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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hi, Uncle Chuck!

It's the time of year when we wax introspective, right? Well, I like to avoid waxy buildup, so don't go expecting too much. Today kicks off a (most likely irregularly serial) series of tributes to people, places, and things that have influenced my life.

Lucky #1 - My Uncle Chuck

When I was a kid, I vividly remember traveling to visit Uncle Chuck and Aunt Syl in Connecticut. They had a nice house and nice friends and a nice church and nice woods across the street...

Have I mentioned their nice-ness?

But, that's not really what I think of when I think of my Uncle Chuck.

The first thing I think of is V. Yup. The old show with the lizard people. I don't think I was allowed to watch it, but I sure wanted to. All the screaming I overheard from the next room, perhaps? The fact that it was freakin' lizard people!?! Just awesome.

The second thing is an instance when I caught him laughing. He was reading, sitting in his recliner, and he started laughing. Well, if you've never heard it... There were tears rolling down his face. He was laughing so hard it started to squeak, and the sheer force of his guffaws (yes, guffaws) lifted his feet clean off the floor. I love to watch him laugh. Of course, I had to know what he was reading. Turns out it was a book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Could I read it? No.
Why not? You wouldn't like it.
But you're laughing: It's funny, right? No, not really.
But you're laughing. No, not really.

Just for the record, Uncle Chuck, I have read it now. The complete collection. At one point, I laughed so hard that I fell off the couch. Appear: my daughter.
Can I read that? No.
Why not? Oh, I don't think you'd like it.
But you're laughing. That means it's funny! No, not really. I wasn't laughing at that.
What were you laughing at? Your dad. He made a joke.
Dad's at work. That's not the point. Don't you have chores to do?

The third thing that I think of is happiness. Everyone and everything that makes up who Uncle Chuck is lends to an atmosphere of happiness.
  • Aunt Syl baking brown honey oatmeal bread
  • Jokes
  • Scott and Bryant
  • Going to church or talking about when he was a missionary
  • Playing the accordion
  • HAM radio
  • Jokes
  • Kittens
  • Hummingbirds
  • Laughter
  • Jokes

I don't have a single negative thought associated with my Uncle Chuck. Even that one night when I cried in the hallway (seriously - it was like ALL night long) and no one came out to comfort me... well, Scott came out, but I think he went to sleep in the garage... Even that night was my own stubborn fault, I now realize. (Sorry about that, by the way.)

When I think of my Uncle Chuck, I think of peace, and happiness, and love. I'm glad he's a part of my life, and I'm glad that sometimes I can find what I like about him in myself .

UPDATE: Got this note from Aunt Syl: "Hey, Mikki, don't you remember me coming to comfort you and explain that we couldn't take you home to be with your Mom at that time of the night and to just think of happy times until you fall asleep? And you did fall asleep sometime around 1 AM." Oops. I did forget to put that part in! I guess that sentence was pretty poorly worded. Yes, comfort was given. Didn't mean it quite the way I wrote it! Thanks for pointing that out!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm dreaming of a White Random-Day-In-January

There was no White Christmas to be found in my corner of VA this year. We did have sunny warm weather and mild breezes. We turned off the heat and opened the doors and windows. At one point this week it was 70-ish. It was really quite nice. On Sunday, we didn't even wear jackets to church!

It's hard to ask for a White Christmas when the weather's so nice at 2 AM on Christmas morning that you're outside, barefoot, in your jammies. That was beautiful.

We had a wonderful gf feast this year, too.
Standing rib roast (aka prime rib) with a red wine marinade/ au jus sauce
Mashed potatoes
Green beans
Ceasar salad
Bread (regular stuff for everyone else)
Cookies (gf and regular)

Yummy, yummy tasty goodness. We lit candles, got down the fine china, and sat down to a sumptuous feast in the comfort of our jammies. The nice thing about staying home for Christmas was that no one minded!

Hope you all are having a fun Christmas with your family, too. Onward now to our White Random-Day-In-January! Hopefully the long-range forecast is right!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

I grew up in Michigan, right abooouut... here! (points to middle of hand) and we used to get loads of snow! Oodles of snow! Snow like you've never seen!

(That ought to get a good corrective comment from my mom! teehee)

Well, there is this one picture I've seen of tiny me on grandma and grandpa's sidewalk between two walls of snow several feet deep. And once, there was a blizzard: 20" of snow. And I remember sledding, and snow on Halloween, and waking up to find that three inches was not enough to close school. I love snow. More than I love peeps!

Then I moved away...
  1. I lived in Florida: no snow.
  2. I lived in Missouri: just ice. (whee!)
  3. I lived in Seattle: the Emerald city. (well, there was that one freak snowstorm during the 3 years we lived there)
  4. I live in Virginia now: totally unpredictable.

In 06-07, we had a forecast for 1/4" of ice. We got this:

Yup, that's 7" of ice and snow that we woke up to. Some 1/4", huh?

We had no school for 3 days-ish.

The kids built these to show the three developmental stages of the snowman. (Yes, they're weird, and yes, I'm proud of it.)

The 07-08 school year came and went without a single snow day or snow photo to show for it. We did have one day of snow: it started around 10 and was done by 2. And melted by 2. No frolicking was to be found. I don't know who was more sad: me or my (high school) students! You never saw so many pouty faces as on that day!

Now, it's 08-09 and time for more snow. Everybody says so. It's supposed to be a real good year for it. It even snowed in November! Twice! (maybe thrice! depends on who you talk to.) And here is our exciting December snow to date:


On the bright side, there's snow and ice just 50 miles away right now, so keep hoping! Wear your jammies inside out, flush some cubes, and do your favorite snow dance in our honor!

I'm hoping and dreaming for that most joyous of joys: the white Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An open letter to the manufacturers of Peeps brand treats

Dear Just Born, Inc.:

(ahem, excuse me)

I was so super excited when, trolling through Target, I came across these pink speckled, peppermint Peeps. I love Peeps! I love peppermint! I love Christmas stars! I love treats that are gluten-free! I love marshmallows!

I hate these.

And by hate, I mean: (plug your ears, kids) these are the stupidest excuse for a candy since the candy cigarette, which at the very least tasted good.

"Mmm! Here, honey, have a Listerine breath-strip flavored candy star!" Bleagh.

I made myself eat a whole one. I thought, These can't be bad! After all, I love Peeps! I love peppermint! I love Christmas stars! I love treats that are gluten-free! I love marshmallows! These just can't be bad! But, bite after bite, they were bad. And then, I got a real, super minty bite. And gagged on it. I would like to take this moment to point out that I have no gag reflex. None! It astounded the doctors when I was little (ask my mom!). These candies made me gag.

Then I thought, Maybe it's just me. My daughter loves peppermint candies. I'll give her one. So I did. She spit it out in the trash and ran for a drink of water. I kid you not, RAN.

Then I thought, Maybe it's just us. They're Peeps after all, and I love Peeps! I love love love Peeps! They can't be bad. So I gave one to my son. My sugar-craving, 9-year-old, I-don't-care-if-it-fell-on-the-floor-and-got-licked-by-the-dog-it's-still-candy-and-I-want-it! son.

He took a bite.
We waited.
He rolled it around on his tongue.
We waited.
He took a second bite.
We waited.

"Well!?!" we screamed.

"These are really bad," he said, and took another bite. "They kinda remind me of those little plastic things you eat to make your breath smell better."

I give up. If she won't eat them, and even he thinks they're like those breath strips, it's not just me.

BUT!!!! Please, Just Born, don't give up on the peppermint Peeps! I love Peeps! I will faithfully buy all types of Peeps except these horrible monstrosities that you have created. I'm sure it was by accident. I'm sure you've fired those responsible. I'm sure any day now that you'll issue a recall and then I will be glad that I just can't seem to bring myself to throw them out. I'm sure you'll do better next year. Right? Right!?

I am so, so disappointed in you.

Your faithful Peep lover extraordinaire,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas with Celiac #7 - The Christmas Party

I love my friends. I have really really great friends. I am now going to talk about my friends. Remember, I love my friends.

I went to my first Christmas party last weekend. We had food, there was music, we did the white elephant exchange game, we had food, we made fun of each other, there was this great punch, and did I mention the food? I love food. I shamelessly ate most of the shrimp. Twice.

What's great: I had plenty to eat. What's not great: There were three tables of food, and only five things I could eat:

A cream cheese and cranberry cookie topping, sans cookie (foreground)
A bowl of kisses and Snickers (background)

A chicken salad for sandwiches, sans sandwich (foreground)
Some tasty shrimp (not pictured)

and the stuff I brought: yogurt and granola

I didn't take a picture of the third table: it was just baked goods. It was pretty easy to pick out what I could eat; I only had to ask for ingredients on a few things. I ended up with a nice plateful of food, and was very happy with it. Sure I wanted to eat everything else, too, but like I said, I shamelessly loaded up on the shrimp! (Twice!)

Note to self: yogurt on a plate does not photograph well! (Sorry 'bout that!)

The hardest part of the night was listening to the comments people made when (a) they saw what I brought or (b) I asked for ingredients. Here are some of the things I overheard:
  • Yogurt? Yeah, it's Christmas! Let's eat healthy! (sarcastic laugh)
  • Man, I would hate to have to figure out what I couldn't eat.
  • Who brings yogurt to a party?
  • What a pain. I'm glad I don't have any food restrictions!
None of these comments were directed at me. When I asked for ingredients, the lists were happily given, but you know how you always chatter when you're at a buffet? No one talked to me this time. So, I felt uncomfortable, and conspicuous. So I waited until everyone was done, just stayed out of the way, and then got my food and went and sat down.

It was weird. (Don't forget - I love my friends!)

Once I was seated with my plate, it was totally normal, sorta. It helped that I sat with close friends, ones who know that I can't eat the yummy gluten-filled holiday goodies, but we still ended up talking about it.

I felt defined by the food missing from my plate.

It was weird.

The party was fun. I got brass candlesticks. I ate a pile of shrimp and yogurt. (Not at the same time! Ew) I hung out with my buddies. I took home my yogurt and granola and ate it every day for lunch this week. And thought about Christmas. I love Christmas. And I love my friends.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Time out for Lemonade!

While I was sitting on the couch grousing and pouting, I decided to check my blog comments, and found that I've been given this award:
Clara (aka my mom) over at Coming Back to Life gave me this award for "showing gratitude or a good attitude (from 'if life hands you lemons, make lemonade')! " I kid you not.

The Irony, oh! The unlimited, hateful irony! gah! Poetic justice, too, perhaps? After all here are a few of my favorite "If life hands you lemons" quotes:
  • If life hands you lemons, make grape juice. Then, sit back and let 'em wonder how you did it.
  • If life hands you lemons, throw them back and ask for chocolate.
  • If life hands you lemons, stick 'em in your bra and be glad it's better than nothin'!
  • Since when are people just randomly handed lemons?
  • If life hands you lemons, chuck them at people. Survival of the fittest, baby.
  • If life hands you lemons, make tea!
  • If life hands you lemons, just shut up and eat the damn lemons.
And, perhaps my all-time favorite:
So on this cranky evening when I am wet from turning on the shower by accident and itchy from fiberglass shavings under my skin, when I am mad because my house was put together oddly by thrifty do-it-yourselfers and now that it's breaking I can't do it myself, too, when I wish my husband could cook, when I wish my kids could cook, when I wish fast food didn't taste like the packaging it comes in, I am happy.

I am happy because even though one bathroom is broke, I have another one (and a half!)

I am happy because there are three Christmas trees in my house. Some of them are messily decorated, and that's Ok.

I am happy because I get to decorate this year, because I feel like decorating this year, and because I actually managed to find almost all of my decorations for this year.

I am happy because my family loves me, even when I cut holes in the wall that I can't really fix. Even when I burn dinner. Even when I lose my temper because of something I myself did. Even when I pout on the new couch while wearing a wet t-shirt.

I am happy because I have the bestest husband ever, who probably will read this and be SO proud of me for using the word "bestest" on my blog.

I am happy because I have a son who is old enough to learn what it means to be a man, but young enough to snuggle and just hang out.

I am happy because said son is very happy to spend his chore time cleaning the toilets so I don't have to. And happy to mop. He loves to mop.

I am happy to have a daughter who does stuff like this.

I am happy to have a daughter who is just like me, who knows she is just like me, and is quite content - if not downright proud - to be just like me.

I am happy to have this dog. (Who wouldn't be?)

Finally, I am happy to have others who inspire me and show me the way when it comes to peace and contentment in a life made complete in Christ. I don't have 10 blogs to recommend as the award stipulates, but I will do my best to follow the rules, which are as follows:
  • Put the logo on your blog or post.
  • Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
  • Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
  • Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
  • Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

My nominees are:
  1. Shanda at A Teachable Heart - A down-to-earth, honest, woman of integrity who never fails to have some amazing wisdom to share. Also a friend from the real world who I have seen move through adversity with grace and strength.
  2. Joy at News From Joy - my sister-in-law. Although our boys are the same age, they've had very different paths through life. In dealing with her son's disabilities, illnesses, and surgeries, she has managed to stay positive and faithful.
  3. Megan at I Kicked Cancer's Ass - a new acquaintance out here in the virtual world, Megan blogs about fighting through cancer and the stigmas associated with a cervical cancer diagnosis. She also has just finished college and runs benefits for other fighting cancer.
  4. Just Say Julie at Keeping up with the Chreste's - another newly found blogger who is cheerful and fun to read, too.
  5. Melissa at A Mom Like You - A wonderful friend, Melissa now has a blog, too! She is an amazing mom and a spiritually strong woman. She is kind and intelligent and just all around fabulous. Melissa has taken her mothering advice to the web with this blog and the virtual world is lucky to have her!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas with Celiac #6 - Cream Cheese Cookies

One of the few cookies that we're committed to each year at Christmas is the cream cheese cookie. This is Jim's favorite and SUPER easy to make.

All I did to make this a GF recipe was to substitute a GF cake mix for the regular cake mix. Ta-da!

The cookie ingredients:
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 box yellow cake mix

The icing ingredients:
Powdered sugar
Ice water

The process:
1. Cream together butter and cream cheese
2. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix well
3. Add cake mix, about 1/3 of the mix at a time to help with mixing
4. Chill for 1 hour or so
5. Bake 10-12 minutes at 375
6. Cool and ice

If you don't have a heavy duty mixer, you'll end up struggling to mix by hand - it's a dense dough. I often lay the dough and last of the cake mix in a big sheet of plastic wrap and knead the final bit of mix in by hand instead of trying to stir.

Keep the icing a little thick. You want it to be thick enough to stay on top of the cookie, but thin enough to drizzle a little bit. Play with it if you're unfamiliar: if it all drips/runs off the cookie right away, it's too thin.

You shouldn't be able to see through it after it settles/hardens. Add sugar or sprinkles if you like.

Cookies will fluff a little as they bake, but won't really change shape. You'll pretty much get out of the oven what you put in. I did notice that the GF batch was a little spikier...

...while the regular batch was a little smoother in appearance.

Happy baking!

Friday, December 5, 2008

What do you need?

I totally stole this idea from today's featured blog over at SITS: Just Say Julie at Keeping up with the Chreste's. She decided to find out (according to Google) what it is that she needs, so she pulled up the magic Google home page and typed in "Julie needs".

Impressed by her magic list, I decided to give it a try. I figured my list probably wouldn't be as good, because I don't have as common of a name. I may like my list even better, though! According to Google, here is what Mikki needs:

  1. Mikki needs your support. (on the suicide/sexual abuse recovery website - yikes!)
  2. Mikki needs to turn 1 more or gain 2 more Vampire points to reach the next level! Mikki should get out there and bite some people! (yum?)
  3. Mikki needs 2 be ur #1 on the top 8... (and don't you forget it!)
  4. Mikki needs to do a 3 1/2 toe loop
  5. Mikki needs to be proud of the music (s)he and the band created
  6. Mikki needs to go to someone who has a lot of time and patience (hey... what are you insinuating?)
  7. Mikki needs numbers
  8. Mikki needs no introduction to you London East End Ravers
  9. Mikki needs lots of style and flair (getting a little personal now, aren't you?!)
  10. Mikki needs to be moved for almost anything we can get, and as soon as possible. (WHAT?!?)
  11. Mikki needs to quit complaining and just follow the game plan. (WHAT?!?!?! I... I just... WHAT?!?)
  12. Mikki needs to see that she's Ok. (I don't feel Ok)
  13. Mikki needs to know that although others think negative, we think positive (I think I feel a little better)
I swear, I'm not making these up! This is even the order in which they appeared on Google! It's pretty awesome. Give it a go and see what you "need" to do.

Have fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merry SITSmas!

Merry SITSmas to all of my sisters at The Secret is in the Sauce!
I hope you have a fabulous holiday season.

A season filled with family.

A season filled with wonder.

A season filled with silliness.

A season filled with fun.

A season filled with fuzzy friends.

But most of all a season filled with love.
Merry Christmas!
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