Ugly is Life, Too

Ugly is Life, Too

Instagram is fun. There are beautiful people, clothing, children, flowers, food, lives – BEAUTIFUL EVERYTHING! But the ugly is also there, we just don’t show it.

Well, guess what? I’m going to show it.

As I type this both boys are grounded.
Both currently think that I am awful.

But they seem so perfect!?

They are, but they are also KIDS.

Dave is nearly a teen. He is exploring his world and his limits – seeing how far he can push his reality and in so, he is lying to his parents. This is the second time in the last 20 days where he has been caught mid lie. The first time, he was caught doing something dangerous, something that I had told him multiple times not to do. I called him on it, he denied, I recalled what was seen, he doubled down on his lie and then got mad when he realized that he had been caught and was getting into trouble. Two weeks of grounding. I was all set to explain why what he did was unsafe and to talk about alternatives. But he lied to me.

Seriously, tell me that you did something wrong, own it. Don’t lie. I keep stressing to my kids that being lied to is an awful feeling, no matter how small the lie. I tell them – I will always ground you for lying, even if I wouldn’t necessarily ground you for the actions that you lied about.

This time, he told his brother something that was hurtful – about me. Hank came to me about it. Not a big deal. However, when I asked Dave about it, he denied. I asked him if he wanted to take a second to think about what he wants to actually say to me and start it over. He admitted to the lie. Again, everything is easy to navigate. No problem is unsurmountable, but the lying is something that needs to stop now before it becomes a habit that he can’t break.

Hank, on the other hand has decided to take a small hiatus from school. Like, apparently, quite a long one. Homeboy has not been working on his cursive writing, to the point where he is several letters behind and the letters are now a foreign language. He has also not been doing his work with class, but instead, turning it in with question marks dotting the page. All those breaks that we had been taking walks on? Well, it turns out that, those aren’t breaks.

Well. Gold star for mom, right?

Both kids are grounded. Meaning, no electronics. No Switch, no tablets, no handheld gaming systems, no Alexa reading their books. We’re now all living on the prairie with self-entertainment – with real books! Paper ones. And conversation. Educational conversation about how to be good humans.

It isn’t easy being a parent. It isn’t easy being a kid. It isn’t easy teaching and learning life lessons. But it is our duty to do so. And you know what? It IS Instagram worthy, even if there isn’t a glitter filter to soften the message.

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I’ll Take The Cake, Please!

I’ll Take The Cake, Please!

Please be aware that if you purchase something from one of my links, I may be receiving a compensation through the vender.

The Four Tops sang it better than I could ever write it:

Sugarpie honeybunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself….

Honestly and truly, as much as I add fruits and veggies and hide them, and manipulate them into places not expected, they are not as a big of a hit as sweets with Hank (and frankly, Dave and me, too). After being on the verge of failure to thrive for so long, you better believe your pancakes and jelly, I’ll make that brownie or cake or cookie.

Just like I said on the bread post, I like mixes better than mixing my own flour blend. Even with careful measuring, I never seem to get them right. So, if I am not using a box mix for something, then I am using premix gluten free flour. And again, for us, we are looking for wheat free, which is different than gluten, however, gluten is found in wheat.

A party without cake is just a meeting. – Julia Child

I love cake. Like, I L.O.V.E. it. Because I love it, cake was one of the first things that I tried to make Hank-safe. In the beginning, we had eliminated so many foods that we couldn’t use box mixes, so we fell in love with Depression Cake, or Wacky Cake. This cake was a Great Depression invention to deliver deliciousness within the limitation of lack of supplies. This cake doesn’t need dairy or eggs and works well with alternative flours.

Hank and I worked on this recipe from Budget Byte$ today and we loved this interpretation of this classic recipe. We subbed out the all-purpose flour with our favorite gluten free version. Happily, the substitution is a one to one, so we didn’t even have to do math to do the changeover (yay!). If you are able to have nuts or seeds, both add a lovely crunch and added flavor profile. Many recipes have raisins, this adds not only flavor but also just a bit of extra moistness that will bring a smile to your face.

Whereas, Hank has eaten this cake multiple times before, this was his first time making it with me. He smelled the cocoa powder, and decided that it wasn’t going to be sweet without the added ingredients. He smelled the vinegar and *almost* changed his mind about the whole thing. Once the batter was mixed, he got to taste the raw batter and was SHOCKED that it didn’t taste like pickles.

To top off this beautiful dessert, the recipe that we followed has a simple chocolate icing using water, rather than milk. Normally, I would use coconut milk, but we followed with the water and we didn’t even notice the lack of coconut fat. It was divine.

Overall, we loved it and in fact, both boys launched a scheme to try to get a piece for breakfast. And morning snack. And lunch dessert. And afternoon snack. And, of course, after dinner.

BUT WHAT IF we don’t have time for the whole prep and just NEED cake in 30 minutes? We use King Arthur Flour brand Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.  Happily, it also comes in yellow cake, which is also very good.

BUT WHAT IF WE NEED CAKE IN THE NEXT 30 SECONDS?! Please don’t judge, we all have these days where we need cake and need it now. Well, King Arthur Flour to the rescue again with cookies and brownies in a cup. Just add water and nuke in the microwave, super easy.

Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet. – Sarah Louise Delany

How do you top your cake? A simple and elegant with powder sugar in a pretty pattern? Tub frosting? Duncan Hines has worked well, as long as we double check the ingredients – these usually contain soy and for us, we need to watch for caramel color as that can be made from barley.

I normally use a twist on the standard butter cream:

4 Cups of powder sugar
1 Cup butter alternative – I use Earth Balance
2-3 Tsp of vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp of milk – I use coconut milk

Mix and love.

From this basic recipe, you can change the whole taste of the cake. Sub out the vanilla extract with ANY OTHER extract or… juice. Fresh lime and lemon bring a fresh take on a yellow cake. Fresh raspberries mushed and mixed makes a chocolate cake absolutely sinful. I especially love adding Sunbutter to my frosting along with cocoa powder for a chocolate “peanut butter” dream.

If you mix your frosting and it seems like it is too watery, add more sugar. If you mix too much (GASP!) just bag it, label it, and freeze it.

With Hank’s birthday coming up, I have a request to make a gingerbread cake. I can’t wait.

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What if we loved ourselves?

What if we loved ourselves?

This week, I was hanging out on Facebook and saw in one of my groups, a woman who had taken her book outside to read. She was sitting, prettily, in a lawn chair on her porch with a huge smile on her face. She wore a dress with flip flops. She looked happy and frankly, excited about the book in her hand. The snow around her would have been up to Hank’s knees. There was a child in the background, in full snow suit, playing in the snow.

She captioned the photo that she was going to be outside reading while in the middle of a hot flash. She ended her comment that she looked like a whale.

I was so happy for her until that last line. In fact, it made my tummy drop. I immediately responded that I hoped that she enjoyed her book and that she was beautiful.

Why do we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be so rotten to ourselves? I have looked at my stomach and my stretchmarks and belittled myself. Why? I don’t usually care what other people think about my appearance, but I really care about how I think. I know that my body housed two + children and has walked me miles, has treated me with care, but I look at myself and think about my faults.

What if we looked at ourselves and are thankful to those stretch marks? Our bodies expanded to allow for babies to grow. Or our bodies expanded to allow for more of us to love? How amazing is it that our skin does that for us?

What if we look at those added pounds and dismiss them? I’m not saying that being unhealthy is amazing, but not every pound over our “ideal” number is a pound of awful.

What if we look at our curves and be grateful that we have them? What if we look at our straight lines and love them for what they are? What if we look at our puckers, scars and blemishes and just shrug and move on?

What if we tell ourselves that we’re allowed to take that selfie and post it without adding a disclaimer to the world that we know of our faults?

And to those who may decide that they need to point out anything that they feel make us less than perfect? What if we let them go along with our own feelings of discontentment?

What if we choose to be happy with ourselves?

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How to Bread, Allergen Free

How to Bread, Allergen Free

I’ve been asked a few times about how I feed my family and what are our standard go-to products, so I am going to release several blog posts about just that. In this one, I’m going to concentrate on being WHEAT free. Not necessarily, gluten free, but wheat free. I am very, very grateful to those who are allergic to gluten. Without those wonderful eaters, we wouldn’t have as much alternatives at our disposal. The double edge sword is a thing: I hate that they have to eat that way, I love that we can jump aboard.

Please be aware that if you purchase something from one of my links, I may be receiving a compensation through the vendor.

Oh man, how I love bread. I used to be the girl who filled up on the bread basket at restaurants, who fought for the first slice of my mom’s freshly baked loaves, who would just be happy to eat bread and butter as a meal. Oh, my first love, bread, how I miss you.

But I don’t really. We have really great substitutes. We can purchase wheat free at the store, but we still need to take a microscope to the ingredients list. We are avoiding so many items that even though it doesn’t have wheat, it could not be safe.

Pre-made store bought bread

For sandwich bread, I love that I don’t have to make the bread from scratch. I have and have mixed my own flours to do so, but I didn’t get the bread making gene that my mom has and it was apparent when we took the first bite. So, I am very pleased that I can order pre-made breads. Our main stays are:

Schar Gluten Free Artisan Baker White Bread, 2 Count: this bread is soft but dense enough to put up with Hank’s dairy free butter, even when cold. Depending on what you need to avoid, this company has a full range of gluten free options that taste great and are kid approved. Buns, baguettes and crackers are amazing and all available through Amazon and our local grocer.

Katz Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins | Dairy, Nut and Gluten Free | Kosher (6 Packs of 4 Muffins, 11 Ounce Each): These English muffins also come in plain, however are currently unavailable through Amazon. Hank loves these with his dairy free butter. I have used them as hamburger buns, sandwich buns and they always get dissected so that he can eat the parts of the meal that he likes, separately. The Katz company has a full range of breads and desserts/snacks, including cupcakes, filled cakes and doughnuts. As we are able to (if we are able to) add additional ingredients, I am hopeful that we can introduce more from this company as they are delicious.

Again, read the label. I once bought gluten free ready-to-bake pizza crust and double checked that there wasn’t egg, milk or pea protein that I didn’t even see that it contained orange juice. Guess what? Hank is allergic to oranges, like – instant vom. I had gotten that sucker home and was so excited to use it and had the hubs double check and there it was: Orange juice. Boo.

Make your own bread

I’ve made my own bread before using my oven as well as a bread maker. Again, I didn’t get the magical bread making gene from my mother, but I have made *passable* bread by using the bread recipes in the book Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts.

Colette Martin is an amazing author but also a food allergy mom. She gets it. In her book, she gives tips and encouragement about moving into this new normal of living and cooking. She also teaches how to mix your own flour blends and shares tried and true recipes for everything from the basic bread to scones and doughnuts. She also gives you dairy free options and substitutions.

My best suggestion while using this book and mixing your own flours for other recipes is to measure by grams. I love the Cuisinart Weight Mate Digital Kitchen Scale. It is compact – which means easy to store off my counters. Since bread making is a magical endeavor (ok, not magic, but science), it is important that you measure by weight and not by cup, if the measurement isn’t exact you will get a Pinterest-worthy fail. Trust me, I’ve done it all. My favorite was the raw and runny middle with the burnt outside. That was a special day.

Now, since I don’t love mixing my own flour. I’d rather use a premix blend. My favorite flour is King Arthur Flour, Measure for Measure Flour, Certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary). Actually, I quite love King Arthur all together. When I post about sweets and mixes, I’ll have a whole section devoted to King Arthur.

As with anything, if you have multiple allergies like we do, check the label, call the company, and observe for any reactions.

Future blog posts will include pasta and sweets for being wheat free, I’ll also start pulling together our other favorite substitutes for dairy and eggs. Is there something that you want to know about? Drop me a message through Instagram or Facebook!

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Leave the Lights On

Leave the Lights On

We’re at the end of the holiday season. We’ve seen the New Year claw it’s way into our lives. It’s time to start taking down the trees, the lights, the merriment that we used to push the end of 2020 out. BUT – What if we didn’t? What if we left those twinkle lights up just for a few more weeks? What if we leave the kissing ball hanging from our doorway up for just a wee bit longer?

We’re running head long into the darkest part of the year and I know that we can ward off the winter depression, the winter blues or whatever you want to call it, with light. We get excited every year when the holiday lights go up, why not let that simmer just a little bit longer? We deserve it. I’ve said it before, we’ve made it through the longest decade ever, known as 2020. We deserve a bit of light and magic to bring us through the rest of the winter.

I will be removing the Christmas tree, I will be removing the greenery, but I vow to leave up my twinkle lights in my home until, Valentines Day, maybe? I want to watch the candles and lights turn on with their timers to warm my home in the evenings. I want for my children to feel the warmth for a bit longer.

Now, I’m off to Pinterest to search for ideas that aren’t Christmas-y to decorate with. As the kids say these days, It’s gunna be lit, fam.

(did I use that right?)

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Let those resolutions live and die!

Let those resolutions live and die!

It’s that time of year! It’s time to say good bye to 2020 and hello to 2021, time to air out the house and bring in the fresh air. It is also time for half of my Facebook friends and family to post that they hate going to the gym and seeing those who made resolutions and then watching them fail. BUT, I say, yes! Yes, to the resolutions. Yes, to going to the gym, only if it is only for the free trial period. Yes, to moving a yoga mat from the closet to the livingroom and letting it sit there.

I think that as humans, we look at new beginnings as an important reawakening, but what are we awakening? Is it the resolution or the idea that we deserve some sort of inner change? Do we need to follow through? No. Did we do harm by failing? Also, no. We get into our heads every day and bog ourselves down with how we’ve failed ourselves, but even through those “failures” there is something we didn’t fail. We put ourselves first.

How do we continue thinking of ourselves when our resolutions get away from us? Small changes! Even the very small.

I will:

  • Carry a reusable bag with me to limit my plastic usage from quick trips to the store. Stored in the car or in your purse, you can pull it out and know that you are making a difference to our world. If we’re taking care of the whole, we are also taking care of the individual.
  • Walk after I eat my lunch. A quick five-minute walk – brisk or otherwise – can put us into a better mood. Get that blood moving!
  • Seek the sun! (with, of course, proper protection.) We need the sun to live, but we also need it to feel good. All that Vitamin D is free for the taking, get out there and soak it in.
  • Drink your water! How many of us are living on coffee, wine, or pop (soda?) and forgetting about water? Drink it up!

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

  • I will NOT berate myself for not being able to run that mile, finish that puzzle, have flat feet in downward dog, or finish that book that all my friends are raving over. I will look at my limitations or growing disinterest and decide that sometimes, it is better to let things go. I highly doubt that when I look back at the age of 80, that I’m going to feel bad for not finishing one book out of the thousands that I did read and enjoy.

We’re not competing with ourselves; we should not be seeking approval to treat ourselves poorly because we couldn’t do or follow through with something. We’re coming from a hard year. A really hard year, and it is ok to treat ourselves kindly.

So, feel free to make those resolutions, feel free to tell others about them, feel free to be ok if you can’t follow through with them. But don’t create an inner atmosphere that is more toxic than 2020 was.          

Hank and I were talking today about resolutions. And he said that he had one for me, but wasn’t sure how I was going to work on being even better at it. So, all, here is my resolution that he suggested and I’m going with:

I will be great.

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The Wishing Bridge

The Wishing Bridge

Everyday, Hank comes to me. “Mom, I have a question for you.” I get this question up to three times a day. Rain, shine, snow, wind, bitter cold, blistery hot. I know that it is coming, whether he’s in pajamas or in his day time clothes.

“Want to take a walk with me?”

I hesitate a moment, whether to debate the weather, to finish the drink I was just about to swallow, to decide if the laundry can wait an extra 20 minutes (it always can).

“Please, Cheese, Freeze, Breeze?”

We have a few routes for these walks. We’re lucky to live in a large neighborhood with connecting walkways and sidewalks. Our favorite path takes us in a large circle that has a bridge over a brook.

As we are heading toward it, he collects a rock, snowball, leaf, stick, pinecone – as long as it is small. Well, except the snowball, the bigger the better. Once on the bridge, he takes a second to think about something he wants and then he throws the object over the side to see if it makes it into the water. If it does, his wish comes true. When it doesn’t, he isn’t disappointed, he can do it again tomorrow.

His wishes are for health, for Covid-19 to be over, for us to have a good Christmas, for him to see his friends.

My wishes are for the same, although, I always tell him that I wished for a million dollars.

Taking a moment to focus on the clock as it hits 12:34 or 11:11, I always make a wish. I usually wish for the same things as Hank does.

Do you have a wishing bridge? What are your wishes?

Wendy Price is the author of 10 Little Rules of Hank, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores.

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Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

According to Apfed, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a RARE DISEASE, affects 1 in 2,000 people. So, in the city of Ann Arbor, MI, where there are approximately 121,000 people living, we can hypothesize that there could be 60 people, who have eoe, walking through that college town of only 28.7 square miles.

That is the most math I have done in quite a while, please don’t expect that of me again.

 

So what is my point with all of this?

My dudes (yes, I talk like this in real life and yupper, I am nearly 40), we’re not alone. None of us are. Last week, I received a message through one of my social media platforms. It made my day, that someone came to me with questions. This young lady was freshly diagnosed and, rightly so, was distressed. It was a relief to her to find our story and to find someone else with this link. Hank may be rare, but he isn’t the only one in the neighborhood! So, how do we go about finding others in our same boat?

Social Media: Through Instagram, you can find other families like mine. Families that document their daily lives and struggles, triumphs and wins. Head over to Facebook and not only can you also find us, you can join support boards that cover the world, your state or possibly your county, province or city. And if you can’t, you can start your own! Connect with these families, engage in conversation, ask questions. I have found that most people will answer your questions and lend support. So, ask away!

APFED.com: I love this group, here, you can find local, volunteer-led support groups. This page will also connect you with their online support group.

Your doctor: Who better to know of your local resources than the men and women who are helping you navigate this situation? Ask there for suggestions as well. The bonus here, is that they may be able to recommend a therapist for better one on one support.

I, personally, respond to all (appropriate) questions that are sent to me and usually have the time to dedicate for a conversation. I am not an expert and I don’t sugar coat our experiences. But I am also available for an extra shoulder.

 

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