for meals, you'll know it's safe."

She smiled.

She asks a lot of questions. There's still a lot of processing to do, for both of them.

(shop)

With all the researching of gluten-free pantries, it reminded me of the upside of rebuilding: shopping for pretty things.

(I remember one time a woman came over at our other house and I was getting something out of the pantry there, and she stood behind me and said, "You have all the labels facing out. I thought so." Lol. I never even paid attention to it. Truth is, Shane probably went behind me and did that. But now I do it on purpose, because it makes sense.)

I've been online looking for storage containers. But all I really need storage for is a variety of flours, rices, and nuts. Against Shane's judgment, I went for glass.

I couldn't help it. It's only for a few items: nuts, popcorn, and a couple of baking supplies. I loved the way the light reflected off the glass in all those Pinteresty pictures. And it wasn't photoshopped. It really does make everything look magical.

this little one is perfect for baking powder and baking soda

I went to Ikea for the best deal, because every other place seemed to want $30 for three pieces.

I did WAY better than that.

I came home and washed them up, hand dried them, and then filled them. GF baking soda. GF baking powder. Popcorn kernels. Sunflower seeds. Almonds. Walnuts. Even the dog treats got a lovely container of their own. I'm going to print off clear labels for tops and sides.

all great sizes

popcorn

dog treats
 
Since I'll likely be buying baking flours in bulk, I'll shell out the dollars over at King Arthur for their buckets, ranging from 5, 10, to 25 pound capacities. (Not a paid endorsement for anything and no affiliate links.)

I'm still looking for flour deals. The best I found so far was 25 lbs for $80 plus shipping for a flour blend. That was not a typo. Almond flour and coconut flour are more expensive in those quantities, but cheaper per pound in the long run.

What this means--if you get cookies or bread from me, I truly love you.

I love Ikea too.

I even got a new colander.

Love

It's so stinkin' cute

I have serious kitchen issues.

Williams-Sonoma has a similar effect on me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Order

Gluten-free. Several days straight of restless sleep. Third day of headache. Thirteen books on hold at the library (about Celiacs, gluten-free, kids and gluten-free, etc.). A Pinterest board that's 200 strong in a week. Gf food gifts from friends. Healthy dinners. Grace, poured out.

I met with a friend yesterday and told her how June was a multi-faceted strain on our family. And this past week? I had done nothing towards co-op because I was single-focused on home. So thankful for her grace and understanding as I work from, "What can we have for dinner?" to "What's for dinner?"

Price comparisons (gluten-free is EXPENSIVE). Bought a new baking and pizza pan. Cleaned up the bread machine and packed it away for the time being, along with some skillets and muffin tins. Ordered a digital scale.

I told (her), "I need to get this part of my life in order before the school year starts. I'm cramming to learn everything I can."

With yard (and its seasonal needs), home (cleaning, cooking, shopping), tutoring Lanie full time, tutoring Erin on off days, teaching Ancient Great Books, I don't have a lot of time to be figuring out what I'm doing in the kitchen. I want to have that worked out this month. And glad that my kids will be learning (as I learn too!) how to work with gluten-free products. Can't wait for a decent piece of bread. (Another friend has been gluten-free since 2009 and told me she gave up on bread because  the brands she'd tried weren't good. I told her if I get a good homemade loaf, I'll make some for her too.)


Armed with three cookbooks, a scale on the way, and Shane ordered me a 5lb bag of flour blend.



It's interesting how, overnight, we are in a whole new category. Excited for the new friendships and opportunities that grow from being gluten-free. (Already thinking of my first gluten-free cookie swap.) And thankful that Trader Joe's has gluten-free waffles for $1.99. Best score ever!

definitely a 2-cup kinda life right now

some of the books I picked up at the library

yay!

Monday, July 13, 2015

And still counting (7202-7238)

Sandy
Lori R.
Denise
Nora

Becky W
Becky P
Marshall's Mom
Christy
Karen So

Teena
a bag of GF treats for our cabinets
Miss Linda
chocolate ice cream
brownies for dessert

sunny skies
the kids swimming
frogs at the pool
cookbooks in the mail
support groups

Pinterest and all the gluten-free pins
gluten-free sections at the store
friends at the store
gluten-free ice cream cones
owls that entertain us in the evening

grass cut
a movie out with my kids
Kristine
church after a month
Casi hugging me when the doors opened

25 pounds of rice
a clean refrigerator
online resources to help us navigate Celiacs
the support of family and friends
that my dad called me

the diagnosis
for friends who mean well
pioneers in gluten-free living

Friday, July 10, 2015

GF recipes from my friend Lori

My friend Lori dealt with gluten issues years ago and was one of the first people I reached out to for help when we got the diagnosis. She is the one who told me about her favorite websites, resources, where to shop, and how to disassemble the kids' favorites and rebuild them.

She sent me these recipes to try.

Caramel Bars


1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
3/4 cup GF flour mix
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum [unless the flour already has it]
dash salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sweet coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x9 baking pan with Pam. Melt butter in saucepan [or microwave]. Stir in sugar, beaten egg. Measure flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt. Stir into mix. Add 1 tsp GF vanilla extract. Add coconut and nuts and stir to blend. Mixture will be thick. Spread with spatula into pan and bake for 30-35 min till top is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack. Cut into bars when cool.
 
 
 

Impossible Coconut Custard Pie


Preheat oven 350.
1/2 cup Bisquick [I use GF Bisquick of course]
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cup milk [I’ve tried coconut milk before too, worked ok]
1 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract [I sometimes use 1 tsp of vanilla and 1/2 tsp pure coconut extract]
 1/4 cup butter, softened

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT coconut in a blender. Cover and blend on low speed for 3 min. Pour into a buttered pie dish. Let stand for 5 min. Sprinkle coconut on top. I cover the top and don’t really worry about the amount that the recipe calls for anymore.

Bake for 40 min at 350 degrees. 

When the coconut is golden and sticking a knife in comes out clean it’s done! 
 

Cheesecake Cupcakes


I will give you the original recipe. I have adapted it over the years though. In parentheses I will put my amounts. It will make 18 cupcakes. The original recipe will make 28 cupcakes.
preheat oven 350

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese   (2 pkgs)
1 Cup sugar                                    (3/4 cup)
5 eggs                                           ( 4 eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract                ( 3/4 tsp)


This is for the middle of the cupcake after the first bake. I found there was way too much left over which is a waste so I found the perfect amount for my adaption.


8 oz sour cream                  (1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar                         (1/4 cup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract       (1/2 tsp)

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2) In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Stir in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla. Spoon into liners to fill about 3/4 full.
3) Bake for 30 min in preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5-10 min. They will sink in creating the cavity to put the filling in.
4) Make sour cream topping- whisk together, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spoon into the well of the cupcake.
5) Return to oven and bake for an additional 5-7 min, until set.
Cool on racks. Do not remove the cupcakes from the pan until completely cool.
For an additional touch- add a dollop of your favorite pie filling ( making sure it’s GF of course!)

The Bisquick settles to the bottom forming a ‘crust’. I find it tastes better after it’s cold.

Scope

I have a friend who did some food eliminations to figure out why their family was experiencing recurring health issues (tummy aches, infections, etc.). I thought at the time, that's a lot of work.

So for someone like me, who hates following directions and ambiguous searching, hearing our diagnosis was good. Because I had parameters and purpose. I knew what had to be done, why it had to be done, how it had to be done. No multi-step directions, just this: get rid of gluten.

Period.

It's not a fad diet for us. It's health for my children.

It's about gluten is a poison to my kid. It's about her wanting to live a long, healthy life. It's about knowing she has a place where she fits (with us!).

I know the eye-rollers. They are annoyed by our being homeschoolers, innies, Christians, and, now, gluten-free.

"Just buy some gluten-free pancake mix and get over it. What's the big deal?"

I know those people.

"So what that you can't run into (nearly any fast-food place). It's not like __________ (your kid has cancer or other horrible disease; you're a single parent; you're caring for a dying spouse; you don't have a job; you're about to lose your house)."

It's not about who has the worst story. (Of course, there are worse stories!)

It's about our story.

had not showered in two days, no make-up, ran into 2 friends from co-op looking like this; #notashamed

It's about packing up a kitchen; scrutinizing labels of new products every time; comforting a child because she can't have her favorite cereal EVER AGAIN; wincing as well-meaning friends bring candies and say, "Oh, you can't have this."; saying goodbye to favorites and knowing they're off limits--not even for just-a-bite.

It's about parties and sleepovers that look different because my kids can't have grilled cheese, pizza, or cake with everyone else; road trips that have to be researched for safe restaurants; worry over cross-contamination; being hungry at a snack-bar because there's nothing safe to eat and we didn't pack something; and people who don't want to be bothered with our difference because it's too much work.

It's about dealing with holiday parties and gatherings and notifying every parent the kids come in contact with that this is us and here's a special treat you can give them; always being the different one; people who don't understand and think you're weird or dramatic or making it up or part of a fad.

It's about a peripheral knowledge of cancer and infertility and miscarriage and other stuff too.

It's also about reinforcing a home's mantra of WELCOME-SAFE-LOVED-INCLUDED. About showing support when one of us is down. About being safe for food and comfort and not being excluded for being different, but embraced for being oneself.

Welcome. Safe. Loved. Included.

It's about pushing through obstacles until the obstacles don't seem so big, or we're stronger because of it. It's about navigating friendships and eye-rollers and losing friends who can't deal. It's about finding new recipes and relearning cooking with my kids and teaching them they can do this. It's about fighting for ourselves, even if we feel alone.

It's not about pancake mix.


It's not about who has the worst story.

It's just about this story, this family, this race.

For me this week, the gamut: gratitude, preoccupation, worry, researching, planning, overwhelm, cleaning, shopping, packing, friends, encouragement, kids' tears, questions, processing, prioritizing, cutting grass, laundry, showering, shopping, books in the mail, emails, texts, phone calls, forgetting, remembering, dog hair, annoyance, mosquito bites, coffee, falling asleep on the couch during Fixer Upper, new foods, meal planning, faith, sharpening pencils, grocery lists, growing peace, family, and, and, and.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Then sadness

I took the kids to see "Inside Out" the other day. Wow. Loved how sadness can enter our happy memories and yet not take away the happy parts.

I made plans for a friend's daughter to sleep over Tuesday night. Made the plans before we got the diagnosis, before I realized how unprepared we were, before we even had much time to process it (the diagnosis and lifestyle changes) and discuss it as a family. I thought it would be good for my girl to have her friend here, even though it was stressing me out because I had so much cramming to do to get ready.

It turned out to be a not great idea. I know her friend was trying to be helpful and compassionate, but the words all came out awkward and made my girl feel even worse--the frequent reminders of all the things she can't eat.

Once we dropped the friend home, I took the kids to the grocery store.

"Can we not walk past the bakery section anymore?" one asked.

Ok.

There's a gluten-free department, and I headed us there. Cereals, breads, pizzas, crackers, flours, even ice cream cones. I was so happy for their happy. We did our regular shop and then also got some pretzels, two boxes of cereal, a flour blend. (I'm headed to another store tonight that I hear has better prices. Didn't want to max out all in one place.) When Shane got home, we showed him the things we got, and I opened the gf pretzels for all of us to take one and try it.

I marked off stuff Shane can finish off

Yes, I really bought 25 pounds of rice.

"They're good! They taste regular!" one daughter exclaimed.

What a sigh of relief.

Later last night, a friend pulled up with a bag of gluten-free goodies: mac n cheese, cookie mix, brownie mix, pasta, crackers.

"I wanted to get stuff your kids would love," she said. "The brownie mix is our favorite."

Reggie had texted me on an unrelated matter, and I told her we were going gluten-free. She wrote me this: "Recovering from Losses in Life. The Celiacs is a loss you'll all have to mourn."

I was so grateful for that, because I imagined the thoughts of so many other people who would tell me that it was stupid to be sad because we can't have Grotto Pizza at the beach anymore. Or Wegman's cupcakes on half birthdays.

I sat with the kids, and at separate times they both told me the losses they felt, the anger and frustration at friends and the situation and what-ifs, the fear that nothing would ever taste good.

"But those cheesy crackers were pretty good," I reminded one. "And maybe we could try out the brownie mix when Miss Linda comes on Friday?" (Just like Joy trying not to give Sadness room at the control panel. I finally shut up and listened and hugged.)

Yeah, even though this is manageable, it's an adjustment. Even though we'll all be healthier for it, there's still some sadness at what we can't have. Moving was kind of like that for me too. Moving on because we'd all be healthier for it. And you know what? We are. And we will be through this too. Because even though we leave some things behind (like an amazing kitchen island or rotisserie chicken prepared at a store's workspace shared with wheat), we move on to new things (like freedom and flour blends). And while there are things we can't have (which imprison us if we look at them too long), there is still so much we can have (freeing! Hello, ice cream and Hershey chocolate almond bars).

This is hope. And there is freedom.

I went through our pantry and pulled all the products with wheat, barley and rye. I bagged up our flours and washed the containers. I purged near empty packages of croutons. I scrutinized every sauce, broth, soup, and seasoning packet. 

Emptied containers once held flour

Last night I went online and looked up Grotto Pizza. I looked at their menu. And-thank-you-God for the little things. They have gluten-free pizza. I couldn't wait to tell the kids this morning.

I made our go-to pancakes with a gluten-free flour substitution.



"They taste the same!" one exclaimed. They each had seconds.

Got a notice in my in-box that my cookbooks should arrive tomorrow.

Today: cutting the grass, reading with Erin, a swim, and just hanging out at home to be us. To regroup and reset.

Going to start a load of laundry, which seems so very the-same when our lives feel so very different.

On, on.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rally

When Linda called today to see how I was doing, I told her how these recent weeks have felt like waves knocking me down: the decision to pull Lanie from co-op, handling a bigfat Great Books class on top of schooling my kid and keeping up with the other, the house and yard stuff, then weeks of health/hospital/tests. Just when we thought we were in the clear, I picked up my trays of responsibility--and recall quite clearly saying, "Bring it."

I wasn't kidding. I knew the second wind would come and having a child's health thing removed from the load (so I thought at the time) made me stronger and more determined that I could do it all and paint a couple of rooms to boot. All that other stuff seemed like a cake walk.

Yeah, bring it.

So it surprised me that a Celiac diagnosis would knock me flat--mostly because I felt unprepared: I don't have a lot of gluten-free choices in the house, and when she asked what was for lunch, I think my mind went blank.

That kiddo ate a full pot of brown rice and some grilled chicken. As I was going to make dinner last night, the power went out and stayed out for six hours. Luckily, a spaghetti squash I had in the microwave was finished cooking, and so we picked our way through that.

I talked to a friend who walked me through my kids' favorite things to tell me about gluten-free options. She told me about her favorite websites. That BJs has gluten-free pizza packs (they have gf chicken nuggets too--and now so do we). I'm learning about flour blends. I ordered three new cookbooks.

David and Anita called last night--our surrogate grandparents. Immediately when they got the word Celiac, they researched and printed off information. They both, at separate times, promised me that their grandkids (my kids!) would always have gluten-free cookies waiting for them.

David said to me, "You're my daughter."

I never want to forget this.

I never want to forget how those who love us have rallied around us and cheered us on.

Just over 24 hours of a new normal, and even though my head is throbbing (probably from the interrupted sleep last night and preoccupation), and I'm trying to remain present while my mind is busy working out this puzzle--I'm so thankful.

So, Linda called today just to check on me.

"I don't know what's for dinner on Friday, but I'll make sure there's extra wine in case it doesn't turn out," I said. She laughed. She laughed at other things too, and was encouraging during my repeated refrains: I'll work it out.

"I know you will," she said.

Kind of regrouping as I stand back up from that punch, Celiac. I know there are worse things, and this is completely manageable. It causes me to look at my kitchen and food a lot differently--and that's fine. Once we adjust, it will be second nature.

Thank you to all: Nora, Lori R, the Beckys, Karen So, Teena, Lisa, Linda, Connie and Val, Marshall's Mom, David and Anita, Denise, Christy, Julie and Kellie. And if I failed to mention anyone else, my apologies--running on few consecutive hours of sleep. But thank you.

In the challenge

Recently I subscribed to some kind of 30-day challenge to eliminate something (I don't know if it was a paleo challenge or what) from my diet. I think I read maybe two days of the emails because I found myself in enough challenges already. But today, I just signed up (metaphorically) for a new one when a doctor called with test results--remember June and a sick kid?

So now I'm subscribing to everything gluten-free. It affects our family as a whole, because why would we single one person out? We're in this together.

So if you have any favorite gluten-free recipes, send them my way. Because right now I can't get my head out of hearting all the gf pancake recipes, and I know we'll have to sustain beyond that.

For our friends and relatives--sleepovers and cookouts will look a little different for us. Please try to understand if we bring a separate treat or food. We don't want to make things hard on you to have to figure out our diet. It is also not our intention to make you feel bad that we may not be able to eat what you fix/bring/offer.

We meet with the dietician later this month to find out what our pantry should look like, and in the meanwhile, I'm scouring pages and blogs for meal ideas and substitutes. Thankful to have a new direction and answers to a chronic problem; thankful that there are so many gf products in stores and more information available to help us make better choices; thankful for supportive friends and family who've already told me things like, "you're a good cook" and "you're a fast learner"; thankful that my child is aware of the need to change, and though it's meant giving up some real favorites, she doesn't want to jeopardize her health (she's a real fighter, that girl).

And now, the bananas that I was going to put into a banana chocolate chip bread will just have to make it to the freezer until I find a flour substitute to make a gluten-free version.

This adjustment might be a little tricky, and a little disappointing at times too, but seriously--when I think of what this (former) lifestyle would do to her future, I won't complain.


And still counting (7174-7201)

ten history chapters completed
the smell of cut grass

clean baseboards
her hand in mine on an evening walk
that girl
a kind specialist
anesthesia

blue freezie pops
her smile
lasagna gifted by a friend
a hot meal at my door
the texts and prayers of friends

how she prayed for the doctors four times a day
and that the doctor is a hugger
decorations made by the kids
and thank you notes to write and send
a hot cobbler

this burden, lifted
cards in the mail
a low-key fourth
a peanut butter cupcake from Wegmans
books by Erin and Lanie

a shop set up at the door
owls swooping in the yard at dusk
Denise
a sunny Sunday
weeds to pull

that man of mine

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ring

So grateful for friends who offer chocolate, meals and prayer--who wipe my brow and push me back into the ring.