Thursday, November 19, 2009


This is quite possibly the most romantic piece of all time. We're playing this, sans soprano tonight. It is Isolde's love death from Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde. Basically Isolde has come upon her lover right as he is dying. He dies in her arms and then she dies of grief after singing this aria. It is one time where I am not wishing an opera singer to die a little faster from down in the pit. Just gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pleasant Purple

So, things are going well at Wondergirl's school. About a month ago she won the Good Citizen award for her class. It was a big deal and involved walking across the stage in front of the whole school to get a certificate, ribbon and pencil from the principal. Wondergirl's class operates on a color system for behavior. Every day the kids start out on "Pleasant Purple." Then, if they make bad choices, they move to Oops Orange, Yucky Yellow, and, finally, Ghastly Green. (It's not really ghastly green, it's some other "g" adjective that I can never remember. We call it ghastly green here.) When a child lands on Ghastly Green, their parents are called. Kids can also move up to Beautiful Blue if they do something exceptionally good.

Most of WG's class winds up in the orange to yellow range by the end of the day with several hitting the dreaded green. Her teacher has her hands full. The class is rowdy, and it is also her first.

WG is coming up on 50 consecutive days of being pleasantly purple. Tim and I think that's a pretty big deal, so I think she will be getting some sort of surprise reward when we visit Granny Julie and Friend John for Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jumpy Balls

We have been on pantry probation for a little over a week. I was trying my best to make meals from what we have around. I've done a pretty good job with it and have found some things along the way that I'd forgotten I had. The 5 pound bag of frozen cranberries, for instance.

Wondergirl loves cranberries. She always has. When she was in speech therapy, her therapist encouraged us to talk to her constantly. I did. Not being one to baby talk, I explained things to her. One of those things being how cranberry farmers separate the bad cranberries from the good. Cranberries bounce like little balls when they are fresh. The bad ones won't, so somewhere I read that the bounce test is how you easily separate the good cranberries from the bad. I thought bouncing fruit was fascinating, and apparently Wondergirl did too because a year later, at age 3, she confounded me one day by asking me to buy "jumpy balls" while we were in the fruit section. (which shows you that pre-verbal does NOT mean pre-comprehension!) I had no idea what she was talking about. After a lot of frustration I figured it out. And I bought a bag of jumpy balls. Which she ate, raw, in about two days. The thought of eating raw cranberries makes my face hurt a little bit, but WG is all over them. She just ate some this afternoon, in fact. I'm sticking to muffins.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This morning marked 24 hours without a fever, so I am officially un-contagious. I celebrated by going to the grocery store. You know things are desperate when you wonder if mixing jello and applesauce is a good idea and start looking at sweetened condensed milk as a viable alternative for the real thing. Still feeling under the weather and moving slower than usual. I have much more energy now than I did yesterday though. I even cut WG's Halloween Costume out tonight. It was a kind of now or never situation and the pink sequined dinosaur costume she's worn for two years has been promised to another little girl... WG is going to be a bird this year. A pink bird with lots and lots of feathers. Maybe a crown, too. I'll post pics when I get it sewn up.

Monday, October 19, 2009


So, turns out I was a bit too optimistic in that last post. H1N1 threw me flat on my back yesterday. It was quite sudden. I went from being just a bit tired and achy to full out body shakes, extreme pain and a 104 degree fever in a few hours. Not fun. Tim took me to the ER where I got a nice shot of something that took away some of the pain and brought my temp down to a much more pleasant 100. I'm feeling much more human today. Not *well* by any stretch, but I'm also not huddled under a blanket shaking. I'm out of work for the week and was told to stay in bed (no problem!) and drink lots of fluids.

This happened WHILE I was taking tamiflu. (day 3 out of 5) I don't want to think about how bad it would have been without the tamiflu.

Seriously consider getting the vax. This is a nasty, nasty virus.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yup, we've got the dreaded H1N1. Actually, Wondergirl has the dreaded H1N1. Tim and I just aren't feeling great. All three of us are taking Tamiflu, which a wonderful wonderful drug. Really. The exhaustion with this, even with the Tamiflu, is incredible. WG described it as feeling wobbly. That's a pretty good description. We're all slow and taking lots of naps, but I imagine we'd all be in bed all day if it weren't for the Tamiflu.

So, lots of TV and quiet crafts for Wondergirl. Here she is making yarn pom poms. I used to make pom poms all the time at Grandma G's house and I'm tickled that Wondergirl is enjoying them too.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tim's Revenge

Wondergirl is constantly asking questions that I have no answer for like, "If God drove a car, what kind would it be? Would it be a rental car?" or, "You don't work when you get dead, so what do you do all day?" or, "We can't see God, so does that make him an imaginary friend?" More often than not I take the easy way out and tell her that would be an excellent question to ask her father. I justify it by telling myself that Tim is the family expert in all things philosophical since he has a degree in ministry, even though he has never really used it.

Last week, Tim got revenge. Wondergirl and I were in the car when she said, "Mom, how EXACTLY do babies get out of your body? I asked Dad and he told me to ask you." Touche, Tim, touche. I suppose I am the family expert on childbirth.

So I explained the basic mechanics of childbirth. When I was done I glanced in the rear-view mirror to see WG looking at me, horrified. She asked me if I was joking. I assured her I was as serious as could be and then, thinking maybe it would make her feel better, I told her about C-sections. Bad move. WG started shrieking that she didn't want to hear anymore. Then she started sobbing that she was NEVER EVER EVER going to have babies but she was really sad because she wanted to have a husband someday and when you have a husband, you HAVE to have babies. (from what I could gather, this was information she picked up on the playground. Oy.) I explained to her that simply was not true and then gave her some examples of couples we know who don't have children.

Then she said, "But how do you not have a baby when you have a husband?"

I told her I would tell her when she's 10.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kindergarten Update

I have been lax in my Wondergirl updates lately. School has started, the symphony season has started, and I've just been lazy. I apologise.

School is going well. WG adores her teacher. After a little bit of a rough start Tim and I like this teacher, too. The school as a whole we're luke-warm about. They just have some strange rules. If kids get there before the first bell in the morning they have to sit in lines in the gym. They aren't allowed to talk and they have to listen to classical music. Which isn't bad in itself, but they always have the slowest, saddest classical music playing. Maybe they are trying to depress them into docile behavior or bore them into submission. I like classical music (obviously) and even I wouldn't choose to listen to the stuff they play every morning.

They also have the 5th grade safety patrol directing traffic in the parking lot for Kindergarten pick-up. There is a reason why kids have to be 16 to get a drivers license. It's called judgement. It is my opinion that 5th graders do not have sufficient judgement to direct traffic in the parking lot, so I park across the street and walk to pick WG up. I did the car line once. It was enough.

But Wondergirl is getting along well. She has friends. She seems to like the work except for math. She doesn't like math because right now they are working on sorting things and they have to cross off pictures that don't match. She always likes the picture that is different the best and gets mad that she has to cross it out. Today she had to turn in homework that consisted of a big letter A filled with pictures of A words. The kids were supposed to cut pictures out of magazines. We only had seed catalogs. WG cut out all the pictures of flowers whose formal names started with A. Somehow I don't think this is what the teacher had in mind... The kids have to present their letters today, so the whole class will get a horticulture lesson.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moby Chip

I feel like Captain Ahab right now.

I'm not chasing whales, I'm in search of the perfect GF chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have never loved Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are too crisp for my taste. In our Days of Wheat I found cookie perfection in a recipe out of The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Thick and chewy, those cookies were simply the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever. It was the first recipe I tried to convert when I was familiar enough with gluten-free flours and gums to feel comfortable experimenting. It is also the recipe that I have had the least luck at converting. I have made many batches experimenting with different flour blends. As of yet I have had little success. They all taste great. After all, how can you go wrong with all that butter and sugar? My sticking point is the heft and chew of the cookie. The wheat version spread very little. They baked up stout with a slight crisp on the outside that gave way to soft chewiness toward the middle. My gluten free versions? They spread like mad and bake up thin and crispy.

I estimate that in the year or so that I have been trying to come up with the perfect GF chocolate chip cookie recipe I have made over 1000 inedible cookies.

Ahab cookies
I had a bit of a psychic connection going with this batch because I almost put them on a regular baking sheet but opted for a jelly roll pan just in case they spread so much they overflowed the pan. The only thing worse than disappointing mutant cookies are disappointing mutant cookies that set off the smoke detector.

This time I was foiled but I WILL develop the recipe for the perfect GF chocolate chip cookie, oh yes, I WILL.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

For Better or Worse

The period of May to October (wedding season) is to musicians what salmon spawning time is to bears. We don't eat the bridal party but do come out a bit more flush and always with a lot of good stories. Weddings never quite go right, and even when they do there is usually still a good yarn to tell.

like the time when the minister showed up drunk, called the couple by the wrong names and skipped the vows.

or the time when the best man stood up to give my all-time favorite toast: "Well, we never thought this day would come and we're taking bets on how long it will last. If anyone wants to join the pool, be sure to see me."

or the wedding party that broke into a fist fight on the way up the aisle after the ceremony. Shoes were flying, bouquets were flying, fists were flying...

or the time when the bride and groom knocked over the unity candle while attempting to light it and set the tablecloth on fire.

Then there are all the program typos:

Canon by Pachel Bell
Canon by Taco Bell
Pachel's Bell Canon
Pachelbel by Canon
Storm Pipe from Water Music (should be hornpipe)
All Grow From Spring (allegro...)
Panis Angelicus, which was correct until they hit spell check and forgot to proof read their program....

Despite it all, everyone always winds up married in the end which is the whole point, right? The marriage, not the wedding?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oma, Jamie and Ogie

WG has surrounded herself with a community of imaginary friends. I'm thinking this might be hereditary since I had quite the menagerie when I was little: boy-girl twins named Nogie and Eggroll, a dog named Ginger, and a whole flock of sheep. WG's imaginary friends are all people, sort of.

Oma was the first to make an appearance. Oma is devious. Most of the time she is mean to WG. She is seven feet tall (since I've never seen her this is a guess, but she is "taller than Uncle Neil" so 7 ft is probably about right.), has yellow eyes and wild hair that changes color daily. She lives in China, which happens to be around the corner from our house. Oma rides a scooter and, on our recent trip to Ohio, followed us the whole way. Oma has been put in jail for "making bad choices," speared with a sword (by our neighbor), and thrown out the car window (by me).

Jamie is another regular around our house. Jamie is a girl, but she is always referred to as "he" because, as WG puts it, "sometimes girls are boys." Yes, WG has a transgendered imaginary friend. Who also happens to share a name with my mother. Jamie is nice. We don't mind when Jamie comes to visit.

Ogie stops by once in awhile. Ogie is from elbowland.

Today was WG's first day of Kindergarten. I completely forgot to warn the teacher about Oma, Jamie and Ogie. It will be interesting to see if anyone went with her.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What You've All Been Waiting For...

I'll save the vacation recap for later. I know y'all are much more interested in seeing pics of Miss M and WG.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wondergirl -vs- The Garden

Remember this?

That was taken last summer when WG ventured into the "jungle" at the back of our yard, picked some poison ivy and smeared it all over her face.

I took these today:
Picture 002
Picture 003

No, it's not poison ivy. She learned that lesson. (And, can I say that I cannot believe how much more grown up WG looks compared to last summer?!?!)

WG and the neighbor girls often play together through the fence. I thought things had been peaceful for too long and when I glanced out the window I saw elder neighbor girl slamming a cucumber over and over into the fence. WG and the elder neighbor child decided it would be a good idea to make slop stew in WG's wagon. WG picked 1/2 our garden, including every single one of our peppers, and both girls smashed it all up in her wagon.

Needless to say that was the end of playing outside for WG that day. She came in, sobbing. She was in her room and all of a sudden started screaming that her face hurt. All of our peppers were hot peppers. Even the bell peppers cross bred with something and became mutant gigantic hot peppers. She must have had pepper juice on her hands because she BURNED her face. It is actually a lot better now. Right after it happened on Monday her entire eye was purplish red and puffy.

Next summer we will laugh about this. Maybe.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Veggie Land

I took these pictures a few weeks ago, which is eons in garden time. Now we even have wee baby corn cobs coming! Not to mention the new beds that Tim cut for the raspberries and blackberries. He also extended the back flower garden all the way to the back deck. Some day I will get around to taking new garden pics but for now here is our garden.

herb garden
The vegetable garden. This year Tim and WG planted tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, corn, kale, green peppers, hot peppers, radishes and watermelon.
Vegetable garden '09
Veggie land '09
Our $3 Fig Tree that was left for dead at Lowes and now has FIGS on it!!!
$3 fig tree
WG and the first radishes of summer
Alice and radishes, again

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Legend of Hooplemona

A few years back I played a church gig at a church in town. I don't think there was any particular occasion, they just wanted some special music. The string quartet sat in front of the congregation for both services. The service was going smoothly and then the minister prepared to give the sermon. He took a large box of playground balls out, held one up and said, "What do think will happen if I drop this ball?" The congregation thought it would bounce. Amazingly, it did! He dropped several balls: big balls, small balls, small balls on top of big balls.... He must have had a point but I missed it completely.

Then he put the balls away and said, "The Greek word for patience and perseverance is HOOOOOOPLEMONA."

My friends were playing this gig with me and we kind of glanced at each other, like, "did he just say hooplemona?"

Oh yes he did. And he kept saying it. It's a funny word anyway and the way he was saying it, with a Southern accent and getting a little caught on the "hoop", was positively hysterical. Especially because it was absolutely inappropriate to laugh.

We started to get the giggles.

Then he said, "I know someone with great hooop....ulmona and I'd like to introduce him to you."

The lights went down, a screen descended from the ceiling, and a movie started to play. It was about a man who was born with no arms or legs who wanted to be a professional bass fisherman. There was footage of him at a fishing tournament. A shot showed him casting off while the narrator said, "He holds his pole between his chin and shoulder like a fine violin." Every time he reeled his line in (don't ask me how he reeled his line in with no arms or legs, I didn't see because by this point I was staring at the floor concentrating with all my might on not howling with laughter) without catching a fish he swore.

The craziest thing is, I looked out at the congregation while the arm-less, leg-less would-be bass fisherman with great hoooooop....ulmona was swearing and not a single person had a look on their face like this sermon was anything out of the ordinary. In fact, they all looked sleepy and bored.

It was the most awesome sermon I had ever heard. Certainly it is the one that has vividly stuck with me the longest.

Hooplemona has become a regular part of our family's vocabulary. We tell WG that she needs to have hooplemona, or simply "hoople" and she tells us that her hooplemona is all used up for the day, unless the outing in question is a trip to the park or zoo, in which case she has endless amounts of hooplemona.

Lost in Translation

A few weeks back I mixed up some sprite and orange juice and gave it to WG. She was suspicious. I told her it was a kiddy cocktail. She tried it and loved it. Today we went to McDonald's for lunch. I mixed up some sprite with orange drink for her. WG's face lit up and she said, "Thanks for making me a cocktail, Mom!" I parked her at the table and went back for some ketchup. There were a few older women sitting at the next table and when I got back, WG was telling them all about how I make her cocktails and how they are her most favorite things to drink. I explained what she was talking about but I don't think they bought it.


WG loves flowers. Gardening is definitely her thing. When she sees a flower that she doesn't recognize she asks what it is. Her violin teacher has peonies lining her driveway. WG was impressed by them and asked me what they were. I told her they were peonies. She told me she thought pennies were money. I repeated, "No, not pennies, PEE-oh-knees." "Yeah, that's what I said! Pennies!" Then it hit me. She was translating from the Southern accent. When people say "pennies" here it comes out "peonies." Now we call those flowers pennies.


The lyrics: "The house is a-rockin! Go, go rock it!"

WG's interpretation: "The house is a rocket! Go, go rocket!"

Friday, June 5, 2009

How Did We Get Here, Anyway?

It occurs to me that our reason for having WG on a gluten free diet is no where on this site. A lot of you know the story, but for those who don't, here it is.

The summer before WG turned three she got sick. The symptom we noticed most was her thirst. She was guzzling water. Knowing that doctors like hard data we started tracking her intake to see if it really was a problem worthy of a phone call. She was drinking up to 80 oz of water a day. We would put her to bed with a full sippy cup and she would drain it and cry for a refill in the middle of the night. We called the pediatrician's office and were advised to cut her off or offer her alternatives like fruit or popsicles. We were also told that since it *was* summer and we *do* live in the South drinking a lot of water was not necessarily an abnormal thing. It was not unreasonable advice.

We tried to limit WG's intake. That lasted exactly one day. First she screamed when I wouldn't refill her sippy cup and then she got creative. I caught her drinking from the cat's dish. Later I saw her headed for the toilet with her cup. What goes in must come out. WG was also urinating A LOT. She wasn't potty trained yet and I would put a fresh diaper on her only to have to change her clothes five minutes later because she had peed through the diaper.

The pediatrician did a diabetes test. It was negative. The pediatrician ran some other tests which showed some abnormalities in her kidney function. At that time we were refered to a pediatric nephrologist as well as a pediatric endocrinologist.

The pediatric nephrologist was a jerk. His nurse was a jerk. I wasn't wild about his office staff either. He ordered the tests that showed her wonky kidney functioning to be repeated because, in addition to the excessive peeing, WG had a pattern of diarrhea followed by constipation. He told us that would skew the test results and that we needed to bring her in for labwork after she had had normal bowel movements for at least 3 days.

Nearly a month later this is the conversation I had with his jerky nurse:

Nurse: "We are waiting on WG's lab results. Why haven't you had her labs done? This is really important."

Me: "Well, the doc said the first results were skewed because she had diarrhea. He said to wait until she had normal bowel movements for three days before having the labs drawn. She has not had normal bowel movements for three days in a row yet."

Nurse: "You really need to have her blood drawn."

Me: "Well, I can bring her in, but she hasn't had normal bowel movements for three days and I'd really hate to have to repeat this test for a third time. What would you like me to do?"

Nurse: "She needs to have normal bowel movements for three days."

Me: "Okay, but then you're going to have to wait awhile because I don't think she has had three days in a row of normal bowel movements her entire life."

Eventually we got the labs drawn. I think we were "blessed" with three days in a row of constipation and I decided to define that as normal to get the nurse off my back. These labs still came back somewhat abnormal but the pedi nephro dismissed them and us. I was not sad. Of all the docs that WG has seen he is the only one that I knew I could not work with on a regular basis. He has gotten rave reviews from other patients, by the way. We just had a complete personality clash.

The pediatric endocrinologist was not a jerk. I actually liked her a lot. She tested WG for a bunch of things. WG tested negative for all of them.

Finally she said, "I notice that there is a family history of mental illness. Excessive water drinking can be a sign of schizophrenia. You did mention she has terrible temper tantrums. Do you think there is a possibility that WG could be schizophrenic, bipolar or OCD?"

We were a bit stunned that someone (and someone who was NOT a mental health professional) would postulate that our 2 year old was schizophrenic. I think our answer to her was something along the lines of, "No, we don't think that's a possiblity. Perhaps in 10 years or so we might consider that, but not right now."

Our pediatrician (whom we completely adore) was a bit stumped at that point. She sent us back to the GI doc that WG had been seeing on and off since birth. She had been talking to him about WG and he suggested that the excessive water intake was actually due dehydration from her chronic pattern of constipation / diarrhea. He tested her for Celiac Disease and made a follow up appointment to find out the results.

Around that time a friend and I had decided to give the South Beach diet a whirl. I don't short order cook for my family, so WG and Tim were basically eating what I was eating: lean meats, fruit and veggies. Grains were minimized.

WG started to get better. I mentioned to my mom that the GI doc was testing her for Celiac Disease and my mom told me that quite a few people in our family have been diagnosed with Celiac. With that knowledge, we took WG off gluten completely. Quite simply, she got better. She stopped seeking out water. The dark circles under her eyes disapeared. Her tantrums significantly diminished. She gained some weight (which was a good thing!), and she had normal bowel movements for the first time in her life.

Thinking that maybe we were seeing results because we were desperate for answers, we added gluten back into her diet to see what would happen. Her symptoms returned full-force.

At WG's follow-up GI appointment, we were told that her tests for Celiac were negative. She does not have the Celiac gene. Can she eat gluten? Absolutely not. Her pediatrician and her GI docs have said that she needs to stay on the gluten free diet as long as it is beneficial to her.

The gluten free diet has also been beneficial for Tim and I, but that is a whole other post!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Ever since our unfortunate incident with Pace picante sauce I have been buying even less convenience foods in favor of making things myself. (Can you tell I'm still steamed about Pace's formula change? The purpose of gluten in salsa eludes me. Grrr!) Along with salsa, hummus is something I have been making a lot of lately.

My goal is to post more pictures of things on this blog. I'm not going to post a picture of this. Like all hummus it is brown and pasty. Of all the strange things I sent for WG's breakfast and lunch this year, this is the only thing that her classmates made fun of. Poor WG. She loves this hummus so much she asked me to send it for breakfast and lunch one day. When I picked her up she told me one of the boys said it looked like baby poop. Ever since it has been an "at home" food.

I know. I'm really enticing you to make it aren't I? Oh well. It is really good.

The Ingredients:
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice from 1/2 a lemon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Throw it all in the food processor and whirl it until it is hummus-y. Chill before eating.

Missing Buns

Recently I have been making the bread recipe from Gluten Free Girl's website. I've been wanting to try it for awhile and since the season is now over I have some time to experiment in the kitchen.

The first time I made the recipe I decided to turn it into buns instead of making a loaf at the last minute. Amy sent me a bun pan a while back. I have never really gotten GF buns to turn out. We usually eat things bunless.

These buns are different. These buns are AMAZING. I am not a big fan of GF bread. Usually I don't like the taste / texture enough to bother eating it. This bread is different. It smelled sooo good in the oven that WG and I split a bun fresh from the oven.

I have also made this recipe into hotdog buns by shaping some aluminum foil into pans. They are ugly as sin but they work.

The buns are the best when eaten the same day they are made. They are okay the second day but they start to get crumbly.

My hamburger buns were done between 20-25 minutes and the hot dog buns took slightly longer.

Thank you for the recipe, Shauna!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Gluten Free Guest

WG is entering the age of the Birthday Party. Parties are magical and intriguing things to her right now. She has been planning her own party since February. She wants a strawberry cake with green, yellow, and chocolate frosting. Hmmmm...

Parties present a challenge when you must eat gluten free. WG understands that she eats differently than other people and she is okay with that for now (knock on wood!). It is important to us that she be able to take part in social events and we don't want her to feel out of place because of her food. We are used to packing our own food by now. When there is a party I try to find out the menu ahead of time so that I can try to come up with something similar for WG to take. She loves rice cakes with peanut butter but that would not be an acceptable alternative when the other guests are eating pepperoni pizza.

We never expect the host to accommodate her dietary restrictions. It's touching when they do, but we never assume that there will be something safe for her to eat. We always pack our own.

The rule of offering something better definately applies here, too. Party food should be appealing to the child who has to eat it.

It should also be appealing to their friends who don't have to eat it.

Think about it. If you send food that looks and smells weird to the other kids they will tell your child and your child will be more likely to reject what you've sent and try to cheat. If you send something with real appeal, like a cupcake with a ton of swirly frosting and M&M's, suddenly your child has a hot commodity and eating gluten free just got a little bit more desirable.

This rule applies to your own child's birthday party, too. An ice-cream sundae bar with all sorts of toppings or an ice cream "cake" (without the cake) are safer choices than a gluten free cake. Even if everyone you know LOVES your GF cake, it only takes one young guest to declare it weird for things to go downhill fast. Save the cake for the family celebration.

DIY Gluten Free Trial

Whoa... This is post #101! And I'm warning you, it's a long one. I've had a few people ask me about doing a gluten free trial. This is an email I have sent to a few friends and I decided to post it here for easy reference.

First off, If you suspect that you or your child have Celiac Disease, it is important to be tested while you are still eating gluten. The blood test used in the first phase of diagnosing Celiac Disease is not effective once you stop eating gluten.

Always remember to check ingredients for yourself because brands change their formulations quite often.

Gluten is in wheat, rye, barley, malt, and some oats. I think the easiest way to do a GF trial without experiencing grocery bloat is to try to eat mostly "normal" food that also happens to be GF. The more you can stick with single ingredient foods, the better.

Some brands say "Gluten Free" right on the label. More and more grocery stores are labeling items on the shelf as gluten free. A few (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are two) list all their gluten free products on their website. Also, I am not a huge fan of Walmart, but they label their store brand items when they are gluten free.

Random "Okay" foods:
All fruits in their natural state
All veggies in their natural state (be wary of seasoned veggies)
Most cheese and yogurt (Yoplait is labeled gluten free)
Hormel Pepperoni (also labeled gluten free)
"real" meat like chicken breasts, ground chuck, etc. (Be wary of lunchmeat and hotdogs. Unless you can verify with the manufacturer that they are GF, assume they have gluten.)
Corn tortillas
Rice cakes, including most of the flavored ones (check for "contains wheat")
Rice Chex cereal
Corn Chex cereal (newly gluten free. Check the box because some stores are still selling off their old stock.)
All varieties of plain, unseasoned rice

The main things to look out for on labels are: wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt, modified food starch where the starch isn't clearly identified, "spice", and "flavorings." Manufacturers are required to clearly ID the "big 8" food allergens, so wheat is pretty easy to ID.

Here are some meal ideas that use regular food:

Breakfast: Rice chex, yogurt, cheese, fruit, eggs, plain oatmeal with various additions (WG can tolerate the plain oats in a canister but not the flavored packets. Bob's Red Mill makes certified GF oats.), fruit with peanut butter, cottage cheese, dinner leftovers, crustless pumpkin pie, grits, smoothies.

Lunch: quesadillas on corn tortillas, baked beans (check the label carefully), nachos (corn chips, refried beans, whatever veggies I have to throw on, and cheese), peanut butter on rice cakes, peanut butter on fruit, any of the breakfast options, dinner leftovers, lettuce wraps, stir-fried whatever (watch the soy sauce. Use La Choi or wheat free tamari).

Snacks: rice cakes, fruit, cottage cheese, cut up veggies with ranch dressing (check the label), trail mix with rice chex, raisins, nuts and a few chocolate chips, yogurt, deviled eggs, jello, pudding, hummus and veggies or rice crackers.

Junk food: cool ranch doritos, nacho cheese doritos are newly GF (check the label for barley), cheetos, fritos, plain potato chips, some varieties of flavored potato chips, some varieties of microwave popcorn, McDonald's french fries (they generally have a dedicated FF fryer. Other places fry their chicken nuggets with the fries.), McDonalds cheeseburger without the bun, some ice cream, snickers bars, hershey kisses, skittles, 3 musketeers, M&M's.... There's a lot more. It's scary how much junk you can still eat!

Dinner: This is the easiest meal for me because it doesn't traditionally center around wheat. Watch out for "cream of" soups and soy sauce (La Choy is GF). Also, full fat dairy is a safer bet than reduced fat or fat free dairy. Potatoes are a good stand-in for a lot of things. You can make pizza potatoes with baked potatoes, pepperoni, sauce, and cheese. Things that normally go on noodles can usually go on rice, too. Cornbread made from scratch with only cornmeal is also good, and makes a good breakfast / lunch food, too. I use Pamela's Baking Mix for most of my flour needs. It's $$$ but worth it.

Here are a few GF blogs. The first is that crockpot lady I've posted about on the board. Her daughter has celiac, so even though it's not specifically a GF blog all the recipes are GF. The second I just found, but it seems like she is also cooking for someone who cannot eat gluten.  The third is where I go when I want a great baking recipe.  I'm not a huge fan of Better Batter Flour, but I'm slowly warming up to it.

We saw results with WG in about a week. Her behavior started to improve almost immediately. She still tantrumed, but it was more reasonable. On gluten she would melt down several times within the course of an hour and off gluten she was able to hold herself together much easier. Our first clue now that she's been glutened is that she starts going nuts. The physical symptoms come a day or so later.

If you decide to do a GF trial, I'd make a special place in the cabinet / fridge for all the GF food, "regular" or not. Mark it somehow, a big red GF or something, so that you know no one will make a mistake. It's up to you if the whole family goes GF or not. If Tim and I could eat gluten, I think I'd probably make sure our dinners were GF and not worry too much about breakfast and lunch.

If you decide to just take one child off gluten, make sure you have some junk / treats around that are GF. Think of how sad you would be to see all your siblings having a cookie while you ate an apple. Having something better is key to compliance. I think we were so successful transitioning WG to the GF diet because I made sure to buy junk food every time I went to the store for the first few months. Giving up goldfish crackers and cookies is not so bad when you get to have cheetos and snickers mini's! My strategy was to substitute something better and then gradually cut the junk out altogether.

Udi's GF bread is the only GF bread worth buying IMO.  It holds together for a sandwich, smells, looks, and tastes normal.  You can find it at Trader Joe's and also at some regular grocery stores in the frozen section.  You can also make sandwiches on rice cakes.

I hope this is helpful. Going GF is tough, but you get the hang of it. It's not a cure-all for everyone or every ailment, but you don't have anything to lose by trying.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frozen Banana Bread

Katy + too much dairy = migraine. It's not pretty. If I have much more than a serving of dairy a day I suffer. I rarely drink milk anymore because I would rather eat cheese, yogurt or ice cream. I'm not a fan of soy milk. I recently discovered almond milk and was thrilled to find a brand that is gluten free and that has calcium. Still, I don't particularly like to drink it straight. I do use it in smoothies, though.

Here is my favorite drink of the moment. To me it tastes like banana bread in a glass.

Frozen Banana Bread
1/2 frozen banana
8 - 10 oz unsweetened almond milk
a swig of vanilla syrup (like Da Vinci)(be conservative with your swig. The syrup can overpower everything else.)

Blend together. Enjoy!


(WG trying to walk across the studio without tripping over her craft supplies which were strewn all over the floor): "Boy, this is some rocky terrain!"


What I said: "WG, you can't check any videos out until we get back into a library routine. The fines are killing me."

What WG heard: "blah blah blah blah library martini blah blah blah..."

What WG said: "Mom, can I have a library martini?"

Monday, May 4, 2009

4 going on 14

(In the car on the way home from the hardware store.)

WG: I need a ride to Aiden's house tomorrow morning at 6:45.

Parents: ?

WG: We have rehearsal.

Parents: ?

WG: He has a band and he asked me to be in it with him.

Parents: ?!.... 6:45 is awfully early, WG.

WG: But we have a gig. Aiden said so.

Parents: !.... What do you play in the band?

WG: Music. That's what bands play. (I could feel her eyes rolling at my stupid question.)

Parents: No, what instrument? Or do you sing?

WG: I sing AND play the violin.

Parents: And what does Aiden do?

WG: He's the drummer.

WG did not get to go to Aiden's house. I don't know where he lives or what his last name is. WG was NOT happy with me. She told me I was breaking up the band.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Accidental Christian

Tim and WG were in a car accident today. They are both okay, the car is even drivable although a bit crumpled. It's got more character now, for sure. WG wasn't terribly upset about the crash. Tim says that as soon as the car came to a stop she said she was hungry.

Here is what happened after the accident.

(Tim narrating)
Traffic slowed down to the left of me on the interstate and suddenly a buick popped out without looking and stopped in my lane. And the rest is physics. The lady who I hit (her fault to be sure) offered to pray for me as I rested my head on the steering wheel... thinking, "please don't tell me about accepting Jesus Christ as my savior right after you F'ed up my car." Her adult son kept offering his left hand through the window and I looked at him funny (my head was spinning from the jolt) and she said that he is mute and it was his way of saying he is sorry. The lady mistook my disorientation with my being angry with her. She said something to the effect of "are you angry with me? you shouldn't be angry with me. It's just a car."

Almost makes me wish I had been there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Today's mail

* A pamphlet soliciting membership to The American Quarterhorse Society. I don't own a horse. Actually, the only time I ever rode a horse was over 20 years ago.

* Another letter from AARP urging me to activate my membership NOW.

And this:

It's a bank. I have no clue why CVS and the Mars corporation decided to send me a green M&M wearing gogo boots.

It's a good thing I'm not paranoid.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Third!

Apparently they talked about April Fool's at WG's school. On Wednesday she would say something silly and then say, "April First!" She didn't quite get the Fool part. Today we were on our way to school and she said, "MOM! There's a spider on your head!" I started brushing my hair with my hand when I heard giggling from the back seat followed by, "April third!" It's going to be a loooong month.

Kite day

They made "kites" at WG's school today. She was so excited about her kite that she had to take it out of her backpack to show me before we even got in the car to go home. It's a paper plate she drew a picture on with some yarn and a popsicle stick for a handle. She took it out to the backyard when we got home to fly it. It actually catches the wind pretty well. (Yes, that is WG NOT wearing a dress. I was tired of trying to get Tennessee dirt stains out of all her dresses so we've designated these as her "worm digging" clothes. You *know* she loves worms when she is willing to wear pants to get to them!)


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hair cut

WG detests having her hair cut. She's got some sensory processing issues going on and a trip to the hair salon completely wigs (ha!) her out. She's had her hair cut professionally once. There was a kid's salon in town that I took her to a few summers back. She did okay there (and I figured it was a kids salon, so they would be used to the screaming) but it went down with the economy and no longer exists. I can't subject a regular hair salon to WG. The poor stylists at supercuts don't make enough money to have to deal with her. I also feel bad subjecting WG to a regular hair place when I know it makes her extremely upset and uncomfortable. So, I cut her hair myself. I cut her hair around Thanksgiving and decided it was time to do it again last weekend.

Here she is, post-haircut. It went better this time, probably because I read up on how to cut hair. I'm going to buy a pair of hair scissors for the next cut, though. (I've been using fiskars.) Note the "chewy P." Sometimes the only thing that helps WG to hold herself together is to chew. She had two chewy P's going during her haircut.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't worry, Grandma, you can always find another husband.

This is what I said to my grandmother at my grandfather's funeral. In my defense, I was only four at the time and truly meant to comfort her. Four year old logic is a wonderful thing. I am thoroughly enjoying watching WG figure things out and come to her own (incorrect, but completely logical) conclusions about life.

WG has realized that, eventually, living things die. Our conversations about death and dying started when my Grandmother (the one I told to remarry) died earlier this year. She's not morbid or anything, but now she notices that things die. Flowers, bugs, roadkill... Her violin teacher has several (living) turtles and had a frog that died. WG, always observant, asked Miss Maryanne what she did with the frog after it died. Maryanne said she threw it in the woods. WG then concluded that the raccoons probably ate it.

A few weeks later I had forgotten about this exchange and WG and I were reading a book about a little girl whose grandmother had died. WG interrupted the story and our conversation went like this:

WG:"When your grandma got dead, where did she go? Did she go in the garbage?"
Me: "Nooooo...."
WG: "Well, did they throw her in the woods?"
Me: (disturbed) "Um. No... Why do you think that?"
WG: "Remember Miss Maryanne's frog that got dead?"

I couldn't answer her because I was laughing too hard, especially when she asked if the raccoons ate my grandma.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh Boy...

I don't know what the discussion was about, but it went something like this:

Tim: "You don't have a choice."

WG: "I think I do have a choice."

We're in for it....

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Defense of the Grit

Many of you know I had an -ahem- difficult time transitioning to life in the South. Once Mom actually sent me a care package complete with a few cans of Frank's sauerkraut. Sauerkraut, you see, is NOT something the indiginous Southern cook deals with a whole lot. You can get it here but you've got to really search for it. Forget about being picky about brand. I don't think I'll ever appreciate boiled peanuts or sweet tea, but I have come to embrace the grit.

The name "grit" doesn't really make you want to eat it, does it? Make yourself feel better about it. Say it like we do: greee-it. There. All better. If you want to be highbrow about it, hide the box and pretend it's polenta. Although, if you live down here and you serve your guests polenta they will look at you suspiciously. Unless they're Northern transplants.

Here is how I cook my gree-its:
1 can chicken broth (about 2 cups)
1 cup water
1 cup quick gree-its (the kind that cook in 5-7 minutes on the stove. NOT instant!)

Boil the liquids together. Add the grits. Stir it until it's the consistency of soft mashed potatoes, or whatever consistency you like. They will continue to thicken when you take them off the heat.

At this point you can add things to them like a handful of shredded cheese, some frozen corn, a drained rinsed can of black beans, salt and pepper, a pinch of cayenne... The possibilities are endless.

I serve grits as a quick side for dinner. Start to finish they can be on the table in about 10 minutes which makes them MUCH faster than any other starch, except maybe for couscous which we can't eat (gluten). We also eat them for breakfast. And sometimes for a quick lunch.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The worm doctor is in!

WG's favorite thing to do outside is to search for worms in the garden. She has wanted to be a worm doctor for quite awhile, and is very happy that spring is here along with the worms. Unfortunately she loves her patients a little too much and a little too hard and most end up in a better place than our garden. Here she is with her latest patient:


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Parent teacher conference

It's been a long time.

WG is doing well. I went for my first parent-teacher conference a few weeks back. WG is at the top of her class academically and the bottom socially. That's about what we expected. WG is much more comfortable around adults than she is around her peers. It's the catch-22 of RSV lockdown: it keeps them well while they are small, but they lose out on social development. She'll catch up. She's not an outcast, she just doesn't exactly know how to play with her peers and is happy playing by herself.

Academically she's a knockout. On color identification they had her look at colored paper cutouts of bears. The gray bear was a bit faded and was kind of a bluish purplish gray. Miss Kim said she looked at it and said, "That bear is lavender." The faded red was magenta and pink was light pink. No lack of vocabulary here! She's tracking letters from left to right which is, apparently, pretty unusual for her age. She can count to 29 and turn over to 30, 40, 50, etc with prompts. Otherwise it's, "twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, etc." Her scissor use is improving with the adaptive scissors. I actually kind of miss the worksheets that look like they've been attacked by someone with garden shears. They will work with her on transitioning to regular scissors by the end of the year. She's still writing backwards, but her teacher is chalking that up to her left handedness. WG does very well with the routines at school. Her teacher has no reservations about sending her on to Kindergarten next year. Her only recommendation is to keep up her socialization over the summer.

No pictures today, but if you pop over to my sewing blog you can see pics of my latest projects as well as a pic of WG in the coat that Tim made for her.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snow day!

East TN "blizzard" '09

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was GORGEOUS. Very much spring weather: sunny and in the 60's. Today, well, it's snowing. This is a rare thing here in East TN. In fact, this is WG's first experience with "home grown" snow that is more than a dusting. We have an inch on the ground right now and it is still snowing heavily. The predictions call for 2 to 4 inches, which, in the South is the equivalent of 2 to 4 feet of Northern snow as far as the interruption of daily life goes. The mere mention of snow down here makes people do all sorts of crazy things. We are out of milk but I didn't even bother stopping at the store on my way to pick WG up from school today (early, because they closed the schools). I knew it would be a futile mission.

To be fair, we really aren't equiped to deal with real winter weather down here. Why invest in snow removal / salt trucks when it only snows once or twice a winter? The scariest thing is driving in it because people aren't experienced and put too much faith in their large 4-wheel drive vehicles. Today, at least, people seem to be using common sense and caution on the road. Still, we're home and planning to stay here because, as WG says, "when it snows, you stay home and watch movies."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good review!

This past Sunday I performed a concerto with the chamber orchestra. I had a blast and got a good review!

Review: KSCO concert of Bach's music wonderfully satisfying in Bijou from Knoxville News Sentinel

Sunday, January 18, 2009

When lunch lasts too long...

WG (waving a small plastic toy sheep around, finally landing it on the kitchen table where it hops around): "This is Francoise. He's a sheep. He can be a little bit demanding sometimes. He eats our food like this: yomp yomp yomp yomp."

Monday, January 12, 2009

More bad GF news

This is not exactly new news. I think it is important enough to share, though. Wellshire Farm is a company that, among other things, markets to the GF and food allergy community. After a few wheat-allergic children had severe reactions after eating their products, the Chicago Tribune bought a few of their products that were advertised as GF and sent them off to be analyzed. The result? Not GF. Not by a long shot. The products tested anywhere from 119 ppm to 2200 (!) ppm. The US does not currently have a standard for a safe level of gluten, nor is there an official definition of what gluten-free actually means. (So, technically, WF did nothing wrong.) It looks like the wheels are in motion to set a standard, though, and it's looking like it will be set at around 20 ppm.

WG was not "glutened" by these products. They are sold through the Wellshire Farms website as well as at Whole Foods stores. What really makes me mad is that being allergy friendly is one of the main selling points of the WF website.

This bit of news coupled with my recent discovery about the reformulation of several products by Campbell's has me wanting to purge my kitchen of everything except visually identifiable single ingredient foods. I'm frustrated.

If you need to eat gluten free, always read the label. Call manufacturers often. If a product is labeled "gluten free" check to see if it is certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. The GFCO standard for gluten free is less than 10 ppm. Only a small amount of GF products on the market are currently certified as GF. If we vote with our pocketbooks and buy the products that are, more manufacturers will follow suite and get certified. This is crucial for the health and safety of people with celiac disease because, as we can see, a product claiming to be gluten free is not necessarily gluten free enough.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Okay, I lied. Here is my overdue WG update.

WG had a very nice Christmas. She gave us the supreme gift of sleeping in. She finally came in our bedroom at 8:30 (funny how the definition of sleeping in changes once you have children...) and asked if Santa had come. We've never gone overboard with gifts and we scaled back even more this year. Funny, because I think it wound up being one of our nicest Christmas' ever. WG got art supplies, some "girlie" things (lip gloss and stick on earrings from Santa and a very cute apron and barrettes from Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ron. The apron says "diva" which made me laugh because it's so true.) She also got a kids digital camera which she LOVES. Hard telling how many pictures she's taken so far but I wouldn't be surprised if it's up around 1000. Once she figured out she didn't have to actually touch the camera to what she wanted to take a pic of she got some pretty decent ones. The early pics are mainly of the floor, ceiling and the cat's fur.

WG went back to school this week. She has cried every day and has been counting the days down to the weekend. In another week I expect she'll be back to loving school and hating the weekends.

I'm playing a concerto with the orchestra on the 25th. Ack! It's something I'm both excited about and dreading. It's been nice to prepare an actual solo piece again. Pretty much all of my practice time is devoted to learning the orchestral repertoire du jour. I had forgotten how engaging it is to really study a piece. On Sunday I'm doing an interview with the music critic of the local paper as a preview of the concert. The symphony PR rep told me that besides talking about the upcoming concert he is planning on asking me about my symphony blog, specifically about my post about stage etiquette. I'll post a link to that article when it is published.

And now, here are the pictures I promised.

This was taken at Thanksgiving when Granny Julie and Friend John were here. We are all wearing white tops because of a request by Tim's aunt for a family picture. She wanted everyone to wear white tops and blue jeans. Tim doesn't own a pair of blue jeans and it was a miracle that we were able to get WG to wear a pair of pants at all.
Family Thanksgiving 08

I made this top for WG New Year's Eve / Day. It was my first time fully lining something and doing a collar, and I'm pretty tickled at how it turned out. It is enough like a dress that WG likes to wear it. Phew.
Whale top

This is how WG really feels about practicing:
Alice practices 10/08

BUT, she has a beautiful bow hold.

And, finally, here is the most recent pic of the kitchen renovation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

GF news

I'll post a WG update and some pics later today. I promise!

I wanted to pop on quickly to let you all know of some GF news.

The Good:
If you don't know already, Chex has reformulated Rice Chex to be GF! (YIPPEE!!!) Some stores are stocking the old formula until they run out, so check the label for malt.

The Bad:
Campbells has changed some formulas so that things that were GF are no longer GF. (Boo hiss!!!) NO Pace or Prego products are GF. (This would explain the sore in WG's mouth. I have a bottle of Pace sitting in my fridge right now. Grrr.) Also now on the forbidden list are Swanson's Lower sodium Beef broth, Ready to serve beef broth, and all organic broths.

It's a reminder that being vigilent and reading labels is still important even when the GF diet has become easy.