Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

This year with Hubby's work schedule, we didn't get the fake tree down from the attic, or the decorations. I could give you the long explanation but I am not going to do that.

Plus we were afraid the cats would wreck the ornaments.

So the other day we cut down this little pine tree - since we live in a forest it's not a big deal. This was not a tree farm tree. It is tall and spindle-y and looks like a gawky teenage version of Charlie Browns tree.

The ornaments were all handmade out of construction paper by my children the day we put up the tree - except for the small stuffed animals.

It is one of the ugliest Christmas trees in my life.

But it is also one of the most beautiful trees in my life.

My husband and I did not have any part in decorating the tree other than putting it in a stand and putting a string of lights up it.

Our children made the decorations and put them on the tree.

One of the "ornaments" is a paper mache bowl made by Junior and is turned upside-down representing the stone in front of the tomb.

There is a cross made of construction paper that represents the cross and another that represents the star.

There is a paper chain that represents nothing but there are paper rings that represent Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the girl raised from the dead and the blind man and the man with leprosy.

I heard my children discussing that a birthday is wonderful but Jesus would have been just another baby if it wasn't for what he did on the cross for us.

That is what makes this tree my favorite.

Wishing you and all of your family a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I am so furious

Ok, I am going to be honest - being gluten-free is an absolute pain. Life was so much easier when we didn't have to be careful of ingredients. Our culture almost revolves around food, especially in the holiday season.

So I was so excited that the 4-H Food Challenge entry form had a spot where they asked about allergies. Finally something that my daughter could participate in without fear.

The food challenge is inspired (I think) by Iron Chef - or very loosely at least. Teams of 3-5 kids are given a recipe card with ingredients but no directions and they are supposed to figure out what to make with it. For a practice challenge the ingredients were 1 can chicken, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/4 cup grapes, 1/2 cup mayo, 12 crackers (I am guessing on the amounts, I didn't see the cards). The kids figured out that it was chicken salad and so they made it and then were supposed to tell the nutritional benefits (the chicken has protein and that helps build muscles) and a cost per serving analysis. I am not sure quite what the response would have been if the kids guessed it was chicken soup and tried to make it soupy.

The dishes the kids make could be a salad, a dip, a salsa, a wrap or a (cold)soup. Mainly there are no electrical tools (the contest actually calls for a hot plate but the venue is afraid the kids will burn the building down) and blenders turned out to not be an incredible safe option.

So anyway, I was excited for Daisy that she would have a contest that she could completely participate in without fear.

Until today.

The local 4-H extension agent called to ask how severe her allergy was - could she touch it and not get sick? Well, yes. Since she didn't have a contact allergy then it wasn't going to be a problem.

So after the call ended, I felt a little stunned. No, a lot stunned. In a contest where they asked about food allergies, it didn't matter that I put something down. I pictured her once again making something and not being able to eat it.

It isn't often that my inner Mama bear wakes up but it did today.

I called back and left a voicemail saying how upset I was that after asking about allergies, they were going to ignore the information. She misses participating fully in things because of this and once again she is going to be left out.

Their response? The kids aren't "supposed" to eat their dishes so any allergy that requires ingesting isn't a big deal.

Ok, the food at the Food and Nutrition contest isn't supposed to be eaten either but everybody snacks on that - including the extension agents. And seriously do you never sneak a taste while cooking? It is a habit with me - I taste to see if I need more seasoning or if it needs something to perk it up or whatever.

Oh, and the allergy thing was only for the district level. Of course this is a district contest but so what.

And again, they aren't supposed to eat it.

Upset, I sent an email to the person in charge of the whole state food challenge asking why the question was included if the allergy would be ignored. I also called our club manager and since she is also gluten intolerant and suspects Celiac she is not happy either.

Then tonight I a reading the info that Daisy is supposed to learn for this and getting aggravated all over again.

It had information that was out of date Doctors recommend a lot fat diet for health (not anymore) or just plain wrong the only health problems strongly linked to sugar is cavities (honestly I am not even going to provide a link for this one because I don't think you live under a rock).

If you have done any gluten free baking, here are some funny ones: corn flour can substitute cup for cup with all purpose flour. Or you can use 1/2 rye flour plus 1/2 of potato flour (not potato starch) to make a cup of flour. I don't know that I have ever had anything with rye (other than a rye bread which only has some rye) but I have worked with potato flour and there is no way I would use that much potato flour with anything else. This is for a "wheat allergy" in all fairness, not a gluten intolerance.

Sadly, this was revised in 2008.

Ironically enough, the article is supposed to teach kids how to do substitutions for better health yet very little is said about allergies. In fact the only mention of allergies was a chart showing non-wheat flour substitutions for a wheat allergy. I guess that explains the reluctance on our extension agents part to allow for a food allergy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are we truly more advanced?

Something the I have been pondering: are we truly more advanced than our great-grandparents generation? We have all these gadgets and tools and can know instantly what is going on across the world but we have lost the ability to find out for ourselves.

Instead of reading the Bible to find out what God says, we pick up the latest how-to-be-a-better-christian book. Or go to the ladies bible study at church. Or wait for the pastor to impart a bit of the Bible so that I have a little to get me through the week.

Our great-grandparents used to be able look at the sky and tell if rain was coming in the next few days or look at nature and tell it was going to be a harder winter. We look up today's weather on the tv or our phone but since we have heating and air conditioning we don't really care too much.

The biggest tragedy is that we don't listen to our bodies. We don't know when we are hungry or when we are full - eating and overeating by the clock. We depend on scientists and doctors to tell us what to eat - low fat, low carb, no carb etc. - and we are getting more and more overweight.

We need to start listening to our bodies, and truthfully what my body tells me may not be what your body tells you. I am learning to listen to my body when I decide what to eat and how much and I am feeling much better for it.

What has my body been telling me? I will share that in the coming ups posts. Sometimes new ideas, like food, need to be in small amounts so that they can be fully digested.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why cats do not make good road trip companions

In May my children asked if we could adopt 2 tiny, cute kittens. The answer that came out of my mouth sounded like "yes" although surely it wasn't. Surely I said no.

Junior chose a beautiful calico who he named Madam Moonshine. That is a result of the Hank the Cowdog books, Madam Moonshine is an owl in the series.

I know, I don't understand either why he named his cat after an owl other than he likes the name better than "Mary D Cat".

Madam Moonshine is the more adventurous and playful of the two. She rarely wants to be held and loves to look out the car window.

Daisy wanted this beautiful grey tiger that she named Socks and he turned out to be the sweetest and laziest cat ever. He is also the most laidback cat I have ever seen, we have held him upside down and he just looks around as if he were thinking "this is a different view."

But if you put him in the car, he hates it. HATES it. To go to my family it is about a 5 or 6 hour drive (that does include stops but it is at least 4 1/2 without stops). His first trip he cried the entire way there. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. and then he cried all the way back except for the last hour because he was so exhausted.

So for Thanksgiving, I thought I would make the trip easier on him (and us) and give him a benedryl. It worked beautifully until it started wearing off and he began to throw up.

Riding in the car with a vomiting cat is not my idea of fun.

While we were at my family's we took Madam Moonshine to get her fixed and mentioned the whining brother. So the vet was nice enough to give us a sedative to give him to make the trip easier.

He was to take 1/2 a pill 30 minutes before the trip. Since the last time he had gotten a pill, he had gotten sick, he was less than thrilled at the idea of another pill. In fact the lazy cat who normally doesn't fight anything because it is too much effort, fought me about that pill.

So we get in the car and he starts up. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.




Thirty minutes later: Meow.



An hour later: Meow.



So we discuss whether or not he had actually gotten the medicine. Meow. And we discuss whether he needs more. Meow. And it is decided that another 1/4 wouldn't be a bad idea. Meow. Meow.

Except now he really doesn't want the drugs but he swallows it at we wait for quiet. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.



Again it is discussed whether or not he actually swallowed the stupid pill. Meow. And we don't feel comfortable giving him anything else. Meow. So we just listen to hours more whining. Meow.

We finally get home, unload the car and the cats and about a hour later sit down to relax. Socks jumps up onto the back of the chair glad to be at home and goes to sleep. And then he falls off. And doesn't get up. Daisy asked if he was breathing and was relieved to find out that yes he is breathing but he does seem to be . . . drugged.

He slept for an hour, then went to his water bowl for a drink and either fell in or laid in the water bowl. He was soaked. He went back to sleep, woke up again and again got soaked drinking some water. The next day, he still looked groggy.

We did find out that the drug only works before there is an adrenalin surge so if he had gotten the meds before he got worked up, it would have done it's job. Probably.