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Saturday, November 5, 2011

I haven't forgotten you!

Okay, I've been completely neglecting my blog, and I'm sorry!

Apparently, my life wasn't nearly busy enough, so I'm taking on a new challenge: NaNoWriMo!  That's right, I'm writing an entire 50,000 word novel this month.  And to be honest, I'm kind of loving it!  Not just the pressure to write, write, write (though that's kinda fun), but also the story itself! I'm enjoying the intricacies of creating an entire story comprised of people who exist only inside my own head.  I'm actually going to miss this when the month is over, and I probably won't know what do with myself.  Maybe I can find another "excuse" to write daily even after November is gone. ;-)

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to post the synopsis of my novel onto my blog, or if I'll share any writing excerpts.  There IS a way to get to read the entire finished product, even if it's completely terrible dreck - I will be sharing it in its entirety with anyone who donates to the OLL fundraiser - but other than that, I can't decide how much (if any) should be made public.

Kati's OLL Fundraising Page

In the meantime, I'll appreciate anyone who wants to cheer me on!  I am supposed to write 1667 words a day, on average.  Yesterday I got none, but today I wrote 4000, so I think it's gonna even out. I have to say that my hubby has been terrifically supportive, even more than I had expected him to be!  I am so grateful for my amazing man who may not always understand why I feel the need to do some crazy things, but at least understands that I DO need to, and pushes me to pursue it.  Also thankful for my BFFFE Dawn, the only person with an all-access pass to the entire story AS it is being written.  Her support and encouragement is priceless!

Okay, that's it for tonight! I'll post again soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 It's somewhat ironic that Fall is my favorite season and that typically this is my favorite time of the year - but I cannot stand October. 

The first week of October always floods me with tons of painful memories. It has, historically, been a very bad month for my family.

On October 5, 2000 my biological father Dan Walker and my 19 year old sister Kara were murdered by Daniel Renwick in Tucson, AZ.  (Some may remember that he escaped from prison last summer but he was brought back into custody). 

The night before he died, my father sent me a message on e-circles saying that he loved me and was proud of me.  I can't tell you how I treasure those words, to this day. I also remember that I didn't reply - I was tired and was going to "do it tomorrow."

I didn't grow up with him in my life (my mother wouldn't allow him to have anything to do with me until I turned 18), and while I adore my adoptive father and completely consider him my Daddy, there was always a part of "me" that was missing, and I didn't discover what it was until I met Dan and my sisters and brother (they are my half-siblings but I don't make that distinction in my heart. Mike, Kara and Melissa are my siblings, I don't care that we have different mothers).

So when Dan and Kara were tragically, senselessly taken from us, I lost some of myself.  Some of that new identity I'd found only 8 years before.  I grieved not only for their loss, but for the lost time I'd been cheated out of, a lifetime of love and memories I'd never know.  I grieved for my brother and his lost time with his Dad.  I grieved for Kara's son, only 15 months old, who'd lost his mother for no reason. I grieved for my baby sister, my M'issa - the little Daddy's Girl who was less than 2 weeks shy of her 16th birthday.  In those dark days after this tragedy, I sort of became protective of M'issa, I wanted to shield her from ever getting hurt again, by anything or anyone...


But I couldn't shield her from another October. 

Six years later, so much had happened, we'd lived so many different places, but by 2006, my family was living in Washington state, and so was Melissa and her family.  I had my sister! We hadn't grown up together, but we were forging a closeness and a bond that we both needed on some level, and I just loved it. 

In August of 2006, I was in the delivery room as she gave birth to my beautiful and perfect niece Kyerra.  It was the only birth I've ever witnessed.  And OH I took so many pictures of her in her young life! I used to joke that she'd never recognize me without my camera in front of my face.
On October 5th, 6 years and 1 day after I'd been awakened by a 6 AM phone call to tell me that Dan and Kara were dead, I received another 6 AM phone call, this time by a fire fighter.  I still remember his words "your sister is okay, but her baby isn't.  The baby is dead.  Your sister is going to need you."

That beautiful, perfect, precious little darling was gone.  I got my kids off to school without telling them, I couldn't tell them yet.  And then I drove to my sister's house - quite literally the longest drive of my life.  She was still there, laying on the bed, she looked like she was sleeping.  Somehow I ended up alone in the room with her, holding her in my arms, crying, begging God to let her take a breath, to cry, to move. 

The last time I saw Kyerra alive was just 2 days before.  She had a slight cold and had just gotten her 2 month shots.  My sister came to get her boys and I peeked in on our little angel and she was asleep in her carseat.  I didn't want to disturb her, so I didn't unbuckle her, didn't hold her.  I just gave her a tiny kiss on her on nose.  I never suspected that the next time I'd hold her, she'd be lifeless.

I watched my sister go to a dark and frightening place and I fought so hard to be strong for her that I didn't realize that *I* was sinking into a dark and frightening place as well, a place I would live for nearly 2 years before I could see the sun again.  I am grateful for the relationship she and I have, and I'm thankful that we both have our faith and the love and strength of our family to carry us through.  But we've had enough tragedy to last a lifetime, and I pray that they're over now.

I know I cannot dwell in the past, and I really don't most of the time.  I remember the good things and not the bad 98% of the time, and I don't focus on negatives.  But the first week of October HURTS. It hurts on a level I can't fully understand or explain.  And even though I'm not a superstitious person, I have to admit I get a little nervous this time of the year.  I hold my kids a little tighter, I take a deep breath before I answer the phone or the door, and I make sure the people in my life know I love them.  I know how quickly the chance to do so can be lost.

Love people NOW, while you still have the chance.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why is it so hard to do the right thing?

Specifically, why do I keep sabotaging myself?

I know that since going gluten-free, I've done my body a lot of good.  I have seen differences in my boys, too, but just speaking for myself I know it's been amazing.  I have felt better in the past few months than I have in years.  I've gotten off all my prescription meds and have had more energy and less achy-ness than I've had since I was 18.   I KNOW that eating right and exercising regularly helps, and I know that making the choice to eat natural and gluten free had helped me tremendously.

So, why do I cheat on the diet?  Is it because I know it won't KILL me?  I think it is.  I know my life doesn't depend on my sticking to it, so my willpower isn't as strong as it needs to be.  I make excuses in my head like "oh, it's just this once...", or "well, it's a special occasion"... or (my favorite) "I've already blown it for this week, so might as well."  And I don't think about the consequences.  I don't think about the fact that I am gonna pay for it later.  Yes, that slice of "real pizza" is so tempting, but it'll take me 2-3 minutes to eat it.  It's going to take me 2 or 3 DAYS to stop hurting all over and feeling like I'm in a half-asleep fog.

Sometimes it's that the food is good, and it's been awhile, and I just want it.  Sometimes, I just can't say no to my family or friends.  Sometimes I don't want people making a fuss or making "special food" for me, so I keep my mouth shut.  Sometimes I'm just lazy, or tired from a busy day, and grabbing a pizza or a burger is sooo much easier than going home and cooking something.  But whatever my reason/excuse/justification might be, the fact is that the only one it hurts is ME.  A few days of fun and "pigging out" has its consequences.

Right now I'm fighting my way through one of the worst fibro flares I've had all year.  I'm so sleepy and my joints all ache.  I feel heavy and bloated and disconnected.  I can't concentrate on anything, and just all over don't feel good.  And I  know why.  I know it's because it was my birthday and I went crazy. Then it was my friend's birthday and I went crazy again.  And it all made sense in my mind.  It still does, I just wanted to have "fun" and be like a regular person.  And it sure did make my family happy to get to eat whatever they wanted.  But now I am paying for it. I can only blame myself - I'm an adult and I can certainly say no.  Is it worth it? I don't really know.  Right now it doesn't feel like it is, but I know myself and I know the next time a special occasion comes up, I'm going to be just as likely to say "okay, just this once."

I don't know what it's going to take for me to decide that "just this once" is one time too many.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Post

It seems almost obligatory...if you have a blog, you pretty much have to post about 9/11 on the 10 year anniversary.  I get it.  We can never forget, should never forget, MUST never forget.  I know I never will, I still cry every single time I think about that day.

While I've spent a lot of today thinking about that day, I realize that I actually thought about TODAY, 10 years ago.  I did.  Amidst all the horror and fear and confusion, I remember asking myself what our nation (and world) would be like in 10 years.  Would we find those responsible quickly? Would we have achieved a sense of peace and security again? Would we even still exist, or would an even bigger attack come to destroy us all?  I didn't know.  But I wondered.

So the question most people ask is "where were you?" What they're really asking is "do you still remember every detail of that day more clearly than you do yesterday?" For me, the answer is yes.  I had two toddlers at the time, and basically lived in a state of perpetual exhaustion.  We lived in Harker Heights, TX.  Mike worked at Fort Hood.  I woke up that Tuesday morning and (as I did every day) turned on the TV immediately.  My oldest is autistic and he had his TV routine.  Bear in the Big Blue House was first up, then Elmo, then of course The Price is Right.  It was one minute before 8 AM (central time), and when the TV came on, it was still ABC.  As I reached over to change the channel for Noah, I heard the announcer saying something about a plane crash in NYC, and I flipped back to the channel just to see.  While I stood there watching, thinking how terrible it seemed and hoping they would get everyone out quickly, the 2nd plane hit.  That's not something I will ever forget seeing.  That was the moment my entire world shifted on its axis, everything stopped making sense, and I knew something horrible had happened.  I knew nothing would ever be the same again.  I knew *I* would never be the same again.

I stood in the living room for the longest time.  I couldn't even sit. I just stood there. I don't think I moved for an hour.  The boys just ran circles around me, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the floor holding them and weeping.  Trying to call Mike, and my friends.  At some point, I made my way to the computer and found some sense of community in an email group I was on, and a messageboard I frequent.  All the while trying to understand, trying to make sense.  Trying to imagine what the world would be like tomorrow, next year, in 10 years.  I didn't know there would be 2 wars to come out of this.  I didn't know that my husband would be looking at his 4th deployment (though I did know he'd be sent SOMEWHERE and that his military life would change drastically).  I didn't know if another attack would come, if we were safe.  If we'd ever feel safe again.

I also didn't imagine that on the 10 year anniversary of that horrible day, that I would be teaching 18 children at church about it.  That we would discuss the country's natural reactions immediately after that day (fear, anger, hate, mistrust, etc).  And that we would be discussing God's word and what He wants US to focus on.  I read them Psalm 46 (same one President Obama shared at the 9/11 tribute today), and we agreed that we need to LOVE one another, love our neighbors  -ALL our neighbors.  That we need to commit to HELPING each other, every day.  We discussed the everyday citizens who were heroes that day.  Of course the military, police, firefighters, medical workers, etc are all heroes we should always give thanks for, but there were people who were just going about their everyday lives, saw a need, and met that need.  That's how we should be ALWAYS. September 11, 2001 put the UNITY in community. And we talked about the JOY we should walk in, every day.  It's not always easy, but it's necessary.

Love, joy, unity, helpfulness - those are the ways we should let ourselves be changed by tragedy.  Bitterness, fear, hate...that just lets the terrorists win.  Let's not ever let them win, let's honor the memories of our dead by living our lives well, and always striving to make this world a better place.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I promised I'd post about my birthday!

So, my birthday was last weekend, and it was GREAT!  Didn't turn out to be anything like I expected, but it was awesome and showed me how great life can be when you throw out "plans" and just make your own fun!

Finances didn't work out in our favor, so the things Mike had planned (like taking me out to my favorite restaurant or getting me a big gift) weren't going to happen.   But I still got gifts.  Mike and Noah got me candy, Nathan got me my favorite Angry Bird, a friend gave me the most unique and awesome bread knife I've ever seen, another friend gave me PERFECT socks, another a PRINCESS CUPPYCAKE SCENTSY WARMER (seriously, could you get more perfect?) and earrings from another. I even got a collection of books from a lady at our church.  Each of those gifts were meaningful and special, as were the birthday cards I received (including one from my grandma, which meant a lot to me, as she's not known for sending them, lol). Tons of well-wishes on facebook and a few text messages and phone calls made me smile, too.

On my actual birthday, after church my friend kidnapped me and took me to Starbucks. After that, we went to Goodwill and put on a hideously hilarious fashion show.  Because I value my life, I am not posting pictures from that here, but I will say we laughed A LOT and drew a bit of a crowd as we modeled the worst things we could find. While we were gone, Mike and the boys cleaned the house - BONUS!  Then we went back to her house and ate burgers and played a game and laughed all night.  It was AWESOME!

The next day (Labor Day), another friend took us out to The Crab Shack for lunch and then we went to the beach. A great time was had by all until the waves attempted to kill me (did you know that if there's a hurricane in the Atlantic that the waves and riptides on the East Coast get stronger and more dangerous? This is good information to have.  I still have "beach rash" down my back).  That evening we cooked out and some other friends came over for game night (I'm addicted to game nights).  As a side note, if you've never played Quelf, you need it.  It's hysterical.

So yeah, that was my birthday weekend.  It was amazing.  I am blessed with wonderful friends and family, and this weekend was just a reminder of that.  I don't need anything fancy or a lot of money spent on me, I just need love and laughter and fun.  Also, I'm not getting anywhere near my scale this week. ;-)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Because I love you all...

...I'm sharing an amazing recipe with you!

My friend Susan brought this dessert to the Court of Honor last week, and it was a HUMONGOUS hit.  Honestly, it's so simple but it's goooooood.  It is NOT gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, or anything people should eat everyday, but if you want a decadent and delicious dessert, look no further!

Susan's Sopapilla Cheesecake!

Oh yeah, and the boys earned several merit badges & Nathan earned his Tenderfoot rank. Very proud. :)

And if you're wondering about that crazy look on Nathan's face, let's just say he was a bit sugared-up...

Have a great Labor Day weekend, y'all!  I'm sure I'll post again in the next few days (if anything blog-worthy happens on my birthday, that is)!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Oh happy day, school is back in session!
It was a nice summer, but a crazy and chaotic one.  It was fun, but loooonnnngggggg...I swear July lasted a year. Now school is back in and I'm thrilled and excited.  Noah and I will be embarking on a new adventure together, I'm going to be facing some new challenges and responsibilities, and Nathan is already settling into a groove and enjoying the 6th grade.

Nathan is in band again this year, but is going to stay out of chorus this time.  I think this was a mature choice he made, as he was really overwhelmed last year. He's also in the gifted program and doesn't need to push himself too hard right now.  Both boys are also in Scouts and have a lot of responsibilities and activities there, plus they both have bowling league and are involved in a youth ministry.

Noah is in 8th grade now and is officially "homeschooling".  Last year he did K-12, which is a good program but wasn't a good fit for him.  He seems really happy and optimistic with our program, and isn't stressing himself out or getting upset or overwhelmed, which is really what he needs. He really loves that we can do fun activities for P.E., like an hour at the pool or the Wii Fit.   We've also joined a homeschool co-op and I think it's going to be great for both of us.  We meet one day a week, I get to teach one class and help with another one, and Noah gets to take several classes that he's interested in as well.  Also, he is currently a quartermaster in his Scout troop. He's come such a long way, I'm really proud of him.

In addition to teaching at the co-op, I've also become the committee chairperson for our Scout troop, and continue to lead the Mpact Girls ministry at our church. So between that, bowling, homeschooling Noah, babysitting after school every day, and being a full-time college student myself, I think I'm busy enough right now. :)  I'm also going to be joining the PTA at Nathan's school, of course.  I do need to get back on some sort of a cleaning schedule though, my house seems to keep getting completely out of my control!  I also need to learn to take advantage of my "free time" and do some pre-cooking, baking, soaking beans, etc.  Once Noah and I have settled into a good daily routine, I'll be better able to manage my time. 

I have some recipes to share and maybe a few funny stories and photos as well. Hopefully I'll have more time to blog more often!

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Happy Weight" Is Kind Of Depressing

Yes, I know I already blogged this morning. You get a bonus today. Don't get used to it.

I am happy. 
My hubby is home from deployment, we have family time, and I'm happy.
I can tell, 'cause...yeah. I can just tell. 

There's a thing called "happy weight".  When you're really happy and content, you tend to put on a few pounds.  Now I am an emotional eater, so I eat when I'm happy. Or sad. Or depressed. Or angry. Or bored. Or it's a day that ends in "y".  But I digress.

See, when Mike is deployed, I tend to lose weight.  I work hard, eat right, track every morsel I put in my mouth, exercise regularly, and basically do everything in my power to "WOW" him when he comes back home to me.  I really focus on the goal. I lost 50 lbs during his last deployment. 

Then, he's home.  I'm making his favorite foods, we're hanging out together, we're having fun.  I'm not paying attention to the scale, or noticing when my jeans start to get a little snugger.  When I do notice, I ALWAYS blame the dryer...this is a rule. It is always the dryer's fault.

He doesn't care, I know he doesn't.  Sad thing is, I don't, either.  I really don't.  As long as I'm healthy and feeling good and know that I'm eating the right foods (even if I eat a smidge too much here and here), I really don't care about my weight very much.


Well, I don't spend a lot of time in front of a mirror.  I don't have time, first of all, and second I'm just not all that interested in it.  So sometimes I see a picture of myself and think "wait, do I LOOK LIKE THAT?!"  Because that's not how I remember myself. 

  A few weeks ago, we had some family pictures taken by a local Army wife whose building up her photography business.  I just got the disk yesterday and I have to say, she did beautiful work.  Here's a sampling:

My reaction to these pics went like this:
1) wow, those are really nice shots, I love the way she played with the light
2) I have some VERY handsome fellas in my life!
3) Gosh, I am so glad both my boys have buzz cuts now
4) Man, I am really crazy about Mike, and I think it shows


To my credit, at least it wasn't my very first thought.  But it's there.  And now I'm thinking about my weight again.  I'm back to wondering if my top is too tight.  If my butt looks big in those jeans (though, hubby likes the butt, so that makes me feel a little better lol).  If people are looking at me going "man, she used to look so good".  See, over the past year or so, friends and people at church have told me how great I look, how they can really see that I'm losing weight, that I'm "wasting away to nothing" (that's my favorite, since I haven't been anywhere near my ideal weight since 2006, but it was fun to hear that).  So now what are they thinking?  And why do I care?

Does it matter if I have a little extra pudge here and there, if my doctor says I'm healthy and I feel good and know I'm doing the right things?  Does the number on the tag matter if my husband thinks I'm beautiful and sexy?  Does other people's opinions of my weight matter, as long as I know who I am and that I'm a beautiful person on the inside and a child of God?

It shouldn't.  The size of my heart, the size of my smile, the size of my sense of humor, the size of my personality - those should all matter more than the size of my rear end. 

I have so many amazing things in my life to focus on.  I have joy, love, friendship, fun.  Those are all better than worrying about whether or not I have a muffin top.  There are people who need me to be there for them, to be a friend, a teacher, a mom, a wife.  That's where my focus needs to be. 

I know me. If I spend my time focusing on the weight I've gained, I'm going to beat myself up for letting all that hard work go to waste.  I'll start the negative self-talk, and then I'll emotionally eat.  And I'll be depressed, and angry with myself, and then I'll be crabby with the people who need me.  Who does that help?

I'm not giving myself permission to eat a lot of junk, to sit around and watch TV all day, or to just completely give up.  Being healthy is very important to me, a lot of junk food makes me feel terrible, and sitting around all day is BORING.  I know that I need more veggies and less chocolate.  I know I should take more walks.  I know that having a milkshake for dinner needs to be a rare treat, not a regular dietary choice.

But today I am choosing to accept my "happy weight" - and to be grateful that my husband is home safe, to be in the moment and focus on the things that really matter, and to be thankful that I'm in such a wonderful place in my life to have the problem of "happy weight".

How I Spent My Summer "Vacation"...

This week, my husband and sons have been gone to Scout camp.  People keep asking me how I'm enjoying my "vacation".  Truth is, I'm not sure I know how to take one! Oh sure, I talked big about all the stuff I was gonna do (go to the movies by myself, clean and organize the whole house, take 2 hour long baths, go shopping all by myself, catch up on MY shows on the DVR, etc).  Big plans!

Yeah, I haven't watched a single show on my DVR this week.  I HAVE just about conquered Mt. St. Laundry, but that's all the housework I've done.  I've babysat everyday this week, 4 boys under 10, but none of them are mine and all of them are gone by dinnertime! And I've gone to my friend's house to watch Firefly most evenings this week (yeah, that show is NEVER gonna get old).   I never made it to the store.  I still taught at church Wednesday night, I still took care of the dogs and the cats, and I even took a few minutes to try my hand at "advice columnist"! Ironically, that is all about taking time for yourself and taking a break sometimes. Whoops.

I just can't stand to be bored.  I think that's why I have a pathological need to bite off more than I can chew. I do it with school, work, big projects around the house, etc.  I feel like I'm being lazy and useless if I sit around and do nothing.  And there's a time for being lazy and useless, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't stand doing a whole week of it. I've had a few little "wins" - I've stubbornly refused to bake anything or cook dinner at all this week (been too hot anyway), one night I had a milkshake for dinner(!), I've stayed up as late as I wanted (and paid for it the next morning, but oh well), and I've drank as much coffee as I feel like without having to share the pot.  So I guess I've acted like your average college kid this week.

Next week, things will be "back to normal".  My boys will be here to bicker and argue.  I'll have 6 boys to entertain and moderate.  I'll have to make sure dinner is made and on the table at a certain time, and I won't be able to hang at my friend's house until 1 AM.  The laundry will pile back up again and I'll be grossed out by the bathroom within minutes of their arrival.  I'll go back to counting down the days until school starts.  I'll be planning my youngest son's birthday party and spend my evenings catching up on Falling Skies and So You Think You Can Dance with my hubby, because I've discovered that watching my shows with him is much more fun than doing it alone.  I'll be back to being "me" next week, so I guess you could say I HAVE had a vacation this week, from my normal "real life" just didn't go the way I planned - and really, what vacation ever goes as planned?

If you don't have this show, you need it.  
That is all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ahhhh, gotta love summer!

Ahhhhhh summertime.  Evening thunderstorms, day trips to the beach (complete with jellyfish stings), visits from loved ones, blockbuster movies, and about 100 other reasons to completely ignore one's blog.  :)

So what have we been up to? My family has been REALLY busy since school let out, as are most other families, I'm sure.  So far it's been a terrific summer for us (even with my 12 year old finding the business end of a jellyfish), full of fun times with friends and family. The busyness is not going to let up any time soon, as my boys are getting ready to leave for Scout camp and I will start a new (full time) babysitting job next week.  And I've only got a little over a month before I have to start thinking about school again - Nathan will be going back to his public school, I will return to my online college and will be homeschooling Noah (I sure hope I can remember 8th grade math)!  I wanted to touch base here though and update a few things.

Sadly, after a lot of prayer and tears, we had to surrender my Altman bulldog, Petey.  He was too much for our family, and too rough on my boys.  It was hard to let him go, but probably easier than getting rid of the children.  I do not consider animals to be disposable, and I do not take letting animals go lightly, so this was a very difficult decision for me. I did face some criticism from people who don't even know me, those who DO know me know it broke my heart. 

In other news, I have been letting my kids "cheat" and have gluten-based products this month.  It's an interesting experiment, and a sort of necessary one since with camp and such it's difficult to monitor or control everything they eat.  Obviously if they had celiac I would be far more strict, but they don't and it's been a personal choice to go gluten-free and try to take them off meds or at least reduce them.  In Nathan, I've seen more "hyperness" but not really any other changes.  In Noah, I can't really describe what I've seen other than to say that he seems "more autistic" than he does when he sticks to the plan.  Also, it's worth noting that he has mentioned several times "not feeling well" after eating things off his diet.  So if this experiment has shown me anything, it's that going gluten-free was a good choice for my family.  When they return from camp, we'll be going back to it completely.  In the meantime, I've chosen to remain GF except for rare exceptions.  This is because it's just not really worth it to me to feel lousy and be in pain for a couple of days when I have other options.   In that same vein, I'm excited to try out a bunch of new recipes and products. As always, I'm happy to share what I like, so be on the look out!

I've stopped going to physical therapy for my shoulder.  We'd gone as far as we could with it, and all the exercises I was doing I could do at home.  It's really just about pain management at this point, since the ortho has no intention of fixing it and I'm honestly too busy to seek out a second opinion.  However, I have STARTED going to physical therapy (the same dr) for my neck.  It was injured at the same time as my shoulder (back in October 2010), but I could never get anyone to do anything about it til now.  Some of the problem is irreparable (it's very very straight, no curve), but we are working on stretching and strengthening the muscles and that will hopefully reduce the pain, stiffness, and limited mobility that I've been living with.

Ohhhh, there are probably a dozen other things I could write about. I should really start keeping a notepad handy for when I have the the thought "I should blog this!" because right now I can't remember any of them! This is already pretty long though, and I really SHOULD be packing my kids' clothes, so I'll end this now and promise to NOT wait another month before I blog again. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cheesy GF Enchiladas

1 pkg (6) GF tortillas (I used brown rice), or you can make homemade.
1 lb ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice
salsa of choice
3 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
mexican seasoning and cinnamon to taste
sliced black olives (small can)

Prepare a 9x13" glass pan with olive oil. Preheat oven to 350.

Brown ground beef, drain.  Mix in the rice, seasoning to taste, about 2 tbsp salsa, and half of the olives.

Soften the tortillas if you're using refrigerated, or they will tear when you fill them.  I layer them with damp paper towels and microwave for about a minute.

Fill the tortillas with approximately 1/4-1/2 cup filling, and about 2 tbsp cheese.  Roll up and place in baking pan. Top with salsa, the rest of the cheese, and the rest of the olives.

Cover with foil, bake 10 minutes. Remove foil, bake 5 more minutes.

Serve with your favorite GF tortillas chips!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

According to the "blog rules" this should be Wordless Wednesday. Meaning, I shouldn't say anything, should just convey my thoughts via photograph.  Considering the fact that my brain has disengaged from my mouth almost entirely, that would likely be a wise choice.  Which is probably why I'm not doing it.

One may be surprised by this statement, but it turns out that there are disadvantages to not having a single full night of sleep in a 2 week period.  Shocking, I know.  It would appear that the canines in my life have devised a plot to keep me awake forever.  Here are the usual suspects:

The face-squishing 90 lb Altman who CANNOT sleep unless he's touching me or completely on top of me (tell me again why we spent our tax return on a king sized bed?) wasn't able to keep me conscious all by himself anymore. I learned to just sleep in an awkward half ball with one hand over my face to protect it. So he had to call in reinforcements.

The little yapper (who they claimed was a pomchi but looks, and sounds, more like a hyena bat) does her part.  Her favorite trick is to whine and scratch at the bed til I pick her up and put her on it beside me, only to jump off and do it again in 5 minutes.  Yes, she has stairs, but what would be the fun in her using THEM?

If Petey is the brains behind the operation, Max is definitely the muscle.  110 lbs of pure stubborn.  No amount of scolding, water squirting, smothering myself beneath a pillow or crying will deter him once he's decided it's time to get up.  Be it 2 am, 4, am, or 3 minutes before my alarm goes off, he WILL have his way.  He starts with panting heavily 2 inches from my face.  I know most girls might like that sort of thing, but I'm really more of a "just let me sleep!" kind of lady.  When that doesn't work, he shakes his head to jingle his tags.  Then we progress to the low-growl, the whine, and finally the bark (which could rival a freight train in a silent room in the middle of the night).  Yes, you WILL rise.

Don't be fooled by the sweet face, this culprit is likely the most nefarious of all.  He plays innocent and cuddly, and rarely instigates any trouble.   However the second one of the others gets any ideas, he's right behind them going "yeah, yeah, what he said!"  Not only does he egg them on, he literally jumps up and down with joy and yelps with excitement.  One is tempted to give him a sidelong look and ask "et tu, Brute'?" 

So far their sleep-deprivation experiment has had interesting results.  Last night after my son's band concert, I complimented my son's teacher by telling him he'd "incensed a still of confidence" in my boy.  Then? I said it again.  You know, for effect.  I'm a little surprised the man let me put my child in the van and drive home.

Also, the "Stop Talking Now" signal in my brain seems to be malfunctioning.  Not that it ever worked all that great to begin with.  But at least in the past, I knew what the mouth was saying before the ears heard it.  Now I'm just as surprised as the person I'm talking to.  Which is also sometimes me.

I find myself concocting schemes that might sound preposterous to a well-rested and/or sane person.  For instance, today I am considering canceling all my plans so I can stay home and watch the dogs for any sign of sleepiness.  As soon as they close their eyes I can pester them awake again.  All day.  Maybe even pant in their faces.

By the way, of course every creature in my house is sound asleep as I write this.  It's almost time to get my youngest up for school, but the house is practically silent.  Or, would be, if Max wasn't snoring (note to self: invent Breathe Right strips for dogs, make millions) and chasing something in his sleep.

If you'll excuse me,  think it might be time to test the smoke alarm...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's Mother's Day! You matter!

Today is Mother's Day, a bittersweet day for some of us.  So many of us have lost our mothers too soon, or have difficult relationships with them. Some have been abused, neglected or abandoned by the woman who was supposed to love us most, some of us never even knew her.  Some of us are mothers who've lost children, or had them taken from us. Some of us have longed to have a child.

Yes, today can be a tough day for some of us, but I am praying blessings over us all.  Every woman can make a difference in someone else's life, every one of us can show love, nurture, teach and support younger people and be like a mom to them.  And I hope that all of us have someone in our lives that we can look up to a depend on, whether or not she is the woman who gave birth to us.

I know I am very richly blessed with three amazing stepdaughters (who have all grown into wonderful young women, and one of whom is now a terrific mom in her own right), and two precious little boys who are becoming young men faster than I would like.  I am also blessed with a lot of God-given "like-a-mom" ladies in my life who fill a void that I spent a long time denying was there.  I am so thankful for all of them, and also for a husband who appreciates me and friends that take time to bless me and make me feel special when I'm having trouble remembering that I matter.

So I want to say something to every woman reading this right now - YOU MATTER.  Whether or not you have a relationship with your mother, you matter.  Whether or not you have children of your own, you matter.  Whether or not you have someone in your life to make you feel loved and appreciated and important, you matter.  You matter to God, and you matter to me.  I hope you'll reach out to others, make a difference in their lives, and let them know that they matter, too.

Any men who might be reading this - celebrate the ladies in your life.  Show them that you appreciate them and love them...because sometimes we forget.

Be blessed today, and take any opportunity you can find to bless others.  It will matter.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Tornadoes

Today's thankful Thursday has a slightly somber feel.  Today I am thankful for my family's health and safety, but I cannot forget that SO many others are not as fortunate. Last night a history-making outbreak of tornadoes ripped across 5 states leaving behind a vast sea of devastation and death.  Right now the body count is about 280, but that is almost certain to rise. The clean-up and rebuilding is going to cost more money than I can fathom, and require a lot of people working together.
I am thankful that we have agencies that are already at work in helping the victims and that we are blessed to be in a country that has the resources to respond quickly to emergencies.  I'm thankful that every American citizen can do SOMETHING to help and not have to just watch the footage and feel helpless.  If we're close enough, we can lend a hand, give of our time and talents.  If we're too far away, we can contribute monetarily and/or send supplies.  And I'm thankful for the American spirit of unity that can put all bias and prejudice aside in times like this and simply reach out brother to brother.  I'm so grateful for this amazing country we have, and the citizens that make it something special.
My heart goes out to all the victims and their families, my prayers are with those who were affected by these storms (tornadoes, flooding, etc), and my hope is that we will all find some way - large or small - to be a part of the solution and bless others.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday Thoughts

I've decided I want to take my blog in a new direction. Oh, it's still about our new healthy and gluten-free journey, and I'll still post recipes when I find some (or make some up), but I have personal things I want to share, too.  And since it's my blog, I guess I can do whatever I want with it. ;-)

So today I want to share "Thankful Thursday" thoughts.  Last week, I was teaching my church girls (I'm a Missionettes leader) about gratitude, and about how we need to be thankful in ALL things, even when things seem bad.  Because even in the worst storm, there's always something to appreciate.  It's so easy to get bogged down in what's WRONG, that we very often overlook (or take for granted) what's RIGHT.  Our finances might be a mess, but there's food on the table every night, a roof over our heads, and laughter filling my home - so I'm blessed even when I don't know how we're going to make ends meet.  We will, somehow, I trust God to provide, and when things seem bleak, I'm learning to focus on what's GOOD.

I have amazing friends.  It seems like every time I turn around, I'm in a "club" (not a real club, but a group of ladies with a silly name who love each other and are there for each other no matter what) - I know even when I feel lonely, that all I have to do is call on my GodsGals, my CMOBsters, my God-DIVAS, my SistaChicks, or my Tres Dias sisters, and I'm gonna be okay. I have a great earthly BFF Dawn, and not to mention my heavenly best friend Jesus who will always be there for me. I have my incredible church family and the most amazing pastor I've ever met that I can count on, and a wonderful family (some by birth/marriage) that is going to love me no matter what.  Not to mention some pretty terrific kids and the world's most adorable grandson.  So HOW can I feel sorry for myself?! 

I'm also SO thankful for this new journey, this wonderful adventure of this year.  I'm seeing so many results and learning so much, and it's just FUN.  Now sometimes it feels like a roller coaster ride (and those who know me know how I feel about THOSE), but I kinda like not quite knowing which way it's gonna turn next, while still feeling safe and secure whichever way we go.  This is an exciting new way of life for us, with many ups and downs, but SO many great stories to tell along the way.  I'm thankful for the support, the knowledge, and the changes so far. I'm grateful that my family is with me all the way, and that they're feeling the difference too. 

I'm thankful for so many things, more than I could list here.  But I'm going to try, every week, to show my gratitude for my blessings, and hopefully I'll inspire others to look at the good things in their lives as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recovery, it's not for wimps!

So I'm 3 days post-op now and in my imagination I'd be be-bopping through my house by now, cleaning up after the boys and the dogs and feeling fine.  It didn't exactly work out that way, as I'm sitting here in my recliner with a cool rice bag on my tummy while my family is at church without me. *sigh*  BUT I am doing better and I am getting around a bit quicker.  The little travel pillow the hospital gave me for when I have to move around has been my best friend these last few days (sorry Dawn!), followed closely by the very nice medications they prescribed me.  However I've found that the medicine works best if you take it exactly when it's time for the next dose, whether or not you think the pain is bad enough for another one.  Because by the time it is, it's too late. Oops.
Needless to say, I am sooooo not cooking right now.  I did manage to verbally teach my hubby to make my oatmeal the other day so he could bring me a bowl.  He did well!! Thursday and Friday I was thanking God that they make GF tv dinners - obviously still not the healthiest or cleanest choice, but better than nothing for my fellas while Mom was down in bed.  Last night a friend from church brought us a delicious meal, and my neighbor is making is something tonight.  Yay for not starving!! I'm slowly getting my appetite back...I didn't eat for 3 days, but this isn't a weight loss plan I recommend.
I do hope to be back on my feet again very soon.  My house is in serious need of "Mom's touch", I'm babysitting a 2 year old tomorrow AND I'm being visited by a long-time online friend whom I've never met in person.  Now I know she won't care about my house, but *I* care.  I just weirdly expected the pain to be all gone by now and my strength to have returned.  Overly optimistic? Perhaps, LOL  But I'm expecting good things, and that's a more fun way to live than to always wait for the negative, right?

Monday, April 4, 2011

GF Burritos and other things

I was so excited this weekend to finally find gluten-free tortillas! After looking for them all over I actually managed to find two different kinds from two different stores, how funny is that? The first ones I got from Fresh Market and they're made with Ivory Teff, then the other ones I got from a local health food store and they're actually brown rice tortillas - awesome!  Tonight I made burritos and I used the ivory teff ones, but I bet they would have been good either way.
GF Burritos

2 cups cooked rice (I used white because it was what I had on hand LOL)
1 lb browned ground beef - seasoned (I used cinnamon and Pampered Chef's Southwest Seasoning)
1 jar salsa (divided)
1 can refried beans
6-8 GF tortillas
2 cups Mexican style or just cheddar shredded cheese

After cooking the rice and beef, I combined them in the pot with 2 spoonfuls of salsa.  I heated the beans a little, not to hot, but just soft. I spread about 2 tbsp of the beans on a (thawed and slightly warmed) tortilla, then sprinkled some cheese on it (about two tablespoons), about a 1/4 cup of the beef/rice mixture* and then rolled it up and placed it in a greased 9x13.  Repeat with all the tortillas. Pour salsa to cover top (I didn't use the whole jar because I wanted to save some for the chips, too, but I covered them), then sprinkle remaining cheese over all that.  Then bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until gooey and just starting to brown.
I served it with chips, salsa and sour cream.  It was awesome but VERY filling, even after my 12 year old had THREE helpings and was finally full and all of us were finished, we still had  1-1/2 left over.

*I had some beef mixture leftover and I could have done two more tortillas but I was out of room in the pan and there's only 4 of us, so I just made 6 and saved the rest of it for nachos tomorrow. ;-)

Also, in case you missed it, I was a guest blogger for Bob's Red Mill this weekend.  They're doing a series this month, having guest bloggers post gluten-free casein-free recipes for Autism Awareness month. I think it's terrific that they're doing this, please give them your support! Here's my contribution: MMMmeatballs!

Finally, I just wanted to let y'all know that I'm having surgery later this week.  It's nothing serious and it's outpatient, but I'll be out of commission for a few days and probably not up for cooking or blogging again til next week.  Unless something really great happens between now and then that I just have to share LOL  Til then, be blessed and remember to make every day an adventure!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

BIG Shout-Out to GiGi's Cupcakes!

As my nickname probably suggests, I'm a cupcake fiend. I LOVE cupcakes and while others were doing crazy tricks for Klondike bars I was just figuring out ways to get my hands on those perfect, adorable sweet little treats.  It's like a WHOLE cake that fits in the palm of your hand.  There's nothing better, and it's one of the reasons Nathan dubbed me "Princess Cuppycake".
So imagine my smile when I saw that they were opening a GiGi's Cupcakes HERE! I had tried them when visiting my best friend's house, and I knew I LOVED them.  Of course I smiled even bigger when they announced that they'd be offering GLUTEN FREE cupcakes (starting with once a week, but we'll see how it goes)!  So naturally, I had to surprise my family with a special treat! I called yesterday and reserved 4 beautiful white velvet GF cupcakes and went and picked them up today. Of course I also had to treat myself to a shirt with my name on it - no, really, it said Ms. Princess and had a cupcake on it!
I was sooo excited but I did manage to stay out of them AND keep them hidden until after dinner!  The smiles and WOOHOOs from my boys made the suspense worth it.  And ohhhh gosh, they were so worth the wait - WONDERFUL!!!
Some local restaurants offer gluten free fare, but often it's along the lines of "here, order the burger with the bun", or it's a barely passable substitute for what they normally serve.  So MAJOR kudos to GiGi's for making a special and QUALITY product that was delicious and didn't make us feel like we were missing out on ANYthing!! Thank you GiGi's, and I really hope more places follow your lead!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gluten Free Oven Fried Chicken

I Googled all over the internet and just didn't find a GF chicken recipe I really liked. So I borrowed a few different ideas and made up my own.
Here's what I used:

2 cups brown rice flour (divided)
2 cups coconut flour (divided) - if you have a sensitivity to coconut, just double the brown rice flour or use almond meal instead
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp course ground pepper
a shake or two of basil
1 tsp red pepper
3 small eggs (you could use two large)*
10 chicken drumsticks
1 stick butter

I preheated the oven to 400, and melted the butter, then poured it into a 10x13 baking dish.
I put half the flour in bowl 1, beat the eggs in bowl 2,  and combined the rest of the flour and all the seasonings in bowl 3.
I rinsed the chicken and patted it dry with paper towels.  Then I rolled the drumsticks in bowl 1, dredged them in bowl 2, and fully coated them in bowl 3, then arranged them in the baking dish.
I baked them for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes.

It was good!  I served it with fresh corn on the cob and some fried potatoes.

*note: if you're allergic to eggs, use buttermilk instead!

Friday, March 4, 2011


I'm really happy right now about what I'm seeing with my kids.  Both are more cooperative, less hyper, and in general have better attitudes.  I was actually able to leave them alone together for a few hours today and they got along perfectly, not a single fight or "tattling text".  So I am definitely seeing this as a positive step in the right direction and I KNOW that at least part of this is from the diet.  To take Noah completely off ADHD meds and to cut Nathan's dose almost in half and still see these results? Amazing!  I am so thankful to God for bringing us on this journey, even though it's sometimes scary and difficult, I feel like we are on the right track and this is SUCH confirmation!  I'm feeling confident enough that hubby and I are going to the movies tomorrow afternoon (matinee) and leaving the boys here by themselves.  I'm so excited, we have never been able to do that before!

Also, another great thing I learned today is that I can make my homemade butter with the Magic Bullet in less than half the time and with less than half the mess of my Kitchenaid mixer. YES! Makes me super happy because I LOVE fresh butter but I'm not a fan of the mess it makes (nor of the smell if I miss some while cleaning).

I had a lunch date with a really good friend today (who is moving away soon, boohoo!) at Mellow Mushroom. I ordered the gluten-free cheese pizza and it  I think I should add more toppings next time LOL  They don't serve it by the slice, so I ordered a medium pizza and took the leftovers home to the boys and they were certainly happy with it, so that worked out nicely.  I also think it was slightly undercooked, so if it was baked a bit longer I might like it better.  I will definitely give it another try though!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dizzy Busy Week!

Good news is, I'm off the hook for shoulder surgery (at least for now). Got a cortisone shot and I'm going back to physical therapy. That is awesome for me, because I REALLY do not have time to be down for weeks on end! Praying the shot and the PT work and that the shoulder problem will go away.

After the dr appt, my friend and I went out to the farm to collect eggs. While we were there, the pig got out so we spent about a half an hour trying to herd him back to the pen, only to get him there and realize we couldn't figure out how to get him IN it (he was afraid of us, poor guy).  The owner wasn't there, it was just us, so we got him as corralled as we could, but I felt bad.  And tired. Who would have ever thought I'd be a farm hand one day? LOL  
My son and "Lil Bit"

I went out and bought groceries yesterday and OUCH, between buying the foods that are better for us and filling up the van - yeah, no extras for us this month! Why does they food that tastes good, feels good, and keeps you healthy have to cost an arm and a leg? But the processed junk that can make (and keep) you sick, is cheap and way easier to find.  BLAH.  BUT at least we are already paying much less for prescription medications in a month, so I'm seeing how it DOES even out. But ouch.  I bought xanthan gum yesterday because it keeps showing up in so many different recipes that I find online.  Got a tiny bag for $12. Thankfully it seems to last a long time (you only use like a teaspoon in a recipe), so I am hoping it's worth it.

This week I'm making a raspberry kombucha and gonna make some yogurt too.  Also gonna make a big yummylicious chicken soup tomorrow night. Maybe even some cupcakes.  It's just that kinda week LOL

Xanthan Gum, 8 oz.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Could get Addicted to This "From Scratch" Thing

It amazes me how many dishes I had no clue how to make because we always bought them prepacked or processed.  Now that we're eating healthier, I'm being forced to be creative and come up with homemade versions of family favorites.  Yesterday I made rice pudding for the first time, and it was so ridiculously easy! I'm kind of embarrassed, we hardly ever had rice pudding except as a special treat when I could afford it.  If only I had known how simple (and healthy) it could be!
Then last night I had to satisfy my son's craving for salisbury steak.  Sadly, he became addicted to the Banquet version, back in the olden days.  He finally begged enough that I decided to figure something out.  I googled several recipes for it, but didn't find anything that really worked for us, so I decided to wing it. As I put on my facebook the other day, my new motto is "Make it up as you go along, and hope it doesn't suck."  So, yeah, it wasn't bad!  The only negative was that my husband said it needed more salt. However, that's pretty much my husband's nightly mantra (I don't cook with nearly enough salt to satisfy his tastebuds lol). 
So I'm gonna go ahead and post the recipe and you're welcome to try it, mess with it, make it work for your family.
2 lbs ground beef (the best quality you can find)
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (I wanted baby bellas but the coop subbed white and they were fine) - divided
about half of a white onion, slivered
1 egg
1/2 cup GF quick cooking oats (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups beef broth
brown rice flour
worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups rice (if you're serving with mashed potatoes, don't do this part)

First, I cooked rice earlier and saved it, then spread it in a casserole dish.
I combined the beef, 1/2 the mushrooms, the egg, oats, and worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Then I sauteed the onion slivers in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil.  While the onions cooked, I mixed the beef mixture and made patties out of it (it made about 16 small patties).  You can make larger patties, I had to make it fit to the dish :)
After the onions looked transparent and smelled sweet, I pushed them to the outsides of the skillet, I didn't take them out, but you can if you want.  Then I cooked the patties (half at a time), turning a few times until they were cooked through and dark brown.  When they were, I removed them to the bed of rice.
Then I made the gravy.  I pushed the onions back to the center of the pan, and scraped all the meat drippings to the middle too.  Then I added the beef broth, the rest of the mushrooms, and salt and pepper.  Once it was all hot and well blended, I whisked in brown rice flour until it was the consistency I wanted.  Then I ladled it out over the beef and rice.  You can then serve it right away. Since we weren't ready to eat just yet, I covered the dish with foil and stuck it in the oven on 200 for about an hour.

SO, hope ya like it.  And I hope you will try something new from scratch that you never tried before and come tell me about it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bein' Real

Sometimes positivity is hard.  It doesn't mean it's not worth it, but sometimes it's much more difficult than other times.  My family has been facing a lot of challenges, most of them health-related.  Those issues are what has prompted me to change our diet and way of life.  I am a firm believer that a positive attitude, a lot of faith, and good, real food will absolutely have an excellent impact on all of us.  But it gets difficult sometimes.

Two weeks into the GF diet, I've gotten frustrated more than a few times. The food is expensive, some of it is just nasty, eating other places is tricky (twice someone has fed my son something they know he cannot have, because they figured it wasn't a big deal), and I've eaten a few things without realizing they had gluten in them until later.  Also, I haven't noticed a big wonderful difference yet, and while I can say all day long that I didn't expect instant results, in reality of course I did. In fact, both of my boys have had issues just this week with their health as well. I've had almost daily headaches (though that could actually still be my concussion).  So it's frustrating and annoying and a little discouraging.  But this is where I stand firm, stick to what I know is true, and try to focus on the positives.  Life is NOT all just roses and sunshine, but even on cloudy days, we have to look for the rays of sunlight to help us through.

Rays of sunlight that keep me going are little things that just mean so much.  This weekend we went to the 2nd birthday party for the little guy I babysit. I didn't expect to stay for cake, and had already told my boys they probably couldn't eat much at the party.  But the mom had actually gone out of her way to prepare an almost all gluten-free spread AND made a special cake to accommodate everyone's allergies (it was soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free...I will never know how she did it. Also, it tasted good, lol).  I was amazed that she cared enough to do that, and it gave me a little push to keep going when I was feeling down.

I discovered that Noah LOVES my kombucha, and both my boys are becoming way more open to trying new foods than they used to be.  So that really feels good to me, because I honestly thought Nathan was going to be impossible.

Today is my husband's birthday, and I made him brunch including GF Bisquick pancakes.  They were GOOD, and he said he didn't even notice a difference!  That made me smile, and made me feel like we CAN do this.  Tonight we're going to Outback for dinner - we have a gift certificate AND they have a gluten-free menu :) 

My next adventure is probably going to be freezer cooking.  I may have 1-3 surgeries coming up within the next few months and I need to make sure my family is cared for.  I know some friends will help, but they can't fully support us - and my husband has many talents, but cooking is not one of them LOL  So I will need to find good meal recipes that will keep well and heat nicely.  Whatever I find, I will of course share with you all!

What keeps YOU going when you feel like giving in?

Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix, Gluten-Free, 16-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 3)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Didn't mean to go a week without a post...

What a crazy week we've had. Hubby and Puppy both had minor surgery, I ended up with a concussion, and the whole past week is basically a blur. Today I (should) find out if I'm going to need surgery on my shoulder, and if I DO, then you'll see a lot of me blogging about prepping GF meals that can be frozen and reheated. :) Any ideas?

Things have gone well so far with our new adventure.  I've bought a ton of dry goods and I've been reading a lot of GF blogs for ideas.  I do wish Godfather's was close enough to deliver, since they're the only local pizza place that makes a gluten-free pizza and the other night we REALLY could have used a pizza night! I think we ended up having cereal or something, I don't know, I had a bad headache LOL

One of my favorite meals that I made this past week was a sort of "shrimp scampi with broccoli over rice spaghetti" concoction that really needs a cooler name than that.  It was yummy. :)

I will totally have to make it again, maybe during a calmer week.  If I ever get one of those. ;-)

Well, I will be updating about what the doctor said if there's any news to share.  In the meantime, I'm off to go figure out something nice for Valentine's dinner.  It's been forever since I got a V-day with my hubby, so I should try to make it a nice one. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

First day successes and lessons :)

So today was our first day of going completely gluten-free, and I am calling it a success.

I gave away all the "wheaty" foods we hadn't managed to eat, and my pantry is actually looking pretty cool right now.  I've spent most of the day working on a huge stockpot of beef broth, so my house smells wonderful and the dogs are VERY interested in what I'm up to. :)

We've tried a few new products today, and I don't want to turn this into a commercial, but I do have a few recommendations.  The first is The Gluten Free Pantry's Favorite Sandwich Bread.  Nathan is not ready to give up his PB&J, so I had to come up with an alternative for the bread he was used to.  Well, I baked a loaf of it last night and I'm baking another one right now so he'll have some for his lunch tomorrow! Everyone loved it and it was gone at breakfast this morning!  It's really good, though it's a bit denser than the bread I used to make, and it's a bit more expensive too.  But it's a good and quick way to make sure we have bread when I don't have time to make it from scratch.

Tonight for dinner I made rice spaghetti with my Dawnie's sauce.  Now, it was pretty good, but I have to also state that ANYTHING would be good with that sauce!  I am going to have to get better at cooking it, as the package didn't really tell me how to prepare it and I'm pretty sure I didn't do it right.  The texture is going to take a little getting used to as well, so I think I'll probably try something completely different with it next time - maybe put it with shrimp scampi on Thursday!

BUT, one thing that turned out perfectly and amazingly? Our special dessert - BROWNIES!!  Ohhh my gosh, those were awesome!!  Everyone says that when you go gluten-free you're gonna lose a lot of weight, but I am NOT going to lose weight if I keep stuffing myself full of these babies LOL
                                         Oohhhhh, where have you been all my life??
 Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Brownie Mix, 21-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)

All in all, I am pleasantly surprised so far at the quality of the GF foods we've tried.  I really thought things might be a little less satisfying or taste "weird", but most of this has been delicious and I feel really good about giving it to my family!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My insanity knows no bounds LOL

This has been a fun few days for me.  My friend and I went and bought a LOT of meat from a local farm here: Hunter Cattle (they offer amazing deals and pet scraps too, and their farm store is adorable, if you're in the area, you've gotta check them out!), so we have enough meat for a month!  I'm all set on milk and eggs too, thanks to my volunteer Life Is Good farm hand side job, lol

I've been busy with preparing our house (and the kids) for our new diet, clearing out the old stuff, rearranging the pantry, going slightly crazily obsessive about jars and labels - I loooooove my new label maker!  Before long, you'll see my puppy run past with "DOG" emblazoned on his side. :)  I'm also researching recipes and testing out some GF foods to see what we think so far.  Nathan doesn't care for the flavor of the basmati rice, but I'm thinking we just need different seasonings.  It's different, it almost tastes like popcorn, but he thinks it tastes like eggs - which he hates.  The chorizo spinach frittata I'm planning to make should be interesting with a child who hates eggs! 

The real evidence that my insanity has no limits, however, is that I've also now decided to start making homemade dog food.  For now they'll be getting a 50/50 kibble/homemade diet, at least until I get the hang of it.  I want to be sure they're getting proper nutrition and hydration, and the healthiest diet possible.  It's really not that difficult, I figure if I'm in the kitchen anyway, why not whip them up something as well? So I've spent a LOT of the past 2 days researching different diets and recipes.  I'm also stocking up on all the yummilicious stuff like livers and kidneys and maybe a heart....mmmmm...  You know you want some. ;-)

Here's the thing, my declaration for this year is healing, renewal, restoration.  I truly believe God gave me those words specifically, and that vision for my life.  For my home, for my family.  I think that should include all members.  Our youngest pet is only a year old and already suffers from chronic joint pain and inflammation.  If my goal is to get us ALL healthy and "off the pharmacy", then I need to take it seriously, right?

Incidentally, an update on the meds thing: I'm already off more than half of what I was taking just to function with fibromyalgia and allergy-related illnesses.  Noah is OFF his ADHD meds completely and is considering giving up his sleeping pill as well (we'll see how that goes, as autism and sleep issues go hand in hand), and my little Nathan (the one I'm mostly doing this for, as he's been so plagued with physical and psychological issues from birth) has already stepped down on his ADHD dosage and we're hopeful that by next month he can go off one of his other psych meds!  I attribute this to the healthy eating and the positivity in our environment. I know we're on the right path and doing what God has for us, and it's making everyone happier and healthier already.  So I'm SUPER excited about what's next.  How much more awesome will it be when we're living gluten-free and making conscious healthy choices EVERYday? 

A note: I do want to say that NONE of this would be possible without support and encouragement from our friends.  We've been SO blessed to have people offer suggestions, advice and even just a little "you go girl!" helps so much when this all starts to get a bit scary.  Nathan often goes to a friend's house after school, and her mom has been amazing about asking what snacks he can have, what to avoid, etc.  People, please understand, YOU can always make a difference, with your words, with your attitude.  You can support and encourage, or you can tear down and sabotage.  Think, then speak with love.  It really does matter.

Now, all that said...HAPPY SUPERBOWL WEEKEND, Y'all!!  This may be just football weekend for you, but for us it's sort of like our own version of Mardi Gras.  Our last chance to "pig out" before we go clean on Monday!  I specifically waited for the 7th, because we are going to a Super Bowl party this weekend and while it all sounds DELISH, none of it is friendly to our new diet.  I may be too busy (or too full) to blog this weekend, but I'll be back Monday for sure to share about DAY ONE!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prep Week!!

So this week is an adventure all in itself.  Since we're going completely gluten-free next week, I'm doing a ton of shopping to find alternatives to everything we're used to eating.  Mike and Noah are racing against the clock to eat up everything in the house that is going to be banned as of next week, too, so it's kind of funny.  I've been cleaning out the fridge and I'm still working on re-organizing the pantry too.  All the gluteny stuff is moved to the front so they can eat it up fast!

I'm also starting the process of experimenting. Trying new recipes, trying new things that we've not made before.  I know it sounds funny, but I'm literally making my very first beans & collards meal tonight.  I'm serving it with basmati rice and hamburger gravy.   This is a far cry from the way I used to be - back when we first got married, I knew how to bake chicken & rice, and make Hamburger Helper.  If we wanted variety in our meals, I got different flavors of it. ;-)

Over the years (and thanks to good friends and a stint as a Pampered Chef consultant), I became more comfortable in the kitchen, and eventually got to where I loved being there - especially baking!  But now that we're working toward whole and natural foods, it's a whole new ballgame and I feel like I'm learning to cook all over again.  It feels good because I've become very conscious of what we're eating now, and I love doing it all from scratch so I *know* what's in it.

I'm so blessed to have local farms here with wonderful people who give us good deals on our meat and dairy products, or in the case of Momma Debbie's farm, I get to work for eggs. :)  Today I even got enough nerve up to pet one of her cows LOL  I'm learning a lot as her "farm hand" - learning enough to to realize that I love it and I will always want to be a part of it, but that I never want to own a farm all to myself LOL  As for produce, I get a lot from the local food co-op (check your area and see if you have one, it's well worthwhile!), but I do still get stuff from Kroger too.

Okay, so now I have to go stir my beans again (OMG they smell soooo goooood!!!), but I'll let y'all know how it turned out.  Also, I'll share pics of my pantry if I ever get it the way I want it.  So, maybe never. ;-)

Monday, January 31, 2011


Okay, I may be suffering from an unnatural level of excitement over this, but I'm so excited my new groceries just got here from Amazon! I can't wait to start our GF journey on Feb 7, and I'm looking forward to experimenting and playing around in the kitchen like a mad scientist with his first chemistry set.  And besides, I tend to be a bit more enthusiastic and exuberant than my saner counterparts anyway, so just go with it. ;-)

Anyway, I promise to give fair and honest reviews of everything, and to share tips, recipes, pictures and stories along the way.  Even if they make me look like a big freakin' dork.  Which many of them likely will.

So here's tonight's delivery (well, a single representative from each group, since I bought in bulk):

The first things I ordered from Amazon's Subscribe and Save (my favorite way to get dry goods...and no that's not advertising for them, that's just the truth!), are what I'm calling the "basics". We're still very much bread people, so I have to try this gluten-free sandwich bread mix. I will likely still make it from scratch, but this is worth a shot.  I looooove to bake cakes and have some important birthdays coming up, so I had to get Bob's Red Mill cake mix.  We can't live without pancakes (and my hubby's wonderful waffles), so we're trying gluten free Bisquick for starters.  My son Noah is a ramen junkie (though I was SO proud when he was reading the ingredients off a packet of it today and told me he could see why weren't going to buy THAT STUFF anymore, lol), so I got him the Pad Thai soup.  And I finally have my BFF's spaghetti sauce recipe, so that brown rice spaghetti better hope it's good enough to be worthy of her sauce! :)

Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix, Gluten-Free, 16-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 3)

Welcome to my new blog!

I've thought about starting a blog for a long time (I think my friends were getting tired of me filling up their facebook feed anyway), so I've just decided to go for it.

A little about me, for anyone who doesn't already know: I'm Kati, a goofy, dorky Army wife and mom to some really cool and funny kids. I'm also a Noni to the sweetest 1 year old on the planet!  We have 4 dogs and 3 cats and they make me laugh a lot.

I'm a Christian, and therefore try to live my life the way God intended for me to - which is one of the reasons my family has started a new clean eating adventure.  Our definition of clean eating is a personal one - we're trying to choose only organic, natural, whole foods.  We are TRYING not to eat out, and to make careful choices when we do.  I try NOT to buy processed foods, but when I do, I read the labels and try to make sure I know what we're putting into our bodies.  And starting on February 7th, we're taking the plunge and going gluten-free!  So this week is a week of preparing, cleaning things out (and in some cases, eating up the stuff in the pantry) to get the house ready for us to do this thing!

I will be sharing this adventure with you, telling you what I try, what works, what doesn't, what made me laugh, what lessons I learned.  Our goal in this is to become healthier people. and to get off the meds my family has been on forever. 

One more thing you need to know about me: I'm random.  I will talk about whatever pops into my head at the moment - one day you may get recipes and I may be sharing what products I'm loving, the next day you may get a picture of my dog or a funny story about my kids.  If you decide to come along for our journey, expect to be spoken to just like a friend, and to hopefully just have a lot of fun!