Friday, February 27, 2009
Nope. No alien invasion.
Nope. No sick kids.
Nope. No good TV.
YES! Because I am dumb. I got glutinized. (whee) Back when I first was diagnosed, I was afraid to eat ANYTHING I didn't make myself. Even then, sometimes, I wasn't too sure. As I've come along these 9 months, I've become braver and started eating out again. Turns out that a dish I thought I had verified as safe is really not safe.
Wednesday night, I ate one of my favorites from the local Chinese place. It was SO good that I had two servings. I got a full 8 hours sleep, but woke exhausted the next AM. Weird, but whatever, right? I took the rest of the Chinese with me for lunch. After dinner, I crashed. I completely missed the rest of Thursday night. I slept, and slept, and slept. I slept so hard that I missed Jim leaving, coming home, leaving again, coming home again, working on video editing, Annie running a remote control toy, Jimmy coming in and out of the room.... I was asleep, face down in a pillow. According to Jim, he's never seen anyone actually sleep face down before.
I woke up long enough to watch a movie with Jim, and then went to bed. I woke up today feeling logy and I couldn't concentrate and I had trouble following complicated thoughts (aka brain fog) and my face was red and itchy and my insides ache and I'm having an acne breakout.
...and I was so happy that I didn't have a breakout this month, too.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This week: 174.4#
Change: Down .6#
Thought of the week: It's not about the pounds off, but the good stuff coming in.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
One of the features was message boards: games, contests, general chats, stuff about The Office, stuff about random stuff... The one that surprised me was all about random things that you find on the floor: notes, lists, pictures, anything that's readable, basically, is fair game. Now, I had never heard of anyone else picking up those things and saving them.
Yes, I said "anyone else". Because, my friends, that is EXACTLY what I do. Everywhere I go, I have one eye out for stuff that people have dropped. Then I pick it up, and if it's interesting and not just some wrapper or receipt, I keep it. Think of it as people watching taken to the next (non-creepy) level.
Do you do this too? What have you found?
My latest find comes from Senior Slave day at the school where I teach. It is a student's typed instructions to her new Senior, freshly purchased for a day's "labor". The name has been changed for courtesy's sake. Everything else has been faithfully recreated, spelling, caps, punctuation, text size, and all.
Rachel's To DO List
- RACHEL YOU ARE TO carry all my books.
- Write all my notes for class
- When I am entering a classroom you need to say The Beautiful, Lovely, and Wonderful Techira is coming!
- When I need to ask a question I will write it down then you will say: Techira needs to ask a question. And then proceed to ask the question
- Before I sit down you will wipe all seats.
- You also need to pass out my valentines' day grams to whoever I point to and say: Techira Smith has chosen to give you a valntine candy enjoy and love her forever
- Whenever someone says my name you have to say Queen Techira someone is calling you
- The number one rule is HAVE FUN
This is just a sample of the insanity that makes up Senior Slave day. One of my other students had to put on geisha makeup and a kimono and carry a small paper fan. He - yes HE - also had to shriek in fear whenever the bell rang, and scream, "The Huns are coming!"
I love my job.
The part that got me the most was this:
"When gluten is carried by the blood to the brain, it causes problems. Dr. Fasano explained that the gluten molecule is similar to endorphins which, along with other things, give us a sense of well-being. The gluten molecules will dock where endorphins are supposed to dock. In effect, the gluten blocks endorphins and the positive feelings they can give us."
Translation: Gluten leaking into your system can turn you into an angry, moody, unhappy beast! Whoa. No wonder I felt so out of control.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Why is it that whenever my mom - Clara of Coming Back to Life - sends me an award, I am off my game and undeserving?
Ok, Ok, this is only the second award she's given me. The first was the Lemonade Award: an award for being a positive person. She sent it to me on a day that I was totally sucking lemons instead of making lemonade.
The circumstances around this Noblesse Oblige award is no different. Check out what she wrote about me:
Lynne nominated 3 blogs for this award. I don't know if there is a required number or not. I'm only going to nominate one blog. She doesn't usually participate in memes and awards so she may not post that she has received it. But she certainly deserves it and I hope you'll go read her blog. She is Mikki at Here's What Let's Do. Mikki has Celiac Disease and much of her blog is devoted to helping others who have this problem find ways of coping with it. She also tells funny or serious stories of her life as wife, mother, and teacher.But when she left me a comment, saying she'd understand if I didn't follow up and post the award, what did I do? I was happy that she'd relieved me of the commitment. Sure, I thought, I'll get around to it eventually (11 days later now), but I went to her page anyway and skimmed the post. Oh, nifty, I thought.
But I didn't READ the post. I didn't realize I was the ONLY winner. I was so self-centered that day, thinking about MY life, MY commitments, MY work problems... ME ME ME ME ME.
Why is it that we snub those we love? When I read the post again today - really read it this time - I realized that I have done my family a disservice. I have said, "Yeah, whatever," to my Mom when she did a nice thing for me. What kind words she poured out for me. What pride I see in those lines. And there I was, ignoring her attention.
I'm honored to have been chosen to receive this award. It represents a type of person that I DO strive to be.
Like the aid worker who travels the globe, but does nothing at home; like the Christian who is religious on a Sunday, but hateful at home; like the benefactor who supports children from overseas, but does not give to local foundations, I was so busy with being helpful, that I risked being harmful.
I hope, Mom, that you do not mind the 11 days of silence, because I AM grateful for the award, and touched that you would choose me to be the sole recipient. I am glad that you think that I am deserving of it.
- The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade different cultures and beliefs.
- The Blog contents inspire, strive to encourage, and offer solutions.
- There is a clear purpose at the Blog, one that fosters a better understanding of Social, Political, or Economic Views; the Arts, Culture, Sciences, or Beliefs.
- The Blog is refreshing and creative.
- The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
Here's the fun part: choosing who to send the award to next. I have decided to pass this award along to Beth of A Real Anti-Supermom. Her posts remind me so much of when my kids were little, and she keeps such a pleasant tone to her writing. I think that she deserves the award because she
- definitely promotes positive thinking - "Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk"
- displays a realistic view of our blogging culture and society - "Love-Hate Relationship"
- takes a creative approach to all her posts, even incorporating great art - "Hot Mom"
So, go visit Beth! Check out her lovely, realistic, it's-ok-to-be-a-normal-mom-and-person-and-have-a-great-time-doing-it-oh-and-also-laugh-at-yourself-along-the-way blog. Oh, and Beth... Thanks. Your blog is the awesome.
Here are the rules:
- Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
- The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post.
- Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one or more older Post to support.
- The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.
- The Blogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
While cruising my Facebook profile - posting snarky comments on my friends' status updates, sending flair, harvesting crops on my virtual farm, and generally wasting time - your ad on the side caught my eye.
Now, as far as I've been able to tell, the Facebook ads are fairly controlled. They're matched to me, my profile, sometimes my friends, or our interests. That's fine! I've seen some interesting ads and visited some nifty websites.
How the heck did your ad end up on my Facebook?
"Bring the Game Home," reads your slogan.
"Ok," I think. "Why not?" So I click on the link, expecting to find a sporting goods website - bats, balls, hoops, nets, HOLY GOODNESS!!!!!
The page opens...
You sell courts: backyard sports courts: basketball, volleyball, badminton, soccer, putting greens, batting cages, any combination of beautiful goodness I could possible imagine!
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I think. "This MUST be a mistake - this must be a corporate site." But, no, this is a site for me - homeowner with yard.
Screech to a halt, please, Sport Court! How in the world did I end up in your demographic?! Just because I live in an expensive area doesn't mean I'm rich! Just because I own a house+yard combo doesn't mean I can afford your courts or have a place to put one! Just because I was talking with my husband about putting in a basketball hoop doesn't mean I...
Have you been spying on me?
I'm suspiciously eyeing that random unidentifiable hole in the back wall of my closet ... is that where you're hiding?
How did you know? Have you been hanging out with the Ministry of Privacy?
I remain, suspiciously yours,
PS. Perhaps you didn't hear? Most of us don't have money.
Thanks for being understanding about my taking a break last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part III left off: I had just received my diagnosis after a series of Thursday appointments with my doctor. In the face of the unknown, my husband was comforting and encouraging. I was scared.
From fear to uncertainty.
Once the initial trauma of a confirmed diagnosis passed, I had to face the fact that I really had no idea what to do to deal with my new requirements in life.
Celiac disease (if you don’t know already) is an autoimmune disorder. People with celiac are gluten intolerant. If we ingest anything made with wheat, rye, barley, or one of its derivatives, our bodies react by attacking the gluten. This attack occurs in the digestive system - the small intestine to be exact. For more info, visit the National Institutes of Health’s Celiac Awareness page.
I had to start my very own awareness campaign, reading web pages, books (thanks to my mom-in-law!), recipes, a listserve, blogs… anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had never heard of Celiac, much less met anyone else with it. I had no one to turn to, no one who had been there. I forged my own way through information towards knowledge.
(Need info? Email me! I’ll send you whatever you need.)
From uncertainty to training
I tried to approach this new phase of my life much like I approached being an athlete when in high school. I set aside time every day to work on this problem. I adjusted what I ate immediately, focusing on pure, whole, simple foods. I made it a priority, and strove to become the best -- the best cook, baker, shopper, experimenter, and researcher.
One of the first things I did was purge and sort my pantry. I gave away much of what I could no longer eat. Jim voluntarily gave up much of his gluten-filled foods to help me through the transition. It helped so much to have it almost completely out of the house for a while. For my favorite items, I went to the websites and looked them up. They were sorted into keep and don’t keep piles.
The first time that I went to the grocery store, my shopping time more than doubled: from one hour to about two and a half. I armed myself with lists of acceptable, questionable, and forbidden ingredients and additives. I took my kids with me for moral support. I took my cell phone. I took a cart full of patience.
Produce section: EASY! Woohoo!
Gluten free shelves! Hooray!
Gluten free macandcheese?!? AWESOME! ($4.25 a serving?!? SO WORTH IT.)
Dressings, marinades, and sauces. Oh, crap. From that spot forward, until I got to meats and dairy at the end, I was in super-slow crawl mode.
Many items I could quickly decide yes or no. All of the rest of the items I called the 800 number on the packaging. I asked for verification of gluten or no gluten. The customer service people -- ALL OF THEM -- were super helpful and most of them took my email address and sent full gf product lists to me.
That last paragraph doesn’t really capture the drudgery of this first trip. So many of my absolute favorite items went back on the shelf. So, so many. By the third aisle, I was in tears. Often, this scene was played:One of the kids would bring me an item.
I would read the label while they stood in front of me, their little eyes fixed on my face, waiting.
Sometimes the wheat or barley was clearly labeled, sometimes I double checked my lists.
Then once of them would ask, “Well?” so hopefully.
My throat would close up, I would shake my head.
“Put it back,” I would whisper. “Put it back.”
Read, sort, repeat
Read, sort, repeat
Read, sort, repeat
From training to toddling
It wasn’t long - a week, maybe two - before I felt more in control. I started cooking with more confidence, ruined fewer dishes, started finding a little variety in my meals.
It WAS long before I was willing to try any sort of processed food, junk food, multiple-ingredient food, or mixed beverages. I was a purist for a long, long time.
It was hard, but it tasted good.
I felt good.
I looked good.
My skin was good.
My hair was shiny.
The shadows under my eyes faded.
The swelling in my gut disappeared.
I cheated once: when Little Ceasar’s pizza opened nearby. It was NOT worth it. I haven’t cheated since. It doesn’t matter how good something tastes: if it’s going to rip apart your digestive system, it’s NOT worth it.
Once I was comfortable with maintaining my new lifestyle, it was time to change again: from toddling to running. It was time to start experimenting. Oh, yes. Time indeed.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We have conversations about her advanced math class and the boys in gym class and fashion and what-not. She keeps asking to read the books I'm teaching my high school students. She goes to youth group now. She washes dishes, wants to cook dinner (or at least helps), does her own laundry, and feeds the dogs (sometimes without any prompting).
She spends 5 straight hours watching Hannah Montana.
She reads Junie B. Jones and Mr. Men books.
She runs screaming through the house, yelling, "CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!" while the dogs and her brother chase her for the sheer fun of it.
After all, she's only 11.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
For a full review, check out my post over at Gluten Free in Baltimore. It's pretty cool.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Part I -- The Diet Contest
Thanks for the comments last week. I'm glad you’re enjoying my story. This week, I don't have the next episode ready: It's been a crazy week. Instead, I'm going to share with you a current snippet of my life with celiac sprue.
I went to the grocery store today, and like I always do, I looked for new gluten-free products in the freezer case. I didn't really expect to find any; I don't shop at a specialty store or anything, so I usually just make do with what I can find or simply do without.
Today, I found two - TWO - technically FOUR if you count variants - new products! Oh, happy happy happy day. I almost did a little dance right there in the freezer section. I mean I would have, but I kinda forgot how joyful I felt in the midst of the shock. Three of the four items WERE ON SALE! $2.99 for a box of gluten free Van's toaster waffles! Oh, happy day!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
On Tuesday, there was a second article in the newspaper. This article was about the Spotsylvania County School Board meeting (one of the other counties involved in CGS). Their school board drafted a request to our school board to ask Stafford to keep CGS. Tuesday evening, the board room was packed. The meeting started at 7, and the board heard testimony from about 50 people. Shortly after 11, they cast their votes. CGS gets to stay.
Today, I was busy. Super super busy. And the students were wound up -- several of the seniors said that they wished they still had college essays to write so that this experience could be their "pivitol moment". The teachers were finally relaxed, even a little giddy, after the scare. It's not that we would have been out of a job entirely (most likely), but we would have had to change programs. No one wanted that.
I did a lot of personal reflection these last few days, and I found myself a bit homesick.
I miss the pile of friends (peers and students) at North. I was stressed, and I realized that they were always there for me. The kids would even ask what was bothering me sometimes. I miss that. Even though my friends at CGS were going through the same thing, even though we all were stressing together, it just wasn't the same.
I miss you, North. I love my new job, my new peers, and my new students, but I miss you.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I mean, how great would it be if Jesus WAS like a superhero? If he swooped in and saved the day? If he was always there - physically there - to protect and defend? If he could just show up, flip the tables of the corrupt, clean out the evils of the government?
Then it occurred to me
...the people who actually got to hang out with Jesus were kinda hoping for that, too.
...we're probably all rather looking forward to living out the chapter in the Revelation where Jesus returns to Earth and does battle.
...we're often confronted by others who want to know why we go through rough times if God loves us so much?
...ironically, the preschoolers' favorite worship song is "Jesus, You're my Superhero".
...how many people would really love to have a superhero.
It's all in the perspective. God is my superhero, sans-spandex of course, but my superhero just the same. He's never let me down. Even when my life was really lousy. Maybe even extra-super-mega-lousy. He's always there to help me find a way through.
God's way of working my life isn't necessarily the way I expected, but that doesn't mean He's MIA or ignoring me. He's still there. He still cares. (And I bet he's got an awesome sense of humor.)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
This was among the offerings.
I haven't actually watched it, but here's the movie description:
"What would Jesus (Jonathan C. Green) do if he returned to Earth and discovered he was wildly out of touch with modern trends? Don a Spandex costume and fight sin on the streets of New York City, of course! But as always, he faces several obstacles: a disapproving Father (Don Creech); the Antichrist, in the guise of the New York City Parks Commissioner (Samuel Bruce Campbell); and the temptations of a beautiful seamstress (Celia A. Montgomery)."
Sounds pretty freakin' awesome, right? At the very least, this could make my favorite awful movies of all time list! You know, right up there with stuff like Water World and Godzilla v. Space Godzilla. (Both of which are truly amazing in a train wreck sort of way.)
The top rated customer review begins, "I'd basically describe this as good-natured blasphemy". My other favorite comments are (in order of appearance on NetFlix)...
- The low budget enhances rather than detracts from the hilarity.
- You know, overall this film is not bad. Cheesy? Yes. Funny? Yes. Religiously absurd? H--- yeah.
- ...if you want to see blasphemy that is in good taste (if that even makes sense), then you can safely watch this.
- I found Ultrachrist to be a laugh out loud good time. ...and it wasn’t even that blasphemous.
- If you dig Mel Brooks and Howard Stern, this film is up your alley. Funny thing though, you gotta know some religion to get the jokes.
...um. ... ... ... Yeah.
So, the Red Wings won today. 2-0. And did you SEE those weird powder blue Penguin uniforms? What was up with those?
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I made Chicken and Rice last night, and was all proud of myself for finding a gf soup base so that I could make a cream of chicken soup and actually eat the same dinner as my family. (Whoo!) It was awesome.
But, as often happens, with a small victory comes a reminder of how things used to be. I used to be able to flip randomly and happily through cookbooks and magazines, and simply stop at what caught my eye. Then, I would just make it. So long as I knew what the ingredients were, I was golden.
I feel that I am taking a step back in that direction today. Today, Linda over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker posted some interesting links, one of which was about a new magazine: Delight GF Magazine. I looked at the pages they had available online, and I bought a subscription. I cannot WAIT for the first one to come, especially since one of the editors is the Celiac Princess.
I'll tell you how it is once I get a copy! For now, here's the recipe I promised you:
Chicken and Rice, traditional (NON-GF: see below for GF soup mix.)
1 stick butter
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of celery
2 cans water
1 package boneless chicken, 6-8 pieces (white or dark meat)
1 cup of rice
1. Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan, heat until bubbly.
2. Pour a little soup into a 13x9 baking pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Lay the chicken evenly in next, then sprinkle the rice evenly over top of the chicken. Finally, pour the remaining soup in, taking care to completely cover the rice. (If any rice is sticking out the top of the soup, it will dry out and become crunchy instead of absorbing the soup.)
3. Bake at 350 for about an 40 minutes - hour; bake longer if you want the soup to be more completely absorbed. The top will brown up and get bubbly.
**For my non-chicken eating friends: feel free to substitute! Use boneless pork (tenderloin or sirloin chops), and replace the cream of chicken with a second can of the cream of mushroom or the cream of celery soup.
**For my non-gluten eating friends: You only need to change out the soup. Baking time is the same. The soup recipe that I used was super simple, and comes from The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods book.
Cream soup base: (p.277)
1 cup milk powder (or milk powder substitute)
1 cup white rice flour
2 T dried minced onions
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t salt
3 T powdered soup base
To make the soup (makes 1 cup soup):
1. In a small saucepan, blend 3 T of the base with 1/4 cup cold water.
2. Add 1 cup water or chicken stock and cook over medium heat, stirring, until soup thickens.
NOTE: I could not find a powdered soup base, what I found was more of a paste, and I simply added 1 t of the base for each cup of soup that I was making. This particular base says "gluten free" on the front left of the label and does not require refrigeration. I found it near the spaghetti sauces. It took me forever to find it because I had no idea what I was looking for, so I thought I'd include a picture for you.
Enjoy your chicken and rice!
Friday, February 6, 2009
John was my first love. (The first that I remember, anyway.)
I don't know his last name, but we went to church together at the Bible Baptist Church in Leslie. Here it is:
There are two things that I remember about John. One is that we went to church together. The other is that he liked spinach. (Who wouldn't love him, right?)
I don't know why I liked John. I don't know if he was nice, cute, polite, or any combination thereof. I just know we were in Sunday School together and he liked spinach. I know this because our Sunday School class had a party, and I took a can of spinach FOR THE PARTY because it was John's favorite.
That's dedication right there, people. Dedication. Devotion. Obsession, perhaps.
Well, that's my entire memory of John. So why does he make the list? Because that memory tells me something about myself. I was willing to do something for someone I -ahem- "loved" even though it almost surely meant that I would be ridiculed. Why? Because others' happiness is important! And if I can make someone else happy, I sure am going to try to do it.
So thanks, John. Thanks for waking that up in me. I owe you one.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Thanks for the comments last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part II left off: Tests and more tests. What was wrong with me, anyway?
How is it possible for life to move too fast and too slow all at the same time? It was about a month from that first Thursday visit when I met Dr. Schultz before I knew for sure what was going on with my body. The time dragged endlessly before me, but now, remembering, I can’t recall having had the time to do a thing. Where did the time go?
I had returned for my follow-up appointment. The tests had come back negative, just like they always had. Dr. Schultz was sure I that I was experiencing problems from something in my diet, and based on our conversations he decided that it was wheat that was bothering me. However, he was not sure that the wheat problem was actually an allergy.
He decided to let me try eating wheat, to judge my reaction to it. It was quite awful - all the ickiness I had been experiencing returned after just a day and a half of eating wheat. So Dr. Schultz tested me for Celiac Disease: a simple blood test would check for the two antibodies produced by those with celiac disease. It would just take a little while to run the tests. I went to the lab. The technician drew more vials of blood. It was a Thursday.
One week later, I was standing near the phone, talking with my husband, debating how long it would be before the test results came back. I had spent the week researching Celiac Disease and its effects, and I was stressed. I didn’t WANT to have an incurable auto-immune disease. (Who does, right?) At the same time, I couldn’t deny that I had many of the symptoms.
I think I was hoping for a simple allergy. We have some weird dietary allergies in my family - what was one more? I could picture us all, sitting around the table, trying to one-up each other’s allergies. Yeah.
The phone rang.
It was the doctor. The tests for both antibodies were positive. VERY positive. I hadn’t eaten wheat for weeks, except for two days when I added it back it to see if it would affect how I felt. Two days, and the results were super high.
I don’t know what I said on the phone. I remember the sunshine in the windows. I remember the look on Jim’s face. I remember hanging up the phone and saying, “Well! … I guess … Aw, crap.” And then I cried. I don’t remember him moving, but suddenly Jim was there and hugging me. It was going to be Ok. It was. We could do it. We could do it together. We could.
There are very few moments that are frozen in my memory. This added one more to my list.
It was Thursday.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Lookee here, all you critics! I don't care if you DO have the backing of the President! That white stuff is dangerous! It just falls from the sky and sticks to things! What if it's diseased? What if it's radioactive? What if it's something toxic that fell out of an airplane?
We. Could. All. Die.
I mean it! REALLY!! Just LOOK at the road in front of my house! It's trouble waiting to happen. It is.
You're just mad 'cause you're jealous.
I still remember how I had to walk to school in two feet of snow. And it really WAS uphill both ways. Ask anybody from Leslie. They know.
PS Yes, I actually DO have to eat the whole pan. (They're gluten-free and the mix costs $6.50!)