Thursday, October 25, 2012


I remember watching When Harry Met Sally and being horrified at one scene. Absolutely horrified.

No, not that scene. This one.

I decided that I was not going to be high-maintenance. Ever.

Or at least not on a regular basis.

But now I am! And I hate it.

This is the way I have to order at our favorite Mexican restaurant: "I would like the Juarez Combo but I want the chicken taco to be in a soft corn tortilla, I want the cheese enchilada to be a chicken enchilada with no sauce, I want the tostada to not have any meat sauce or cheese and the beans to have no cheese on them."

The only thing on my plate that is not changed is the rice.

Needless to say, we are pretty memorable to the waitstaff which is why we try to get our usual waiter (honestly, if our usual waiter isn't there, I get fajitas because the only thing to change then is the tortillas).

Lest you think I only inconvenience others, I have to confess that I also have had to go shampoo free.

No, I do wash my hair but it is with either castille soap or homemade shampoo (made with castille soap). I would much rather that my hair smell of vanilla or flowers but I get tea tree oil or peppermint. sigh.

For the past several years (10 or more) I have had to use dandruff shampoo in the winter because my scalp would get dry and itchy. In the summer I could use whichever one I liked without a problem, but each winter it was back to dandruff shampoos.

A little over a year ago, my scalp problems got much worse. Last winter I tried every medicated shampoo I could find and I still had raw spots on my scalp.

Raw spots from scratching.

I have colored my hair since I was 13 (only about 2 years total since that I have been my "natural" color). Coloring my hair was horribly painful but it did seem to help my scalp be less itchy.

Seriously, the horrible chemicals in hair color solution would improve my scalp.

Last January, I realized that part of it is gluten-related. I am not sure if going to Burger King and having a burger and onion rings would cause my scalp to break out - mostly because I don't want to deal with all the other side effects to just test it out. Each time I spend about a week eating out of kitchens that are not gluten-free, my scalp breaks out. It did seem to heal faster with the castille soap, so I kept using it.

Even though it stinks.

To add to the fun, I learned that with hard water, castille soap can cause a build up that makes the hair look oily.

The same day it is washed.

The treatment for that is simple, just a vinegar rinse.

So tea-tree oil castille soap (which stinks) followed by vinegar (which also stinks).

My wet hair does not smell lovely. Or floral. Or appealing.

While I do use apple cider vinegar, which does smell better than distilled white vinegar, it still stinks.

This week I decided to see if I could use normal shampoo (because I wanted to see if I might could do pretty smelling hair.

The first time went well, no problems. My hair felt wonderful.

So I tried it again. Everything seemed fine until about 3 hours after washing my hair when I realized my scalp felt somewhat painful. I couldn't figure out why but it just kept getting more and more painful as I thought about it. Then I remembered the shampoo. By the time I got to the shower, I couldn't wait for the water to get hot.

Luckily, washing off the remaining shampoo seemed to mostly do the job.


It is still a little tender.

So now I can make Sally Albright look low-maintenance.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

4-H Wildlife

We had our first wildlife contest last Wednesday and so have been busy preparing for that. Junior didn't want to do the contest (and I don't blame him) but Daisy did. She scored well considering it was her first year (unless you count all that 3 years ago) and it is a hard contest.

So you can get an idea of what was involved, there are 4 parts of the contest: plant ID and preferences; habitat management; hunter safety; and techniques. In plant ID they have 59 or 60 plants to be able to recognize and tell if it is the prefered plant of waterfowl, deer, squirrel, dove, quail and turkey (some plants can have almost all of them and some have none of them). To give you an idea of how hard this is, here is the plant list:

As if that wasn't enough, the hunter safety part is the general hunter safety that would be part of the hunter safety course but also any new thing in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual.

 In the Habitat Management portion they are shown an area and given a story with this area and asked if the area is capable of supporting turkey or deer etc. They are also asked what should be done to make that area capable of supporting the chosen animal. The difficulty with this part is the "experts" giving the contest don't always agree so you have to hope that you think about it the same way as the one judging your answers.

And the techniques are quite possibly the worst part. They can put any animal that has lived in the wild in Texas and ask a question about it such as what type of skull is this, is this animal native to Texas, is this bird wing from a mature or juvenile bird. They also have to be able to age a deer by its jawbone.

She has another contest over this in a couple weeks so we have more studying to do.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Autism has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Did you know that the current statistics are 1 in 88 kids are on the autism spectrum? Boys are the hardest hit with it being 1 in 54 compared to 1 in 252 girls. This represents a 78% increase in autism over the previous 5 years and a 1000% increase over the last 40 years. And those are just the ones getting autism-related services.

 A study in South Korea by Autism Speaks found as many as 2/3 of the kids who had autism were not diagnosed or receiving autism-related services which leads to the statistic of 1 in 38.

So with all that, you have a good chance of knowing someone on the autism spectrum if you know very many children at all.

And Rainman is not typical of most people with autism. In fact, of the 4 people with autism that I know have autism, none are very much like Rainman. As far as that goes, those 4 all have very different stories and symptoms. You would not group them together; one is female the other 3 are male; one is 30+, another is 15, and the other 2 are in elementary school or preschool; one was normal and then regressed, 2 others either had it at birth or before they were old enough to regress (I am not sure about the 4th).

By the way, none of them are "dumb" or "slow" or whatever derogatory term you think of. Their brains are wired differently and so they don't receive signals the way that we (neuro-typicals) do. We have satellite TV, and with a storm it can be very difficult to get a good enough signal to watch a show. The dialogue may not come through, the picture can be very pixelated and it can be impossible to understand what is going on in the show. I suspect that living with autism could be somewhat comparable, except not only is the input messed up but also being able to express thoughts or what ever is as difficult (or more difficult) than understanding the input.


The earlier the parent (or someone else) notices the signs the better because early treatment is a huge deal. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome will be.

According to the red flags for a child needing evaluation are:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

Please, if you know a child who has these red flags go to to learn more.

Statistics come from

Sunday, October 7, 2012


My mom always said that if you want to find out who your real friends are, either move or have twins. There aren't too many who will help you out through. I would add one to that, go gluten free.

Potlucks or even events where everyone signs up to bring something are hard on my kids. I usually try to sign up for a salad and a dessert so that my kids get a complete meal. They still only get to eat what mom brought while everyone else has their plate piled high with a variety of foods. It's hard. 

It is much easier on me because if I see something I really want, I just plan on making it later that week or the next. I do feel a little awkward just because it looks like I am a food snob since I only eat what I brought. It probably builds character or something like that. Luckily I am not as self-conscious as I was in high school or junior high.

 But back to my point.

We have some amazing friends who have gone out of their way to be sure that my kids (and I) have had something safe to eat at several events lately. I know that this hasn't been easy for them because they aren't gluten-free and it can be so difficult to know what is safe and what isn't.  Especially since gluten hides in unexpected places. Like in Chili Cheese Fritos or all Blue Bell chocolate ice creams.

We are members of a homeschool co-op, a group of homeschool moms and kids where the moms all teach 1 or 2 subjects giving the kids a chance to learn something that we (individually) wouldn't be willing or able to teach. For instance one of my son's classes is music but not music appreciation like I thought. No, they are learning to play the recorder. There is absolutely no way I would teach that class, whether it was just my child or a group of kids.

But I digress.

We always start off the year with a party, this year with the theme of the Olympics. There was pizza, cake, nachos, fruit, hot dogs and other treats - the only naturally gluten-free thing on the menu was fruit. The nachos could have been made gluten-free but I kept forgetting to call the mom in charge of nachos. Plus, I hate putting others out and Junior is the only one who likes nachos and I can easily do those at home. With the menu in mind, I brought my kids their own gluten-free pizza and made cupcakes. The mom planning the event was going to make candy sushi (with rice krispies) and while I offered to make it for my kids, she also made some gluten-free candy sushi for my kids. They also had goody bags with candy and she double checked which ones were gluten-free and made sure my kids got goody bags with candy they could eat. I don't know if Betty realizes how much that meant to my kids and I.

 Then at our September 4-H club meeting, two friends made sure that all the snacks were gluten-free. Heather brought these mini cheesecakes (and that is her blog) and Robin brought an amazing bean dip (and she doesn't have a blog so I can't link to it). That was the first meeting in 2 years that they could eat the snacks like the other kids. Heather and Robin have since made snacks for other potluck like things that were gluten-free so my kids would be included.

Heather also teaches an election class at our co-op and to make it fun for the kids, they are doing candy elections (complete with slogans and all that).  They are getting to sample candy each class so they can be more informed of the options and Heather always makes sure that some of them are gluten-free for my daughter to sample.

Most recently, Robin's son had a birthday and she brought cupcakes for our wildlife group to celebrate her son's birthday. My heart sank because I didn't know in advance and so couldn't make some for my kids. I should have known better than that because she also baked some special for my kids that were gluten-free.

Friends like that bring tears to my eyes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

4-H Egg Workshop

This year I agreed to be the leader of our club Food and Nutrition project with 4-H.
While we are supposed to supply the kids with learning experiences, it has been a learning experience for me.

Our first meeting we went over unusual kitchen tools and gadgets because I know some of the moms didn't know what some of the more unusual and handy (or not) kitchen tools are. Like a potato ricer which I love when I use it, although often I just grab the potato masher. Or a mezzaluna which I thought would be wonderful and I really prefer using a knife. Or my ginger grater that I display and like to use.

Our second meeting I let my husband handle. S worked in a restaurant for several years, starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to assistant manager. It was a smaller chain but kind of like an IHOP. Kind of. So when S mentioned the possibility of doing an egg workshop to teach the kids how to make several kinds of eggs, I thought it was a great idea.

Before the meeting we prepped omelet toppings: ham, sausage, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, sauteed bell pepper and some cheese. We got there early so the water could start boiling. And as the kids came in, they were each given a plastic freezer bag and a sharpie to write their name on the bag.

They each made a plastic (ziplock) bag omelet with their choice of add-ins. The adults were amazed at how well it worked and several loved the potential. All you do is write your name on a freezer ziplock type bag, put in your choice of omelet ingredients (onion, mushroom, cheese, etc) and then 2 or 3 well beaten eggs and drop the baggie in boiling water until it is done. He kept the water at a light boil and they took 5-10 minutes to cook. They aren't restaurant pretty omelets but for large groups, it is an excellent way to cook them.

He also taught them how to flip an egg in the pan. Well, the first step to learning how to do it. He had them flip toast in a pan because that way they could learn the motion needed to do it. He would coach them through it and some of them got pretty good at it. The benefit of doing it with toast is that toast is cheap and if it falls on the floor, it doesn't make much of a mess (some crumbs on the floor is all). When they get extremely good at it, they can try flipping eggs in the pan and start trying to toss dried beans in the pan. The dried beans will act like diced onions or sliced mushrooms but like the toast will be easy to clean up.

The workshop was a hit with the kids. After he had said what all he had to say, he became a short-order cook and made different types of eggs as people would ask for them. The mothers got beautiful omelets and the kids would request a type of eggs and he would cook it. One boy ate 14 eggs; another boy - who doesn't even like eggs - ate 3 omelets.

S cooked over 72 eggs! And after our club meeting he cooked eggs for he and I for supper. We had some beautiful omelet toppings left over.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Since it has been almost a year since I last posted, I am pretty sure that it will surprise you when this pops up in your feed.

All I can really say is "oops." Honestly, I haven't felt like blogging because . . . I don't know exactly why. Part of it is that the stuff that was most on my mind wasn't mine to share. Partly that I still had stuff to work through. And then there is the guilt.

 I felt guilty for not blogging and then there was the question of what to blog about. When it has been months and months, there is almost a feeling of "what I write should be important, major, significant etc." Since I don't really do significant, major, important etc, it is a little hard to live up to.

Since it has been so long, you get a bullet list to kind-of catch you up. (Lucky you!!!)
  • Daisy turned 13 in July which I didn't quite need therapy for, although I thought about it.  Luckily I am blessed with a wonderful 13 year old who does things like cook dinner when her mama has a headache.

  • Daisy decided to do 4-H Wildlife again after 2 years off. In case you are wondering, that is long enough to forget almost every thing we learned. And some of what we do remember is no longer on the contest. So far we are doing pretty good, I can ID about 40 of the 60 plants, trees, and grasses that they have to learn. Why do I have to know it? I'm not really sure other than so I can pop quiz them. I suspect Daisy knows more than she thinks she does because she was able to tell me some of the identifying characteristics (bark color and texture and some other things that I don't remember anymore) of a black cherry. The only way I could identify a black cherry would be if I were told "this is either a black cherry or a grass." I might could figure it out then. Maybe. 

  • In a related note I have had chiggers for the first time since I was 15, and that was over 20 years ago. I also found a tick which would have had me calling a therapist but they typically don't accept new patients at midnight. Like a good homeschool mom/4-H mom, I googled it and found out that it was the Lone Star Tick and that they do not carry lyme disease. We now spray down with bug spray.

  • Junior got his black belt in Tae Quon Do which was a great reward for his perseverance. We were incredibly proud of him. I was also thrilled to have Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings free.

  • I no longer have Tuesday and Thursday evenings free. 

  • Tuesday is known by my family as "nightmare day." Daisy has piano at 3 and Junior has guitar at 3. About 1 mile away from each other. Both of their lessons end at 3:30. Also one mile apart. Then we swing through Sonic because it is Happy Hour and get to Wildlife at 4 which lasts until 6pm. At 6 we go to Robotics and are done with that at 8pm. If we are lucky, I managed to put something in the crockpot so that we can eat dinner when we get home.

  • We are still gluten-free so if I don't put dinner in the crockpot, there is only 2 fast food places to get food, Five Guys or Chic-Fil-A. 

  • I love both Five Guys and Chic-Fil-A but I can get really tired of them quickly.

  • We learned what Junior's reaction to gluten ingestion can be. He gets irritable. For about a week. It is kind-of like PMS irritable where you don't realize that you are making everyone walk on egg shells because you think that you are being completely rational. It was a long week. I think he still doesn't realize how cranky he was.

  • I have some others but they are long enough to be posts on their own so . . . 
The End